New on my other blogs

KERALA LETTER
A Dalit poet writing in English, based in Kerala
Foreword to Media Tides on Kerala Coast
Teacher seeks V.S. Achuthanandan's intervention to end harassment by partymen
Change of heart? Or stooping to conquer?
Some thoughts on the historic Battle of Colachel

വായന

25 February, 2014

Law’s agonising delays

BRP Bhaskar
Gulf Today

Nearly 23 years after the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the fate of seven persons convicted in connection with the crime still remains uncertain, although, mercifully, they have been spared the gallows.

The prolonged delay in the conclusion of the legal process in this case contrasts sharply with the speedy end of those relating to the assassinations of Mahatma Gandhi and prime minister Indira Gandhi.

The Mahatma was shot dead in New Delhi on January 30, 1948, less than six months after the country gained freedom. Investigators concluded that, apart from Nathuram Vinayak Godse, who had pulled the trigger, 11 others, including Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, freedom fighter and Hindutva ideologue, were involved in the conspiracy that led to the murder. One accused turned approver and was pardoned.

In the judgment pronounced on February 10, 1949, the trial court gave Godse and another accused, Narayan Apte, the death sentence and jail terms to some others. Savarkar was given the benefit of doubt and acquitted.

The East Punjab High Court, which heard the appeals, too acted with due dispatch. It acquitted one accused and confirmed the sentences on the others. Godse and Apte were executed on November 15, 1949.

Prime minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, members of her security staff, on October 31, 1984. Other members of the security staff fired at them, killing Beant Singh on the spot and injuring Satwant Singh. The prosecution alleged that a third person, Kehar Singh, was also involved in the conspiracy to kill Mrs Gandhi.

The trial court held both Kehar Singh and Satwant Singh guilty and sentenced them to death. The Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court upheld the sentences, and both were hanged on January 6, 1989.

Rajiv Gandhi was killed in an explosion at Sriperumpudur, near Chennai, on May 21, 1991 while on an election tour. The explosion was set off by Dhanu, a woman suicide bomber sent by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which was involved in a civil war to carve out an independent Tamil state from the island nation of Sri Lanka. Dhanu too was killed in the explosion. LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabakaran and his top aides, who figured among the 41 accused mentioned in the charge-sheet prepared by the special investigation team (SIT), were never caught. They took their own lives or were killed in the civil war.

A total of 26 persons faced trial. All of them, except perhaps Nalini, who was said to be a member of the squad the LTTE had sent to India, and her husband, Murugan alias Sriharan, played only a peripheral role in the crime. Since the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act was invoked, investigators could keep the accused in custody continuously for a long period, as against 15 days permitted under the normal law, and their confessions to the police could be admitted as evidence.

The trial court found all the 26 accused guilty and awarded the death penalty. Being a TADA case, only the Supreme Court was competent to entertain appeals. On May 11, 1999, a bench, presided over by Justice KT Thomas, confirmed the death sentence on four of the accused and reduced the sentence on the others to various terms of imprisonment.

Nalini had given birth to a girl while in custody. The government, accepting the Gandhi family’s plea, commuted her sentence to life term.

The fate of the other condemned prisoners remained uncertain for more than a decade as three successive presidents, KR Narayanan, APJ Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil, took no action on their mercy petitions. President Pranab Mukherji rejected their petitions but the Supreme Court quickly stepped in and commuted the death sentence.

The apex court, which had ruled a few days earlier that inordinate, unexplained and agonising delays in deciding on mercy petitions would be ground for commutation, pointed out that in this case the petitions had remained unattended for more than 11 years.

Following the Supreme Court judgment, the Tamil Nadu government decided to release Nalini and the three others, who have been in prison for more than two decades, in keeping with the long standing practice of releasing lifers after 14 years. The decision led to a storm of protests from Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, son of the slain leader.

At the instance of the Centre, the Supreme Court intervened again, and directed Tamil Nadu not to release the convicts until it examined the matter.

The history of this case underscores the need for both the judicial and executive branches to streamline their procedures so as to ensure speedy conclusion of the process of law. -- Gulf Today, Sharjah, February 25, 2014

20 February, 2014

Feminist Declaration for Post 2015: Request for endorsement


Feminist organisations and groups met in New York on 7-10 February 2014 to envision a just and sustainable future. This declaration calls for structural and transformational changes to the way development is being planned and implemented. There are currently 120 organisations who have endorsed this declaration. If you would like your organisation to endorse the statement, kindly email feministspost2015@gmail.com.

Gender, Economic, Social and Ecological Justice for Sustainable Development A Feminist Declaration for Post 2015

As the United Nations decide on the future course of international development post 2015, women of all ages, identities, ethnicities, cultures and across sectors and regions, are mobilizing for gender, social, cultural, economic and ecological justice, sustainable development and inclusive peace. We seek fundamental structural and transformational changes to the current neoliberal, extractivist and exclusive development model that perpetuates inequalities of wealth, power and resources between countries, within countries, and between men and women. We challenge the current security paradigm that increases investments in the military-industrial complex, which contributes to violent conflict between and within countries.

We demand a paradigm transformation from the current development neoliberal economic model, which prioritizes profit over people, and exacerbates inequalities, war and conflict, militarism, patriarchy, environmental degradation and climate change. Instead, we call for economic models and development approaches that are firmly rooted in principles of human rights and environmental sustainability, that address inequalities between people and states, and that rebalance power relations for justice so that the result is sustained peace, equality, the autonomy of peoples, and the preservation of the planet.

This transformational shift requires the redistribution of unequal and unfair burdens on women and girls in sustaining societal wellbeing and economies, intensified in times of violence and conflict, as well as during economic and ecological crises. It also must bring attention to the kind of growth generated and for this growth to be directed toward ensuring wellbeing and sustainability for all. Itmust tackle intersecting and structural drivers of inequalities, and multiple forms of discrimination based on gender, age, class, caste, race, ethnicity, place of origin, cultural or religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, health status and abilities.
development model that will work for women and girls of all ages and identities must be firmly rooted in international human rights obligations, non-retrogression, progressive realization, and the Rio principles, including common but differentiated responsibilities, as well as the fulfillment of the Extraterritorial Obligations of States as outlined in the Maastricht Principles. It also requires states to have ratified and implemented international human rights treaties, including on economic and social rights and women’s human rights, and multilateral environmental agreements. Any sustainable development framework Post 2015 must aim for social inclusion and equity, human security and sustainable peace, the fulfillment of human rights for all and gender equality. It requires reviewing the current security paradigm of investing heavily in militarized peace and security; respecting the secularity of the State where this is enshrined in national norms; reverse the current model of over – consumption and production to one of sustainable consumption, production, and distribution; and ensure a new ecological sustainability plan that applies a biosphere approach and respect for planetary boundaries and ecological sustainability.

We aim to build political commitment and to overcome financial and legal obstacles to sustainable development, peace, and the respect, protection and fulfillment of all women’s human rights. We urge the international community to address the unjust social, economic and environmental conditions that perpetuate armed conflict, violence and discrimination, the feminization of poverty, commodification of natural resources, and threats to food sovereignty that impede women and girls from becoming empowered, realizing their human rights, and achieving gender equality.Specifically, we call for:

1. Gender equality to be cross -cutting across all sustainable development goals, strategies, and objectives, as well as a stand alone goal to achieve gender equality and the full realization of women’s human rights that contributes to the redistribution of the current concentration of power, wealth and resources, including information and technology. We call for an enabling environment that will empower all women and girls; an end to all forms of gender- based violence including early and forced marriages, honor killings and sexual violence, especially during and after conflict and natural disasters; an end to all forms of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, cultural background and health status; guarantee women’s equal, full and effective participation at all levels of political and public life, leadership and decision- making, including in all peace processes; guarantee women’s equal rights to land and property; guarantee all women’s sexual, bodily and reproductive autonomy free from stigma, discrimination and violence; and collect data and statistics, disaggregated by, among others, gender, age, race, ethnicity, location, disability and socio-economic status to inform the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of laws, policies and programs.

2. Any goal on education must include specific means to address the social, cultural and community practices that prevent girls, adolescents and women across the lifecourse from accessing and completing education and lifelong learning; create enabling environments for girls’ learning, including safety, hygiene, and mobility; achieve universal access to quality early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education for all children and eliminate gender gaps, with a focus on transitions between primary- secondary and secondary-tertiary in order to ensure retention and completion by girls, adolescents and young people; provide formal and non- formal education for all women to be aware of and able to exercise their human rights; comprehensive sexuality education programs that promote values of respect for human rights, freedom, non-discrimination, gender equality, non- violence and peace- building; education curricula that are gender-sensitive and eliminate gender stereotypes, sexism, racism and homophobia, and that provide teacher training to enable the delivery of un-biased, non-judgmental education

3. Any goal on health must include: the achievement of the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Health services must be integrated and comprehensive, free from violence, coercion, stigma and discrimination, and emphasize equitable access, especially for adolescents, to contraception, including emergency contraception, information on assisted reproduction, maternity care, safe abortion, prevention and treatment of STIs and prevention, treatment, care and support of HIV, as well as services for those suffering from violence and in situations of emergencies and armed conflict. All services must be accessible, affordable, acceptable and of quality. New investments and strategies for health and the development of goals, targets and indicators must be firmly based on human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights.

4. To ensure economic justice we call for: an enabling international environment for development that upholds the extra-territorial obligation of states to ensure macroeconomic and financial policies meet economic and social rights as enshrined in the Maastricht principles. This includes development – oriented trade, fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies, progressive tax measures, a sovereign debt workout mechanism, and ending trade and investment treaties that impoverish nations and people; challenging global intellectual property rights frameworks; eliminating harmful subsidies; boosting productive capacity through an inclusive and sustainable industrialization strategy of diversified economic sectors moving from carbon intensive to safe and environmentally sound societies; transforming the gendered division of labour and assuring the redistribution of paid and unpaid work, while ensuring decent work and a living wage for all; implementing a universal social protection floor for persons of all ages to access basic services such as health care, child and elder care, education, food, water, sanitation, energy, housing and employment; recognition and account for the value of care work and protect the rights of care workers throughout the global care chain and guarantee women’s equal access to resources; promotion of technology transfer, financing, monitoring, assessment, and research in line with the precautionary principle; increased financing for gender equality and women’s human rights and re-directing investments in the warfare industry from militarized security to human security.

5. To promote ecological justice, we call for: ensuring the health of ecosystems and ecosystem services are protected and restored and that the intrinsic value of nature is recognized and respected; an end to the commodification of nature; securing safe, sustainable and just production and consumption patterns and eliminating hazardous substances and technologies; ensuring food and water sovereignty for all, paying particular attention to small holder farmers and fisherfolk who are often women, as key economic actors whose right to use and own land and access forests, grass and waste-lands, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans should be protected through legally binding safeguards, including against land and resource grabbing; respect for the unique knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, including peasant and coastal communities, and ensure the right to free, prior and informed consent in any development projects that may affect the lands, territories and resources which they own, occupy or otherwise use; address the inequality, pressure and exploitation of women living in poverty within urban and rural communities, including through reversing rapid and unsustainable urbanization to prevent degradation of ecosystems and exploitation of resources that exacerbates injustice in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. Ecological justice requires a strengthened United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, fulfillment of the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States, and a clear recognition of the cultural and ecosystem losses that climate change has already failed to save-and the crises faced by small island developing states- particularly by strengthening the newly established Loss and Damage mechanism under the UNFCCC.

With regard to governance and accountability and means of implementation of the sustainable development framework, we call for a prioritization of public financing over public – private partnerships as well as transparency and accountability in both public and private actions related to sustainable development. Private sector is profit-oriented by nature and not obligated to invest in social needs and global public goods. Today, thirty-seven of the world’s 100 largest economies are corporations. The public sector—whose crucial roles include the financing of social needs towards poverty eradication and finance global public goods—thus remains essential for a sustainable development financing strategy. All public budgets need to be transparent, open to public debate, gender responsive, and allocate adequate resources to achieving these priorities. We must ensure the meaningful participation of women in the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the development goals, policies and programs as well as during peace-building efforts, protect all women human rights defenders, and guarantee their safety and non persecution. There must be access to effective remedies and redress at the national level for women’s human rights violations. Monitoring and evaluation should include reporting of states on their obligations before the Universal Periodic Review, CEDAW and its Optional Protocol, and other human rights mechanisms and under multilateral environmental agreements. Regulation, accountability and transparency of non -state actors, particularly trans-national corporations and public-private partnerships, are critical for achieving sustainable development. Justice will not be possible without effective governance mechanisms, for which it is necessary to guarantee the respect for, enforceability and justiciability of all human rights, as well as ensuring the rule of law and the full participation of civil society, in conditions of equality between men and women.

To endorse this statement, please send an email with the organization’s full name and country to: feministspost2015@gmail. com

List of Signatories (as of February 18, 2014)
1. Action Canada for Population and Development
2. Adéquations- France
3. AEEFG- Tunisia
4. AIDS Accountability International
5. Alianza LAC juventudes rumbo a Cairo +20
6. Arab Women’s Organization- Jordan
7. Articulación Feminista Marcosur
8. Articulación Regional de Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil de América Latina y el Caribe hacia Cairo más 20
9. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
10. Asia Pacific Women’s Watch (APWW)
11. Asociación Latinoamericana de Población-ALAP
12. Association for Liberty and Equality for Gender (ALEG)- Romania
13. Association for Women’s Rights and Development (AWID)
14. ASTRA Network
15. Balance, Promoción para el desarrollo y la juventud- Mexico
16. Black Sea Women’s Club- Ukraine
17. Campaña 28 de Septiembre por la Despenalización del Aborto de América Latina y el Caribe
18. Campaña por una Convención Interamericana de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos
19. Caribbean Family Planning Association
20. Catchafyah Caribbean
21. Center for Encounter and active non-violence-Austria
22. Centro Feminista de Estudos e Assessoria: CFEMEA
23. Círculo de Juventud Afrodescendiente de las Américas-CJAA
24. Coalición Caribeña Población y Desarrollo
25. Coalición Contra el Tráfico de Mujeres y Niñas en América Latina y El Caribe
26. Coalición Nacional de SC hacia Cairo más 20
27. Coalición por la Salud de las Mujeres en México
28. Coalición Salvadoreña de Mujeres rumbo a Cairo + 20
29. Common Language- China
30. Comisión Nacional de Seguimiento Mujeres por Democracia, equidad y ciudadanía- CNSmujeres
31. Comité de América Latina y El Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer- CLADEM
32. Congo Men´s Network (COMEN)- Congo
33. Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias-CLAI
34. Consejo Latinoamericano y del Caribe de organizaciones no gubernamentales con servicio en VIH/SIDA- LACASSO
35. Consorcio Latinoamericano contra el aborto inseguro-CLACAI
36. Consorcio Latinoamericano de Anticoncpeción de Emergencia-CLAE
37. Coordinación de Mujeres del Paraguay
38. Coordinación Red Feminista Centroamericana contra la Violencia hacia las Mujeres-CEMUJER
39. Coordinadora de la Mujer de Bolivia
40. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era – DAWN
41. Diverse Voices in Action for Equality (DIVA)- Fiji
42. Education as Vaccine EVA- Nigeria
43. El Closet de Sor Juana- Mexico
44. Engender- South Africa
45. Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas de las Américas
46. Equis Justicia par alas Mujeres- Mexico
47. Espacio Iberoamericano de Juventud
48. Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago- Trinidad and Tobago
49. Fellowship of Reconciliation
50. Femmes et Droits Humains- Mali
51. Fundación Mexicana Para la Planificación Familiar- México
52. Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer-FEIM
53. Fundación para la Formación de Líderes Afrocolombianos Afrolider- Colombia
54. GADIP- Sweden
55. Global Network of Women Peacebuilders
56. Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida- GIRE
57. Grupo de Seguimiento a Cairo- Bolivia
58. Grupo de Trabajo en Sexualidades y Géneros Argentina
59. Grupo Internacional de Mujeres y SIDA-IAWC International Community of Women living with HIV-AISD-
60. Huairou Commission
61. ICW Latina
62. ILGA LAC
63. Indigenous Information network and African Indigenous women’s organization- East Africa
64. Instituto de Liderazgo Simone de Beauvoir- Mexico
65. International Planned Parenthood Federation-IPPF
66. International Women’s Health Coalition- IWHC
67. International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWP)- Thailand
68. International Women´s Rights Project
69. Ipas
70. Italian Coordination of the European Womenìs Lobby / Lef-Italia
71. Just Associates (JASS)
72. KULU- Women and Development- Denmark
73. Lesbianas, Gays. Bisexuales, Trans e intersexuales de América Latina y El Carible
74. Leadership for Environment and Development Southern and Eastern Africa- Malawi
75. Men’s Resources International
76. Mesa de Vigilancia por la Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos Perú
77. Mesa Interinstitucional de Mujeres- Colombia
78. Movimiento Latinoamerica y del Caribe de Mujeres Positivas, MLCM+
79. Multicultural Women Peace Makers Network
80. Phoenix Women Take Back the Night
81. Plataforma Juvenil Salvadoreña por los derechos sexuales y derechos reproductivos
82. Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning (FEDERA)- Poland
83. Punanga Tauturu Inc (Cook Islands Womens Counselling Centre)
84. Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice-RESURJ
85. Red de Educación Popular entre Mujeres-REPEM
86. Red de masculinidad por la igualdad de género
87. Red de mujeres Afrolatinoamericanas, Afrocaribeñas y de la Diáspora
88. Red de Mujeres Trabajadoras Sexuales de Lationamerica y el Caribe-REDTRASEX
89. Red de Salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y El Caribe- RSMLAC
90. Red Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Juventudes por los derechos sexuales y reproductivos REDLAC
91. Red Latinoamericanas de Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir -CDD
92. Red Mundial de Mujeres por los Derechos Reproductivos
93. RMMDR Red Nacional de Jóvenes y Adolescentes por la Salud Sexual y Reproductiva- Argentina
94. ROZAN- Pakistan
95. Servicios Ecumenicos para Reconciliacion y Reconstruccion -SERR
96. Sí Mujer – Nicaragua
97. South Asian Feminist Alliance (SAFA)
98. Sri Lanka Women’s NGO Forum- Sri Lanka
99. Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN)- Uganda
100. Taller Salud – Puerto Rico
101. The YP Foundation- India
102. TIYE International- The Netherlands
103. United and Strong- St. Lucia
104. United Federation of Danish Workers, Center for Equality and Diversity- Denmark
105. Vision Spring Initiatives- Nigeria
106. Women’s Earth and Climate Change Caucus
107. Women for Peace- Germany
108. Women for Women´s Human Rights, New Ways (WWHR)-Turkey
109. WIDE- Network for Women’s Rights and Feminist Perspectives in Development- Austria
110. WIDE+ European Network around women’s rights and development
111. Wo=Men Dutch Gender Platform- the Netherlands
112. Women’s Coalition- Turkey
113. Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF)
114. Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
115. Women´s Media Colective- Sri Lanka
116. Women´s Peacemakers Program (WPP)- Netherlands
117. Women’s Solidarity- Austria
118. World Student Christian Federation in Europe (WSCF-E)- Germany
119. YouAct: European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights
120. Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
 
Copyright © 2014 Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
189/3 Changklan Road, A. Muang
Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100
Thailand.

18 February, 2014

Interim Union Budget denies SCs and STs proportionate allocation

The National Confederation of Dalit Organization (NACDOR), New Delhi, says in a statement:

The National Confederation of Dalit Organization (NACDOR) is grieved to learn that Union Government failed to population proportionate allocation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the interim budget.

The political parties are preparing for the General Election 2014 and the UPA lead government has presented the interim budget and there are different perspectives of it. Criticism on the budget of the beneficiaries from different social and political groups are obvious. These budgets requires to be also seen from the perspective of the schedules "Scheduled Castes (SC)" and "Scheduled Tribes (ST)".  The following table gives the figures at a glance.
SC Population – 16.6\%    ST Population - 8.6\%       (Census 2011)
                                                      Rs in Cr
Particulars of Total Plan and Non-Plan budget
Particular
2012-13 (AE)
2013-14 (BE)
2013-14 (RE)
2014-15 (BE)
Total Budget
1410367
1665297
1590434
1763214
Plan Budget
413625
555322
475532
555322
Non Plan Budget
996742
1109975
1114902
1207892
Particulars of allocation made under SCSP for Scheduled Castes
Allocation under SCP
28218.81
41561.13
35800.6
48638.31
SCP in Percentage
6.82
7.48
7.53
8.76
Due SCP in percentage
16.60
16.60
16.60
16.60
Due SCP
68661.75
92183.45
78938.31
92183.45
Denial under SCP
40442.94
50622.32
43137.71
43545.14
Particulars of allocation made under TSP for Scheduled Tribes
Allocation under TSP
16723.73
24598.39
22030.47
30726.07
TSP in Percentage
4.04
4.43
4.63
5.53
Dues TSP in Percentage
8.6
8.6
8.6
8.6
Due TSP
35571.75
47757.69
40895.75
47757.69
Denial under TSP
18848.02
23159.30
18865.28
17031.62
Particulars of allocation made under SCSP and TSP together
Allocation under SCSP and TSP
44942.54
66159.52
57831.07
79364.38
Due under SCSP and TSP
104233.50
139941.14
119834.06
139941.14
Denied under SCP and TSP
59290.96
73781.62
62002.99
60576.76

Once again the UPA led by Congress has disappointed the Dalits and Adivasis in the budgetary allocations and expenditures; as follows:
  1. Rs. 60,576 Cr has been denied to SC/ST in the current budget. It is the normal trend of Union Government as seen in the table.
  2. It has tried to satisfy the SC/ST only by a partial allocation i.e. 8.76\% (Rs. 48638 Cr) for SC and 5.53\% (Rs. 30726 Cr) for ST. Whereas decision of National Development Council (NDC) mandates population proportionate allocation for SC/ST
  3. Government has changed the nomenclature of "Special Component Plan (SCP)" to "Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP)" in the budget document. It seems that the Union Government intends to confuse targeted population in different nomenclatures.
  4. Union Government is alluring SC/ST with proposed bill on SCSP/TSP – to legitimize the present way of allocations and expenditure
Fiscal Deficit and Subsidy Provisions for Corporate Sectors

On the other hand the UPA led by the Congress has shown its commitment to the corporate sectors by giving more without any hesitation. Following table gives an idea about it.


Particular
2011-12
2012-13
Borrowings and Liabilities (=Fiscal Deficit)
515990
513590
Interest Payment
273150
319759
Revenue Foregone
533582
573626
Revenue foregone to number of companies
459270
494545

The figures shown in the table are taken from the budget documents. These are the estimated figures but give clear picture how much the UPA government is paying to corporate sector. The Fiscal deficit is basically due to the revenue foregone i.e. subsidies to the profit making corporate sectors. Due to fiscal deficit the government has to borrow the money and pay the interest thereon. The annual interest payment is more than half of the annual plan budget. The entire country is paying interest because the government want to benefit corporates doing the business of Gold, Jewellery, Real Estate, Oil, Gas, etc.  We can see that the government has annual Plan Size of Rs. 555322 Cr for the Year 2014-15. On the other hand in the year 2012-13 the Revenue Forgone to 494545 companies is Rs. 573626 Cr; which is higher than the budgeted plan size. The figures of Revenue forgone for rest of the years are not available but they are estimated be higher. It clearly means that for the Government, people are of least importance and the government is committed for the corporate Sectors only.

Scheme wise Denial for SC/ST
Deepening further into the kind of allocations made for the SC/ST, we see many glaring examples. Few examples are taken from the SCSP
  1. Prevention of Atrocities Act – Budget has been reduced from Rs. 130 Cr (2013-14 – Revised Estimate) to Rs. 90 Cr in 2014-15 (Budget Estimate)
  2. Post Metric Scholarship - Budget has been reduced from Rs. 1908 Cr (2013-14 – Revised Estimate) to Rs. 1500 Cr in 2014-15 (Budget Estimate)
  3. Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has closed 22 schemes and added 9 new schemes reduced the budget from Rs. 1929 Cr (2013-14 – Revised Estimate) to Rs. 1888 Cr in 2014-15 (Budget Estimate)
  4. Department of Commerce has allocated Rs. 100 Cr for the Tea Board, Coffee Board, rubber board and Spices without making any provision for reservation in these boards.
  5. Department of Electronics and Information Technology has reduced the Budget from Rs. 21 Cr (2013-14 – Budget Estimate) to Rs. 10 Cr in 2014-15 (Budget Estimate) for e-governance.
  6. University Grant Commission has reduced budget from Rs. 868 Cr (2013-14 – Budget Estimate) to Rs. 598 Cr in 2014-15 (Budget Estimate)
These are the few examples to show the kind of allocation made by the government lead by UPA. Atrocities are increasing day by day, numbers of students are also increasing but the government is committed to despise them by and by in slow degree. Same is the case for Scheduled Tribes.

Schemes violating the mandates of SCSP/TSP
There are certain area where the allocations for SC/ST are relatively better. But these schemes are popularly known for the larger chunk of corruption. For example
Scheme Name
2012-13 (AE)
2013-14 (BE)
2013-14 (RE)
2014-15 (BE)
Schemes Wise allocation /Expenditures under SCSP for SCs
Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS)
3469.87
3849
3849
4000
National Programme of Nutrition Support to Primary Education (Mid Day Meal Scheme)
2143.94
2643
2442.84
2651
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
4776.78
5451.6
5408.66
5549.99
National Rural Drinking Water Programme
2310
2420
2134
2420
Central Rural Sanitation Programme
550
938
506
938

Schemes Wise allocation /Expenditures under TSP for STs
Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS)
1304.67
1668.7
1668.7
1722
National Programme of Nutrition Support to Primary Education (Mid Day Meal Scheme)
1170.13
1417.23
1332.78
1419
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
2675.74
2916.61
2747.69
2972.15
National Rural Drinking Water Programme
1050
1100
970
1100
Central Rural Sanitation Programme
250
426
230
426
Total
19701.13
22830.14
21289.67
23198.14

As per the provision of the National Development council (dated 27th June 2005) contained in the guideline dated 31st Oct 2005, the allocations made under these programs required to be spent under the schemes that directly benefit the individuals, families and hamlets belonging to the SC/ST. But the government is spending the funds for the non-intended purposes covered under Standard Object Head 31 which meant for "Grant-in-Aids-General". From the Financial "Sanction 3/-8/2013/Desk MDM dated 15th July 2013 of the Department of School Education and Literacy (MDM Division) it is clearly evident that the funds are spent for the general purpose and not for the specific purpose of benefiting the SC/ST students. Such trends are normal in the financial sanctions and expenditures.

Conclusion: Concluding all together, it can be said that UPA lead government has finally not adhere to its own commitments made in the National Development Councils and has made several attempts knowingly to despise the SC/ST population. On the other hand it is promoting the institutions who are practicing discrimination with SC/ST – such institutions are corporate sectors who have not made any program for the inclusion of SC/ST in Corporate social Responsibility and Affirmative Actions.

For further details please contactNational Confederation of Dalit Organizations (NACDOR)
M-3/22, Model Town – III, Delhi – 110009
Mob: +91 9990 6837 69, Fax: +91 11 27419002
Contact Persons: Mr. Ashok Bharti (Chairman – NACDOR), Mr. Umesh Babu and Mr. Sukanta Behera

(Source: Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong)

Settling with fascism

BRP Bhaskar
 Gulf Today

Are coming events casting their shadow before? US ambassador Nancy Powell travelled to Gujarat last week to mollify State Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, whom Washington had cold-shouldered for nine years. When pro-Hindutva Indian Americans invited him to the US, the State Department had denied him a visa, heeding the call of Coalition Against Genocide, a group formed after the Gujarat riots of 2002.

A US spokesman indicated later that Modi could get a visa if he applied again. Modi and the BJP reacted coolly to the offer.

Also, Penguin India, a unit of the US-based Penguin Random House, surrendered before Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, a fringe group which had dragged it to court four years ago for allegedly hurting Hindu religious sentiments.

The cause of action was the publication of US Indologist Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History. The Samiti had cited Ms Doniger and the Penguin group’s US firm also as respondents in the civil suit and criminal cases it filed.

In an out-of-court settlement with the Samiti, Penguin India agreed to withdraw and pulp all copies of Doniger’s book.

Doniger approved of the settlement but Indian writers and academics were scandalised that Penguin capitulated instead of awaiting the court verdict. Even if it lost the first round, it could have hoped for a favourable verdict from either of the two higher courts. Journalists Jyotirmaya Sharma and Siddharth Varadarajan asked Penguin to pulp their books and “revert copyright so that we can deal with any would-be bullies on our own terms”.

Penguin defended its action saying it was obliged to respect the laws of the land, howsoever intolerant and restrictive they might be. It also said the penal law would make it increasingly difficult for any Indian publisher to uphold international standards of free expression.

Under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens by words, signs or visible representations, or attempting to insult any religion or religious beliefs, is an offence punishable with up to three years’ imprisonment and fine or both.

Enacted by the British colonial regime in the 19th century, the IPC still remains in force with some amendments made after the country gained freedom. Its other archaic provisions include Section 377 which criminalises homosexuality. The Delhi High Court had struck it down as unconstitutional but the Supreme Court reinstated it.

It may be the notorious delays of the court system and the illiberal approach discernible in some recent judgments, like the one on gay sex, persuaded Penguin and Wendy Doniger to throw in the towel. But there could also be other factors. While the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti confines itself to litigation the Hindutva menagerie has entities with violent records as well.

Hindutva elements had attacked the late celebrated painter MF Husain’s house in Mumbai, vandalised his works at exhibitions and filed over 2,000 criminal cases against him in different states, alleging indecent depiction of Hindu goddesses. The Supreme Court transferred all the cases to the Delhi High Court, which rejected the charges against him. Yet he was forced to spend his last years in exile.

Last year, members of a Hindutva outfit attacked students of Pune’s famed film institute and artistes of the Kabir Kala Manch who had gathered for a screening of Jai Bhim Comrade, a film by Anand Patwardhan. Commenting on the emerging scenario, Patwardhan said, “When just the whiff of Modi sends goons to attack a ‘U’ certificate film in a festival and sends Penguin (which should be renamed Chicken) to pulp its publication, just imagine what will happen if and when fascists actually come to power!”

Others too have shown signs of intolerance. Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Indian Rationalist Association, is now in self-exile in Finland as he faces threat of arrest and prosecution as a Catholic priest has filed a complaint against him under Sec 295A for exposing a fraudulent miracle claim.

The IPC may be dated but the responsibility for its failure in the face of incipient fascism rests on the politico-legal system which, instead of using its provisions against evil-doers, allows them to invoke these provisions against sane elements. -- Gulf Today, Sharjah, February 18, 2014

11 February, 2014

Price of mismanagement

BRP Bhaskar
Gulf Today

For a party with a tradition of more than 125 years and parliamentary experience that goes farther back than the republic’s 64-year history, the Congress party is displaying amazing political ineptitude.

With opposition parties holding up the proceedings to register protest on one issue or another, Parliament has transacted little business at recent sessions. Legislative business has been the biggest casualty of disruptions. Bills are either held up or passed without much debate.

A research group has reported that out of 118 bills adopted by the Lok Sabha in the past five years, 20 were passed in less than five minutes, 10 in less than 30 minutes, 11 in half to one hour, 24 in one to two hours and 26 in two to three hours.

The last session of the current Lok Sabha is now on. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, which has to face elections shortly, wants to take up at this session some important legislative measures, including some which Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has described as important tools needed to fight corruption. Many of them are doomed to fail.

All bills pending in the Lok Sabha, which is directly elected, lapse automatically when the term of the house expires.

On the opening day of the session, the government tried to take up in the Rajya Sabha a bill to deal with communal violence, which had been pending for nine years. Its original draft was prepared by the National Advisory Council, a group comprising civil society representatives, headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in 2005.

The NAC felt that a measure of this kind was needed to prevent immobilisation of the state police during communal riots, as is believed to have happened during the Gujarat riots of 2002 under the watch of Narendra Modi, whom the Bharatiya Janata Party recently named as its prime ministerial candidate.

The BJP opposed the measure vociferously, arguing it was an attempt to appease the Muslim minority. The government revised the draft in response to this criticism. But the BJP was not satisfied.

The Samajwadi Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Trinamool Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazgam and the All India Anna DMK joined the BJP in opposing introduction of the revised draft.

Law Minister Kapil Sibal’s argument that the measure will not bestow any new power on the Centre did not impress the critics. Sensing the hostile mood of the house, the Deputy Chairman deferred consideration of the bill.

The responsibility for the debacle rests on the Congress party which heads the ruling coalition. Its parliamentary managers did not show due diligence. Since the government lacks a majority of its own, they should have worked out a consensus, at least among those who sustain it in power, before bringing the measure before Parliament.

An uncertain future awaits the bill to carve a separate state of Telengana out of Andhra Pradesh, which is expected to be placed before Parliament this week.

Here, again, the blame rests with the Congress party which wasted much time. It had committed itself in principle to the formation of a new state when it tied up with the Telengana Rashtra Samithi in the 2004 elections. The TRS which joined the coalition government walked out later as the Congress did not keep its word.

As the party wielding power in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress should have sorted out the differences over matters related to division of the state, including the status of the capital city of Hyderabad. The leaders whom the party’s high command entrusted the task of dealing with these matters proved unequal to the task. Consequently it is now in a mess.

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly recently voted against separation of Telengana. Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who does not want the state to be split, is in a rebellious mood.

Ordinarily, passage of the Bill through Parliament should have posed no problem as the BJP, the main opposition party in both the houses, favours formation of small states. But now it may yield to the temptation to add to the Congress party’s woes.

The Congress is paying the price for the ineptitude of its managers. Whatever the fate of the Telengana bill, the party is sure to suffer losses in the forthcoming elections in a region which was considered its stronghold.--Gulf Today, Sharjah, February 11, 2014

04 February, 2014

Maturing of Asian relations

BRP Bhaskar
Gulf Today

A few months before India attained freedom, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was vice-president in the then interim government, called an Asian relations conference in New Delhi. “Asia is finding herself,” he told the conference.

It was a premature attempt at forging meaningful Asian relations. China was still in the throes of the civil war which was to result in a Communist victory. Japan, battered by two atom bombs and shattered by defeat, was slowly picking up the threads. Korea stood divided. Barring the Philippines, which the United States had granted Independence, all the countries which had been under colonial bondage, were still fighting for freedom.

Asian relations took a back seat as Cold War engulfed the continent. Nehru later devoted his energies primarily to promoting the concept of Non-alignment along with like-minded leaders from other continents.

More than six decades later, Asian relations are showing signs of maturing. The countries of the continent, which include several newly emerging economies, are engaged in bilateral and multilateral efforts to rebuild relations on fresh terms. Indian and Japanese efforts to find new political, economic and strategic equations illustrate this point.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi last month, and the two countries signed eight agreements during his three-day visit. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko were in India on a ceremonial visit a month earlier.

Japan, which is looking for new investment and marketing opportunities, offered $2 billion to expand Delhi’s metro system, which it had funded. Last year it had given $2.32 billion for various infrastructure projects and $753 million for a metro system in Mumbai.

Japan will also provide loans to increase power generation and improve energy efficiency of telecom towers. The New Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor project and the proposed high-speed rail system too will receive assistance.

India invited Japanese companies to help develop a new port in Chennai and to improve facilities in the tribal border state of Arunachal Pradesh, to which China has staked a claim.

Politically, the most significant outcome of the Abe visit is the decision to have regular official consultations on national security. Japan, which has enjoyed US defence cover since the end of World War II, feels the need to work out new strategic arrangements, but it will be unwise to read too much into this.

The inability to clinch agreements on civilian nuclear cooperation and sale of Japanese amphibious aircraft to India, which have been under discussion for quite some time, underscores the difficulties involved in the building of political and military ties.

Both Japan and India are claimants for permanent seats in an expanded UN Security Council. However, they have not been able to make any concerted move in pursuit of the common goal.

Indian experts are divided on the impact of the Abe visit. Their assessments vary widely from that of “a game changer” or “a new balance of power” to “probing of each other’s strategic intent”. One analyst claimed the ties with Japan is taking the flavor of relations with Russia and the US, with the two sides cooperating on virtually everything under the sun.

The varying assessments are reflective of the differing perspectives of the commentators.

The clearest indication that Asian relations are maturing came from Beijing. Asked about bolstering of Indo-Japanese ties, a Chinese government spokesman merely expressed the hope that it would be conducive to peace, stability and security in the region.

China raised no objection to Japanese participation in Arunachal projects. When India sought a loan from the Asian Development Bank in 2007 for Arunachal projects, China had objected, pointing to its claim to the territory.

China also made no reference to the Indian decision to allow Japanese firms to participate in port development, an area from which its own companies are kept out on security considerations.

Writing in the Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party, Fu Xiaoquiang, an international relation specialist, said Abe’s aim was to pin down China but it didn’t look like he was succeeding.

This is not the first attempt by India and Japan to come closer. In the 1950s, Prime Ministers Nehru and Nobusuke Kishi had explored the possibilities of wider cooperation between the two countries. Indira Gandhi too made an effort in that direction when she visited that country in 1969.

The Cold War, which prevented close relations between the two countries for decades, may be over but they still have to find their way through the debris it has left behind. -- Gulf Today, Sharjah, February 4, 2014.