Be glad you are not a gal (in Senegal)

It is true enough that being a girl in India is a fate-bed strewn with thorns. Still while illegal torture by random monsters is hard, nothing is as ghastly as the state taking on the role of Daddy monster (and dont you know that the dictums are for the good of women…).


A 10-year-old girl who is pregnant with twins after she was raped by a
neighbour has been forced to continue with her pregnancy after human rights campaigners lost their fight to secure a legal route to abortion.


The
plight of the girl, who is five months pregnant and lives in Ziguinchor
in the south, highlights the heavy cost women and children are paying
for a Napoleonic law on abortion that is still in force in the former French colony.

“She
is going to have to go through with the pregnancy,” said Fatou Kiné
Camara, president of the Senegalese women lawyers’ association. “The
best we can do is keep up pressure on the authorities to ensure the girl
gets regular scans and free medical care.

“Senegal’s abortion law is one of the harshest and deadliest in Africa.
A doctor or pharmacist found guilty of having a role in a termination
faces being struck off. A woman found guilty of abortion can be jailed
for up to 10 years.”

“For
a termination to be legal in Senegal, three doctors have to certify
that the woman will die unless she aborts immediately. Poor people in
Senegal are lucky if they see one doctor in their lifetime, let alone
three,” Camara said.

“A single medical certificate costs
10,000 CFA francs ($20), which is prohibitive. We had a previous case of
a raped nine-year-old who had to go through with her pregnancy. We paid
for her caesarean but she died a few months after the baby was born,
presumably because the physical trauma of childbirth was too great.”

The women lawyers’ association is lobbying MPs to align Senegal’s abortion legislation with the African charter on women’s rights, which the country ratified 10 years ago. Its provisions – legal medical abortion in cases of rape and incest, or where a woman’s physical or mental health is threatened – have never been added to the statute book.

“Most of the calls are from rural people and
concern property rights and access to land,” said Aminata Samb, 25, a
law graduate who works with the association. “This morning a woman rang
to say her husband had married another woman and was no longer taking
care of her and her children. I inform the callers of their legal rights
and tell them where to turn, should they want to exercise them. But
many women just want to tell their story again and again. It makes them
feel better.”

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India: food, food everywhere, not a bite to eat

Amartya Sen can now get a second Nobel prize by pointing out that while democracies on the whole manage to avoid famines, they can still manage to condemn people to malnutrition, while the equivalent wheat production of Australia manages to rot away or worse.
….
Most of you may know that India produces
more food than we can consume. In fact, India has been self sufficient
in food for at least the last three decades, having “achieved self- sufficiency in food production in the late 1970s (1)”. And yet hunger in India remains at alarming levels. More children remain malnourished in India than any part of the world (almost 40% of the world’s total according to some estimates).



What most of you may not know is that India wastes a quantity of wheat equivalent to the entire production of Australia every year, of which 21 million tonnes perishes every year due to a lack of inadequate storage and distribution (2). Worse, up to 40 percent of the country’s food harvest rots before it gets to the market, thanks to inadequate cold storage facilities and transport bottlenecks.

 


A report from 2008 highlighted the scale of mismanagement and callous neglect of food storage:  “Over
10 lakh tonnes of foodgrains worth several hundred crores of rupees,
which could have fed over one crore hungry people for a year, were
damaged in..(FCI) godowns during the last one decade
 (between 1997 – 2007).”

Shockingly, “Rs 2.59 crore was spent just to dispose off the rotten foodgrains”.  

 

Responding to an RTI query last year, FCI admitted that over 17,500 tonnes of foodgrain lying in its godowns got destroyed in the last three years (alone)”. This abysmal state of affairs has seen foodgrains being stored in classrooms, grains being burnt and stocks being infested with worms.
 

A pernicious side-effect of rotten grains in godowns is the sight
of good quality grains being left in the open since valuable space has
been taken up by grains unfit for consumption.

 

Ironically, even as food production has soared in the last few years, storage capacity has actually decreased. This report by Kamayani Mahabal mentions
how Government owned storage capacity actually fell to 32.1 million
tonnes in 2009 from 36.7 million tonnes in 2004. This was UPA-I.

UPA-II was not much of an improvement. While “..total foodgrains
stock in the Central Pool recorded an increase of 45.8 million tonnes
between 2006-07 and 2011-12; FCI increased its storage space through
hiring or owned space only to the extent of 8.4 million tonnes (18
percent)…Its owned storage capacity increased by mere 0.4 million
tonnes during the period
” (3).

What’s worse, even the existing capacity – woefully inadequate as it was – was not being utilised fully. “The
auditor (CAG) observed that utilization of existing storage capacity in
various states and union territories was less than 75% in the majority
of the months between 2006-07 and 2011-12.” 

In case of fruits and vegetables – items that perish easily – lack of proper storage makes the situation worse. An ASSOCHAM Study from 2013 estimated that “at least 30% of fruits and vegetables were rendered unfit for consumption due
to spoilage
after harvesting, negligent attitudes, absence of food
processing units and unavailability of modern cold storages”. The study
also noted that barely 22% of produced fruits and vegetables reach the
wholesale market in India.


Dr JP Narayan of LokSatta has noted that “Post-harvest losses of perishable commodities exceeds Rs 100,000 crores or Rs one trillion per annum”.

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(SUV Kings) India defeat the French and Americans

The figures are in and they are truly impressive (given the horrible market condition). The Mahindra and Mahindra Scorpio wins the top spot defeating the Renault Duster and the Ford Ecosport. We are actually surprised, we thought that the Eco Sport was very good looking and very well priced and Ford was actually having difficulty in ramping up their production (which is perhaps one reason for lower sales volume). Nevertheless amidst all the extreme gloominess the SUV market has managed to remain in (relatively) better shape.


Unlike FY13, when the utility vehicle (UV) segment was growing by over 50%
to half a million units, the segment has been struggling since the
beginning of FY14 due to constant rise in diesel prices. The UV segment,
between April and February of FY14, posted a decline of 5% year-on-year
to 4.77 lakh unit.

M&M Scorpio reclaims top spot, leaves behind Renault Duster, Ford EcoSport in 2013-14
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Muslim #1 speaks (TINA Congress)

In his speech Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari has uttered a most significant comment: “If we had our own party, we would not have been in such a bad
situation. Other communities like Akali and Yadavs have their own
parties,” he said.

In one sense it is ridiculous, Congress is the party of muslims in the true sense that Congress cant win without the votes of Dalits and Muslims. Apart from that there are plenty of muslim parties; IUML in Kerala, MIM in Hyderabad, AUDF in Axom. But they are separated by great distances and egos. Muslims in India are not united against a common menace. It is certainly true that there is no muslim party that is strong enough. But why is that?


Population wise muslim votes will never overwhelm any significant part of the country. And for that they should blame the two-nation theory and their compatriots in Pakistan and Bangladesh. If India had remained un-divided the muslim population of SAsia would have been perpetual favorites to be rulers or being a dominant partner of any ruling coalition. IMHO if  the founding fathers of Pakistan had been prepared to play the long game, the entire country would have become Pakistan one-day. But that was not to be and it is Bukhari’s fate to collaborate with the lesser evil and make lame statements about “strengthening secularism”.


….
Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari today declared his
support to Congress saying it will “strengthen” secularism and termed
communalism as “bigger threat” to the country than corruption.


Considered an influential religious leader, Bukhari appealed to Muslims
to support Congress and ensure that secular votes are not divided, days
after his meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi sparked a row.
He also announced supporting Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and Congress ally RJD in Bihar.


On supporting TMC, he said Mamata Banerjee has already made it clear
that she will not join NDA and that is why he will back her.
“Her role will be crucial in forming government at Centre. I appeal to West Bengal voters to support Mamata Banerjee,” he said.


“If we had our own party, we would not have been in such a bad
situation. Other communities like Akali and Yadavs have their own
parties,” he said.


Attacking Samajwadi Party, he accused it of betraying the Muslims by not
fulfilling its promises. “It is also responsible for Muzaffarnagar
riots.”
He termed BSP as an “opportunistic party” and said supporting regional outfits will be a “waste of vote”.

….
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Shakti Mills gangrape – death penalty (3)

The three repeat offenders get the death penalty.

We violently disagree with the death penalty (no ifs and buts), and we are happy that even though it is the law of the land it will probably never be acted upon given the recent Supreme Court rulings and it is much better to prescribe some diabolical punishment scheme like solitary confinement.

The three repeat offenders in the Shakti Mills gang-rape cases have been awarded death sentence by sessions court.

Awarding death penalty to the three, the court said, “Mumbai gang-rape
accused have least respect for law. They don’t have potential for
reformation as per facts of case.”

“The suffering that gang-rape survivor and her family has undergone is unparalleled,” the court said.

“Mumbai gang-rape accused were emboldened since law enforcing agencies
hadn’t caught them. If this is not the case where death sentence
prescribed by law is not valid, which is?” the judge asked.

“Exemplary and rarest of rare punishment is required in the case,” the
judge said, adding, crime violates all rights of survivor.

Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had demanded the maximum punishment for the three repeat offenders.

Kasim Bengali, Vijay Jadhav and Mohammed Salim Ansari are the common
accused who are also convicted in the telephone operator gang-rape case.
The 18-year-old telephone operator was gang raped on the premises of
Shakti Mills in July last year a month before the photojournalist was
brutalised on August 22.

The 22-year-old photo journalist of a
magazine was gang raped by Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali, Salim Ansari,
Siraj Rehman and a minor boy when she had gone to the Shakti Mills
compound in the Central Mumbai with a male colleague on an assignment.

…..

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ZA Bhutto murdered (5 April 1979)

He was a great man and if he had lived a full life then Pakistan certainly would have benefited from his services. However his actions were also problematic in terms of how Partition #2 could have been avoided (unfortunately the Hindu minority in Bangladesh did not fit into his calculations), and his actions led the way to demonization of the Ahmedis (which would have happened anyway). That said he died a horrible death (by the hands of General Zia whom he himself had promoted) and it was thus poetic justice that General Zia died an agonizing death when his turn came. A bad show all around.

My dear countrymen, my dear friends, my dear students, labourers,
peasants… those who fought for Pakistan… We are facing the worst
crisis in our country’s life, a deadly crisis. We have to pick up the
pieces, very small pieces, but we will make a new Pakistan, a prosperous
and progressive Pakistan, a Pakistan free of exploitation, a Pakistan
envisaged by the Quaid-e-Azam
—Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 1971

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India ranks 102 out of 132 nations on social progress index

Of the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—only India ranked lower than the 100th position on the list of the Social Progress Index 2014 compiled by US-based non-profit group Social Progress Imperative…The report said that while the BRICS are generally seen as areas of great economic growth potential, social progress performance is mixed at best. Only Brazil (46th) ranks better on social progress than it does on GDP per capita (57th). Russia has a higher GDP than Brazil (39th) yet ranks lower on the Social Progress Index (80th); South Africa is 58th on GDP and 69th on social progress; China is 69th on GDP and 90th on social progress; and India is 94th on GDP and 102nd on social progress.

More here.

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Justice delayed (denied) in Suryanelli

A totally barbaric case where a glimmer of light can (may) be seen. A sixteen year old tortured for 40 days with all the accused except the prime mover acquitted of all charges. Then came the log-term mental toruture where she was accused of being a “deviant girl.”

The only difference with the re-appeal is the ghost of Nirbhaya, which forced the Supreme court to scrutinize her case (after it had been lying idle for an unbelievable period of 8 years [ref wiki]).  

This poor girl can thank that poor girl for a bit of justice that may be flowing after such a long dry season.


24
accused in the Suryanelli rape case have been held guilty of gang rape
by Kerala high court on Friday after a rehearing in the case. All the 24 were acquitted 9 years ago by another division bench of the court.

The mass acquittal was challenged in the Supreme Court, which ordered re-hearing in the case last year.

It was on January 31 last year that the apex court had set aside the
high court’s mass acquittal in the rape case and had asked the high
court to take a fresh look at the case.

A division bench comprising Justice KT Sankaran and Justice ML Joseph
Francis pronounced its judgment today after completing fresh hearing.

The case relates to the abduction of a 16-year-old girl (16 years, 3
months, and 23 days as on January 16, 1996) from her school hostel at
Suryanelli in Idukki district on January 16, 1996 by a bus conductor,
first accused Raju, in the guise of love.

She was then handed
over by the conductor to second accused Usha and Dharmarajan and was
transported from place to place in Kerala and Tamil Nadu for 40 days.
During the 40-day period, she was presented to 41 men and was raped 67
times, until she was released on the morning of February 26, 1996. She
was transported for over 3,000 kilometres by the gang during the rapes.

Charges against the accused included rape, kidnapping, criminal
conspiracy, wrongfully concealing abducted person, selling minor girl,
procuration of minor girl, and gang rape.

On September 2, 2000,
a sessions court at Kottayam had convicted 35 of the accused to undergo
prison sentences ranging from 4 to 13 years and had acquitted four
persons.

A total of 40 persons had faced trial in the case,
which included 9 businessmen, 2 advocates, 2 railway employees, 3
vehicle brokers, 1 mechanic, 1 policeman, 5 drivers, 1 professor, 1
clerk, 5 coolies, 6 farmers, 1 bus conductor, 1 nurse, and sex worker
Usha who pimped the girl.

As the main accused Dharmarajan was
absconding, he faced trial separately later on. He was convicted and
sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001. Considering appeals
filed by convicts, a division bench of the high court had, on January
20, 2005, acquitted all the accused except Dharmarajan. He was convicted
only for procuration of minor girl, and not for rape. His sentence was
modified to 4 years of rigorous imprisonment from life imprisonment by
the high court.

Considering state government’s appeal, a
special bench of the apex court dealing with crimes against women had
set aside the high court’s judgment and had ordered a fresh hearing on
the appeals by the high court on January 31 last year.

State
government had assigned director general of prosecution T Asaf Ali to
present the prosecution’s case. A total of 27 appeals were filed by the
convicts, including prime accused Dharmarajan, through advocate George
Kutty Mathew. Hearing of the appeals had begun on March 13 last year.

……

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The prince is banished from the kingdom

We are actually held speechless (only for a moment to be sure). Is this actually India that we know so well of where a well-off person never bothers to stand in a queue. And these majestic words simply take your breath away: “If Gandhi has to apply, he should apply himself in person or send
application signed by him with all the essential documents”

Life is super strange these days but it is clear that the bureaucracy (aka steel frame) that actually rule India is showing its true colors. It will not bow to any man, common or royal. Whether it is a positive sign or not, the answer is blowing in the wind.

The local administration has cancelled application of Congress Vice
President and local MP Rahul Gandhi for issuance of domicile
certificate.

“The application should have been made by Gandhi himself with his
signature, which was not there. The application was made by one Rajendra
Singh with is against law”, District Magistrate, Jagatraj Tripathi
today told PTI when asked about cancellation of the application.

The papers needed with the application were also not there, he added.

“If Gandhi has to apply, he should apply himself in person or send
application signed by him with all the essential documents”, the DM
said.

Bank account of all the candidates are to be opened on dircetions of EC
and for this domicile certificate is needed, the officer clarified.

Congress Amethi spokesman Rajendra Singh had applied for the certificate
showing Munshiganj Guest house as temporary address of Gandhi and the
administration had cancelled the application terming it against rules
and regulations.

…..
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Saffron surge in Battleground States

Still no clarity on the magic number- 220 which will be required to convince new partners (my state is my kingdom) to join up. For now the likely list will include TDP (Andhra), AIADMK (Tamil Nadu) and BJD (Odisha). And that’s it. BJP is radio-active for the two Mullahs (Mulayam and Mamata) who have strong muslim backing. Mayawati may be persuaded to join but she will demand dismissal of Samajwadi Party from Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) in return.

It appears that Mission 115 looks to be a goal too far for the Congress (the south, in particular, Kerala, Karnataka and Telengana will be crucial). Also the AAP may not be making a large enough impact in this elections but hopefully will take over from Congress as a secular alternative. For that the AAP has to find a way to steal (and retain) Dalits and Muslim votes, which have always  been donated free to Congress.

The
Congress and UPA are facing decimation in a wide swathe of states from
Delhi and Rajasthan in the north to Bihar and Jharkhand in the east,
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the centre, Maharashtra in the west
and Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south. In sharp
contrast, the BJP and its allies are riding high in almost all these
states, with Tamil Nadu being an exceptional case of neither major
alliance doing well, according to an opinion poll done for a TV channel.

The poll done by Hansa Research for NDTV and released on Thursday
estimated that the BJP would win 21 of 25 seats in Rajasthan, 25 of 29
seats in MP, eight of 11 seats in Chhattisgarh, 10 of 14 seats in
Jharkhand, 16 of 28 seats in Karnataka and four of seven in Delhi. Thus,
in these six states combined, the party would bag 84 out of 114 seats
on its own. The BJP with its allies would win 21 of Bihar’s 40 seats, 36
of Maharashtra’s 48, 16 of AP’s 42 and three of Tamil Nadu’s 39,
leading to a total of 76 out of 169 seats in these four states.

As against this, the poll predicts that the Congress will win just 29
seats in AP, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan,
Chhattisgarh and Delhi put together, while the party and its allies will
win 25 seats in Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. In short, the overall
tally in all of these states put together would be 160 for the NDA and a
mere 54 for the UPA.
 In
Tamil Nadu, the poll predicts that the AIADMK will win 25 seats, the DMK
alliance 11 seats and the BJP alliance three seats, leaving the
Congress facing a blank slate. In Andhra Pradesh, there would be two
distinctly different battles – mainly between the TDP-BJP and the YSR
Congress in Seemandhra and between the Congress and TRS in Telengana.
Put together, the TDP alliance is estimated to win 16 seats, the YSR
Congress 10, the Congress eight and TRS seven.

In Maharashtra,
the NDA will win 36 seats and the UPA just 10, the poll predicted. In
Bihar, the NDA gets 21, the UPA 11 and the ruling JD(U) a mere six. In
Delhi, AAP will win two seats and Congress one, the remaining four going
to BJP, the poll predicted.
  
…..
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