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Archives for : December2017

India – Mining children are nobody’s baby Govt , ministry and laws are quiet on child rights

By Our Representative
Raising a major policy issue, a top advocacy group, Mines, Minerals and People (MM&P) has regretted that the plight of the “mining children” is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, which looks after all the mines in India, and the result is a strange “mess”: the lives of children as a result of mining has to be addressed by other departments like child welfare, education, tribal welfare, labour, environment and others.
Insisting on the need to converge between various departments and agencies for taking care of the mining children, MM&P in a memorandum submitted to government of India ministers and MPs cutting across party lines, says, the issue becomes particularly precarious as “laws and policies related to mining do not address specific rights and entitlements of mining children.”

Pointing towards gravity of the problem, MM&P says, “India currently produces 89 minerals out of which four are fuel minerals, 11 metallic, 52 non-metallic and 22 minor minerals. Mining for fuel, metallic and non-metallic industrial minerals is currently undertaken in almost half of India’s districts.”
Currently one of the main industries that generate high revenues, the problem of mining children, says MM&P, has acquired added dimension, because the tribal and other marginalized communities have had to fight for their survival in mining areas, such as in Niyamgiri hills, where they were pitted against Vedanta and Posco in Odisha; Steel Authority of India (SAIL) in Salem, Tamil Nadu; iron ore mining in Goa; and coal mining in Chhattisgarh.
“It is in and around these mining areas that we find children the most vulnerable to the stark realities of extractive economy. These children are affected by mining, both indirectly and directly. It is these children who need our concern and attention and should be referred to as the mining children”, MM&P says.
It says, “Due to environmental pollution, children are most at risk to various health hazards due to silicosis, TB, structural birth defects, etc. Jodhpur and Makhna (Rajasthan), Rewa (Madhya Pradesh) and Panna (Maharashtra). Panna is also a classic example where both child mortality rate and maternal mortality rate are very high.”
According to MM&P, “While almost 50% of children across states are malnourished, malnourishment is widespread and acute in mining areas. Malnutrition is a problem in many places like Rewa and Udaipur (Rajasthan). In Panna, malnutrition among children is the highest out of all the mining areas.”
“Displaced homeless or living in inadequate housing conditions, forced to drop out of schools, children become easy target for abuse, exploitation and being recruited for illegal activities by mafia and even trafficking”, the memorandum, signed by MM&P’s Rebbapragada Ravi (chairperson) and Ashok Shrimali, secretary general, says, adding, “Cases of sexual abuse and trafficking among children are a harsh reality in all the mining areas.”
Then, it says, “Mining children are unable to access schools or are forced to drop out of schools because of circumstances arising from mining activity. Children’s education getting hampered and drop out problems are major concerns in many places like Jodhpur, Makhna, Udaipur, Rewa and Panna.”
Also, MM&P says, “Mining regions have large numbers of children working in the most hazardous activities. Since child labour is illegal these activities are mostly done clandestinely taking advantage of the poor condition of the community. Child Labour is prevalent in many places like Panna, Udaipur (Rajasthan) and Tamil Nadu.”
Pointing out that due to “large scale mining projects children are fast losing their constitutional rights under the 5th schedule, due to displacement, land alienation and migration by mining projects”, MM&P says, “The mining sector is largely dependent on migrant populations (who most often do not have any proof of identity) where children have no security of life and where children are also found to be working in the mines or other labor as a result of mining.”

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Use Aadhaar to mark attendance from Jan 1 or face pay cut, EDMC tells staff   #WTFnews


(Representative image)(Representative image)
NEW DELHI: The east corporation has decided to mark all its employeesabsent and deduct their salaries from January 1 if they do not use the last six digits of their Aadhaar numbers and fingerprints to register their attendance.
The civic body has distributed Aadhaar-verified biometric attendance machines among supervisors for recording attendance of all staff, including sanitation workers, teachers, gardeners, doctors and nurses. The new machine has already been installed at the EDMC headquarters and in its zonal offices.

A large number of the corporation’s 25,000 employees currently use a manual attendance system under which anyone signing the attendance register gets paid. The system is misused by many workers, said officials. “Some of the workers mark attendance for three-four days in a day. The practice is unacceptable but there is no system to check it. It also affects our services,” said an official.

Various RWAs have often raised the issue of the absence of sanitation workers in their areas. “Sanitation workers come in the morning and register their attendance but are often not visible in the field after sometime. Nobody dares to object as the next day, sanitaion workers won’t pick up garbage,” said a RWA member who did not want to be named.

Now every staff will have to mark attendance twice a day — in the morning when they report to work and in the evening before leaving. “We can now monitor our human resources better. In the morning, we will be able to see how many workers have reported to work in different areas,” said EDMC commissioner Ranbir Singh.

But some workers are in trouble because their fingerprints have got distorted due to the nature of their work. Ashok Kumar, a sanitation worker in Kalyanpuri, said the machine was unable to read his fingerprint. “I am a sincere worker. Why should I lose my salary?” he asked.

Sanjay Gahlot, president of MCD Swachhta Karamchari Union, said, “The machine should also read the eyes and not only fingerprints.”

Deputy commissioner (IT cell) Atik Ahmad said 700 machines had been distributed and around 14,000 employees had already registered.

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India discards 1 million blood units per yr despite shortage

India discards over a million units of blood collected every year, according to health ministry data. This is despite facing a severe blood shortage as only 9.9 million units are collected against the estimated annual requirement of 10-12 million units.

The reasons for collected blood having to be discarded include deterioration during storage and expiry due to outdating. The largest chunk of the wasted units is plasma, which could be used for various life-saving treatments. A unit of blood (450 ml) can potentially save at least three lives, according to the World Health Organization.

On an average, about six units of blood is needed for every open heart surgery, while a roadside accident victim could require up to 100 units. One out of every 10 people admitted to a hospital needs blood, according to WHO data.

The health ministry data was tabled in the Lok Sabha in response to a question. Reactivity for infections (malaria, syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C) and expiry due to outdating, especially for platelets, which have a short shelf life of only 5 days, are among the reasons offered by the ministry. Others include deterioration during storage in the form of discolouration, haemolysis, bacterial contamination, not meeting quality parameters after collection and production and non-completion of blood collection in requisite quantities due to donor reactions.

The ministry added that though India does not have a National Blood Transfusion Service, since public health is a state subject, state blood transfusion councils are set up in every state to monitor proper functioning of blood transfusion services.

Patients need blood after major accidents or surgeries in which there is loss of blood. After a miscarriage or childbirth, the patient may need transfusion of a large amount of blood for saving her life or the child’s. For patients with blood diseases like severe anaemias, leukaemias (blood cancer), haemophilia (bleeding disorder) and thalassemia, repeated blood transfusions are the only solution. In many other situations too, like poisoning, drug reactions, shock and burns, blood transfusion is the only way to save life. WHO estimates that blood donation by 1% of a country’s population is generally sufficient to meet its basic requirements for safe blood. Currently, an estimated 9.5 million Indians donate blood, which is 2.5 to 3 million less than the required number.

Globally, more than 2,87, 000 women die each year during pregnancy, childbirth or in the postpartum period – 99% of them in developing countries; availability of safe blood can save many of them, according to the World Health Organization.

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Rift over Aadhaar comes to the fore at Parl panel meet

New Delhi:The Aadhaar divide between the government and opposition parties showed up at the meeting of the parliamentary standing committee for home affairs on Wednesday, prompting six of its 13 members from the ruling BJP to write to panel chairman P Chidambaram to stop the ongoing discussions on the issue while other members insisted on taking it up.

The issue of “National Security and Privacy Concerns Related to Aadhaar” has been listed as “agenda number one” on the panel’s list of items and the panel has already deliberated on it at four meetings earlier, sources said.

The six MPs who stayed away from Wednesday’s meeting, wrote to Chidambaram, saying Aadhaar is not within the purview of the home ministry and hence the related parliamentary committee has no mandate to discuss it, it was learnt. The BJP MPs argued it should be taken up by the standing committee on IT and telecom instead. The opposition argued since the discussion is on “national security and privacy concerns”, it is much under the purview of the home ministry-related panel.

Members of Congress, TMC, NCP and SP also countered three BJP members that the issue has been listed as an agenda from the beginning and the IT and telecom panel could also take up the issue simultaneously while viewing it from a different perspective.

In the letter, the BJP MPs also said Chidambaram should recuse himself from any discussion on Aadhaar as he had represented party member Jairam Ramesh in court on the privacy issues linked to Aadhaar. Chidambaram said he had appeared for “free” in that case which questioned if Aadhaar bill could be treated as a money bill, as was the route taken by the government.

Wednesday’s meeting lasted only two hours with few members in attendance. Most of the time was spent on discussing issues related to Lakshwadeep.

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UP govt moves to withdraw 1995 case against CM Yogi Adityanath, 10 others #WTFnews

Process to withdraw 20,000 cases against politicians, including Yogi Adityanath, takes off in Uttar Pradesh

By Namita Bajpai  |

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (File | PTI)

LUCKNOW: In an attempt to try politico-legal cleansing, as they are calling it, Yogi Adityanath government has initiated the process to withdraw 20,000 cases of breach of peace and violation of prohibitory orders against the politicians across party lines in UP by sending a letter to District Magistrates.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on December 22, while participating in a debate on UPCOCA Bill on the floor of the House, had made the light of his government’s intention to would withdraw around 20,000 such cases against politicians.

Actually, the withdrawal would include cases against CM Yogi Adityanath, Deputy CM Keshav Maurya, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, BJP MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana and BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj and the likes of them.

Interestingly, two days before the CM made the statement on floor of the House and a day before Uttar Pradesh Criminal Law (Composition of Offences and Abatement of Trials) Amendment Bill, 2017 was table in the house, UP government’s Law Department had written a letter to Gorakhpur DM asking him to withdraw a 22-year-old case lodged against Yogi Adityanath, Shiv Pratap Shukla, who is now the union minister, Sheetal Pandey, now a BJP MLA and ten others.

Now after the passage of Uttar Pradesh Criminal Law (Composition of Offences and Abatement of Trials) Amendment Bill, 2017 in Assembly, the similar letter has been sent to all the district magistrates across the state asking them to initiate a process to withdraw cases lodged against politicians till December 31, 2015. The cases (20,000) to be withdrawn in the process pertain mainly to those pending in courts under Sections 107 and Section 109 of CrPC.

Notably, prior to this, cases lodged till 2013 were included in the Bill but this period has been extended to December 31, 2015, in the Amended Bill.

The 22- year-old case against CM Yogi, Union Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla, BJP MLA Sheetal Pandey and 10 others which was lodged under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) IPC with Pipiganj during Samajwadi Party Government in 1995, will be scrapped soon. The Gorakhpur administration has initiated the process after getting approval from Governor Ram Naik and letter from UP Government in this regard. Then Gorakhnath temple peeth successor Yogi Adityanath along with his supporters were staging sit-in demonstration during Section 144.

“This process will help reduce the unnecessary burden of pendency on courts,” says a noted legal expert.  While the political experts feel that it was acceptable to the extent cases related to violation of peace and prohibitory orders against the politicians would be withdrawn but if it would include the crimes of series nature like dacoity, murder, rape, arson, vandalism, rioting and disharmony, the decision was taken by the Yogi government would not send a positive message among the people of the state.

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India – Government Disowns Minister’s ‘Change Constitution’ Comment, Opposition Wants Him Sacked

Anantkumar Hegde had said, “Some people say the constitution says secular and you must accept it. We will respect the constitution, but the constitution has changed several times and it will change in the future too. We are here to change the constitution and we’ll change it.”

December 27, 2017 16:16 IST

Slogan shouting paralysed the Rajya Sabha as the opposition demanded action against Anantkumar Hedge

Anantkumar Hegde had said BJP will “soon change the Constitution”
Party sources said the minister will not speak on the matter at all
The opposition wants Mr Hegde to be sacked
The government has distanced itself from the latest controversy scripted by union minister Anantkumar Hegde, who has said that his party, the ruling BJP, will “soon change the constitution,” which mentions the word “secular.” The opposition protested loudly in parliament today, disrupting both Houses as they demanded that Mr Hegde be sacked.

“The Government does not subscribe to views expressed by Hegde,” union minister Vijay Goel told the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament.

Outside parliament, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “The government has already said it is not on the same page with Hedge. Only five days are left now in the session. I hope Opposition will come on board now.”

anant kumar hegde ani
Anantkumar Hegde, known for making controversial comments, has been in a series of rows.

But a plan for Mr Hegde to clarify his comments in parliament has been shelved, with party sources saying that the minister will not speak on the matter at all.

The opposition is clear that it wants nothing short of Mr Hegde’s resignation. The Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad, also leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said if a person doesn’t believe in the constitution, “he has no right” to be a member of parliament.

Opposition members gathered around Chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s chair and shouted slogans of: “Baba Saheb ka yeh apmaan nahin chalega (this insult of Babasaheb will not do),” accusing Mr Hedge of denigrating Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, the chief architect of the constitution.


Protests forced the Lok Sabha to adjourn for nearly an hour. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, usually in the Lok Sabha on Wednesdays for questions related to the PM’s office, was not present as he was attending new Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’s oath ceremony in Himachal Pradesh.

Anantkumar Hegde, 49, is the Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and a five-term Lok Sabha lawmaker from the Uttara Kannada constituency in Karnataka. He was speaking at a function in his home state when he urged people to “claim with pride that they are Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin, or a Hindu,” and added, “Those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don’t have their own identity…They don’t know about their parentage, but they are intellectuals.”

He also said, “Some people say the constitution says secular and you must accept it. We will respect the constitution, but the constitution has changed several times and it will change in the future too. We are here to change the constitution and we’ll change it.”

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Mr Hegde has “clearly not studied the constitution, does not know parliamentary or political language,” and must know that “each and every individual in this country is an Indian, And every religion has equal right and opportunity.”

The Karnataka BJP too has distanced itself from Mr Hegde’s comments. “The party (BJP) doesn’t want to get involved with what Hegde has said. What he spoke about is not an issue for us,” BJP spokesperson for Karnataka, Vamanacharya, was quoted as telling news agency IANS.

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Kobad Ghandy’s re-arrest after release is misuse of judicial process

Deliberate delays by police lead to prolonged prison sentences without conviction.


On September 20, 2009, when Kobad Ghandy was arrested from New Delhi, the Andhra Pradesh Special Intelligence Bureau (APSIB) and Delhi Police Special Branch, who had affected the arrest, claimed that they had dealt a major blow to the Maoist movement.

They claimed that they had caught hold of a top leader of the CPI(Maoist), who had been personally involved in the planning and execution of a number of violent operations in various parts of the country.

After over eight years of court proceedings, when Ghandy finally stepped out of Visakhapatnam prison on December 12, 2017, it was clear that the police had made baseless claims against him. Not only was he cleared of terror charges in all the cases where trials had been completed, there were no less than seven cases where he had been implicated, but the police had failed to even present a chargesheet, despite investigating the charges for eight long years.

Apart from this, there were three cases which figured among the random cases listed sometime after his arrest, but the concerned police station had not even bothered to produce him in court in any of them. It has thus quite conclusively been proved in court that there is no reasonable basis for keeping Ghandy behind bars.


Re-arrest after deliberate delay

Police forces are not really known to be reasonable. In a show of arbitrary authority, just over three days after his release, a 50-member posse of the Jharkhand police picked up Ghandy from the premises of a court in Telangana, where he had gone to attend the hearing in one of the seven cases pending against him. As pointed out in a press notefrom Ghandy, he had written twice from jail to the concerned Jharkhand court wanting to be produced before it, but the police didn’t show any interest. They deliberately waited for his release so that they could re-arrest him and thus extend his incarceration.

This deliberate prolonging of Ghandy’s imprisonment, despite orders of release from the judiciary, is rampant throughout the country, particularly for political prisoners. Since political prisoners are often targeted merely over speaking up against those in power, the evidence against them is weak and even fabricated and they are very often acquitted or manage to get bail. The arresting authorities then, in an abuse of due process, misuse the legal procedure just to ensure that the political prisoner remains in prison for several years despite not being proved guilty of anything.


SC ruling against non-disclosure of pending cases

In the 1981 Uday Chand versus Sheikh Mohd Abdullah case, the Supreme Court ruled against the deliberately concealing of certain offences from the accused as well as the court, only to be used as soon as the prisoner is released from jail. However, the practice continues unabated.

It is common to see police personnel waiting outside prison gates when certain people are scheduled to be released and picking them up as soon as they step out. This is also seen in other countries such as the US, where it has come to be called “Gate-ing” – confront someone at the gate with new charges.

Anticipatory bail not available under UAPA

The harsh provisions of terror laws facilitate the use of such tactics against political prisoners. Many political prisoners are booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), which has particularly stringent provisions for bail. Since section 43-D(4) of the UAPA does not allow the provisions of anticipatory bail to be applied to offences under the Act, the prisoner can do nothing when a police authority deliberately delays arrest. In other cases, a possible remedy is to apply for anticipatory bail under section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). But this too is not available for political prisoners.

Thus Ghandy, despite being well-aware of the intentional postponement of his arrest in some random cases, was helpless when his applications for production in those cases were ignored by police authorities. Since the cases had been registered under UAPA he could not even move the courts for anticipatory bail.


A state of semi-freedom

Ghandy was conscious of this Damocles sword hanging over his head and referred to it in an interview to the press, two days after his release. Despite the judiciary having seen fit to set him free and despite being out of prison, he rightly called his situation a state of semi-freedom. He knew that whatever be the ruling of the judiciary, he could not be free until the police decide so. The Jharkhand police soon proved him right.

These columns have earlier too dealt with the issue of re-arrest. That was in the context of another political prisoner, Gajala Gopanna, who was arrested by the Chhattisgarh police four hours after his release after seven-and-half-years in jail. That happened more than three years ago, on September 30, 2014. Gopanna has been lingering in prison for about 11 years now without a single conviction. An aged and ailing Ghandy will definitely be hoping that his wait is not that long.

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India – Stop Criminalisation of Triple Talaq – Punitive action not a deterrence

Appeal for a wider consultation with women’s groups for gender-just family laws 
The government has tabled a Bill titled Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage), 2017, on the first day in this winter session of the Parliament. This Bill proposes to make the practice of triple talaq a criminal offence, leading to imprisonment of husband who pronounces instant talaq.Created in the name of safeguarding women’s rights, this problematicBill fails in its primary mission, and is instead designed to be another tool by which to criminalise Muslim men by making the practice of triple talaq a criminal offence, leading to imprisonment.
We would like to state at the outset that Bebaak Collective, along with other women’s groups of this country, are opposed to this arbitrary and repressive move. If this law is passed, then it is going to adversely affect Muslim women and children, whose survival is at stake. That this step has been hurriedly taken without inviting the opinion of women’s rights groups and other civil society stakeholders involved in the issue is cause for further concern.
Why no criminalisation?

•            There is no rationale to criminalise the practice of talaq-e-biddat. Using penal actions leading to imprisonment to discourage the practice of triple talaq will not help in getting justice for women. When a woman reports a complaint about triple talaq, she wants to continue staying in matrimonial home and draw financial support from her marital home. Imprisoning the husband will deprive her of both, making her and her children even more vulnerable.

•            Since marriage is a civil contract between two adult persons, the procedures to be followed on its breakdown should also be of civil nature. We do not believe in retributive justice, which emphasises punitive measures instead of the ensuring the rights of women. It is essential to think of civil redressal mechanisms and reparative justice to ensure that Muslim women are able to negotiate for their rights both within and outside of marriage.

•            The Bill is limited to triple talaq and is not addressing related issues of polygamy, the practice of halala and other issues of discriminations faced by women in marriage and family.We believe that piecemeal legislations will not address larger issues of subordination of women within patriarchal structures.The penal action to discourage the practice of instant triple talaq is a myopic view as it leaves many other issues of economic and social security of women unaddressed. In addition, in our present conjuncture, the move to imprison Muslim men will add to the prevailing insecurity and alienation of the Muslim community. Family and community members might create undue pressures on the woman not to report against her husband.

•            Criminalisation of instant triple talaq will further stifle the voices of Muslim women instead of offering them avenues for justice. Our effort — as women’s groups and the government — should be to strengthen the negotiating capacities of women bystrengthening their economic and social rights.In any case, if there is a need for criminal intervention e.g.’ in cases of domestic violence, or when triple talaq is construed as violence, in such cases, the aggrieved woman can use the existing provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. These two legal options for women encompass both criminal and civil provisions.

Appeal for broader consultation on the proposed Bill about tripletalaq

Overtime, social movements have stressed that law/policy making by the government should be developed in the spirit of a democratic, participatory and transparent process with a view to incorporate the lived experiences of the affected sections of society. More recent legislations, like the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 are results of long struggle of the women’s movements. All these laws or amendments were preceded by and benefitted from wide consultations with the civil society and affected sections, where voices and experiences of women and marginalised groups were heard , and legislations formulated accordingly to promote gender equality.

Our appeal to the Members of the Parliament is not to hastily pass this legislation but to reflect on the repercussions of the same, through meaningful consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, particularly with women’s groups.

Underlying Principles: 

As a secular democratic country, all laws in India (whether personal or not) must be tested against the Constitutional mandate. If there is a contradiction, then the principles of equality must prevail. Arbitrariness and discrimination cannot be permitted on the grounds that a particular practice or law is an essential or non-essential part of religion. Since all the Personal Laws are discriminatory against women in varied ways, we must aim to create new laws or amendexisting laws to ensure they are in consonance with the fundamental rights of equality and non-discrimination.In recognition of the fact that gender relations in society are unequal, these lawsmust provide special safeguards to secure the rights of women.

Our demands:

·         Marriage among Muslims is a contract and hence cannot be dissolved in a unilateral manner. There can be no more injustice than to be constantly at the fear of being unilaterally divorced, with no judicial recourse available. We appeal that all the forms of unilateral talaq (including talaqahsanand talaqhasan) should be invalidated as it vests power in the hands of the man, and reinforces unequal relations within the marriage. Accordingly, the matters related to talaqunderthe Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 should not be applicable.

·         Muslim women have the option to approach court for divorce under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. This law should be available to men too. There should be legal provisions to deal with the matters of dower and maintenance of the wife, child custody, right to reside in matrimonial home, and other economic obligations.

·         The matrimonial home as the residence of a married woman has to be ensured in law, along with an equitable right of ownership and access to all property belonging to the partners at marriage.

·         In order to discourage the practiceof talaq-e-biddat, we suggest that when a complaint is received against any qazi, religious or social organisation for encouraging, abetting or administering instant triple talaq, their registration should be cancelled.

·         The practice of nikah-halalashould be made a punishable offence. This practice makes the woman vulnerable to all kinds of physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse, thereby denying them their right to live with dignity and self-respect. Any person who solemnises or acts as a witness to a marriage knowing that it has been contracted as nikahhalala so as to facilitate remarriage with the previous husband should also be punished.

·         The Ministry of Minority Affairs should formulate a scheme to spread awareness about the Supreme Court’s judgment, take cognisance of complaints of its violation and the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities, provide monetary relief and socio-legal aid to women who are affected by the violation of this judgment.

Bebaak Collective is one of the interveners in the Supreme Court, who supported the petition of Ms. ShayaraBano challenging the constitutionality of triple talaqnikahhalala and polygamy. We were represented by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising.

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Facebook Confirms Aadhaar Prompt Test for New Users, Says It Isn’t Mandatory #WTFnews

  Jagmeet Singh, 27 December 2017

Facebook Confirms Aadhaar Prompt Test for New Users, Says It Isn't Mandatory


  • Facebook asks users to enter name appears on their Aadhaar card
  • The new testing is limited to small group of users with mobile devices
  • It doesn’t make it mandatory to have an Aadhaar card for sign up

Facebook has started testing use of Aadhaar as an example to encourage new users in India to use their real names on its site. The latest move is aimed at curbing the number of fake accounts on the social media platform that has over 241 million users in the country, making India the second largest market for Facebook after the US.

Facebook’s mobile site is testing the ‘name as per Aadhaar’ prompt when users create a new account. “What’s your name? Using the name on your Aadhaar card makes it easier for friends to recognise you,” the prompt reads. The testing was first spotted by users on Reddit and Twitter. Notably, not everyone can see this prompt when creating a new account via the Facebook mobile site. We weren’t able to reproduce the prompt.


A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Gadgets 360, “We want to make sure people can use the names they’re known by on Facebook, and can easily connect with friends and family. This is a small test where we provide additional language when people sign up for an account to say that using the name on their Aadhaar card makes it easier for friends to recognise them. This is an optional prompt which we are testing, people are not required to enter the name on their Aadhaar card.”

Only a small percentage of users who access Facebook on mobile are currently seeing the prompt. As the spokesperson mentions, it is not mandatory to use the name as per Aadhaar, just a prompt for users. Facebook, of course, wants you to use your real name, and this is just one way to encourage said use.

It is worth noting here that Facebook is only asking the users under its pilot programme to sign up on its social network using the names that are available on their Aadhaar cards and doesn’t request any Aadhaar details. The move doesn’t raise further Aadhaar privacy issues, and risk of possible misuse doesn’t increase. Normally, we don’t report on developments in an app or service’s onboarding process. But the attempt of using Aadhaar – which is currently embroiled in its own privacy controversies – as an example to enhance real name usage on Facebook makes it stand out.

India is currently one of the fastest growing markets for Facebook – in addition to being the second-largest market after the US. This has so far influenced the Mark Zuckerberg-led company to actively bringing new features specifically for Indian users. The social media giant faced huge criticism for violating the fundamentals of net neutrality by launching its Free Basics in 2015. Nevertheless, it brought a list of India-centric features in the recent past to enhance its user base in the country.

Facebook started testing its ‘Express Wifi’ service in India in 2016 to offer high-speed internet access through 125 rural Wi-Fi hotspots. Last month, the Menlo Park, California-headquartered company announced its two programmes to train about five lakh Indians on digital skills by 2020.

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India – Unanswered questions on Jharkhand’s starvation death due to fragile Aadhaar-bank integration system

A 64-year old widow, Premani Kunwar, died of hunger and exhaustion on 1 December in Danda Block of Garhwa district (Jharkhand). Till September 2017, she received her old age pension in her State Bank of India (SBI) account in Danda branch. Thereafter, without her knowledge, her pension amount was redirected to the SBI bank account of Shanti Devi in Piprakala branch (22 km from Danda). Shanti Devi, who died 25 years ago, was the first wife of Premani Kunwar’s husband late Mutur Mahto. Following the release of the fact-finding report on Premani Kunwar’s death by the Right to Food Campaign, UIDAI conducted an inquiry on 8 December. Its report (Annexure 1) acknowledges that Premani Kunwar’s old age pension had indeed been credited to Shanti Devi’s account which was linked with Premani Kunwar’s Aadhaar on 10 October 2017. The report also acknowledges that Premani Kunwar did not receive her ration for the month of November 2017, even though the dealer authenticated her biometrics in the POS machine for that month and also made an entry of 35kgs in her ration card. The issue of denial of ration was discussed at length in an earlier press release of the Right to Food Campaign on 7 December 2017.

According to a news report published in the Economic Times on 23 December, as per the report of the local police, Premani Kunwar, along with her youngest step-son, Sunil Mahto had “fudged her Aadhaar card” to avail Shanti Devi’s family pension. Shanti Devi’s account was being credited with a monthly family pension amount of Rs. 849 from the Coal Mines Provident Fund. As per the report submitted by the Branch Manager of Piprakala to the Inspector of Garhwa Police Station, Shanti Devi’s account was operated by Premani Kunwar and her family members. It further states that a sum of Rs. 30,000 was withdrawn in the name of Shanti Devi on 6 November 2017. The police arrested Sunil Mahto on 13 December for this withdrawal.

The reports of UIDAI and Economic Times leave many pertinent questions unanswered. As per the UIDAI report, the name in Premani Kunwar’s Aadhaar (UID no XXXXXXXX7606) was changed to “Shanti Devi” on 23 September 2015. This report fails to explain how, despite this change, Premani Kunwar continued to receive her pension in her Aadhaar linked bank account till September 2017. There is also no explanation of how a bank account could be opened in the name of Shanti Devi in 2007, given that she died over two decades ago. The KYC of Shanti Devi’s account was last updated on 7 December, just a day before the UIDAI team’s visit. This draws suspicion on the complicity of bank functionaries, among others, in the fraudulent withdrawal of money from this account. The bank manager of the Piprakala branch of SBI refused to share with the Right to Food Campaign fact finding team the KYC documents that were used to open Shanti Devi’s account. There is also no explanation from UIDAI on how UID no XXXXXXXX7606 was linked with bank account numbers of Premani Kunwar as well as Shanti Devi.

These issues highlight the vulnerability of the Aadhaar-bank integration system. Recently, a massive scam of opening Aadhaar-linked Airtel payment bank accounts of Airtel network subscribers without their consent was unearthed. In 2016, ICICI Bank opened accounts of around 6000 NREGA workers in Boram block of East Singhbhum district without their consent and linked them to their Aadhaar. Shell accounts have been used to siphon off NREGA wages, as a recent investigation in Mahuadanr Block (Latehar district, Jharkhand) revealed. A Member of Parliament also recently became a victim of fraudulent withdrawal after fraudsters used the OTP sent to the MP’s mobile to authenticate Aadhaar-based online transfer of fund.

The police report holds Sunil Mahto solely responsible for the fraudulent withdrawal of money from Shanti Devi’s bank account. Even if he was involved in this misdeed, he could not have done so without the complicity of (1) bank functionaries involved in opening Shanti Devi’s account in 2007; (2) persons who verified the change of name from Premani Kunwar name to Shanti Devi in UID no XXXXXXXX7606; (3) bank functionaries who linked Premani Kunwar’s Aadhaar number with Shanti Devi’s account and (4) bank functionaries who updated the KYC of Shanti Devi’s bank account on 7 Dec 2017.

The bare two-room dilapidated kutcha house of Premani Kunwar stands witness to her death amidst abject poverty. In the absence of PDS grain, she had to borrow rice from her neighbours to survive. There is no doubt that Premani lived in a state of semi-starvation. It is now well established that she did not receive her grain entitlement for August and November and her pension for September and October. Premani’s death is a grim reminder of how vulnerable people like her routinely experience uncertainties in accessing their lifelines owing to complex systems like Aadhaar. Premani Kunwar’s son, Uttam Mahto has clearly testified in a video as well as a written statement (Annexure 2) that his mother died due to starvation. However, as per the report of the Block Development Officer of Danda, Uttam Mahto testified to his mother’s death due to illness. This exposes the local administration’s attempt to cover up the actual cause of Premani Kunwar’s death.

Further, the administration lodged complaints against the local whistle-blowers who drew attention to Premani Kunwar’s death due to starvation. It filed FIRs against Birendra Chowdhary, Pramukh of Danda, Kalicharan Mahto and Sushma Mahto for “causing disruption of government inquiry and for instilling fear in the government inquiry team”. It is also alleged that they tore government documents in the process which the defendants have denied.

As in the cases of previous deaths due to starvation in Jharkhand, the government has denied the role of Aadhaar integration with welfare programmes or administrative lapses that led to the denial of entitlements. It has instead been harassing the surviving members of the families suffering from starvation. The Right to Food Campaign demands that the FIRs against the local whistle-blowers be withdrawn. It also demands answers to these puzzling issues:

  1. Why – and by whom – was the KYC of Shanti Devi’s bank account updated on 7 December 2017, a day before the UIDAI inquiry report?
  2. How was an account opened in the name of Shanti Devi (who died 25 years ago) in the Piprakala branch of SBI in 2007?
  3. On what basis, was Premani Kunwar’s name of changed to Shanti Devi in UID number XXXXXXXX7606 in 2015?
  4. If Premani Kunwar had indeed changed her name in the Aadhaar to Shanti Devi in 2015, why did it take two years to get her Aadhaar number linked to the SBI account of Shanti Devi?
  5. How was UID no XXXXXXXX7606 in the name of “Shanti Devi” (since 2015) linked to both Shanti Devi and Premani Kunwar’s bank accounts and the latter’s old age pension?  
  6. Premani Kunwar’s son, Uttam Mahto has clearly testified that his mother died due to starvation. Why then does the BDO’s report claim that Uttam ascribed his mother’s death to illness?

Attached are two detailed reports (Annexure 3 and 4) on Premani Kunwar’s death, based on fact-finding visits by members of the Right to Food Campaign. 

For further information, please contact Rajendran (9620318492) or Siraj (9939819763).

झारखंड में विधवा की भुखमरी से हुई मौत के लिए ज़िम्मेवार त्रुटीपूर्ण  आधार-बैंकिंग व्यवस्था से जुड़े कई सवालों पर सरकार चुप

झारखंड के गढ़वा ज़िले के डंडा प्रखंड में 1 दिसम्बर को 64 वर्षीय विधवा प्रेमनी कुंवर की भुखमरी और थकावट से मौत हो गयी. सितम्बर 2017 तक उन्हें उनकी वृद्धा पेंशन उनके भारतीय स्टेट बैंक की डंडा शाखा के  खाते में मिल रही थी. इसके बाद, बिना उनकी जानकारी के, उनकी पेंशन राशि भारतीय स्टेट बैंक के पिप्राकला शाखा (डंडा से 22 किमी दूर) में शांति देवी के नाम से खुले खाते में जमा होने लगी. शांति देवी, जिनकी मृत्यु 25 साल पहले हो गयी थी, प्रेमनी कुंवर के पति स्वर्गीय मुटूर महतो की पहली पत्नी थीं. भोजन के अधिकार अभियान द्वारा तथ्यान्वेषण रिपोर्ट जारी होने के बाद UIDAI ने 8 दिसम्बर को इस मामले की जाँच की. उनकी रिपोर्ट (अनुलग्नक 1) इस बात की पुष्टि करती है कि प्रेमनी कुंवर की सितम्बर और अक्टूबर 2017 की वृद्धा पेंशन शांति देवी के नाम से खुले बैंक खाते में गई थी (10 अक्टूबर 2017 को प्रेमनी कुंवर का आधार शान्ति देवी के नाम से खुले खाते के साथ लिंक हो गया था). रिपोर्ट ने इस बात को भी स्वीकारा है कि प्रेमनी कुंवर को नवम्बर 2017 का राशन नहीं मिला था, जबकि उनका उस महीने के राशन के लिए डीलर द्वारा अंगूठे का निशान ले लिया गया था और उनके राशन कार्ड में नवम्बर 2017 के लिए 35 किलो अनाज की एंट्री भी हो गई थी. प्रेमनी कुंवर को राशन न मिलने के मुद्दे  पर भोजन का अधिकार अभियान के 7 दिसम्बर की प्रेस विज्ञप्ति में विस्तृत  चर्चा की गयी है.

23 दिसम्बर 2017 को Economic Times में छपी खबर के अनुसार, स्थानीय पुलिस ने अपनी रिपोर्ट में यह दावा किया है कि शांति देवी की पारिवारिक पेंशन लेने के लिए प्रेमनी कुंवर ने अपने सौतेले बेटे सुनील महतो के साथ मिलकर अपने आधार कार्ड में हेरा-फेरी की थी. शांति देवी के नाम से खुले बैंक खाते में Coal Mines Provident Fund अंतर्गत 849 रुपये की मासिक पेंशन राशि जमा होती थी. पिप्राकला शाखा के बैंक प्रबंधक द्वारा गढ़वा थाना इंस्पेक्टर को दी गयी रिपोर्ट के अनुसार शांति देवी के खाते का प्रयोग प्रेमनी कुंवर और उनके परिवार के सदस्यों द्वारा किया जा रहा था. रिपोर्ट में यह भी कहा गया है कि 6 नवम्बर 2017 को शांति देवी के नाम से खुले खाते से 30000 रुपये की निकासी हुई थी. पुलिस ने सुनील महतो को इस निकासी के लिए 13 दिसम्बर को गिरफ्तार किया.

लेकिन, UIDAI और Economic Times की रिपोर्टें कई महत्त्वपूर्ण मुद्दों पर चुप हैं. UIDAI की रिपोर्ट के अनुसार, 23 सितम्बर 2015 को प्रेमनी कुंवर के आधार (आधार संख्या XXXXXXXX7606) में दिए गए नाम को “शांति देवी” में बदला गया था. लेकिन रिपोर्ट में यह चर्चा नहीं हुई है कि नाम बदलने के बावज़ूद कैसे प्रेमनी कुंवर को उनके आधार से जुड़े पेंशन खाते (डंडा शाखा में) में सितम्बर 2017 तक पेंशन मिल रही थी. इस पर भी कोई व्याख्या नहीं है कि कैसे 2007 में शांति देवी के नाम पर एक बैंक खाता खोला गया था, जबकि उनकी मृत्यु दो दशक पहले ही हो गयी थी. UIDAI जाँच दल के आने के ठीक एक दिन पहले शांति देवी के नाम से खोले गए खाते का KYC 7 दिसम्बर को बदला गया था. यह इस खाते से हुई निकासी में बैंक कर्मियों की मिलीभगत की ओर भी इंगित करता है. SBI के पिप्राकला शाखा के प्रबंधक ने भोजन के अधिकार अभियान के तथ्यान्वेषण दल के साथ शांति देवी के नाम से खोले गए खाते के KYC दस्तावेज़ों को साझा करने से इंकार कर दिया. UIDAI द्वारा इस बात की भी पुष्टि नहीं की गयी है कि दोनों प्रेमनी कुंवर और शांति देवी के खाते एक ही आधार संख्या XXXXXXXX7606 से कैसे लिंक हो गए.

इन मुद्दों से आधार-बैंकिंग व्यवस्था की कमजोरियां उजागर होती हैं. हाल ही में इस बात का खुलासा हुआ था कि एयरटेल मोबाइल सेवा प्रयोग करने वाले ग्राहकों की सहमती के बिना ही उनका एयरटेल पेमेंट बैंक खाता खोला जा रहा था. 2016 में पूर्वी सिंगभूम के बोराम प्रखंड में ICICI बैंक द्वारा 6000 नरेगा मज़दूरों का आधार-लिंक्ड बैंक खाता बिना उनकी जानकारी के खोला गया था. लातेहार के महुआडाँर प्रखंड में हुई जांच में पता चला  कि किस प्रकार ऐसे फ़र्ज़ी बैंक खाते खोल कर नरेगा मज़दूरी का गबन होता है. कुछ दिनों पहले एक सांसद भी फ़र्ज़ी निकासी के शिकार बन गयें जब उनके मोबाइल पर भेजे गए OTP को इस्तेमाल कर के आधार के माध्यम से पैसो की ऑनलाइन निकासी कर ली गयी.

शांति देवी के बैंक खाते से फ़र्ज़ी निकासी करने के लिए पुलिस रिपोर्ट केवल सुनील महतो को ही ज़िम्मेवार मानती है. अगर इसमें सुनील महतो की भूमिका रही भी हो, लेकिन वह यह निकासी निम्न लोगों के सहयोग के बिना नहीं कर पाते: (1) 2007 में शान्ति देवी के नाम से खाता खोलने के लिए ज़िम्मेवार बैंक कर्मी; (2) आधार में प्रेमनी कुंवर के नाम को शांति देवी करने के लिए ज़िम्मेवार लोग; (3) प्रेमनी कुंवर के आधार नंबर को शांति देवी के खाते से जोड़ने के लिए ज़िम्मेवार बैंक कर्मी और (4) शांति देवी के खाते के KYC को 7 दिसम्बर 2017 को अपडेट करने वाले बैंक कर्मी.

प्रेमनी कुंवर का दो कमरों का लगभग खाली जीर्ण घर इस बात का साक्ष्य है कि प्रेमनी की मृत्यु अत्यंत गरीबी की स्थिति में ही हुई है. राशन वितरण प्रणाली से अनाज न मिलने के कारण उन्हें नवम्बर में पड़ोसियों से चावल मांगना पड़ा था. इसमें कोई शक नहीं है कि प्रेमनी भुखमरी की स्थिति में ही जी रही थी. यह भी अब प्रमाणित हो गया है कि उन्हें अगस्त और नवम्बर माह का राशन और सितम्बर-अक्टूबर की पेंशन नहीं मिली थी.

यह हादसा दर्शाता है कि कैसे आधार जैसी जटिल व्यवस्थाओं के कारण हाश्ये पर रहने वाले लोगों को जीवनरेखा समान मूलभूत सुविधाएं प्राप्त करने में रोज़ाना अनिश्चितताओं का सामना करना पड़ता है. प्रेमनी कुंवर के बेटे, उत्तम महतो ने स्पष्ट रूप से लिखित (अनुलग्नक 2) एवं विडियो गवाही दी है कि उसकी माँ की मृत्यु भुखमरी के कारण हुई है. हालाँकि, डंडा के प्रखंड विकास पदाधिकारी ने अपनी रिपोर्ट में दावा किया है कि उत्तम महतो ने गवाही दी है कि उसकी माँ की मृत्यु बीमारी के कारण हुई है. यह इस बात को इंगित करता है कि स्थानीय प्रशासन प्रेमनी कुंवर की मौत के असली कारण को छुपाने की कोशिश कर रही है.

साथ ही, जिन स्थानीय सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं ने भुखमरी के कारण प्रेमनी कुंवर की  हुई मौत को उजागर किया था, प्रशासन ने उनके विरुद्ध ही प्राथमिकी दर्ज कर दी है. प्रशासन ने कालीचरण महतो, सुषमा महतो और डंडा के प्रमुख बिरेन्द्र चौधरी के विरुद्ध सरकारी जांच में बाधा डालने और सरकारी जांच दल को भयभीत करने के आरोप पर प्राथमिकी दर्ज कर दी है. प्रशासन ने यह भी आरोप लगाया है कि इन लोगों ने जांच दल के दस्तावेज़ फाड़ दिए थे जिसे प्रतिवादियों ने नकारा है.

सरकार ने झारखंड में भुखमरी से हुई मौतों के लिए ज़िम्मेवारी नहीं ली है. सरकार  प्रेमनी की मौत में सामाजिक सुरक्षा कार्यक्रमों को आधार से जोड़ने की भूमिका एवं प्रशासनिक चूकों को मानने के लिए तैयार नहीं है. साथ ही, भुखमरी से पीड़ित परिवारों को ही परेशान किया जा रहा  है. भोजन का अधिकार अभियान झारखंड सरकार से यह मांग करता है कि स्थानीय सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं पर दर्ज प्राथमिकी वापस ली जायें. साथ ही, अभियान झारखंड सरकार व UIDAI से निम्न मुद्दों के जवाबमांगता है:

  • शांति देवी के बैंक खाते का KYC आखरी बार 7 दिसम्बर को (UIDAI जांच दल के आने के एक दिन पहले) क्यों और किसके द्वारा अपडेट किया गया?
  • 2007 में शांति देवी (जिनकी मृत्यु 25 साल पहले हो गयी थी) के नाम पर SBI के पिप्राकला शाखा में बैंक खाता कैसे खुला?
  • कैसे2015 में आधार संख्या XXXXXXXX7606 में प्रेमनी कुंवर का नाम बदल कर शांति देवी किया गया?
  • अगर प्रेमनी कुंवर ने 2015 में आधार में अपने नाम को शांति देवी में बदला था, तो शांति देवी के SBI खाता से उस आधार को लिंक करने में दो साल क्यों लगें?
  • एक ही आधार संख्या XXXXXXXX7606 (2015 से शांति देवी के नाम पर) कैसे दोनों शांति देवी और प्रेमनी कुंवर के बैंक खातों से और प्रेमनी की पेंशन से जुड़ा हुआ था?
  • प्रेमनी कुंवर के बेटे उत्तम महतो ने स्पस्ट गवाही दी है कि उसकी माँ भुखमरी से मरी थीं. इसके बावज़ूद, डंडा के प्रखंड विकास पदाधिकारी ने अपनी रिपोर्ट में क्यों यह दावा किया है कि उत्तम महतो ने गवाही दी है कि उसकी माँ की मौत बीमारी से हुई है?

प्रेमनी कुंवर की मृत्यु पर भोजन का अधिकार अभियान, झारखंड के दो तथ्यान्वेषण दलों द्वारा बनाई गयी रिपोर्ट (अनुलग्नक 3 और 4) संलग्न है. 

अधिक जानकारी के लिए राजेंद्रन (9620318492) या सिराज (9939819763) से संपर्क कर सकते हैं.

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