HR News: July 18, 2013

Posted by admin at 18 July 2013

Category: Uncategorized

HUMAN RIGHTS/ RIGHTS GROUP/ NHRC
1. NHRC seeks report from health director on death due to ‘fake’ brain shunt (1)
Chandigarh:  The National Human Rights Commission had sought an action-taken report from the director, health and family welfare, Chandigarh, into the death of Gurjot Kaur, a four-month-old girl who was fitted a “counterfeit” shunt during a brain surgery at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). The director is to comply within six weeks. Gurjot’s SAS Nagar-based family had approached the national panel headquartered at New Delhi via a complaint by city-based advocate and social activist Pankaj Chandgothia. It detailed how Gurjot had been operated upon on April 2, got a “counterfeit” shunt, and died on June 21 at the PGIMER. “With this, the parents lost their only child to medical malpractices at PGIMER and its chemists,” alleged Chandgothia. Going further, Chandgothia has alleged large-scale malpractices at the institute and chemists. In the complaint, “Thus, we have sought action against the PGIMER Director, Baby Care Chemists on the campus and the director of health services, Chandigarh.” The UT’s health department director and the PGIMER director “are also liable for criminal negligence… They have failed to monitor and regulate the sale of fake medical equipments and expired medicines”.Besides, he has sought damages of Rs. 50 lakh for the parents of the child. Chandgothia added, “The PGIMER is refusing to give any document or the medical file of the deceased. They also prevailed upon the parents not to have the post-mortem done, so that they can escape conviction and punishment”.Chandgothia said the wrapper of the shunt did not bear the hologram and stamp of the manufacturer, which should have alerted the operating doctor not to use it. “There was systematic failure at every stage,” he has added. Rs 50 lakh be imposed on chemist, PGI director and director, health, UT, as penalty and damages to parents. “Delinquent shop — Baby Care Chemists — be sealed and its licence cancelled. “Action against PGI director and director, health, UT, for failure to perform their duties of monitoring services. (Hindustan Times 12/7/13)

2. State Human Rights Commission orders probe into rape at producer’s poultry farm (1)
HYDERABAD: The State Human Rights Commission on Monday directed the police to investigate the rape of a minor girl at the poultry farm owned by Tollywood producer Bandla Ganesh. The commission has asked the superintendent of police, Mahabubnagar, to submit a report by September 24 on the action taken against the culprits and the allegations of attempts to ‘shield’ them. The commission was responding to a petition filed by a city-based advocate who expressed concern over the alleged police lenience towards the offenders since they work for Ganesh, a film producer who is known for his strong political connections. The case grabbed spotlight after it was learnt that Ganesh owns the Parameshwara poultry farms where the incident took place last week. According to the parents of the nine-year-old farmhand, the incident happened at the poultry farm located at Jedcherla of Mahbubnagar district, where the girl was raped by one Srinu, who also works at the same farm. The victim’s family hails from Kurnool district and are employed at the farm. The parents lodged a police complaint on Monday after the girl disclosed the outrage. “No concrete action has been taken even though a minor girl has been raped,” said the petitioner, Somaraju. “The police should have slapped a case under the Nirbhaya Act on the offender by now. But they have not even started investigation.” The petitioner also demanded that the producer be booked for encouraging child labour. “Producer Ganesh and those who own the farm should be booked under Prevention of Child Labour Act. How can they make a 9-yearold work and still get away with it?” said Somaraju. Repeated attempts to contact Ganesh for his version of the story failed. Ganesh had recently produced the Pawan Kalyan-starrer Gabbar Singh and NTR-starrer Baadshah, both runaway hits. (Times of India 16/7/13)

3. Rights group to serve US court summons to Badal (1)
Washington: A sikh rights body in the US, Sikh for Justice (SFJ), has said that it will use provisions of the Hague Service Treaty to serve the summons of Wisconsin Federal court to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, in a case accusing him of human rights violation. The Hague Service Treaty, of which India is a signatory, allows service of judicial papers between the signatory countries without diplomatic involvement. The SFJ, which had earlier filed a human rights violation case against Badal along with the SAD (Mann) took this decision after it failed to serve summons to Badal recently. “We will use Hague Service Convention to serve outstanding federal summons on Badal in India to make him accountable before Wisconsin Federal court for protecting and commanding a police force responsible for torture and extra judicial killings of Sikhs in Punjab,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ. The eastern district of Wisconsin has given SFJ until October 24 to serve the summons on Badal in human rights violation lawsuit. The complaint alleges that Badal and his deputy, Sukhbir Singh Badal, throughout their tenure “have actively shielded, protected and promoted the police who were or have been involved in gross human rights violations, extra judicial killings and torture”.SFJ added that it has retained the services of Process Forwarding International (PFI), a Washington-based company to accomplish service on Badal in India. “PFI is the official process server to United States Department of Justice and US Department of State and has extensive experience in executing service of process with authority using approved international law methods,” it said. The rights group added that under the Hague Service treaty, a central authority has been established by the Indian government for receiving and serving judicial documents from foreign courts as provided under “Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters”. “Under Article 15 of the Hague Service Convention, a service is considered complete once the copy of summons and complaint is delivered to the Central Authority of India, which is responsible to receive judicial documents from foreign courts,” said SFJ. (Indian Express 17/7/13)

TRAFFICKING
4. UN report highlights grim scenario of child trafficking in Haryana (1)
GURGAON: A report by United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reveals rampant trafficking of girls to Haryana from other parts of India for forced marriages. Experts blame Haryana’s skewed sex ratio for such a crisis. The report also highlights that a large number of victims are brought to Gurgaon and Faridabad for sexual exploitation, child labour and domestic work. Most victims belong to states like Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The victims are trafficked mainly through railway routes and they are transited via Delhi. According to the report, child labour is a major problem in Gurgaon and Faridabad among other districts. The placement agencies providing domestic help in NCR have also been blamed for trafficking children for domestic help in cities of Haryana. With increasing trend of nuclear families, the demand for maid servants has gone up. The human trafficking networks are active in supplying children, particularly girls, to Haryana from poorer states. Once these children land up in Haryana, they are pushed into slavery. These children are not even allowed to keep in touch with their families and are mostly kept as bonded labour, the report says. For forced marriage, according to the report, there is a trend of trafficking girls from as far as North East to Karnal, Mewat, Rewari, Kurukshetra, Jind, Yamuna Nagar and Hisar. There is also a trend for luring girls on the pretext of marriage to the region. A field study on the impact of sex ratio on the pattern of marriages in Haryana by Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra (2010) is mentioned in the report. The study covered over 10,000 households and revealed that over 9,000 married women in Haryana were brought from other states. Another such report by NGO Shakti Vahini had found that every year hundreds of young women and girls in northern India are lured or sold into involuntary marriage. “They are bartered at prices that vary depending on their age, beauty and virginity, and exploited under conditions that amounts to a modern form of slavery,” the report revealed. The report said that the demand for girls of marriageable age will be much more intense in the coming years and such a demand could only be met by inter-state marriages. The challenge before Haryana is to ensure that the bride demand is not catered through human trafficking. The government should ensure legislations which protect the rights of women and children. The infamous cases of sexual exploitation of children at child care homes in Gurgaon are also mentioned in the report. The assessment captures a situational analysis of 13 forms of human trafficking and highlights broad trends. It elaborates responses and initiatives taken by 21 state governments in India to curb trafficking. (Times of India 10/7/13)

5. Saudi princess in trafficking case posts $5mn bail (1)
California: A Saudi princess charged with human trafficking has posted $5 million bail a day after her California arrest. Prosecutors say 42-year-old Meshael Alayban posted bail Thursday after appearing in court to face the felony charge, and was being released from Orange County jail. District attorney Tony Rackauckas had asked the judge to set bail at $20 million or deny it entirely, saying it was unlikely any amount would guarantee a Saudi princess would appear in court. The district attorney’s office says Alayban has surrendered her passport, must wear a GPS tracking device and cannot leave Orange County without permission from the court. She’s also barred from any contact with the victim. Alayban did not enter a plea. Her attorney called the case just a dispute over work hours. (Hindustan Times 12/7/13)

6. ‘Probe role of senior cops in human trafficking’ (1)
KOCHI: CBI should probe the role of senior level police officers in the alleged human trafficking case, the Kerala high court ordered on Monday. The direction by justice S S Satheesachandran was while dismissing the bail pleas of emigration SI Raju Mathew, who is the third accused, and travel agent Niyas, the fourth accused in the case. It should be probed whether any anti-national activity took place through the human trafficking incidents. If any police officer, in whichever rank, is found to be involved, their roles need to be probed, the court ordered. Human trafficking, including women, was allegedly carried out using fake passports and travel documents. Such actions cannot be carried out by low-level police officers without the aid of senior officers. Therefore, a comprehensive probe about this angle needs to be carried out, the court said. As CBI has expressed willingness to take over investigation from crime branch wing of Kerala police, probe should also be carried out on the alleged trafficking of women, the court directed. The emigration SI was arrested on May 8 this year and it has been revealed that money was deposited to his account from districts such as Malappuram, Kozhikode, and Ernakulam. Moreover, the trafficking, including women, was with the knowledge that the documents produced were fake, the court held. It has also been found that agent Niyas had deposited money to the bank account belonging to father of the first accused, civil police officer A P Ajeeb. He obtained sim cards using fake documents and fake records were created, the court pointed out. In declining bails to the accused, the court accepted state government’s argument that investigation in the case hasn’t been completed. Granting bail to the accused at this stage would result in the witnesses getting influenced and the CBI probe becoming ineffective, government had contended. The case was handed over to CBI by the state government after the court entered a finding in an earlier bail application that investigation was proceeding correctly initially but was derailed after the investigating officials were switched. Court had pointed out that the investigating team had located senior police officers included in the crime at the initial stage but no action was taken against them even after an official in the rank of additional director general of police began monitoring the case. (Times of India 16/7/13)

7. NGO helpline to check child trafficking (1)
Pune: City NGO Sarhad has started a helpline to deal with child trafficking, especially those from the state of Manipur. The helpline will be operational from August and is meant to operate for several cities in Maharashtra and Karnataka and will be coordinated from Manipur. “There are several students from Manipur in Pune. Their contact details are being gathered for our network,” said Sarhad president Sanjay Nahar. “Maharashtra is home to more than 3,000 Manipuri people, including students and working professionals. Our aim is to maintain a record of the students who study in various parts of the country, particularly Maharashtra and Karnataka,” said Nahar. “The helpline is necessary as the number of Manipur children is rising in reported cases of child trafficking. This helpline will definitely curb the heinous crimes,” he added. The NGO has introduced a new contact e-mail ID – readspune4manipur@gmail.com – for the students to contact. (DNA 18/7/13)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF PRESS
8. IGP orders to shift Phillaur SHO on scribes’ plaint (1)
Jalandhar: Acting on the complaint of journalists from Phillaur, Jalandhar zone inspector general of police (IGP) B Chander Shekhar on Thursday ordered the transfer of Phillaur SHO Gulshan Lal Sharma on charge of engineering protest against the scribes and for ‘indirectly threatening’ to get them implicated in false cases. Earlier, a meeting of journalists from Phillaur sub-division was held at the Punjab Press Club here to discuss the agitation path to be adopted for the inordinate delay on part of the Jalandhar (rural) police chief Yurinder Singh Hayre in transferring the erring SHO despite assurances to the journalists in the past. The meeting presided over by club president Major Singh expressed concern over the reluctance of senior police officials to act against the SHO, who is said to be a close associate of Phillaur MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Avinash Chander. In the wake of decision to meet the IGP, the scribes submitted oral and material evidence to the police officer regarding Sharma’s indirect threats to journalists through his emissaries and concocting false stories to frame media persons, who were demanding his ouster since June 24. SSP Hayre and district public relations officer Gurmeet Singh were also present on the occasion. The journalists also submitted that the orders of district magistrate Shruti Singh during her visit to Phillaur for registration of an FIR and arrest of those involved in illegal mining on the Sutlej riverbed were also not complied with by the erring SHO. The scribes maintained that if the SHO was not implementing the DM’s orders, the plight of the common man on delivery of police services could be well imagined. “Despite strict instructions of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal to effectively check illegal mining, the SHO has not acted against people involved till date. It’s an open secret that sand was collected from the Sutlej riverbed during nights and early mornings,” they alleged. Shekhar immediately asked Hayre to transfer Sharma. “The inquiry being conducted by SP (detective) Rajinder Singh on journalists’ complaint should be completed in a day and requisite action taken against him,” the IGP added. Sources said that acting Punjab chief secretary NS Kang, who is also principal secretary of information and public relations department, also intervened (Hindustan Times 12/7/13)

9. One shot dead, journalist injured in Bhopal (1)
BHOPAL: One person was shot dead and another, a journalist with a local Hindi daily was injured when two miscreants opened fire on them near the second number bus stop in Tulsi Nagar area here, police said on Saturday. The incident took place last night, they said. The miscreants fired 3-4 rounds and one bullet grazed the hand of journalist Aadesh Singh Bhadoria. However, his friend Sunny, who sustained bullet injuries in the stomach succumbed in the Narmada hospital, where both were admitted. Now, Bhadoria’s condition is said to be stable. Aadesh is son of Madhya Pradesh Working Journalists’ Union President Shalabh Bhadoria. (The Hindu 13/7/13)

10. Panel reviews UK report on media ethics (1)
NEW DELHI: The I&B consultative committee on Monday discussed UK’s Leveson report which had been prepared in the wake of the News of the World controversy, only to attract strong reservations of MPs on the government exercise. The report was taken up in the context of discussions to revamp the Press Council of India and to deal with paid news. MPs found the recommendations of the Leveson report “alarming”. “There should be no control over media freedom in the name of regulation,” an MP told TOI. Members questioned the purpose of this exercise and the efficacy of the regulatory agency suggested by Leveson. The Leveson report, titled, “Culture, Practice, and Ethics of the British Press”, had recommended establishing a regulatory agency that would exclude serving editors, parliamentarians and government representatives. I&B minister Manish Tewari said, “This was only a preliminary discussion. Members sought time to discuss the report thoroughly.” (Times of India 16/7/13)

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES
11. Knot scared: Rajasthan dalit groom defies threats, rides horse (2)
AJMER: A dalit groom rode a horse for his marriage procession defying threats from upper caste villagers for the first time under tight police security at Neemada village in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district on Friday night. Dalits are not allowed to ride a horse especially for marriage processions. Ranjeet Singh Berwa’s family had sought police help after the villagers had threatened him against riding a horse for his marriage procession. But the cops had told them to follow the village tradition forcing the family to file an application before the Center for Dalit Rights (CDR), which informed the district collector Vabhav Gallaria about it. “We investigated and found that dalits were banned from moving on horses and no one had courage to break this law,” said CDR’s Ramesh Chand Bansal. The district administration took the complaint seriously and Gallaria instructed police to ensure the marriage procession’s security. Sub division officer Om Parkash Sharma, Tahsildar Ram Chand Meena and police in-charge Sugan Singh oversaw the security deployed. Even under tight security, many were not sure whether to break the custom. “No one, even me, my father and my five sons ever had the courage to go through the roads in the village on a horse,” said a resident. Officials said there was some tension as the procession started. “There were chances of conflict at that time but we were alert,” said an official. When the procession reached the center of the village, celebrations erupted. “It is like dream for us and felt that we too have right to dignity,” said Peeruji. Another resident, Ram Karan Berwa, said thousands of marriages have taken place in the village but no dalit family had ever dared to “break this law”.As per the tradition, a dalit groom has to step down from the horse within Neemada’s limits and go to bride’s house on foot. “Those who have tried breaking this custom were punished severely mostly with heavy penalties,” said Berwa. (Times of India 14/7/13)

12. After second autopsy, body of Tamil Nadu Dalit youth buried (2)
Chennai: Ten days after he was found dead on a railway track, the body of Dalit youth E Elavarasan (20) was buried at his native village in Natham, Dharampuri, on Sunday. His marriage with an upper-caste girl had sparked violence against his community in Tamil Nadu. The doubts surrounding his death will end only after the three-member team of forensic experts from AIIMS submits its second autopsy report the Madras High Court. The autopsy was conducted on Saturday after which Elavarasan’s body was taken to Dharmapuri. The administration had clamped prohibitory orders and refused permission to anyone other than family members to attend the funeral. But villagers defied orders and accompanied his body to the burial site. The police stepped in when a few lawyers and activists tried to take part in the procession. About 15 persons, including Elavarasan’s lawyer S Rajinikanth and IAS officer-turned-political activist Sivagami were detained. The police, based on Elavarasan’s four-page suicide note, have maintained that he had committed suicide. Recently, they found out that he had earlier tried to end his life after his wife, Divya Nagarajan, went back to her mother last month. The autopsy report said fatal head injury was the cause of death, but revealed little else. The family and activists suspected foul play and had sought a second autopsy. The family has resolved to set up a library in Elavarasan’s memory at the burial site. (Indian Express 15/7/13)

13. Vanniyar girl married to Dalit seeks protection from PMK (2)
Thanjavur: A 19-year-old girl belonging to the Vanniyar community who married a Dalit youth after falling in love with him surrendered at the district police office seeking police protection as she feared threat to their lives from activists of PMK and Vannyiar Sangam. Senthamizhselvi, in her petition to SP Dharmarajan, said she and her husband Vimalraj felt threatened.  “PMK founder Dr Ramadoss is responsible if anything untoward happens to me or my husband Vimalraj or his parents”, she said. On the directions of SP Dhar­marajan, the couple were taken to all women police station in Kumbakonam. Since her father had lodged a complaint with Jayanko­ndam police against Vimalraj for ‘kidnapping his minor’ daughter, the inspector took the couple to the judicial   magistrate court in Jayankondam  to get their statements recorded. It cannot be dismissed as yet another Dalit-Van­niyar marriage that faces threat from casteists as two young lives are inv­olved. The girl, Sentham­izhs­elvi (19), daughter of Selvaraj of west street in Manakkarai village, Chi­n­navalayam post, Uday­arp­alayam taluk, Ariy­alur district, and studying second-year B.Sc. Zoology in the government arts college for women in Kumbakonam, fell in love with a 27-year-old Dalit, Vimalraj, son of Govin­dasamy of Kaliam­mankoil street, Then­ka­ch­­iperuma­lnath­am village, in Uday­arp­alayam taluk. As her parents got wind of her affair, they strongly opposed it. The girl el­oped with Vim­alraj about a month ago. Her father Selvaraj lodged a complaint   stating that she was a minor and Vim­alraj had kidnap­ped her. Police registered a case against Vimal­raj and his parents. The local leaders of the PMK and Van­n­iyar Sangam, who felt that the girl had brought disgrace to their community by marrying a Dalit, also started searching for the lovers. Senthamizhselvi and Vimalraj, who were absc­onding, got married in the presence of advocate K.S. Karthikeyan and got their marriage regist­e­red at the sub-registr­a­r’s office in Thiru­pan­andal, near Kumb­ak­onam, on June 25. Later, they settled down in Thiru­pa­na­ndal area and started living as husband and wife. “As they feared threat to their lives, we filed a wr­it petition before the Madras HC seeking po­lice protection. Dispo­si­ng of the petition, the HC directed the police not to harass the couple but to pro­vide protection,” said advocate Karthikeyan. Sent­ham­izhs­el­vi claimed that she and Vimalraj had been in love for over three years. “My mother is no more. My father and stepmother deci­ded to get me married to an old man to clear a debt owed by my father to that man,” Sentham­izhs­elvi. (Asian Age 16/7/13)

HEALTH/ EPIDEMICS/NRHM
14. Now health sub-centres to provide contraception facilities (3)
NEW DELHI: The Centre has initiated a comprehensive plan to provide intra-uterine contraceptive device (IUCD) insertion services at the health sub-centres. The IUCD insertion facilities will be provided at the sub-centres on fixed days and free of cost. The decision will help adolescent mothers , who are married young and bear children at an early age. They lack awareness and access to contraception and are at the highest risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. Under India’s re-positioned family planning strategy, the focus is on spacing of children for a healthy family rather than sterilization. Under the new strategy, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has made elaborate plans to equip the health sub-centres for IUCD insertion services. “We want to reach out to women in their own spaces so that they do not have to travel to a Primary Health Centre to access such a service. The health sub-centre need to open up and offer IUCD facilities to women so that they can plan families by spacing their children,’’ Anuradha Gupta, Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) said here to mark the World Population Day. India has over 1.50 lakh sub-centres — the most peripheral and first contact point between the primary health care system and the community – and close to 2 lakh auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs). One sub centre covers a population of approximately 3,000 in hilly / tribal / difficult areas and approximately 5,000 in the plains. The sub-centres are provided with basic drugs for minor ailments needed for taking care of essential health needs of men, women and children. The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) are already distributing oral contraceptive tablets, e-pills and condoms at the door steps but with the government focussing more on spacing of children rather than sterilisation which is a permanent method, young women can now get IUCDs – a temporary method – inserted at a health sub centre. India now provides two kinds of IUCDs, one for five years and another for 10 years, both removable as and when required. As of now, the government provides post-partum IUCD facilities at all delivery points with a high case load, where IUCD can be inserted within 48 hours after delivery. Over 1.25 crore women deliver in public health facilities every year and provides a window of opportunity to the government, Ms Gupta said. The Ministry has recruited counsellors at Medical Colleges to counsel young mothers on the need for spacing children and planning families. “The medical colleges are being targeted because the highest load of deliveries is there. This will be followed by District and Sub-Divisional Hospitals. We have already inserted 1.5 lakh PP- IUCDs last year,’’ Ms Gupta said. So far, 1,333 counsellors have been recruited on contractual basis and the number is to employ 16,000 in the next three years. (The Hindu 11/7/13)

15. Fear of TTIs looms large over Odisha (3)
BHUBANESWAR: More than 500 unsuspecting patients in the State could be at the risk of acquiring serious Transfusion Transmitted Infections (TTIs) such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C every year, thanks to infusion of contaminated blood supplied by ill-equipped blood banks. With an inordinate delay in introduction of nucleic acid amplification test and polymerase chain reaction (NAT PCR) method for foolproof screening of the blood for transfusion, the blood banks are being forced to make do with the conventional Elisa and rapid test kits, which are not 100 per cent accurate in detecting the viruses. According to a ICMR study, the NAT PCR method can detect at least one HIV, HBV or HCV case in every 1,528 blood units that have been screened by Elisa tests. The detection rate in present day context is tripled as one unit of blood is now being separated into three components like platelets, plasma and packed cell under NACO guidelines for optimum utilisation of the life-saver. As per estimates, Odisha collects around 3.41 lakh units through blood donation every year and substantial chunk of it is separated into components as major blood banks have been equipped with the separator units. Thus, there is a high possibility of at least 669 infected units being passed on to unaware patients. “The thalassemia patients are most exposed to transfusion acquired infections as they have to undergo transfusion regularly and use about 25 per cent of total blood received through donations. There are about 12,000 thalassemia patients in the State,” said Debi Prasad Nayak, secretary of Young Odisha, an organisation working for safe blood transfusion. The issue had also been taken up by the Orissa High Court which in 2011 directed the State Government to ensure that the blood banks use NAT PCR method to screen the blood. Health Minister Damodar Rout also made an announcement in the State Assembly in September last year on equipping the blood banks at the three medical colleges and Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar. “Though more than nine months have passed since, people are still exposed to the risks. We have written to the Chief Minister on the matter,” Nayak said. The Government, however, said the process of making NAT PCR available at the blood banks is underway. “The expenditure finance committee has already given its clearance to the proposal and the Finance Department’s approval is expected soon. Once it is accorded, expeditious steps would be taken to install the facility at the blood banks,” said Health Secretary PK Mohaptra. With the NAT PCR equipment costing around Rs three crore per blood bank, the Government has proposed to persuade manufacturers to install the facility and run it themselves. The money would be paid back as testing charges per unit of blood. (New Indian Express 13/7/13)

16. Govt forms panel to rein in malnutrition after HC rap (3)
MUMBAI: A month after the Bombay high court passed stringent strictures against the public health department for ignoring the deaths of women and children due to malnutrition, the state government has set up a six-member inter-departmental committee to draft an action plan to tackle the problem. A high-ranking bureaucrat confirmed that the committee was set up only after the HC, in two separate cases, expressed strong displeasure over failure of the public health department to address the issue of malnutrition. “It was certainly an embarrassing situation for the government as we failed to act on the high court’s critical observations,” he said. The committee will be headed by director of health services Satish Pawar, the bureaucrat said, adding that the panel has been entrusted with the task of preparing a list of malnourished children and steps to be taken to tackle malnutrition. For the first time, the committee will comprise nominees from the departments of public health, women & children welfare and information technology. “We found that we were unable to tackle malnutrition owing to lack of coordination at all levels. Now, we have entrusted specific responsibilities to each department and the action plan will be monitored by the coordination committee,” he said. Further, the bureaucrat said, the committee has been asked to submit a comprehensive action plan to the public health department by July 15. “We will fix the responsibility for dereliction of duty and take stringent action against erring officials,” he said. In February, the high court had made critical observations against the government for its inability to draft an action plan to tackle malnutrition. The court had blamed the government for ignoring deaths of women and children due to malnutrition. On June 19, the high court expressed displeasure over the failure of the public health department to deploy adequate number of doctors in the tribal districts. A senior public health official admitted that there had been an inordinate delay in setting up the committee. “We should have set it up two decades ago when the state had witnessed a large number of deaths due to malnutrition. We woke up only after the court passed strictures against the government,” he said. The senior official said that though the infant mortality rate had decreased from 36 in 2005 to 28 in 2010, the performance of the department was still dismal. “Even the planning commission has expressed the view that a state like Maharashtra should initiate fresh measures to further reduce the infant mortality rate. It was found that infant mortality rate was high in tribal areas owing to malnutrition,” he said. (Times of India 15/7/13)

17.  ‘Lifestyle diseases more common among poor than rich in India’ (3)
NEW DELHI: The poor in India don’t suffer from fewer “lifestyle diseases” than the rich — they just don’t know it. A new study shows that the actual prevalence of common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is far higher among the poor than they report, and is as high if not higher among the poor than among the rich. India is projected to experience more deaths from NCDs such as heart diseases, diabetes and cancer than any other country over the next decade. It is usually believed that such diseases are far more common among the rich, especially in developing countries like India, which still have a high burden of infectious diseases. A team of researchers from leading medical research institutions across the world, including the Public Health Foundation of India, Harvard and Stanford in the U.S. and Oxford in the U.K. studied self-reported and actual levels of NCDs using standardised measures. The study, published in the open access peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE on Monday, looked at the data collected in 2007 by the World Health Organisation for its Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health that covered over 10,000 households in Karnataka, Maharashtra, U.P., Rajasthan, West Bengal and Assam. Five NCDs, angina, hypertension, chronic lung diseases and asthma, vision problems and depression, were selected. The researchers looked at the proportion of respondents within each wealth quintile (one-fifth of the population) who self-reported having one or more of these five diseases, and contrasted the findings with the proportion of respondents who were found to actually be suffering from the disease by standardised medical tests. They found that while the richest 20 per cent tended to self-report higher rates of prevalence than the poorest 20 per cent, the actual prevalence of the diseases is higher among the poorest 20 per cent than the richest 20 per cent for four out of the five diseases. The only disease on which the actual levels among the poorest 20 per cent were lower than those self-reported was chronic lung diseases and asthma. “The standardised test for this category measures only hardcore respiratory diseases. It is possible that the poorest quintile suffer from other respiratory diseases, but due to lack of awareness they reported them as one of the diseases measured in this category,” Sukumar Vellakal of the Public Health Foundation of India, lead author of the study, told The Hindu. “The socio-economic patterning of NCD prevalence differs markedly when assessed by standardised criteria versus self-reported diagnoses. NCDs in India are not necessarily diseases of affluence but also of poverty, indicating likely under-diagnosis and under-reporting of diseases among the poor. Standardised measures should be used, wherever feasible, to estimate the true prevalence of NCDs,” the study concludes. (The Hindu 17/7/13)

WOMEN
18. UP considering slapping stringent NSA on rape accused (8)
Lucknow, July 12 : Faced with public outrage at growing incidents of crime against women, the Uttar Pradesh government Friday said it was considering slapping the National Security Act (NSA) on those attacking and assaulting women. Principal Secretary (Home) R.M. Srivastava told reporters that action was also being taken against errant police officials for failing in their duties. Referring to a case in Etawah where a girl was gang-raped and then set ablaze, he said a magisterial probe had been ordered and officials have been directed to arrest the culprits as soon as possible. In the Pratapgarh case where a rape victim’s tongue was cut to prevent her from testifying in the court against the accused, the government was exploring possibility of invoking NSA on the accused. With regards to the murder of a four-year-old, allegedly after sexual assault in Lucknow a few days ago, a state government spokesman said the station officer concerned has been suspended and departmental action initiated against him. The stringent NSA provides for preventive detention for reasons like maintaining security, public order and so on. (New kerala 12/7/13)

19. UN spotlights teen pregnancy on World Population Day (8)
New York, July 12 : United Nations officials marked World Population Day Thursday by spotlighting the issue of adolescent pregnancy, and calling on Governments to take measures to enable girls to make responsible life choices and realize their potential. About 16 million girls under age 18 give birth each year, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which noted that another 3.2 million undergo unsafe abortions. The vast majority – 90 per cent – of the pregnant adolescents in the developing world are married. But for far too many of these girls, pregnancy has little to do with informed choice, said the agency. UNFPA pointed out that adolescent pregnancy is a health issue: the youngest mothers face a heightened risk of maternal complications, death and disability, including obstetric fistula. Their children face higher risks as well. It is also an issue of human rights: adolescent pregnancy often means an abrupt end of childhood, a curtailed education and lost opportunities. “This sensitive topic demands global attention,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 11 July. To address the problems associated with adolescent pregnancy, Ban stressed the need to get girls into primary school and enable them to receive a good education through their adolescence. “When a young girl is educated, she is more likely to marry later, delay childbearing until she is ready, have healthier children, and earn a higher income.” He also cited the need to provide all adolescents with age-appropriate, comprehensive education on sexuality, stating that this is especially important to empower young women to decide when and if they wish to become mothers. Also vital is providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, as well as the maternal health services that women need. “When we devote attention and resources to the education, health and well-being of adolescent girls, they will become an even greater force for positive change in society that will have an impact for generations to come.” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin stated that adolescent pregnancy is not just a health issue, but also a development issue. “It is deeply rooted in poverty, gender inequality, violence, child and forced marriage, power imbalances between adolescent girls and their male partners, lack of education, and the failure of systems and institutions to protect their rights,” he said in his message for the Day. “Breaking the cycle of adolescent pregnancy requires commitment from nations, communities and individuals in both developed and developing countries to invest in adolescent girls, he said. Governments should enact and enforce national laws that raise the age of marriage to 18 and should promote community-based efforts that support girls’ rights and prevent child marriage and its consequences. “Thursday, we call on Governments, the international community and all stakeholders involved to take measures that enable adolescent girls to make responsible life choices and to provide the necessary support for them in cases when their rights are threatened,” said Dr. Osotimehin. “Every young girl, regardless of where she lives, or her economic circumstances, has the right to fulfil her human potential. Thursday, too many girls are denied that right. We can change that, and we must.” (New Kerala 12/7/13)

20. Woman fights for justice after torture for dowry (8)
NAGPUR: One has to meet 23-year-old Shravani Tapas to realize the torture a woman facing dowry demands undergoes at the hands of her husband and his family members. With a one-and-half year old son to look after, today, Shravani is not only fighting for justice but also looking for a job. Shravani had tied the knot with Shrikant in December 2010. A postgraduate in commerce, Shravani had a cordial relation with her husband for around a couple of months at her in-laws’ place at Mahal. Then the torture began to force her to bring cash from her parents. After a complaint from Shravani, Kotwali police had registered an offence against Shrikant and his family members, including parents. Police had booked seven members of Tapas family under section 498(A) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for torturing Shravani, but no one was arrested. Shravani had said in her complaint that her husband and his family members were relentlessly harassing her to bring Rs50,000 from her parents. She had also filed a complaint under Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005. She had claimed maintenance from her husband. In the meantime, Shravani returned to stay with her parents at Suman Nagari in Godhni, towards the end of December last year. “My father is spending money on my legal challenges, and the rest of my family is also trying to help me but I want to lessen the burden on them and also stand on my feet,” said Shravani. She said that she has been trying hard to get a job somewhere. Shravani said she wants justice for the wrongs done to her. “My husband and his family members are not turning up at the court on the dates, which is delaying justice,” she said. (Times of India 13/7/13)

21. 50k crime-against-women cases pending (8)
MUMBAI: Nearly 50,000 cases of crime against women were pending in the city courts till May-end, the highest in the last five yars, information released under a Right To Information Act query shows. This is a 40% rise from the 2008 figure when 35,000 such cases were pending. The delay in dealing with such cases has become a serious concern as the city is seen as becoming increasingly unsafe for women. Crimes against women include sexual harassment, abuse, cruelty and rape cases. The pending cases of crime against women piled up to an alarming high of nearly 50,000 cases by May end, the highest in the last five years, a reply from the higher judiciary to a query under Right to Information Act has revealed. The pendency figures rose steadily from 35000 in 2008, and is now higher by almost 40%. The Bombay high court recently also informed an RTI activist that it wrote to the state more than a year ago to make its scheme for 100 fast-track courts a permanent feature beyond its 2016 deadline and that the issue was still under consideration by the government. Vihar Durve, a Pune-based RTI activist, had recently sought figures of the number of pending cases in the subordinate judiciary across the state involving oppression of minorities, crimes against women, corruption cases, motor accident cases and those pertaining to land acquisition since 2008. He had also sought information on fast-track courts. The high court disclosed that in the light of a Supreme Court ruling last April, all states have been directed to create additional 10% posts of district judges. The state and Centre are to equally share the financial cost of these additional posts. and The HC public information officer on June 28 furnished the latest pendency of cases. According to the data furnished by the high court public information officer, only 3,008 cases were pending under the Prevention of Corruption Act. There is a 12% rise in the pendency of corruption cases over 2008 figure. Pendency was the highest in the Motor Accident Claims category. More than 90,000 cases are pending before the tribunals, although it’s a drop of nearly 6% since 2008. The pendency of cases under the Land Acquisition Act had risen to more than 75,000 from 58,000 five years ago. There was a 50% rise in cases registered under the But the highest hike in cases, rather than the decrease expected by social and human rights activists, was the 50% rise in number of pending cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The pendency stands at more than 3,200 cases in the lower courts. On Saturday, Durve wrote to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to seek improvement in the judicial infrastructure across trial courts in the state. Last May, then registrar general, S B Shukre-recently elevated as high court judge -had written to the law secretary in Mantralaya that while the state had decided in 2011 to continue fast-track courts till March 2016, it ought to make them a permanent fixture in Maharashtra. Women’s activist lawyer Flavia Agnes said swifter trials were essential as one of the deterrent factors to bring down crime against women. (Times of India 15/7/13)

22. Husband refuses to identify ‘wife’ after three months of marriage (8)
SURAT: A student in Rajkot refused to identify his wife after three months of love marriage in Valsad town of south Gujarat. Following the issue and demand of dowry of Rs 2 lakh the wife lodged a compliant in woman police station at Valsad. The victim, a computer operator in Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education and Research (SMIMER) came in touch with the accused husband Vinesh Deshmukh, a resident of Panvadi village in Surat, few months ago. Deshmukh, a student at Rajkot came to stay with the victim in Valsad for around a month and later they got married in Rajkot. The couple got their marriage legally registered in Rajkot in February. Later when Deshmukh took the victim to his residence his parents demanded dowry of Rs 2 lakh. They refused to accept the victim as daughter in law if she fails to bring dowry money. The victim took help of Legal Family Help Centre in Valsad where Deshmukh and others were called to resolve the issue. At the Help Centre, Deshmukh refused to identify the victim and claimed that the marriage registration certificate is fake.  Deshmukh’s family members claimed that the victim is trying to trap them unnecessarily. There was no relation between the two, the family claimed. Following compliant, police started investigation in the case. (Times of India 16/7/13)

23. It’s official: Pregnant women to get free medical treatment from conception (8)
Jaipur: The Centre will provide free pre-natal health care and ambulance facilities to pregnant women across the country, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced on Tuesday. Under the Janani Suraksha Yojna (JSY) scheme pregnant women are provided free medical treatment during the delivery and post-natal care. In addition to this, the minister said pregnant women will be given ‘free medical and ambulance facilities’ from conception to delivery. They will also be able to avail free consultation from doctors at government hospitals for 45 days from delivery and infants will be given free treatment at the hospitals for one year, Azad said at a press conference. The minister said adolescent children (16 years and above) will be provided weekly supplements of iron and Folic Acid to prevent anaemic diseases in the children. In February this year, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had launched ‘Rashtriya Bal Suraksha Karyakram’ providing free medical care and diagnostic tests to children from class one to 12, he said. For better awareness of available medical care programmes, facilities and doctors, slots with Doordarshan and All India Radio had bought, where interactive sessions with speciality and super-speciality doctors were broadcast five days in a week for an hour, the minister said. Noting that the new doctors are reluctant to join their first posting in rural areas, Azad said, the Health Ministry was contemplating to include ‘internship’ of MBBS students with rural posting, and a salary benefit of Rs. 20,000 extra under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to those posted in rural areas. “First time the seats in medical colleges were raised from 150 to 250,” he added. (Asian Age 17/7/13)

EDUCATION/ RIGHT TO EDUCATION
24. HC upholds RTE provision which bans holding child back upon flunking exam (11)
Mumbai: Observing that a child suffers an intense psychological trauma if he or she is expelled or continued in the same class upon failing in the final examination, the Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a public interest litigation challenging a provision in the Right to Education Act. Under section 16 of the Act, no child shall be held back or expelled till completion of elementary school (standard eight). “A child who is not allowed to progress to the next standard suffers from an intense psychological trauma resulting in loss of self-worth. Holding back for want of adequate performance assessed with conventional methods like examinations places the child in a position of disadvantage in relation to his or her peers,” the court said. The division bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and S C Gupte was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Arun Joshi, director of a Solapur-based educational institute, stating that this provision had resulted in deterioration of educational standards. “The kind of pressure we put on our children these days… .At such a young age learning process need not be based only on exams. I was also a student and now a parent…I know how exams can be,” Justice Chandrachud said. The court observed that while enacting the RTE Act the Parliament was aware of social realities. “Assessing knowledge merely in terms of performance in examination takes a very narrow view of the purpose of education. Education must emphasise the need to initiate the child into a holistic pattern of development,” the bench said, dismissing the PIL. (Zee News 11/7/13)

25. 2,000 primary schools face closure threat (11)
COIMBATORE: The Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary Schools Welfare Association has warned that more than 2,000 primary and nursery schools in the State face the threat of closure in the current academic year over the issue of obtaining/renewing recognition. This would jeopardise the education of thousands of students and throw hundreds of teachers out of work. Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, association general secretary G. Krishnaraj said 900 schools in Tamil Nadu had already been closed by the Department of School Education last month as they had not been able to obtain or renew recognition mainly over their inability to meet the land requirements. The Right of Children To Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act prohibited schools from operating without recognition. “The State Government must not enforce land norms till the committee constituted to look into the land requirements for private schools submitted its report. Also, schools must be given adequate time to comply with the committee’s recommendations,” he said. Further, he also appealed for more time for schools to comply with the Transport Department’s conditions for operating school vehicles. He appealed to the government to relax some of the norms, terming them as ‘impractical’ to implement. In the wake of Private Schools Fee Determination Committee, headed by Justice S.R Singaravelu announcing the fee levels for current academic year, Mr. Krishnaraj said that many parents were refusing to pay the school fees. They were also complaining to school education officials that the schools were refusing to issue Transfer Certificates for their children. He appealed to the Department of School Education to direct their staff to investigate such complaints and ensure they were genuine before initiating action against the schools. (The Hindu 14/7/13)

26. Court to hear why school denied admission to sisters (11)
New Delhi, July 15 : A petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court by the father of three young sisters against a government-run school which allegedly refused to admit them. The petition is likely to come up Tuesday for hearing. The father, Hari Ram, said in the petition filed through advocate Ashok Agarwal that he approached the Rajkiya Sarvodya Kanya Vidyayalaya at Nanglio as he could not afford the high fees of private schools. He wanted the girls admitted in Class 6, 4 and 2 in the school located near his house. The plea said: “Despite repeated requests, the school has not given admission to the girls and they are sitting idle though the schools have reopened. “They are not only entitled to admission in the school but are also entitled to adequate compensation from the Delhi government on account of violation of their right to education.” It said the daughters were entitled to get admission in any school near their residence. The girls, aged 12, 8 and 6 years, possessed valid TC (transfer certificate) from the previous private school. The father found it tough to pay the fees in the private school. (New Kerala 15/7/13)

27. What RTE? Nalasopara school turns away six ‘poor’ parents (11)
MUMBAI: A group of parents from economically weak section has been protesting on the premises of a private unaided school in Nalasopara (east) after their children did not get admission there under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act. Under the Act, all schools, except unaided minority schools, have to reserve 25% seats for children from socially and economically weak families. Six parents, who wanted to admit their children in Stann Knowledge Centre’s pre-school, alleged the management turned them away and advised them to admit their children in civic schools as they would not be able to afford English education. While the principal is on leave, the staff refused to talk and no one from the management was available for comment. Seema Singh, one of the parents, said neither the school nor the education department is clear on if the RTE applies to private, unaided schools. “We are being chased away from schools. No one wants to commit on the RTE,”she complained. The parents have written a complaint to the education department of Vasai division, but said officials were not “encouraging”. Education officer Ramesh More of the Vasai division has directed all schools in thr area, including SKC, to submit a report on the number of admissions allotted under the RTE Act by July-end. The report, he said, will then be submitted to the state government for further action. (Times of India 16/7/13)

28. ‘Let school boards function till RTE set-up is in place’ (11)
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday said one way to resolve the impasse over disbanding of primary school boards in institutes run by municipal corporations is to allow existing boards to continue till a set-up is in place. A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice K R Shriram was hearing a petition filed by members of a primary education school board from Pune, urging stay on a July 1 ordinance, which repealed the Maharashtra Primary Education Act for being inconsistent with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and dissolved the boards. The petitioners’ advocate, Anil Anturkar, argued that it has resulted in chaos with no caretaker body to manage affairs of primary education. “Lakhs of children’s education is kept in a limbo,” said Anturkar. Government pleader Sandeep Shinde said the scheme provides that school management committee will replace the school boards and they are functional in 88,000 out of the 1.08 lakh schools in Maharashtra. This was disputed by Anturkar. The judges suggested that the governor may consider issuing a corrigendum to allow the existing boards to continue. “Our attempt is to find out a workable solution,” said Justice Kanade, posting the hearing on Thursday. (Times of India 18/7/13)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR
29. NCPCR pulls up West Bengal government for failing to curb child labour (14)
NEW DELHI: The NCPCR has pulled up the West Bengal government for allegedly failing to curb child labour in the state and asked it to set up an anti-human trafficking unit and ensure right to education to children. An National Commission for Protection of Child Rights team led by member Yogesh Dube, which recently visited the state, expressed unhappiness over the state labour department’s failure to implement the directives to ensure that minors are not employed in hazardous working conditions as per the law. “The performance of the labour department is pathetic as it has failed to rescue children working in industries, factories and brick kilns,” Dube said. A large number of children work in brick kilns across the state and the state government does not have proper figures of the children and workers working in those places, he said. “They do not have a proper action plan to bring child labourers into the mainstream and the labour department has failed to rescue and rehabilitate the children,” he said. “Hence, we have asked the state to draw up a proper action plan to monitor and ensure that the rights of the children are protected and establish an anti-human trafficking unit with the support of the police,” he said. “We have also asked the state to prepare proper mechanism to ensure the right of education to children.” He said the Commission felt the need for holding public hearings in this regard in all the districts. According to the data provided by the state to the Commission, it has rescued only 23 children since 2011 till date. As per a survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation in 2009-10, the number of working children in India was reported to be 29.84 lakh and in West Bengal the number was estimated at 5,51,584. (Times of India 14/7/13)

30. Thirty child labourers rescued (14)
New Delhi: Delhi Police, in association with the labour department and NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, rescued 30 child labourers, aged between seven and 16 years, and arrested four of their employers on Monday. The children were employed in inhuman conditions at an embroidery unit at the Garhi in Lajpat Nagar. Mostly from Madhubani, Darbhanga and Sitamarhi districts of Bihar and Barbanki district of Uttar Pradesh, the children were allegedly made to work for 12 to 14 hours a day, with as little as half-an-hour break in between. Their employers had restricted their movements and they were forced to work in closed rooms, thus compelled to eat, sleep and work in the same room. In fact, 16 children were found working in 10×4 rooms. Mannu (name changed), a 12-year-old boy from Bihar who was rescued, had been brought to the Capital for sightseeing by a man from his village. A few days after arrival, the man asked him to shuffle between work and education. However, though he was working at the embroidery unit, he was not enrolled in any school. Moreover, the man left him in the city never to come back. The boy had allegedly been working at the unit for two months and without receiving any remuneration for his work. The kid was elated on being rescued and said, “I am very happy that I am going back home to see my parents. I will go back to school.” Kailash Satyarthi, founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, under whose complaint the raid was conducted, accused the labour department of negligence due to which child labour was thriving in the area. “This is the sixth raid in Garhi since 2009 and children are still found to be working here. This shows that there is lack of fear among the factory owners. Hence, more stringent steps should be taken to punish the culprits,” he said. (Deccan Herald 15/7/13)

31. Child rights panel acts on TOI report (14)
NEW DELHI: Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights has taken suo moto cognizance of a TOI report on July 10 in which a two-year-old girl was sexually abused by a cab driver in west Delhi. In a letter addressed to the additional commissioner of west district and SHO of the police station concerned, Shashank Shekhar-a DCPCR member-asked them on Tuesday to produce an action-taken report by August 8. West district police acted swiftly and arrested the accused after registering a case under POCSO and relevant sections of IPC. DCPCR also asked police to explain what sections have been slapped on the accused. “We have been mandated to look after proper implementation of Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act. It is this particular aspect that we are investigating here. The incident is of prime importance as it involves a child who has just started visiting school,” said a commission member. He said that the commission will be asking the investigating officer of a round-up of the entire investigation. On July 8, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl became the latest victim of sexual abuse when a cab driver who picked and dropped her at a prep school assaulted her. The accused- identified as a 23-year-old who has been driving an Eeco -has been arrested. He had been appointed just two months ago by her parents. “A couple of days ago, the girl complained of pain and refused to go to school. Her mother did not know what was troubling her daughter. After much coaxing, the girl finally managed to communicate her trauma. A medical test conducted by doctors found that the child was carrying internal injuries. We arrested the accused,” said a senior police officer. (Times of India 17/7/13)

32. 20 children die after eating mid-day meal in Bihar school
Patna: 20 young children have died in Bihar and more than 30 are in hospital, allegedly due to food-poisoning from the free mid-day meal at a government-run primary school near Chhapra in the central part of the state. Most of the children who died were younger than 10. 20 dead children were buried near the school, as many are still battling for life in hospital. The woman who cooked the meal and her children have also died. The children fell ill soon after eating the meal of rice, pulse and soyabean on Tuesday afternoon. As Bihar tried to come to terms with the horrific tragedy, state Education Minister PK Shahi said preliminary inquiries revealed the food had traces of an organophosphate used as an insecticide on rice and wheat crops. “The food may not have been washed before it was served at the school,” he said. According to some reports, only children who ate the soyabean had been affected. Locals said the dish had been cooked in bad, poisonous oil. “This is an example that we should exercise more caution when it comes to mid-day meals provided to children,” said Union Education Minister Pallam Raju. The Centre has sent an official to investigate the deaths. A case has been registered against the school’s headmistress Meena Devi and other teachers. Angry protests have broken out in Chhapra, where hundreds of people surrounded the local police station on Tuesday demanding action against the school.
“The children came back crying from school and complained of a stomach ache after having dal, rice and vegetables. We went to the school to find out and saw many children lying sick,” said a distraught parent whose child is being treated in hospital. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered an inquiry and announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to the families of the children. The opposition BJP, which was dumped recently by the chief minister after a 17-year partnership, was quick to blame the Nitish Kumar government. “This is criminal negligence and the state government is responsible for this.” Chhapra is the Lok Sabha constituency of former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, who said, “This is happening everywhere in Bihar. I will see who is responsible for this.” In Bihar, widespread corruption has been reported in the mid-day meal scheme, the world’s largest school-feeding programme that reaches out to some 12 crore children in schools across the country. Bihar Food Minister Shyam Rajak said as per procedure, the school administration was given a cheque and they were responsible for buying the rations. (NDTV 17/7/13)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES
33. Climate study for better agriculture (20)
Ludhiana: Snowfall in Pathankot on January 6-7, 2011, 400 mm rainfall in 24 hours in Ludhiana on August 12, 2011; -4°C in Bathinda on February 9, 2012. Coming within such a short span, these deviations from what is seen as normal for Punjab have caused alarm among agricultural scientists, who stress the need for continuous research on the impact of climate changes on the agriculture of a state whose produce feeds half the nation. Punjab Agricultural University established a School of Climate Change and Agriculture Agro-meteorology this season. It is the country’s second agriculture university to have a specialised department on the subject. Kerala Agriculture University had established its Academy of Climate Change Education and Research in 2010. “We studied the temperature readings from 1960 to 2012. What we found was alarming. There has been a 1°C increase in the minimum temperature of Punjab, which is huge,” says Dr S S Kukal, director in PAU’s School of Climate Change. The increase in minimum temperature is not a good sign for rice and wheat, says Dr Kukal. “Wheat is a rabi crop and rice a kharif one. The annual rabi and kharif seasons’ average minimum temperatures have increased 0.01 to 0.06°C a year in all districts except Amritsar and Nawanshahar. Production of the two staple crops for India will be affected by the climate change and we need to find solution to that.” The decision to set up the centre was prompted also by abnormal rainfall spells that can have an adverse impact on agriculture. “On June 16 this year, it rained 180 mm in a single day in Ludhiana. Now had our department been only for weather forecasting, we would have closed the matter by saying Ludhiana had got normal monsoon. But 25 per cent of the total expected rain in one day is not really normal. Most of the rainfall went as runoff, not into the ground. It is a good spread of rainfall spells that crops need, not all the rain in one day,” says Dr Kukal. (Indian Express 12/7/13)

34. Farmers see new hope with implementation of irrigation project (20)
Bathinda: Farmers of Nangla village in the district have managed to move away from the tag of a dependent rain-fed agriculture region to an irrigated region, thanks to the laying of the Underground Pipeline System (UGPS). Large agricultural areas of Nangla, 15 km from Talwandi Sabo, was just desert before the introduction of the centrally-sponsored Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) scheme. Most farmers have small land holdings are poor and it was impossible to grow crops due to a large quantity of alkali salts coming forth on the alkali surface. Punjab soil and water conservation, department chief Mohinderpal Singh said that the scheme was implemented in the state in 2010-11.”An extensive 8-km RCC underground pipeline of 700 mm diameter was laid to ferry 3.72 cusecs of canal water for irrigating the fields of farmers of Nangla village from the Mirjeana Minor.” “The total cost of the project was Rs. 1.36 crore, of which Rs. 1.22 crore (90 per cent) was provided as subsidy from RKVY. The rest of the 10 per cent was contributed by the poor farmers as labour in the form of laying the pipeline.” He added that after the execution of the project, 1,222 acres received assured irrigated water and regular crops could be grown there .The project benefited 568 farmers, including 30 SC beneficiaries. He said that after implementation of the project, the yield of wheat doubled from 10 quintals to 20 quintals per acre. Farmers could also diversify into cotton, fodder and vegetables.He also claimed that land prices had gone up and farmers were also able to shift to supplementary dairy items like dairying. “The UGPS has not only helped in saving of farm land under katcha channels but also saved labour and diesel costs. It is a model village and its success can easily be replicated to other villages,” said Singh. (Hindustan Times 14/7/13)

35. Chhattisgarh’s farmer unrest: As landholdings dwindle, govt plans a new law (20)
Durg: Last week, the Chhattisgarh cabinet decided to enact a law that would prohibit the sale of agricultural land to non-farmers. The law, the bill for which will be introduced in the monsoon session, will make it mandatory for industries to approach the government for land, which it would buy from farmers. “The government is bringing this legislation to prevent circumvention of the relief and rehabilitation policy, with agriculture land being bought by intermediaries but later being sold for industrial purposes,” Chief Minister Raman Singh told The Indian Express on Sunday. Last month, he had said, “They (companies) set up a project of Rs 5,000 crore, but complain about compensation that is just a fraction of the cost.” There have been at least two recent instances of land being routed to companies in a manner that government probes later found illegal. In March, two government officers and a land agent were arrested in Bilaspur district for fraudulently registering 53 acres in Bhadora village in favour of two real estate companies. The Indian Express reported on March 18 that these companies had bought the land for a proposed power plant of a company owned by Health Minister Amar Agarwal. And on April 6, agitating farmers set on fire an under-construction plant of JK Lakshmi Cement in Malpuri village, Durg. They have been alleging that the company bought the land from middlemen whom they had sold their land to, unaware that a cement plant would be coming up there. A probe by the then district collector found that agricultural land had been diverted illegally. Signs of concern about the routes through which land is being acquired go back much longer. On August 3, 2011, the then AIG (Intel) wrote to SPs of all districts expressing concern over “farmland illegally bought by industrialists to establish their factories” and seeking details of all such purchases. (Indian Express 15/7/13)

36. Find solutions to problems of small farmers: President (20)
New Delhi, July 16 : President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday called upon agricultural scientists to find solutions to challenges faced by millions of small and marginal farmersAddressing agricultural scientists and policymakers at the 85th foundation day celebrations of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research here, the president drew attention to issues like quality seed production, agro-processing and post-harvest handling of farm produce and development and introduction of genetically modified crops, a statement said. Mukherjee also asked them to prepare Indian agriculture for climate change. Speaking on the occasion, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar called for advancing pro-poor agricultural research and development. He expressed the hope that India would become one of the leading food suppliers to the world while, at the same time, serving the vast growing domestic market of over a billion people. The president also launched an SMS portal exclusively for farmers through which farmers can get agriculture-related information and advisories as per their needs and location, and in their own language, said the statement. The president also presented awards to institutions, scientists and journalists dealing with agricultural research and education. (New Kerala 16/7/13)

POVERTY/ HUNGER
37. Delhi Govt gears up to roll out food scheme, 5.10 L families to benefit in Phase (21)
New Delhi: A day after Sonia Gandhi asked Congress-ruled states to implement the food security scheme in ‘letter and spirit’, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today said her government was “gearing up” for its roll out in the city on August 20, the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Considering the potential of the populist scheme in the assembly elections in the city slated for November, Dikshit last week had announced that Delhi will be the first state in the country to launch the scheme, dubbed by the Congress as ‘game changer’ in the Lok Sabha polls next year. “Our government is gearing up to launch the Food Security Scheme on August 20. We are working hard to ensure successful implementation of the scheme to ensure a hunger-free Delhi,” Dikshit said while addressing a workshop of Resident Welfare Associations. The Chief Minister said 5.10 lakh families in the city will be provided food grains under the scheme in the first phase and the entitled food grain will be given to the beneficiary families through their senior most female members to with an aim to empower the fairer sex. “We will provide food grains to 5.10 lakh families in the first phase which will mean coverage of around 32 lakh people under the scheme. The scheme would go a long way in overcoming malnutrition and poverty. “We will give the entitlement to senior most female member of the beneficiary families in order to further empower women in the Capital city,” the Chief Minister said. Dikshit has already ordered all concerned agencies and departments to complete the ground work for roll out of the scheme and appointed a committee under chairmanship of Food and Supply Minister Harun Yusuf to ovesee the preparations. The city government would side-by-side include more families under the ambit of Food Security. She further stated that the government would distribute Food Security Cards in formal launch function which would help in realising food security guarantee at large. In the first phase, all the BPL families, Above Poverty Line (APL) card holders and Jhughi Ration Card (JRC) holders and beneficiaries under Antodaya Anna Yojna will be included. The city government has also decided to include homeless people, daily wage earners, rag pickers, people living in resettlement colonies and slum clusters in the first phase implementation of the scheme. No income tax payers, vehicle and house owners will be included under the scheme in the first phase, officials said adding that the second and final phase of implementation of the scheme will be launched in February next year. They said the beneficiaries of Annashree Yojna, who are getting a monthly cash subsidy of Rs 600, are likely to be kept out in the first phase. Under the scheme, three-fourth population of the country will have the right to get 5 kg of foodgrains every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kg. Per kg of rice will be supplied at Rs 3 while wheat and wheat and coarse cereals will be given at Rs 2 and Rs 1 per kg respectively under the programme. However, about 2.43 crore poorest of the poor families covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme under PDS would continue to get 35 kg of grains per family per month but with legal entitlement. (Deccan Herald 14/7/13)

38. Improving PDS critical to food security law, says food minister (21)
New Delhi: A day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked the party-ruled states to implement national food security Bill in ‘letter and spirit’, food minister KV Thomas on Sunday said the biggest challenge is to improve the existing targeted public distribution system (TPDS) so that highly subsidised foodgrain reaches the masses. “The key challenge faced by the government is to improve the existing TPDS and we hope to do so during the next six months,” Thomas told FE. He said computerisation and modernisation of the PDS is under works and is expected to reduce pilferage of foodgrain to a ‘large extent’. Thomas said Food Corporation of India (FCI), which would play a key role in implementation of the food security law, has ‘enough’ foodgrain stock in excess of 77 mt at present against an annual requirement of 62 mt under the food security law. He said that the food ministry is emphasising on reducing the pilferage and wastages in distribution of foodgrain. Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh on Saturday deliberated with 13 chief ministers of Congress-ruled states on how to implement the law that seeks to provide highly subsidised foodgrain to 82 crore citizens, for which an ordinance was promulgated last week. Many Congress leaders were of the view that as long as PDS is not efficient, the food security law would not have impact on the ground. Thomas said while the government will hold talks with the BJP-ruled states for the implementation of food security programme, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana are expected to launch it by next month. “Karnataka and Kerala are expected to initiate work-relating implementation of the food bill shortly,” he said. The Planning Commission estimate on below poverty line (BPL) families is to be released shortly and the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is expected to completed by September, he noted.   (Indian Express 15/7/13)

39. ‘Food Security Bill aimed at combating hunger’ (21)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The National Food Security Bill, 2013, which envisages Right to Food, has nothing to do with elections or politics but is a humane initiative aimed at combating hunger and malnutrition, according to Randeep Singh Surjewala, Haryana Minister and former national president of Youth Cong. Addressing mediapersons here, he said that the initiative of the Congress is based on a quest to eradicate hunger from the country and anyone who attributes politics to the move is myopic. The minister, who was deputed by the Congress high command to explain the highlights of the Food Security Bill, said that the legislation would statutorily ensure 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month and cover 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban population, which together constitutes about 67 per cent of the total population. This is in addition to the allotment to 2.5 crore Antyodaya families. A total of about 82 crore Indians would stand to benefit from the legislation and which would cost Rs 1,24,747 crore to implement and would supply 72.6 million tonnes of foodgrains. In case of Kerala, 1.41 crore of the 3.33 crore population will benefit, he said. Pregnant and lactating mothers will be given free meals during pregnancy and six months after child birth through anganwadis, apart from a maternity benefit of Rs 6,000 in instalments, he said. Randeep Singh said that in case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains, a Food Security Allowance will ensure providing an equivalent amount. The Bill envisages the Central Government to provide cent percent of requirement of foodgrains of states under the ‘Right to Food’. The Centre is also bound to pay the expenditure incurred by the state governments for intra-state movement and handling of foodgrains apart from margin paid to fair price shop dealers. The state govts are duty bound to launch the scheme within 180 days from July 5, the date of notification, he said. If any government is not willing to introduce the scheme, the beneficiaries will be entitled for the Food Security Allowance from the state, he said. Later, Randeep Singh inaugurated a workshop on the topic. KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, former Meghalaya Governor M M Jacob, Minister K C Joseph and others spoke. (New Indian Express 17//7/13)

RESERVATION
40. Less than Rs 2 lakh p.a. may make family EBC (25)
New Delhi: With an eye on the 2014 polls, the Centre is set to classify all households whose annual incomes do not exceed Rs 2 lakh — those exempted from paying income tax — as Economically Backward Classes (EBCs), entitled to various beneficiary schemes. Moving a cabinet note in this regard, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has urged all ministries to include EBCs in existing schemes as well as frame new schemes for them. The ministry’s own schemes for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), like scholarships, coaching and hostel facilities, will cover EBCs too. “All our existing schemes for OBCs will be extended to EBCs. In the backdrop of the new economic realities, EBCs should be given benefits along with BPL (Below Poverty Line) families,” said Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Kumari Selji, adding that the individual ministries would decide what schemes would be extended to EBCs. The ministry, however, has decided to postpone a decision on the demand for quota for EBCs in jobs and admissions. “That is something that needs wider consultations with chief ministers and other political parties,” said an official. Ministry sources said there is a feeling that the BPL category should make way for EBCs. However, the note does not spell this out. In 2004, a commission was set up to frame recommendations for improving the condition of economically backward people not covered in the existing reservation policy for SCs, STs and OBCs. The ministry, in its definition of EBCs, has followed the committee’s recommendation that “all BPL families among general category as notified from time to time, and all those families among general category whose annual family income from all sources is below the taxable limit should be identified as EBCs.” While income will remain the sole criteria for identification of EBCs, subject to revision as and when income tax exemption limits are revised, for now, other parameters could be included at a later stage based on trends emerging out of the socio-economic caste census… (Indian Express 12/7/13)

41. Resolution for SC, ST quota in GTA jobs (25)
Darjeeling, July 14: The GTA Sabha has passed a resolution in favour of reserving 22 per cent for Scheduled Castes and 6 per cent for Scheduled Tribes in GTA jobs. The executive Sabha of the GTA, which passed the resolution yesterday, has also decided to follow reservations in the GTA elections that would reflect the 33.72 per cent presence of STs and the 9.82 per cent of SCs in the hills. The moves are being seen as a way to woo SCs who had spoken out against the lack of reservations for teachers’ jobs in the hills. The hills also have a sizeable tribal population. Among them are Lepchas, whom Trinamul tried to woo after the state set up a Lepcha development board. Roshan Giri, an executive member of the GTA, used the word “reservation” yesterday while talking about the hill election system but did not specify the quota percentage for SCs and STs. “The GTA has passed a resolution to provide seat reservations to SC and ST communities in the next GTA elections,” Giri, a senior Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader, said. About GTA job recruitments, he said: “The Sabha had also decided to maintain a 100-point roster system in all future appointments made by the GTA.” According to the 100-point roster system, 22 per cent of jobs have to be reserved for SCs and 6 per cent have to be set aside for STs. Members of Other Backward Classes enjoy a reservation of 27 per cent. Giri said the GTA Act would have to be amended to reserve seats in the hill body, which means the resolution would require the state government’s sanction. The GTA has 45 elected members and five nominated ones. None of seats is reserved. The resolution was adopted at a meeting of the executive body here yesterday. The SC community had criticised the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for denying them their constitutional rights while appointing 575 primary school teachers recently. SC leaders had said 127 candidates from the community needed to be appointed as the teachers, but only 80 had been given jobs. They had threatened to approach the National Commission on Schedule Castes with the matter. The SC leaders couldn’t be contacted today for a reaction on the Gta’s resolution. Observers believe the GTA’s decision to pass a resolution on reservations in the hill body’s seats as well as jobs was the fallout of the SC community’s protest. “This is a move aimed at wooing the SC community. Moreover, the Morcha would be on the back foot if they (the SC community) approach court or the National Commission for Schedule Castes against the GTA for not following quota in teachers’ recruitment,” said an observer. The SC community, led by Kamasingh Ramudamu, were among the first to support the Morcha in 2007 as the Sixth Schedule demand raised by GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh did not have any provision for reserving seats for the SCs. But for STs, there was a provision to reserve 10 of the 28 elected seats of the council proposed to be created under the Sixth Schedule. Ramudamu was made the vice-president of the Morcha, a post he held till he died in 2009. Many also believe the GTA decided to seek the seat reservation to curry favour with the Lepchas, who belong to the ST community. Earlier this year, the GTA and the state government were at loggerheads over the formation fo a Lepcha development board. The Morcha wanted a Lecha development board under the GTA, but the state government, after talks with Lepcha leaders, set it up in February under the state government’s backward classes welfare department. The GTA executive body also passed a resolution to demand ST status for 10 Gorkha communities. “The 10 Gorkha communities are Rai, Gurung, Sunwar-Mukhia, Khas-Hitkari, Bhujel, Newar, Dewan, Mangar, Thami and Jogi. The Centre and state had agreed to pursue the demand in the memorandum of agreement,” Giri said. (Telegraph 14/7/13)

42. Eye on polls, Centre focuses on denotified, nomadic tribes’ uplift (25)
NEW DELHI: The Centre has decided to roll out programmes of economic and educational empowerment for denotified and nomadic tribes — the most vulnerable of social groups — but ruled out special reservation regime for these communities on the lines of backwards and dalits. The nomadic and denotified tribes would be identified across states so that initiatives can be launched for their welfare, recognizing the existence of these groups on national scale. They would be eligible for educational and economic benefits at par with OBCs like scholarships, skill development, coaching and loans among others. A “national commission”, like the National Commissions for SCs and STs, would be created for their identification as also for suggesting measures required for their uplift. A “national development corporation” would also be constituted for funding their entrepreneurial initiatives. The ministry, headed by Kumari Selja, would soon seek the Cabinet nod for new welfare regime targeting these tribes. “It is a much-required initiative for the holistic development of these weak groups,” the minister said. With these tribes forming a chunk of population in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress would hope to attract their votes in 2014 elections. Constituting 11% of the national population, these tribes form a significant voting bloc but have been swamped by stronger dalits and backwards with whom they compete for affirmative action. Around 85% of them have either been clubbed among OBCs or SCs/STs. While moving to address the development needs of nomadic/denotified tribes through welfare schemes, the social justice ministry has decided against Renke panel’s recommendation for special reservation. The panel, mandated to identify measures to address the socio-economic needs of these tribes, suggested that they be culled out of SC/ST/OBC lists and be put together in a “scheduled group” with special quota of 10%. The Union ministry has opposed the creation of new category for two reasons — not only will a “scheduled group” like SC/ST require a constitutional amendment but a special quota would breach the 50% ceiling on quota that would invite legal hassles. Instead, the ministry has recommended that a national commission for denotified tribes would be launched with the mandate to identify them across states and in SC/ST/OBC lists, and to recommend measures for their welfare. It would also pursue the case of tribes who have not yet been put in SC/ST or OBC lists. The national commission would also make the maiden assessment of the progress made by these tribes and suggest measures to be launched for their development. (Times of India 18/7/13)

HINDUTVA
43. VHP to mobilise support from MPs for Ram Mandir (26)
NAGPUR: Relaunching the temple card, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today said it is planning to mobilise support from all MPs for the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and hopes to complete the process of consultations till December. “We will hold consultation with all party MPs, the first of it scheduled on July 28, in Delhi when MPs gather there for Monsoon Session of Parliament,” VHP leader Pravin Togadia, said here today. He said VHP will meet all MPs to convince them on the issue. “The ball is in Government court and Parliament should enact a law to build the temple in Ayodhya,” he told PTI while returning from Amravati after attending the RSS ‘Chintan Baithak’ there. He said the Government has given an affidavit in the court that if remains of Ram Mandir are found during excavation by the Archaeological Survey, the Government will hand over the land to Hindus and if not it will be given back to Muslims where Babri Masjid existed before it was demolished in December 1992. Togadia, replying to a query on former Gujarat Minister Amit Shah’s comments in Ayodhya that Ram Mandir will be build there, said, “Shah only uttered which was expected from a staunch Hindu leader when he (anyone) reaches Ayodhya temple site.” While refusing to take direct questions on deliberations during RSS conclave in Amravati, Togadia said, whoever (even Mulayam Singh Yadav and Gandhis) support Hindutva, and protect interests of crores of Hindus, saves cow from slaughter and provides employment opportunities to vast Hindu population, the VHP will support them during general elections. “We are interested in 100 crore Hindus and not about measures for remaining 21 crore including Christians and Muslims and others,” he said. Speaking further on the temple issue, Togadia said we want sincere efforts and not “tokenism”.”Only concrete efforts are needed from leadership,” he said without naming any individual or party involved. VHP agenda is very clear… Ram Mandir, ban on cow slaughter, common civil code, Article 370 removal, employment and business opportunities to Hindus and protection of rights and interests of Hindus, he said. Hindus have been neglected and persecuted for so many years, he claimed. (New Indian Express 12/7/13)

44. Modi must know that Indian Constitution is not based on Hindutva: Mayawati (26)
LUCKNOW: A day after her party MP sympathized with Narendra Modi over his ‘puppy’ remark, Bahujan Samaj party chief Mayawati has a piece of advice for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. “He (Modi) must read the provisions of the Indian constitution in detail. When he would scan through the pages, he would realize that it is based on the principle of secularism and not Hindutva,” she said while issuing a warning to her party MP from Hamirpur Vijay Bahadur Singh who backed Modi. Mayawati, however, said that though Singh’s view was personal, he should learn to follow the rule. “He has the tendency of making personal statements. It is for this that the party has decided not to give him a ticket in the 2014 lok sabha elections. And this was his last chance. If he continues with it, he will be shown the doors,” said Mayawati giving a message to the other party workers. Mayawati demanded imposition of a ban on organisations like Vishwa Hindu parishad, Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh after accusing them of playing filthy caste based politics from behind the scenes. “The court should also look into the role of organizations like VHP, RSS that stay behind the scenes and even call the shots as far as appointing the chief ministers and prime ministers,” she said. The BSP chief sought Supreme Court attention over political leaders attempting to disturb peace (and revive the ram temple issue) in Ayodhya, Faizabad. BJP leader Amit Shah had went to Ayodhya last week. (Times of India 14/7/13)

45. Mayawati seeks ban on RSS, VHP (26)
LUCKNOW: Three days after Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court banned caste-based rallies, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Sunday justified such gatherings organized by her party and instead demanded a ban on RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, saying religion-based organisations are “far more dangerous to national unity”.”Outfits like the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal which claim that they are not political, control the BJP through remote control in reality. They design religious and caste-based political strategies for the BJP besides finalising its prime ministerial candidate. They are a bigger threat to the nation. I urge the court to ban them as well,” Mayawati told a press conference here. The BSP chief urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu action against leaders like BJP’s UP in-charge Amit Shah who voiced his support for construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site during his recent visit to Ayodhya. Shah is a key aide of BJP’s chief campaigner and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. Mayawati said the BSP would organise rallies and conventions under the aegis of ‘Sarvasamaj Bhaichara Sammelan’. “This will be done to give a message that our rallies are a step in public and national interest,” she said. “We don’t work like ordinary political parties. We have a sense of social responsibility, the biggest of all is to ensure that the country’s social fabric remains intact,” the former UP chief minister said. She said the ‘caste rallies’, organised by the BSP, should be seen in the correct light. “Our effort is to bring different castes together so that the goal of ‘samtamoolak samaj’ (social equality) is achieved. They should not be seen as dividing the society,” she said. Mayawati launched a scating attack on Narendra Modi for his puppy analogy. The Gujarat CM had said that even if a “puppy comes under the wheel of a car, one feels sad” when asked whether he regretted the 2002 riots in a recent interview. She decried Modi for calling himself a “Hindu nationalist”. “When he (Modi) scans the pages of the Constitution, he will realise that it is based on the principle of secularism and not Hindutva.” The BSP chief said the Supreme Court’s recent ruling banning those in jail from contesting elections could be misused. “I will urge the government to file a plea against the Supreme Court’s ruling as many political parties will take advantage of it,” she said. Voicing her support for a separate Telengana state, she said her party would support the UPA if it takes such a decision. Mayawati accused chief minister Akhilesh Yadav of unleashing a “Goonda Raj’ in Uttar Pradesh. “Barring a few persons from a certain caste, everyone else is living in fear,” she said. Citing the incidents in Pratapgarh and Etawah, she said the crime rate had increased manifold in the state. (Times of India 15/7/13)

Sorry, comments are closed for this item.