Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eliminate the cancer of the communal politics.

Dhirendra Sharma

A woman candidate Mrs. Haseena Akhtar, 45, was gunned down,   late night on Friday, April 15, 2011, at the Panchayat elections, held in J & K.

After Haseena Begum’s  murder, almost  ten candidates had   withdrawn  their nominations from the democratic  Panchayat  elections, held for the first time after ten years in Kashmir.

Haseena Begum was a Muslim, and a free citizen of   Indian  Republic,  resident of J&K State.  She did carry any weapon, and threatened any one.  She was picked up from her small home at midnight and made to tender apology. 

 Even though she expressed regret for contesting in the village Panchayat election, the hapless Haseena was shot dead, not by the Indian soldiers but by  the Muslim separatists.  “Shaheed” Haseena Akhtar had   carried the Cross for Secular Democracy defending the human rights to life and liberties.

A few weeks earlier, in Pakistan, Mr. Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, and Mr.Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minister of Minorities, were also assassinated for their commitment to the democratic rights of women, and minorities.
Though divided we are but following the futuristic paradigm we cannot allow any further regional or communal divides in the sub-continent.

All SAARC States are in dire need of doctors and teachers, - not preachers of hatreds and leaders of crimes and corruption.

I recall the life of Frontier Gandhi Badshah Khan, who at the time of partition, stood for the unity and brotherhood.  Badshah Khan suffered eight years prison term at the British Raj, and to our wonder, he spent  18 years of jail in Pakistan, a country claiming Islamic fundamentals.    Badsha Khan’s worthy son Dr. Wali Khan too suffered long term imprisonment under the Islamic rule in Pakistan. 

The Badshah had willed not to be buried at a place what he considered as “the naapak soil” meaning dirty ground. The “majaar” the tomb of the Frontier Gandhi is located beyond  the Khyber Pass, inside the Afghani soil.

Do we need to recall the killings of Dr. Mujibur Rahman and his family, and thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims, by the Army of the Islamic Republic, not by the Indian Army?

Sub-nationalism   and regional exclusive politics have no future in today’s cyber world order.  Past politics of divide and rule,   and partition notwithstanding, the exclusive regional or communal   identity, in Kashmir or    in Talangana    can not be considered as the basis of democratic governance these days.

Javed Akhtar once said that, To justify and legitimise undemocratic system you need religious fundamentalism”.  That Fascism and fundamentalism have one thing in common – both believe in the total usurpation of the basic rights and civil liberties of citizens.  The fundamentalist of all colours have their own version of history, and culture, own interpretation of religion and nationalism.

Given half a chance, like the Taliban, the Sangh Parivar will also start putting women in their place.   “Behind all the pretensions of defending culture,  religion and nation, the real agenda is to legitimize an unjust and an exploitative, outdated social -political (cultural) system,” confirmed the poet  Javed  Akhtar.

In 1946, the communalists had initiated civil war in Neokhali, and Calcutta witnessed a great killing frenzy. They had threatened to turn India into desert demanding partition.  Today, regionalism and fundamentalist politics are threatening   the democratic cultural fabric of the Indian sub-continent.

With Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Nuclear missiles, the chauvinists of all colours can really turn the entire Sub-continent into an atomic desert lasting thousand years.  History teaches not to repeat the mistakes.   Any further concession to the communal provocateurs will further engulf the continent into the Middle Ages.

 In the democratic regime, civic services, and health and schools include students, irrespective of gender, caste, race or religion.  One can note that in life saving treatments, blood groups are identified, but not, caste, region or religion And there is no exclusive blood group that can divide us between Kashmiri, and non-Kashmiri, Shia, and Sunny, Sindhi, and Baloch, or Hindu and Muslim, or Jews and Arabs!

Legal luminary, Nani Palkhivala, in his book “We, the Nation” describes how the Parsis came to India, in the year 936A.D, as “The boat people”,  the people who crossed the seas in unsafe boats as refugees”.

Formerly they escaped by seven ships from their homeland Iran, when their country was conquered by the Islamic invaders.  Today, the Parsi, despite their numerical irrelevance, (c. 80,000) are proud citizens of India. They were, in the forefront of Freedom movement.  In times of Independent struggle, they had been leaders in financial and industrial developments.  Yet, the powerful Parsi community (micro minority) had never demanded a separate State,  or a special quota in privilege of  justice.  There had been no Commission to quantify discrimination against the Parsi minority. But they had   contributed philosophers, scientists, writers, poets, music maestros, and reformers who spoke in languages belonging to different ages, regionsand religions.

In  20th  century, the western powers,   with a sinister design, created  three   independent  political entities, based on racial and religious basis - Israel (Jewish) ,  Pakistan (Islamic) and  East Timor (Christian).  In the 21st century, however, we cannot, and must not allow the disruptive forces to hold the Republic to ransom.    

There is no other way but to explore the means to eliminate the cancer of the communal politics.

Dhirendra Sharma is an eminent scientist from Centre for Science Policy/Concerned, Dehradun 248009 (India).  He has a website www.psaindia.org

Crane runs over, kills six children

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


UTSUNOMIYA, Tochigi Pref. — Six elementary school students were killed Monday morning when they were run over by a mobile crane while walking to school in Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture, police said.
News photo
Deadly deviation: A mobile crane sits in debris after hitting and killing six children in an accident Monday in Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture.KYODO PHOTO
The 26-year-old driver, Masato Shibata, was arrested at the scene. He is believed to have crossed the center line and run into a group of children, killing five boys and a girl and leaving another boy seriously injured.
According to the Kanuma board of education, other children were watching the accident when the five were killed. The board dispatched counselors to treat the children for possible psychological trauma.
The six children killed were identified as Mika Sekiguchi, Keita Shimozuma and Taiga Ihara, all 9, 10-year-old Kyoya Hoshino, and Takuma Omori and Manato Kumano, both 11, according to the police.
"Something irreparable has happened. We need to do as much as we can for the victims," said Hiroko Kodachi, senior vice president of Kodachi Juki, the Kanuma-based firm Shibata was working for.
"(Shibata) is a serious, hard-working man. We don't know why such a thing has happened. We don't know the details of the situation," she said.
According to an eyewitness, the crane ran into the children as they were walking single file along the road.
The driver was slumped over the steering wheel when his vehicle hit the children and came to a halt on the premises of a nearby house, according to eyewitnesses.
No alcohol was detected in Shibata, the police said.
According to Kodachi, Shibata was hired on probation around last May and became a regular worker in August.
He obtained a license to drive mobile cranes in April 2009, Kodachi said.
The scene of the accident is about 170 meters from Kitaoshihara Elementary School. The one-lane road does not have a guardrail.

Income Tax department to review all realty deals to unearth black money


NEW DELHI: The income tax department plans to review realty deals following allegations of rampant use of black money in many transactions. "We will take appropriate action wherever we find involvement of black money in such transactions," said Sudhir Chandra , chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes . 

Chandra said the department would begin scrutiny of property deals in the national capital region and follow it up in other metros. 

The value of most real estate transactions in the national capital are suppressed to save on stamp duty, capital gains tax and wealth tax and are believed to have black money component as high as 65%, said another income tax official. 

The black money component continues to remain high despite most states now fixing circle rates, or minimum rate at which a property can be registered, for various localities. 

The income tax department receives data on all property registrations worth more than 30 lakh as a part of its special data capturing mechanism from property registrars. 

In a separate proposal, the government is also considering making it mandatory for registrars to report all property transactions under the anti-money laundering law. Any property transaction used to launder illicitly earned money will, after an amendment in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, attract harsher punishment. 

The department is expected to rely heavily on technology and information on taxpayers it receives from various sources under 360 degree profiling. 

Realty sector has been on the income tax department's radar for a while and tops the list of sectors most searched. 

"The department has received many complaints of the involvement of black money in the sale and purchase of land and houses," the official said. 

Recently, a well-known Mumbai developer admitted to undisclosed income of 200 crore. In a separate case, 100 crore was recovered from a Surat-based real estate company . 

In 2009-10 and 2010-11, the I-T Department unearthed unaccounted income of over 30,000 crore in its search and seizure operations. 

Chandra said while the number of searches had come down but the amount of undisclosed wealth had increased as the department was making effective use of technology. "Use of technology and data as part of 360 degree profiling system has improved the quality of searches," Chandra said.

200 Congmen court arrest on 'murder' of fishermen

Chennai, Apr 18 :

More than 200 Congressmen, including TNCC president K V Thangkabalu were arrested when they attempted to take out a march to the office of the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in the city to condemn the killing of innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Lankan Navy.

Police sources said more than 200 Congress workers led by Mr Thangkabalu, assembled near the Nageswara Rao Park at Mylapore Area and attempted to take out a march to the Lankan Envoy's office when they were arrested by the police.

Congress sources claimed more than 1,000 party workers, including women, courted arrest during the stir.

The agitation was to condemn the recent torture and killing of four fishermen from Rameswaram whose bodies were found one after other ever since they went missing on April 2.

As the bodies contained several cut wounds, fear gripped the fishing community as they believed that the fishermen were tortured and killed by the Lankan Navy.

Anna writes to Sonia on 'smear' campaign

UPDATED  18/4/2011 5:01:16 PM

New Delhi: Social activist Anna Hazare on Monday wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the ''smear'' campaign launched against civil society members of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill and asked her to advise her ''colleagues'' not to try to derail the process of drafting of law.

In a two-page letter to Gandhi, he complained against a party General Secretary, apparently Digvijay Singh who has been attacking his campaign, of making many statements which were "factually wrong" and asked her whether she approved them.

He also referred to an unnamed minister, who is part of the ten-member joint committee on the bill, and charged him with making false statements that the civil society representatives have "succumbed" to government's pressure and "diluted" the law. As the war over the alleged fake CD involving eminent lawyer and panel co-chair Shanti Bhushan intensified, he said "the developments of the last few days have been a cause for concern.

"It seems that the corrupt forces in the country have united to derail the process of drafting an effective anti-corruption law through the joint committee. Together we have to defeat their designs," Hazare said.

He said one of their strategies is to "smear the reputations" of civil society members in the committee. "Whereas I am of the view that the people working for public must be subjected to public scrutiny, however, when blatantly false accusations are made, fabricated CDs are planted, then one feels that the purpose is not an honest public scrutiny but to tarnish reputations.

"They have not even spared me, even though I have lived a simple life following on the path of truth. However, I am happy that despite all their efforts, the vested interests could not dig out anything of substance. This has only raised the reputations of civil society members in the eyes of public," he said.

The Gandhian said smear campaign of vested interests seemed to be back firing and people could see through what was happening. He warned that the country was in "no mood" to wait any longer to have a strong anti-corruption law and expressed fears about the consequences if the process was "derailed" as people were "very agitated".

Hazare wondered what would be the outcome if the government nominees in the committee were subjected to "similar scrutiny or witch hunt". "Those in power have much more to explain. However, we don't want to divert the attention of the people from Lokpal Bill to individual mud-slinging, which seems to be the objective of the people behind this smear campaign," he said. Government has on April eight agreed to form a joint committee to draft a strong Lokpal Bill following the fast- unto-death protest by Hazare, who along with four other members of the civil society were made members of the panel.

Hazare's letter to Gandhi comes in the backdrop of the circulation of a CD purportedly containing conversations between eminent lawyer and panel co-chair Shanti Bhushan and political leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh on "managing" a judge in a case.

Referring to Digvijay Singh, the 73-year-old Gandhian said as party General Secretary, he has been making many statements in the media in the last one week. "I assume that he has the support of the party to make such remarks. Most of these statements are factually wrong, which makes one believe whether his only intention is to create confusion, mislead people and derail the ongoing discussions in joint committee. Do you personally approve of his statements?" Hazare said.

He also alleged that one of the ministers, who addressed the media on Saturday after the joint committee meeting said it was "good". But later, Hazare said, the minister held a "private informal debriefing session" at his house and "falsely accused" the civil society representatives of having succumbed to government's pressure within the committee and that the civil society have diluted the law".

"This was completely false statement because there were no discussions at all on the law within the committee. His informal debriefing created confusion in the minds of people across the country. It appears that this debriefing was meant to send a message to public that we have been influenced," he said.

Hazare said they had "apprehended such mischievous conduct" and that was the reason why they have been demanding video recordings of the proceedings and their release immediately after each meeting. "India has suffered immensely due to corruption. This is a historic moment when the whole country seems to have come together to demand effective action against corruption. I would urge you to advise your colleagues not to try to derail the process of drafting the law," he said.