Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don’t mix Ramlila and Lokpal: Kapil Sibal

Published: Monday, Jun 6, 2011, 18:56 IST | Updated: Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011, 0:25 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI, DNA :Photo.Reuter

Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal has ticked off key members of the Lokpal committee Anna Hazare and Shanti Bhushan for raising issues ‘extraneous” to the drafting of the bill. He also raised serious objections to a letter written by Bhushan to the finance minister.
The Centre has found a perfect pretext to wriggle its way out of the clutches of civil society activists. Hazare and his associates boycotted a meeting of the Lokpal drafting committee on Monday.
Sibal said it was wrong of the Hazare team to write threatening letters and take up a confrontational attitude and what should be an internal discussion of the panel should not be made public. He said this was not the way a bill was or can be drafted.
The minister said the bill and the Ramdev episode should be kept in separate watertight compartments.
Sibal clearly wants to get the message across to Anna Hazare and his team the Ramdev episode cannot be used as a stick to beat the government.
Jethmalani calls govt thug
Supreme Court lawyer and BJP Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani called the UPA “thugs”, who were protecting thieves and robbers involved in stealing poor people’s money.“Thugs always call others thugs. During Emergency the Congress tried to protect its throne and this time they are protecting the thieves and robbers who have stolen the money of poor people,” Jethmalani said.
He also lampooned UPA ministers for rushing to airport to touch the Baba’s feet. “Ministers go to airport to touch his feet and when he does not toe their line they do this to him,” he said.


Every 30 Minutes: Farmer Suicides and the Agrarian Crisis in India

Posted on  by geobear7

(NEW YORK, May 11, 2011)—The Indian government must uphold its human rights obligations by responding immediately to its farmer suicide crisis, said the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) in a new report released today. The report, Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and the Agrarian Crisis in India, looks critically at India’s farmer suicide epidemic—which has been claimed the lives of an estimated 250,000 farmers since 1995—and proposes steps that the government should take toward upholding the human rights of this vulnerable population.

“On average, one farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes in India,” said CHRGJ Faculty Director and report co-author Smita Narula. “It’s simply unacceptable to ignore a tragedy of such epic proportions and go on with business as usual. The Indian government’s limited interventions have failed to adequately assess or address this deepening crisis.”
Over the past two decades, economic reforms—which included the removal of agricultural subsidies and the opening of Indian agriculture to an increasingly volatile global market—have increased costs, while reducing yields and profits for many farmers, creating widespread financial distress. As a result, smallholder farmers are often trapped in a cycle of insurmountable debt, leading many to take their lives.

The report focuses on the impact of the agrarian crisis on the human rights of cotton farmers in India. The cotton industry, like other cash crop industries in India, has increasingly come under the control of foreign multinational corporations that promote genetically modified Bt cottonseed and often wield considerable influence over the cost, quality, and availability of other agricultural inputs. Bt cottonseed, which now dominates the Indian cotton sector, requires an abundance of two resources that are already scarce for many smallholder farmers: money and water. Farmers take out loans to purchase the seeds, but when the crop fails due to lack of access to water, they often fall into debt.
Many kill themselves by consuming the very pesticide they went into debt to purchase.
Farmer suicides also have a ripple effect, spreading both debt and despair. Often, as the farmer’s family inherits the debt, children drop out of school to become farmhands, and surviving family members’ may themselves commit suicide out of the same desperation.
The Indian government has failed to adequately assess the crisis and farmer suicide statistics—high as they already are—grossly under-estimate the problem. In fact, women, Dalit (so-called untouchables) and Adivasi (tribal community members) farmers who commit suicide are often not counted because they do not have formal title to land.
The Indian government has also failed to provide immediate or long-term relief. Limited debt relief and compensation programs reach few farmers and do not sufficiently repair financial harms. The Indian government has also done little to address underlying factors that have contributed to the crisis, such as lack of access to irrigation and rural credit.
Crucially, it has also failed to regulate the conduct of multinational corporations who have enjoyed free reign to conduct business in the country without proper regulatory oversight or accountability mechanisms.
“It’s not uncommon these days for Indian farmers to address their suicide notes to the Indian Prime Minister and President,” added Narula. “This is a direct plea to the government to step in and take decisive action to save the plight of small-holder farmers in India. The Indian government must act now to regulate multinational activity and put farmers’ rights at the center of its agricultural policies.”
The report culminates with a human rights-based analysis of the crisis concluding that the crisis deeply affects a number of human rights of farmers and their families. These include the rights to: life, food, water, health, an adequate standard of living, non-discrimination and equality, and the right to an effective remedy when rights violations take place.
In the report’s conclusion, CHRGJ calls on the Indian government to uphold its human rights obligations by implementing effective preventive and compensation programs, undertaking necessary structural reforms, gathering more information on the suicide crisis and agrarian disaster, and regulating the activity of agribusiness firms. Agribusinesses must also, as a baseline, respect human rights by ensuring that their products and services do not infringe on the human rights of Indian farmers.
For more about CHRGJ’s work on business and human rights, and on economic, social and cultural rights, see:http://www.chrgj.org/publications/reports.html#escr
For CHRGJ’s work on caste discrimination in South Asia see:http://www.chrgj.org/projects/discrimination.html


Under pressure to drop Krittika case: lawyer

Updated Jun 06, 2011 at 10:57am IST

New York: The lawsuit of Indian diplomat Debashish Biswas' daughter Krittika Biswas in the US has hit a new roadblock. Krittika's lawyer Ravi Batra has said that he's coming under pressure to drop the case.

Batra has said that he has well-wishers who have advised him to consider dropping the case because the issue has blown up way too much.
He has also requested the Indian government to not take back the immunity cards handed out to American consulate members in India.

"There should be a wait and see approach so that Secretary Clinton has adequate time to review and issue a reinterpretation," Batra said.

He however, made it clear that he will not drop the case. Batra said, "This is about basic human rights and how human beings live with one another under law and this is why this 

case is important and I am not going to be dropping this case."
Krittika Biswas had claimed that she was wrongly arrested for allegedly sending obscene emails to her teachers.

Krittika is the daughter of the Vice Counsel at the consulate general of India in Manhattan Debashish Biswas. She was arrested and kept in custody for over 24 hours despite having diplomatic immunity.

Krittika has sued New York City for handcuffing her and locking her up in prison for a crime she never committed.

She was suspended from school in February earlier this year, but later taken back after the school's principal nailed down the real perpetrator.

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'Shocked' Sushma tweets on why she danced at all-night protest

Updated: June 07, 2011 07:58 IST

NDTV Correspondent, Updated: June 06, 2011 21:15 IST
New Delhi Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha  and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj says she is shocked that the TV channels have chosen to highlight her dancing at at the BJP's all-nighter protest at Rajghat on Sunday night . 

Mrs Swaraj  tweeted saying  she was "shocked that this (dancing) is the sole clipping picked up as representative visual of the Satyagraha. It is the tradition of our party that we sing patriotic songs during all our protests"(Watch: When BJP leaders danced in protest)

Senior BJP leaders, who sat in dharna all-night at Rajghat, went to meet President Pratibha Patil this morning about the action taken by the government against yoga teacher Baba Ramdev and the 65,000 followers who attended his fast against corruption on Saturday.

"The image of this government is that of the most corrupt government in Independent India," said Mr Advani after his session with the President.  His party has asked the President to convene a special session of parliament to discuss the crisis that has arisen from the confrontation between the government on one hand and civil society activists including Baba Ramdev on the other.  Mr Advani said he suggested to the President that a "joint parliamentary committee be set up to explore issues of corruption."  (Read: Memorandum submitted by NDA leaders to President)

Shoe throwing incident:Intruder brandishes shoe at Dwivedi, held


A day and a half after Baba Ramdev and his supporters were asked to leave the Ramlila Grounds, the Congress' routine press briefing on Monday was disrupted when a man, wearing a striped T-shirt and black trousers and brandishing a shoe, clambered onto the dais and threatened the party's media chairperson Janardan Dwivedi.

Sunil Kumar, who claimed to be a reporter from Rajasthan's Nav Sanchar Patrika, was later found to have been a former school teacher at an RSS-affiliated school in Jhunjhunu, beyond Jaipur.

A surprised Mr. Dwivedi looked up, rose in his chair and tried to grab the intruder. A Congress media cell staffer too rushed in to help, he was followed by a journalist. Then all hell broke loose with journalists joining the fray and TV cameramen rushing in to catch the action.

Minutes earlier, Mr. Kumar, who had been standing near the door, asked Mr. Dwivedi: “Aren't you happy that there is no political opposition left in the country?” Mr. Dwivedi turned to him, and said: “Nobody should be under the misapprehension that there is no political opposition.” But what caught everyone's attention was that the questioner was a stranger and his tone was mocking and aggressive.

Mr. Kumar was then led out and handed over to police — he is being questioned on his antecedents and motives.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh later said the BJP's response to the incident was so swift that it appeared as though the aggressor had been sent from there. BJP leader Rajnath Singh, however, was quick to condemn the incident that regardless of people's views, there was no justification for the bid to “attack” Mr. Dwivedi.

Mr. Dwivedi resumed the press briefing and the focus now was on the backing that the RSS and the BJP had given to the Baba Ramdev hunger strike. “I don't want to comment on what just happened,” he said, adding, “it was clearly a pre-planned action and proves what I have just been saying, that there are forces who want to destabilise this government.”

Held for breach of peace

Devesh K. Pandey reports:

The Delhi police arrested Mr. Kumar for alleged breach of peace and as a preventive measure under Sections 107 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Congress criticises Sushma for dancing at Rajghat

Special Correspondent

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj dances to a patriotic song during the party’s ‘satyagrah’ against corruption at the Rajghat in New Delhi on Sunday night.PHOTO;PTI

New Delhi: Television visuals of the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj dancing vigorously at the Rajghat — the last resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation — where BJP leaders had gathered to condemn the police action on Baba Ramdev and his supporters caught people by surprise.

Indeed, Congress media chairperson Janardan Dwivedi took potshots at the party for staging an agitation at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial, especially “as they represented an ideology that was responsible for his assassination.
“There are some people sitting on a fast at the Rajghat who follow an ideology because of which Rajghat was constructed before its time,” Mr. Dwivedi said, adding, “Gandhiji wanted to live 125 years, Rajghat had to be constructed much earlier.
He asked what the BJP was celebrating at the Rajghat as their leaders were seen dancing. “Why is the Leader of the Opposition dancing with her companions there? Where is the seriousness, why are they celebrating?”