Wednesday, September 3, 2014
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Pure hypocrisy: India's fear of foreign funding for NGOs
By Medha Patkar
Indian governments have always been fairly paranoid about NGOs, especially those challenging big business or inequitable development projects. Nevertheless, the previous Indian government has consulted with some NGOs and civil society activists on several critical issues. Although the state was indifferent to civil society protests against mines and corruption, it did seek NGO input on major public welfare policies such as the right to information, universal education and food security. Although officials did not always accept NGOs' advice, the conversation, at least, continued. The new Indian government led by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, engages in very little dialogue with NGOs or people's movements. This is consistent with the record of BJP-led state governme...
Kashmir Times News Report
Death Penalty: No deterrence
Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report, "India: Death Penalty Has No Deterrence" (, stated that President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected 97% of the mercy petitions since assuming the office of the President of India on 25 July 2012 despite no deterrent effect of death penalty. President Mukherjee has considered 23 mercy pleas involving 31 death-row convicts out of which only one convict, Atbir was granted mercy as on August 2014. Analysing the data of the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), the report, "India: Death Penalty Has No Deterrence", stated, "From 2001 to 2012, death sentence of 1,552 convicts were confirmed while the death sentences for 4,382 convicts were commuted to life imprisonment. This implies that a total of 5...
Kashmir Times News Report
Revolution, Azadi and Inqilab
By Sabina Khan
Unfortunately, "democracy" only exists in Pakistan either through the lineage of a Bhutto or Sharif. While the masses are increasingly fed up with the regurgitated choices offered to them every election year, the PTI and PAT's march was doubtful to bring about the changes they seek. In fact, these protests were an ill-timed distraction. Pakistan is already besieged with an IDP crisis and a military that is busy conducting the Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan. Yes, there was electoral fraud along with discontent about the poor quality of life, but a call for a "Tahrir square" revolution is not the solution. Can any rational person claim that present-day Egypt is the ideal model for the future of Pakistan? Nawaz Sharif's government has failed to curb electricity blackouts which sha...
Kashmir Times News Report
Lost Indian Pride
Aid indigenous production
By Shivaji Sarkar
It was 1980. Two friends of mine, a German and Japanese were on a visit to Delhi. I took them to a consumer fair being held at the Pragati Maidan, the national exhibition ground. After visiting various stalls manufacturing needles, shaving blades, cosmetics, sewing machines, machineries for domestic use and light machineries, they asked: "Don't you (India) import anything?" It was a pride moment for this Indian. Two foreigners whose countries depended heavily on imports were dazzled by our manufacturing. The nation had developed a strong base. Soon after, there was news that India-made Ashok stainless blades were being exported to some European countries, including Switzerland. Indeed, India was proud of its indigenous products and industry, something that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ...
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Growing challenge to Modi Govt at center
By Brij Bhardwaj
If the indications from Bihar, Karnataka and Uttrakhand in the by-polls for State Assemblies are accepted as a sign of change of mood in the country, the time has come for BJP and Central Government to rework their strategy and game plans for the country. The first lesson is that strong reasons exist for building a united front of secular parties to meet the challenge of BJP. The irony is that not very long ago arguments were offered for forming a United Front of parties in opposition to fight Congress. The roles have changed, but the strategy remains the same. What has happened in Bihar will not be easy to replicate in other States like U.P, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for different reasons. For instance in U.P there is bitterness between Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh and BSP of May...
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Teaching Bidar's Women To Ditch Patriarchy, Embrace Empowerment
By Pushpa Achanta
Like elsewhere in India, the status of women in Bidar, a backward district in northern Karnataka, is poor. Do they have ownership of the homes they so lovingly nurture and the land they so painstakingly till? Walk into any home in Soralli village in Aurad taluk and pose this question to the woman of the house and this would be the standard reply: "Our home is registered in the name of my father-in-law or husband." Inquire why she or her mother-in-law has not considered becoming independent or joint owners of the property and all you will get is thundering silence. Some will simply look at you with surprise. Whoever's heard of women owning assets? Ok, let's talk about reproductive rights. Do the women have a say in the number of children they want? Or do they even have adequate knowledge...
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BOOK Review
Exploring the inner and outer world of Nayantara Sahgal
Born into the first family of Indian politics, Nayantara Sahgal has etched her name in the history books as one of India's finest writers. By the time she was 35 in 1962, she had already published her autobiography in two volumes, 'Prison and Chocolate Cake' and 'From Fear Set Free', which set the tone for her later works. Novelist, essayist, political commentator and memoirist, everything she has written during the course of an illustrious career spanning over five decades has followed the evolution of democracy in post-Independence India. What was it that inspired Nayantara's foray into writing? How did marriage affect her outlook on love and life, transforming her from Tara Pandit into Nayantara Sahgal? Excerpts from her latest biography, Out Of Line by Ritu Menon and published by Four...
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BOOK Review
When the Soviet Empire collapsed, Ukraine was the key
By Rodric Braithwaite
For those of us who were there at the time, it is sometimes disconcerting to follow the rise and fall of new interpretations and old myths about the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago. The instant histories and the memoirs have all been written. It is now the turn of professional historians to rummage in archives and benefit from the perspective of time. Their interpretations differ, of course: after all, we are still arguing about the reasons for the collapse of the Roman Empire. Within weeks of the collapse, President George H W Bush claimed victory for America, a triumphalist and highly partial assertion, uncharacteristic for such a normally cautious man. Serhii Plokhy, a distinguished Ukrainian American scholar, sets out to refute it in The Last Empire: The Fin...
Kashmir Times News Report
Does love know religious boundaries?
By Ram Puniyani
Communal politics, communal violence all over used women's bodies as the site of contestation and community honour. This is the worst expression of patriarchal values inherent in the communal politics. We recall that it was the presentation of a road accident between boys of two religious communities that was propagated as an issue of the honour of 'our girl' being violated by the 'other'. The Panchayats were mobilized; openly flaunting the arms, and Muzzafarnagar violence was orchestrated. And that's not the end of the abuse of 'our women-their women' mind set. Post Muzzafarnagar violence, UP is abuzz with various activities aimed at polarizing the communities using this issue. A Madarassa teacher stated that she was abducted and raped, by Muslim men. She kept changing her versions and ...
Kashmir Times News Report
Where can legal women seek justice
By Savita Verma
In 2000, a young woman lawyer in Andhra Pradesh committed suicide allegedly due to sexual harassment by three lawyers. Earlier this year, two major incidents came to light - one involving former Justice Swatenter Kumar, who was accused of sexually harassing an intern in 2011, although he has firmly denied the allegation, and another that saw Justice A.K. Ganguly, another former judge of the Supreme Court, in the eye of the storm after a female intern charged him with sexually harassing her in a hotel room in 2012. More recently, the news of an additional district and sessions judge in Gwalior stepping down in order "to protect her dignity" came as another shock. According to reports, in her complaint to the Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha and Madhya Pradesh High Court chief justice, s...
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Bang-i nachun!
By S Mukhtar
"Uncle." "Yes dear." "Who appoints a government orderly?" "But with that what to you?" "Just by the way I ask." "Applications for the post are invited, an interview is held, may be a written test too, thereupon the selection is made, and the order of appointment is issued by the prescribed competent authority." "And who appoints Chief Minister and Ministers?" "Dear, people en masse choose MLAs. MLAs choose their leader. And him, or her, the Governor appoints Chief Minister. The Chief Minister chooses Ministers. The Governor appoints them. That is it in a nutshell." "Uncle, it means people en masse appoint Chief Minister and Ministers. Uncle, any qualifications required for this appointing authority - people en masse?" "One and only one: All must be 18+ of age. Thos...
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The idea of partition recedes in shadows
By Kuldip Nayar
India's independence or the migration of Hindus and Muslims on the basis of religion is as old as fiftyseven years. I remember leaving my home in Sialkot city on August 14 itself because the new state of Pakistan did not entertain non-Muslims, just as East Punjab did not want any Muslim in their midst. I heard Jawaharlal Nehru's famous 'tryst' speech in Pakistan itself at my home town, Sialkot. However, I crossed the border only on September 17, thirty two days after independence. By then, the fury of killing and looting had subsided. I did not see Hindus and Muslims quarrelling, actually fighting. But I saw the pain-etched faces-men and women with their meagre belongings bundled on their heads and the fear-stricken children following them. Both Hindus and Muslims had left behind their h...
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Ukraine: A game of Chicken
By Gwynne Dyer
It is quite possible for soldiers to cross a frontier "by accident on an unmarked section," and that is how Moscow explains the capture of a group of Russian paratroopers on Ukrainian territory last weekend. Poor lambs, they just wandered across the border by mistake. When they get home, they'll have to be sent on a refresher course in cross-country navigation. The flaw in this story is that the ten captured Russian soldiers, from the 331st Regiment of the 98th Guards Airborne Division, were caught in a group of unmarked vehicles TWENTY KILOMETRES inside Ukraine. That's a third of the way from the Russian border to the besieged rebel city of Donetsk, and it's really hard to explain away as a navigational error. Besides, there is plenty of other evidence (though no other video interviews...
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No crying halt to communal riots
By Humra Quraishi
Strange ironies hit each day. Sangeet Som - one of the accused cum suspect in the 2013 riots of Muzaffarnagar - is getting some sort of special protection by the establishment! In fact, correct me if I'm wrong but today all it requires is to be in the Right Wing fold and then with that certificate tucked in your inner or outer folds you could utter or mutter or execute any possible unthinkable! This trend is gaining graph and yet there is no crying halt. You could kill and rape and utter nonsense in the midst of communal rioting, but because of double standards in vogue you'd be not just left untouched but even garlanded during meets and provided special protection so that your limbs remain untouched! SHUBRADEEP CHAKRAVORTY PASSES AWAY New Delhi based journalist turned documentary f...
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The caged democracy: Crisis in Pakistan
By Ishaq Begh
The politically motivated reforms are shaping modern world societies in a better way and procedures having a dissent background are the tools which stamp out the soul of democracy and push a nation to a standstill situation. Last year, in Pakistan's history when the power was being transferred from one democratically elected government to another with a heavy mandate from the base of democracy, all the apprehensions of military intervention in federal government were challenged by the politicians and indeed military was isolated from the scene. After the completion of national assembly's term of five years in Pakistan, power gets transferred to a technocratic government and in fact this government in collaboration with other establishments becomes responsible for the conduct of free an...
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'Love Jihad': New twist to UP's law and order
By Lalit Sethi
Is there a new twist to the near breakdown of law and order in parts of Uttar Pradesh? Is it being described as "love jihad"? Is there a nearly obvious contradiction in the expression or is it an attempt to coin an expression to describe a certain kind of situation? Reports of rapes, followed by murder, riots and mayhem of sorts, are they the result of electoral politics, whether for a new Parliament or by-elections to create fear on a big scale? There appears to be a new style of matrimony between two young people that has created an unusual communal debate. It is alleged that a young man pretending to be a lover with an assumed surname woos a girl and persuades her to marry him, but later forces her to convert to his faith. It is alleged that there have been quite a few or a fair numb...
Kashmir Times News Report
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