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Archives for : February2018

Tamil Nadu – PDS has no idea on online privacy breach

File photo of a ration shop.

Chennai: In a major breach of privacy, the official website of Tamilnadu government’s Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department has published ration card details like phone numbers, address and card numbers in public and anyone with an Internet connection can obtain them.

When News Today contacted the toll free number of the PDS department to bring this issue to light, they had no idea that this was a breach of privacy and said it has always been on display.

By going into the ‘PDS reports’ page on the website, consumers are shown district-wise details of the number of card-holders. After choosing the district and the taluk, the users are taken to the ‘Taluk Information’ page displaying shop codes and the shop in-charge of each PDS centre in the taluk.

Clicking on the shop number leads to another page with transactions, commodity details and public grievances details, etc.

By clicking on the ‘Public Grievances’ button, complaints raised by consumers against the fair price shops and their in-charge have been published openly on the website. But along with this, the ration card number of the person who has raised the issue has also been published and anyone can see them.

Moreover, the address of the card-holders could also be obtained through the website by clicking on the number of cards under each shop in the ‘Taluk Information’ page. From there, all one has to do is to tap on the search ration card button, put in the details and the address of the card-owners will be displayed.

A data privacy expert said, “This is a major oversight by the government. By displaying the grievances raised by the public along with their information such as address, you are putting them at risk. The shop in-charge against whom the complaint was raised can also see the information and this may sometimes lead to arguments or even worse.”

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Cuba to Boast Second-Highest Female Majority in Parliament


  • If all 320 female candidates are ratified, Cuba would become the second country in the world to boast a female majority in parliament. | Photo: Reuters

If all 320 female candidates are ratified, Cuba would become the second country in the world to boast a female majority in parliament.

More than half the candidates for the Cuban National Assembly are women, according to the nation’s electoral authorities – meaning that if all 320 female candidates are ratified, Cuba would become the second country in the world to boast a female majority in parliament.


Rwanda currently ranks first in the world for its parliamentary female majority, with women making up 61.3 percent of all members, Cuba’s President of the National Candidacy Commission Gisela Duarte told Granma.

Duarte also noted that if all 605 nominees – both male and female – are ratified during the March 11 election, the number of young people aged between 18 and 35 would also grow: to a new total of 13.2 percent.

According to Duarte, 47.4 percent of the candidates were nominated from constituencies, having been elected by neighborhood assemblies.

Between January 22 and March 10, nominees are touring Cuba’s municipalities to meet local residents ahead of the March 11 Council of State elections.

The election is due to take plave on April 19, when the National Assembly of People’s Power will elect a new president of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic.

Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter, the renowned LGBT activist and Director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education Mariela Castro, has been tipped as a possible successor to her father.


Already nominated as a parliamentary deputy, Mariela has been reticent about her intentions: “Who do I want for the future of the country? I have no idea. In all of those I look at, I see virtues and defects – including in my dad.”

The next president of Cuba, Mariela insists, should be decided by the people. “I do not have a favorite, but there are several people with qualities. I’m still not going to make a statement; I’m watching.”–20180127-0021.html

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Manesar Land Scam – CBI names former CM Hooda and 3 aides

The 80,000-page chargesheet filed by the investigating agency names 34 persons, including former bureaucrats and Atul Bansal, a promoter of ABW Builders.


The CBI has filed a charge sheet against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and 34 others in the Manesar land deal case, officials said here today.

The agency has filed the charge sheet under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and cheating, and relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, they said.

Former UPSC member Chattar Singh, who was a senior officer in the Haryana government at that time, has also been named in the charge sheet as an accused, they said.

The CBI has alleged in its FIR that land measuring about 400 acres, whose market value at that time was above Rs 4 crore per acre, was allegedly purchased by private builders and others from innocent land owners for only about Rs 100 crore in collusion with government officers.

The CBI had said that a loss of Rs 1,500 crore was allegedly caused to the land owners of Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula villages of Gurgaon.

The agency registered the case in September 2015 on allegations that private builders, in conspiracy with public servants of the Haryana government, had purchased the land at meagre rates showing the threat of acquisition by the government, during the period between August 27, 2004 and August 24, 2007.

In this process, the Haryana government had initially issued a notification under the Land Acquisition Act for acquisition of land measuring about 912 acres for setting up of an industrial model township, it had said.

After the land had allegedly been grabbed from their owners by private builders under the threat of acquisition at meagre rates, the government issued a fresh notification in 2007 and put the land out of the acquisition process, the agency had said.

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India – Denied land, Dalit women stake claims in collectives


PALLUR, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Fed up with local officials denying their demand for land, 40 women decided to form a collective and simply start farming a plot near their village of Pallur, in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The women are Dalits, a social caste that has traditionally suffered discrimination. Indian laws ban the persecution of Dalits, and states including Tamil Nadu have passed legislation to make them eligible for land distribution.

However, prejudice against Dalits persists and officials routinely refuse to provide them with farmland. About two-thirds remain landless.

“We have worked as farm laborers most of our lives – why can’t we own land?” asked Shakila Kalaiselvan, leader of the women’s collective.

Members of the group faced additional discrimination due to their gender. Despite laws granting equal inheritance rights, women own just 13 percent of land in India although they do about two-thirds of all farm work.

A year ago, they took over an unused 2.5-acre (1 hectare) plot, which was dry and overgrown with weeds. Even though it was common land owned by the state, they faced strong resistance as they cleared it to grow beans, corn and millet.

“The higher-caste men opposed it, but we did not give in,” Kalaiselvan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We should have at least 40 acres for 40 women, but this is a start. We can be independent, earn the respect of the community.”

Across India, women are increasingly taking the law into their own hands when local officials and male community leaders prevent them from obtaining land legally, activists say.

“These women cannot buy or inherit land, and they have not got any land from the government, so what is the option?” asked Fatima Burnad, founder of the Society for Rural Education and Development.

“I tell them, occupy land where you can – like the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is an act of resistance,” said Burnad, whose organization supports the Pallur collective with the loan of a tractor and training in organic farming techniques.


More than half of India’s 1.3 billion population depends on land for a living. Conflicts have increased over the past two decades as land is increasingly sought for industrial use and development projects in a rapidly growing economy.

In response to shrinking farmland combined with increased demand, a handful of states have adopted collective farming models for women and Dalits.

Perhaps the most successful of these is in the small southern state of Kerala, where a government initiative has benefited tens of thousands of women.

Kudumbashree, which the government launched in 1998, gives cheap loans to women’s groups, enabling them to lease private land.

A group of Dalit women of a farming collective walking on the land that they took over for cultivation in Pallur, India. December 26, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rina Chandran

As of March 2017, about 300,000 women were farming more than 51,000 hectares of land in collectives, according to Kudumbashree. They grow rice, pineapple and other crops, helped by state benefits such as insurance.

The model has lasted because “these farms have higher productivity than individual farms, which means higher incomes for the women,” said Dimple Abraham, a research associate at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies think tank.

The women have also become politically engaged, with more than 11,000 members of Kudumbashree contesting village council elections in recent years. Nearly half won, she said.


In nearby Andhra Pradesh state, the government leases 3-5 acres of land to collectives of five to 10 women each, and gives cheap loans for other livelihood options such as poultry and goat rearing.


A group of Dalit women of a farming collective walking on the land that they took over for cultivation in Pallur, India. December 26, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rina Chandran

The government of Tamil Nadu is encouraging small farmers to pool their lands and form collectives in order to reduce their vulnerability to drought and unseasonal rain, and price swings.

A pilot of 2,000 collectives of about 100 farmers each is being launched, and the scheme will eventually benefit about 4 million farmers, according to the 2017-18 budget.

In the western state of Punjab, where a feudal system has denied Dalits their right to a third of village common farmland – more than 50,000 acres – Dalits have formed collectives over the past decade.

Many of the collectives are led by women, and they have taken over more than 200 acres of land, often clashing violently with high-caste landlords, said Ish Mishra, a political science professor at Delhi University.

“The movement is led by educated Dalit youth, who know they have been cheated of land that is rightfully theirs,” he said.


In Pallur, a second collective of 40 women plans to clear another 2.5 acres of common land, according to Kalaiselvan.

In the meantime, the group she leads is fighting a bureaucratic battle with the local revenue office to obtain a title for joint ownership of its land.

The revenue officer did not return calls seeking comment.

“It’s a constant struggle; it doesn’t stop with getting the land. They have to go against their husbands, the landlords,” said Burnad, of the Society for Rural Education and Development.

“But all Dalits, especially the women, must own some land,” she said. “That is how they will be empowered, and challenge the caste bias, and they can do this better as a collective.”

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India- 522 million still defecate in open , at risk of disease and poverty #Budget2018

Prachi Salve,



More Indians than ever before now have access to a toilet, but little attention to education and changing attitudes means that at least 522 million Indians still defecate in the open–leaving many millions susceptible to disease and poverty.


Access to sanitation reduces the incidence of diarrhoea–caused by bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, mostly spread by faeces-contaminated water–studies show. Diarrhoea is the leading cause of malnutrition, and is the second leading cause of death in children under five years, as IndiaSpend reported in July 2017.


As of January 2018–with a year and a half left to the Swachh Bharat Mission’s target of eradicating open defecation–60 million (76%) rural households and 4.2 million urban households have a toilet, and 11 states, 1,846 cities and 314,824 villages have declared themselves open-defecation-free (ODF), according to data available on the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission) website.


“The challenge, however, will be in ensuring that ODF villages and cities are firstly, truly ODF, but more crucially that they remain so,” as Avani Kapur, fellow at Accountability Initiative, pointed out in this January 2018 article for Mint.


The Centre’s expenditure on information and education–which experts say is the key to solving India’s sanitation problem–continue to remain low.


It is in this backdrop that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is set to present his government’s last full budget ahead of the general elections in 2019.


Access to sanitation improves child health, leads to more productive adults


Sanitation is crucial for India’s plans to reduce infant mortality. The National Health Policy,released in March 2017, aims to reduce the country’s infant mortality–deaths of children under the age of one–from 41 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015-16 to 28 in 2019.


“If you live next to neighbours who defecate in the open, there are germs on the ground, lot of the people don’t wear shoes, they get their fingers on it [germs], their moms get their fingers on it and then there are flies on it and they get on the food and the entire environment is where is lot of faeces and there is lot of opportunity to get on germs,” Dean Spears, co-founder of the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics, told IndiaSpend in this August 2017 interview.


This cascading effect of health hazards is corroborated by data: Diarrhoea, as we said, remains the second leading cause of death in children under five years, killing an estimated 321 children every day in 2015, as we reported in July 2017.


Access to sanitation reduces cases of diarrhoea, one of the major causes of malnutrition among children, according to this World Bank study.


As many as 50.2% boys and 44.6% of girls with no access to toilets are stunted, compared to 26% boys and 24% girls who live in homes with toilets, according to this September 2017 study released by the National Institute of Nutrition.


Source: National Institute of Nutrition


Unsafe water, poor hygiene practices and inadequate sanitation are not only the causes of the continued high incidence of diarrhoeal diseases but a significant contributing factor in under-five mortality caused by pneumonia, neonatal disorders and undernutrition, according to this 2016 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund.


Besides, there is also an economic cost to the problem.


“If children are healthy when they are babies then they grow up stronger and taller, they are able to concentrate at school and learn more and they have higher achievement,” Spears told us in the above mentioned interview. “We find that adults are paid more and are more productive if they are born in a better disease environment. Their families get to consume more and they pay more taxes and government gets more revenue.”


“If you can cause a household to stop defecating in the open, just one household, there would be money in the future but it will be an equivalent of increasing the revenue of India by Rs 20,000 per household. That’s just looking at government’s revenue, but then the family gets to eat more, there is more productivity and they will be healthier and they will be more likely to survive,” Spears added.


What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Poorer: Adult Wages And Early-Life Mortality In India

Source: R.I.C.E


Inadequate sanitation–management of human excreta, solid waste, and drainage–costs India Rs 2.4 trillion ($53.8 billion) every year in losses due health, damage to drinking water and tourism costs, according to a January 2011 World Bank study.


Allocation to rural sanitation up 33%, but sub-par spending on education hinders toilet use


In 2017-18, the Centre allocated Rs 13,948 crore for SBM-G–administered by the ministry of drinking water and sanitation. This was a 33% increase over 2016-17 when Rs 10,500 crore was allocated to the programme.


However, expenditure on information, education and communication (IEC)–vital for changing personal attitudes and perspectives–has been below par.


The programme guidelines recommend that 8% of SBM-G and 12% of SBM-U expenditure be earmarked for IEC. In no year has this target been met.


For instance, in 2017-18, only 4% of the allocations to SBM were earmarked for IEC.


Consequently, 22.6% Indians who had a toilet at home but did not use one said it was because of “personal preference”, according to the Swachhta Status report 2016.


“Lot of families with latrines think that if they use them, it will pollute their home and they will never be able to empty them,” Spears told us in the above mentioned interview. “To avoid all this, it is easier is to defecate in the open. It is going to be a hard problem to solve because it is rooted in these old and strongly held issues of social inequality.”


As of January 2018, 11 states and union territories have declared themselves as ODF. However, only six of them have been verified by ministry of drinking water and sanitation.


In rural India, 51% of 604,084 villages have been declared ODF. However, only 64% of these had been verified as of January 15, 2018.


Since October 2014, 60 million households toilets have been built under SBM-G.


Of Rs 13,948 crore ($2.1 billion) allocated to SBM-G in 2017-18, Rs 79 crore ($12.3 million) was for solid- and liquid-waste management. As many as 3.8% rural Indians who chose not to use toilets said broken toilets were the reason they defecated in the open, according to the Swachhta Status report 2016.


The urban challenge: 58% cities still report open defecation, only 23% garbage is treated


As of December 2017, 1,846 (42%) Indian cities declared themselves ODF, of which 1,337 were verified by the ministry of urban development.


As of November 2017, 4.2 million individual household toilets–64% of the 6.6 million targeted–were constructed across Indian cities. Similarly, 92% of the 17,193 targeted community toilets were constructed, data show.


Besides eradicating open defecation and constructing household and community toilets, SBM-U also aims to achieve 100% garbage collection and disposal. As of January 10, 2018, 68% of India’s 82,607 wards–urban administrative zones–had achieved this target.


Solid waste management, however, remains a challenge. As of November 2017, India generates 145,626 tonnes of solid waste every day; only 23% of this is processed.


For SBM-U–administered by the ministry of urban development–the Centre allocated Rs 2,300 crore in 2017-18, the same as 2016-17.


Since 2014-15, the Centre earmarked Rs 7,366 crore for improving solid-waste management systems under SBM-U, of which only 29% has been released to states as of January 10, 2018, according to a report by Accountability Initiative.


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NGT puts Karnataka Govt. on notice for planning to release 1152 crores plastic labels into the environment

Plastic once released into the environment has a pernicious impact on biodiversity and life everywhere. In the sea, rivers and estuaries, lakes, farmland, commons, etc., and also in the far reaches of the Arctic or in the middle of oceans, we find plastic. In fact, Earth is being frighteningly addressed as “Planet Plastic” and the impacts are felt even in our food chain as the film “Plastic Cow” disturbingly documents.

In cities and villages in India it is quite common to find plastic being burnt inside homes, on farmland, on the streets, in landfills, and just about anywhere. Burning plastic releases a variety of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, several of which are highly carcinogenic and damaging to human health and environment.

While efforts to recover plastic once used are being made, the fact remains that more plastic is disposed recklessly than is recovered for reuse. The plastic that is not burnt easily finds its way into local streams, storm water drains, ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. It is widely experienced that this plastic clogs drains resulting in widespread flooding in urban areas, which in turn makes life miserable and results in destruction of life and property. The ease with which we use plastic is making it ubiquitous in our lives, and the extensive and heavy damage that the release of plastic into the environment causes should make us ponder about the use, particularly unnecessary use, of this material.

Karnataka State has been using paper based Excise Adhesive Labels (EAL) on IML bottles and tetra packs over decades now. A Technical Expert Committee of the Government of Karnataka in its October 2014 Report on Excise Adhesive Labels (EAL) recommended that “Hybrid Labels (paper based label with Hologram) are found to be superior to polyester based labels.” The same finding was arrived at again in another Technical Expert Committee Report of October 2017 where it was recommended “Hybrid labels (paper based label with Hologram) poses two important significant features of Intaglio Printing and Eco-friendly.” The second Committee also recommended that if there is a need to use polyester based labels then it should necessarily be of bio-degradable polyester.

These Committee Reports are in sync with the 11th March 2016 Order of Forest, Ecology and Environment Secretariat of Government of Karnataka wherein the manufacture and sale of a variety of plastics commonly used, such as flex, plastic bags, plastic plates, plastic cups, cling films, and plastic sheets irrespective of its thickness, was banned as it was “causing serious environmental hazards and affecting health of human beings as well as animals” besides the Order read that “it is observed that the plastic waste is also causing blockage of gutters, sewers and drains apart from resulting in pollution of water bodies in urban areas.”

Regardless of all these efforts to remove unnecessary use of plastics and their eventual disposal into the environment, the Karnataka Excise Department has issued a Rs. 300 Crores tender on 3rd January 2018 for the production of 1152 Crores plastic labels (polyester based holographic EAL) for use on Excise Control Bottles and such other containers. It is more than likely that these labels will float away causing extensive damage to our water bodies, or they may be burnt releasing a range of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere resulting in damage to human health, livestock, wildlife, forests, etc. In fact, in one way to calculate the area covered by all these labels unnecessarily being promoted for production and casual disposal (which is more than likely) it would approximately cover an area of 12,000 hectares (approx. 30,000 acres), which would be equivalent to 50 Bellandur Lakes (approx. 600 acres) or 100 times the area of Rashtrapathi Bhavan Complex (approx. 200 acres).

Environment Support Group (ESG) challenged the issual of this tender before the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, New Delhi in O.A. 38/2018 responding favourably to this application, Hon’ble Justice Mr. U. D. Salvi (Judicial Member) and Hon’ble Mr. Nagi Nanda (Expert Member) have issued notice on various agencies of Government of Karnataka and also the Union Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to respond before the next date of hearing, i.e. 19thMarch 2018. The direction also specifies that the tender would be subject to the outcome of the Application.

ESG was represented by Counsel Mr. A. Yogeshwaran and the application was drafted in collaboration with counsels Ms. Maitreyi Krishnan and Ms. Akshatha Sharma.

A Copy of the Application and Orders of NGT is accessible at:

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The Untold Story of the Pentagon Papers Co-Conspirators

Speaking publicly for the first time, a historian reveals the crucial role that he and a small band of others played in helping Daniel Ellsberg leak the documents to journalists.

In 1971, Gar Alperovitz played a vital, clandestine role in making the Pentagon Papers public.

Photograph by Sharon Alperovitz

In June of 1971, Gar Alperovitz, a thirty-five-year-old historian, sped through suburban Boston, looking for an out-of-the-way pay phone to use to call a reporter. Alperovitz had never considered himself much of a risk-taker. The father of two ran a small economic think tank focussed on community-building. He had participated in demonstrations against the Vietnam War and rung doorbells with Martin Luther King, Jr., in Boston, as part of an antiwar campaign. But what he was doing on this day, propelled by his desire to end the conflict, could lead to federal prison.

He pulled his old Saab up to a phone booth on the outskirts of Harvard Square, and rang a hotel room nearby. When the reporter picked up, Alperovitz identified himself with the alias he had adopted: “It’s Mr. Boston.” Alperovitz told the journalist to open the door. Waiting in the hallway was a cardboard box, left minutes before by a runner working with Alperovitz. Inside were several hundred pages of the most sought-after documents in the United States—the top-secret Vietnam history known as the Pentagon Papers.

The handoff was one of about a dozen clandestine encounters with journalists that Alperovitz orchestrated over the course of a three-week period, when he and a small group of fellow antiwar activists helped Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst at the rand Corporation, elude an F.B.I. manhunt and distribute the Pentagon Papers to nineteen newspapers. Ellsberg, who had smuggled the documents out of rand’s Santa Monica office two years earlier and copied them with the help of a colleague, has long been the public face of the leak. But Ellsberg was aided by about a half-dozen volunteers whose identities have stayed secret for forty-six years, despite the intense interest of the Nixon Administration, thousands of articles, books, documentaries, plays, and now a major film, “The Post,” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, about the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg told me that the hidden role of this group was so critical to the operation that he gave them a code name—The Lavender Hill Mob, the name of a 1951 film about a ragtag group of amateur bank robbers. He has referred obliquely to his co-conspirators over the years. But he held back from identifying them because some in the group still feared repercussions.

Now, Alperovitz, who is eighty-one, has agreed to be revealed for the first time. “I’m getting old,” Alperovitz told me, with a laugh. Several other members of the group told me that they still wished to remain anonymous, or declined interview requests. One former Harvard graduate student who also played a major role—she hid the papers in her apartment and organized hideouts for Ellsberg—considered coming forward in this piece, but she ultimately decided not to, after conferring with lawyers. As a green-card holder, she worried that her involvement could lead to her deportation by the Trump Administration. Still, she remains proud of her role. “Those were extraordinary days,” she told me. “It was about questioning the government and being against the government. I was very, very angry about what was happening in Vietnam.”

Alperovitz said that the renewed interest in the Pentagon Papers, brought on by “The Post,” pushed him to finally acknowledge his role, but he also alluded to the “very dangerous” climate under President Trump. A historian and political economist, whose writings have focussed on the dangers of nuclear war and economic inequality, Alperovitz said that Trump’s “outrageous and destabilizing” rhetoric on North Korea compelled him to tell his story and “to suggest to people that it’s time to take action.”

“We were trying to stop the war,” Alperovitz told me, in an interview in his home near Washington. “I’m not heroic in this, but I just felt it important to act,” he said. “There were lots of people dying unnecessarily. There were lots of people who were taking risks to try to end the war, and I was one of them.”

Ellsberg told me that Alperovitz, in particular, was “critical to the way this thing worked out,” organizing the broader distribution of the papers. Ellsberg had initially turned over the documents only to Neil Sheehan, a reporter at the Times, which published the first front-page article on the Pentagon Papers, on June 13, 1971. (The Nixon Administration quickly secured an injunction to halt the Times from continuing to publish the documents.) But it was Alperovitz who devised the strategy of distributing the papers to as many news organizations as possible, including the Washington Post, an approach that later proved to be crucial from both a legal and public-relations standpoint. And it was Alperovitz who came up with the elaborate techniques for slipping the documents to reporters while evading the authorities. “Gar took care of all the cloak-and-dagger stuff,” Ellsberg said.

The danger to the Lavender Hill Mob could hardly be underestimated. Alperovitz “would’ve been indicted in a heartbeat” if he had been identified, Ellsberg said. Senior officials in the Nixon White House had become obsessed with arresting and discrediting Ellsberg and any of his accomplices. They created a group of Nixon campaign operatives, who became known as “the plumbers,” to break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, in what would be a precursor to the Watergate scandal. In a 2010 documentary “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,” Egil Krogh, one of the operatives, says that the Administration was obsessed with identifying who else was involved in the leak. “Did Daniel Ellsberg work alone? Was he working with some other people? Was he part of a conspiracy?” Krogh, who was imprisoned for his role in the Watergate break-in, says in the film. F.B.I. agents—and Nixon’s plumbers—tracked leads from Los Angeles to Paris. The perpetrators, it turned out, met less than a mile from Harvard Square, the epicenter of the liberal, Ivy League élitism that Nixon so detested.

Shortly after surrendering to federal authorities, in June, 1971, for his role in leaking the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg spoke to reporters.

Photograph by Bettmann / Getty

In early June of 1971, Ellsberg, who had left rand and was working as a senior research fellow at M.I.T., hosted a small dinner party at his home in Cambridge. Ellsberg, who was then forty, had never met Alperovitz but invited him after a colleague said that they shared an intense opposition to the war. The Harvard graduate student was there as well.

Alperovitz had worked in the U.S. government on foreign affairs from 1961 to 1966—first in Congress, then at the State Department—and it was there, as an insider, that his opposition to the war hardened. As a Senate aide, in 1964, Alperovitz worked unsuccessfully to stop what he still calls the “phony” Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which allowed President Lyndon B. Johnson to escalate America’s military involvement in Vietnam. More than anything, the congressional vote confirmed his view that the war was a fraud perpetrated on the American public.

At the dinner, Alperovitz and Ellsberg, a former Marine and Pentagon analyst, talked about Nixon, liberal activism, nuclear weapons, and, of course, Vietnam. The top-secret papers never came up. But, as the party wrapped up and Alperovitz walked to his car, the Harvard graduate student pulled him aside and made a cryptic comment about some sensitive material on Vietnam and “boxes and boxes of papers,” Alperovitz recalled.

A day or two later, the graduate student arranged to meet Alperovitz at a park, she told me in an interview. She explained to Alperovitz that Ellsberg had entrusted her with thousands of pages of the documents, and that she had stashed them in cupboards in the pantry of her small apartment. Ellsberg had given copies of the papers to a Times reporter several months earlier, but had not heard from him since. She and Ellsberg didn’t know when the newspaper might run the story, or if it even intended to do so, and were eager to distribute more of the papers to other news outlets. “I needed help to do this work,” the woman told me, and Alperovitz seemed like “exactly the right person.”

When she asked Alperovitz if he would help, he immediately agreed. Decades later, Alperovitz said that his eagerness, despite the obvious risks, still puzzles him. “I’m a very cautious person, but I didn’t blink—which I don’t understand,” he told me. “I’m surprised I didn’t just say, ‘Whoops, I’m busy tomorrow.’ It was out of character.”

In a subsequent meeting with Ellsberg, Alperovitz mapped out a strategy. Ellsberg, who had tried to leak the secret papers to members of Congress but had been rebuffed, wanted to get all seven thousand pages of the papers out at once, if not in the Times then in the Washington Post or somewhere else. “My nightmare was that the F.B.I. would catch me and capture all the papers first,” Ellsberg recalled. He even considered using the Harvard Crimson’s presses to print the documents himself. Alperovitz talked him out of it. “I said to Dan, ‘Look, this is seven thousand pages of material, you’ll get one story, maybe two,’ ” Alperovitz said. “If you really want to get this out to the public, you’ve got to break it up and keep the story going.”

To Ellsberg’s surprise, the Times ran its first story on the papers several days later. The Nixon Administration quickly secured an injunction to halt publication. By then, Alperovitz was already working the pay phones around Cambridge and Somerville to contact a reporter from the Post and get more coverage. Days later, with Alperovitz acting as an intermediary, Ellsberg met with a Post reporter in a local motel room and gave him the entire secret report. After the reporter left, Ellsberg and his wife, who were hiding out in the motel, saw on television that F.B.I. agents had descended on their home to question him. For the next two weeks, the Ellsbergs remained holed up, with the Harvard graduate student taking the lead in finding new places to stash them. “I moved them every few days,” she recalled. “I’d call friends and say, ‘I need your apartment for two days, and I just want you to go somewhere else. Just don’t ask me any questions.’ ” Each time the couple moved, she crammed boxes of the secret history into her small Volkswagen and moved them along with the Ellsbergs.

The one time that Ellsberg knew whose apartment he was using, he said, was during weekend that he spent in Cambridge with a friend, Jeffrey Race, a fellow Vietnam veteran. Race recalled watching a television news report with his fiancée about the F.B.I. searching for Ellsberg. “They can’t find him,” Race told me, “and we joked that, ‘Hey, he’s lying right here in his underwear on the floor taking a nap in front of the TV.’ ”

It was at Race’s apartment that Ellsberg had his closest brush with arrest. At Ellsberg’s request, from a pay phone outside of Race’s apartment, Alperovitz called a friend of Ellsberg’s in Los Angeles to arrange a way for him to speak with his children and let them know that he was all right. As Ellsberg watched from the window, Alperovitz hung up and walked away. Minutes later, police cars converged around the phone booth. Ellsberg guessed that the F.B.I. must have been tapping his Los Angeles friend’s phone, or perhaps the pay phone, in their effort to find him. “We ducked behind the window,” Ellsberg recalled. “I’m thinking, Oh my God!” He and his wife left that same night for a different hiding place.

Alperovitz asked the administrator of the Cambridge Institute, the think tank he ran, to vacate her apartment for the Ellsbergs for several days. “It was a very matter-of-fact thing,” the administrator, Nancy Lyons, who is now retired and living in Concord, Massachusetts, said in an interview. She immediately agreed—she saw it as an opportunity to be involved in something larger than herself. “I might have just been naïve, but I didn’t have any hesitation.” The one concern she had, she told me, was that she had waited a long time to get the rent-controlled apartment, and she didn’t want to lose it if someone found out. (No one did.)

Alperovitz’s primary task was devising how to distribute the papers to as many news organizations as possible. Ellsberg usually told Alperovitz which newspapers to contact—the Boston Globe, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Detroit Free Press, among them—but he left it to Alperovitz to figure out the logistics.

Alperovitz told me that he improvised the elaborate handoffs. “I invented this stuff as I went along,” he said. “I don’t know how.” Getting journalists interested in the papers, then the most sought after documents in the United States, was easy. He would call a newspaper’s city desk from a pay phone, identify himself as Mr. Boston­—a code name that got a few references in “The Post”—and then offer to share some of the papers. “They were very happy to take them. Everyone wanted to be in on it,” he said.

The trickier part was handing off hundreds of pages of documents without being detected. Alperovitz and the Harvard graduate student recruited a handful of college students—all ardently opposed to the war—to help not only with mundane tasks, like getting the Ellsbergs’ groceries, but also to act as runners who delivered the papers.

During the frantic three weeks it took to distribute the documents, Alperovitz typically didn’t have time to even read all the papers before parcelling them out to reporters. He simply grabbed a few hundred pages, boxed them up, and sent the runners on their way. Alperovitz usually found out what was in each stack only when he read the news stories. The pace was so hectic that he and other participants have trouble remembering the exact sequence today. Alperovitz can’t remember, for instance, which reporter he called at the Cambridge hotel with instructions for finding the papers in the hallway. The former Harvard graduate student recalls a nighttime handoff of papers at an acquaintance’s home, but the details are hazy.

There were also furtive meetings at Boston’s Logan Airport, chosen by Alperovitz because it was a convenient place for out-of-town reporters to blend in. One student helping with the operation was dispatched to Logan to meet a Newsday reporter whom Alperovitz had summoned from Washington. Posing this time as Sam Adams, Alperovitz had the airport page the reporter over the public-address system; the student then handed the reporter a note with directions to find a green plastic shopping bag on a seat in the terminal. Inside were the last two chapters of the Pentagon Papers. The reporter, Martin Schram, recounted the “covert” and “borderline comical plan” in a story last month.

As Alperovitz dispatched members of the Lavender Hill Mob around the city, he never actually met any of the journalists himself—except for one: the CBS anchor Walter Cronkite. Alperovitz, posing again as Mr. Boston, called Cronkite to offer him a scoop—an on-camera interview with Ellsberg, who was still in hiding. Cronkite, like other journalists, seemed to believe he was talking to Ellsberg himself, Alperovitz said. He did not correct him.

Cronkite and his crew rushed to Boston. Alperovitz arranged for them to get a batch of the papers, and had a volunteer drive the anchorman to a nearby home in Cambridge, which an associate had lent for the day. The member of the Lavender Hill Mob “drove them around and around and back and forth to make sure they hadn’t been followed,” Alperovitz said. “If anyone smelled Cronkite, that would be trouble.” (The driver declined to be interviewed for this article.) With Alperovitz looking on, Ellsberg gave a dramatic interview that aired that night.

On June 28th, after a final burst of stories in newspapers from Long Island to Los Angeles, Ellsberg agreed to surrender to federal authorities in Boston. A mob of journalists and onlookers met him outside the federal courthouse. Alperovitz went, too, watching from a distance. He could not risk being seen with Ellsberg, but he wanted to be there to mark the end of the saga that had begun three weeks earlier, at the dinner in Cambridge. What struck him most about the scene, Alperovitz said, was the huge throng of supporters cheering on Ellsberg. “It was like we weren’t alone,” he told me.

Ellsberg never did any prison time. Two years later, a judge threw out the charges against him, ruling that the break-in by Nixon’s plumbers at Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office had “incurably infected the prosecution.” For years, Ellsberg kept his distance from the people who helped him for fear of endangering them. He and Alperovitz saw each other occasionally at political or academic events, but they rarely spoke of those weeks in Cambridge, both men said. When Ellsberg was writing his 2002 memoir, “Secrets,” he went to Alperovitz and asked if he could name him in the book. Ellsberg said that he wanted to finally acknowledge the efforts of him and the others. Alperovitz declined. “I didn’t need credit or blame,” he said.

Last year, Ellsberg was doing a book-signing event when an older woman in line handed him a note asking him to dedicate her book “to The Lavender Hill Mob.” Ellsberg looked up and recognized one of the young students who had helped him. He hadn’t seen her in four decades. “After all these years, it was the most amazing thing,” he said.

Over the last forty years, a few reporters asked Alperovitz if he was involved, but he always denied it. The closest he came to being identified was a reference to an anonymous intermediary in some news reports recounting the leak. Today, he sees those weeks as a risk he had to take at a historic moment for his country. “I was someone who was trying, along with many people, to stop this killing. It was a moral issue of the first order,” he said. If Alperovitz regrets anything, it is only that the revelations in the papers didn’t force a quick end to America’s involvement in the war, as he had hoped. It would be another two years before most American military troops pulled out of Vietnam, and another four before the war came to an end—after the deaths, he noted, of “three million people, fifty-seven thousand Americans, for nothing.”

Source- The New Yorker

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Media coverage of ” Aadhaar Judge” outburst disappointing


It seems that every media house has chosen to make a brief exchange between Chandrachud J and Shyam Divan yesterday the centrepiece of its Aadhaar coverage.


So, a clarification is in order.


Shyam Divan did not say that the bench was packed with Aadhaar judges. He said that if Aadhaar was upheld, then twenty-five years later, the Supreme Court would have “Aadhaar Judges”, because Aadhaar allows the government to have a complete electronic record of an individual.


Or, in other words, over a period of time, the government could weaponise all the information it had about individuals to ensure that only pliant people could come to occupy high posts.


About twenty minutes after Shyam Divan argued this, there was a disagreement between him and Chandrachud J on an entirely separate point – the scope of the petitioners’ written pleadings – which escalated into an angry exchange


In high-pressure cases, where advocates are often arguing passionately, this is very common. The situation was defused by the CJI and Kapil Sibal, Shyam Divan apologised, and arguments continued. When the bench rose, he apologised again.

Aadhaar was argued for three hours yesterday. Most of it was on the incredibly important point of the government’s claims of financial savings and plugging of leakages. But every media house chooses to focus on an inconsequential twenty-second flare up? Disappointing.

(This post is compilation of tweets  , who has been covering SC hearing on Aadhaar with live updates  )

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Union Budget- Health, Education, Sanitation allocation declined #Factcheck


Health, Education, Sanitation Budget Appears To Be Most In 3 Years. It Isn’t

New Delhi: Students participate in CLAIM - Clean Air India Movement, to spread awareness regarding mounting air pollution  and measures to check it in New Delhi on June 4, 2015. (Photo: IANS)


While funding for health, education and sanitation programmes in budget 2018-19 appears to be the highest over the last three years–a 13% rise from the previous year–the money set aside has declined from actual allocations of 2017-18, according to a FactChecker analysis of budget data.


With an eye on the 2019 general elections, finance minister Arun Jaitley announced the world’s largest national health insurance programme, scholarships for 1,000 doctorate engineering students at the Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institute of Science, and the construction of 18.8 million toilets by 2019. The estimated budgetary expenditure on health, education and social protection for 2018-19 is now Rs.1.38 lakh crore, a 13% rise over the estimated expenditure of Rs.1.22 lakh crore in 2017-18.


However, our analysis shows:


  • A 2.1% decline in the allocation towards the national health mission, India’s largest programme for primary health infrastructure;
  • A 0.23 percentage-point decline over 2017-18 in the union budget’s share of funding to the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry, making it the lowest since 2014-15;
  • A 7% cut in allocation for the Swachh Bharat Mission budget from 2017-18’s revised estimates.


Most of the rise in spending is for the social-protection sector, which includes scholarships after grade X for scheduled castes students and other backward classes and special Central Assistance to scheduled castes-centred sub schemes, the analysis revealed.


To fund the increased spending announced for 2018-19, Jaitley said a health and education cess that taxpayers pay would rise to 4% from 3%.


“This will enable us to collect an estimated additional amount of 11,000 crores,” said Jaitley, as he presented the budget in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) on February 1, 2018.


With India poised to become the fifth largest economy holding the youngest and largest workforce “the world has ever seen” (as this World Bank document described it), the government must now deliver on its promise of Swasth [healthy] Bharat for Samriddha [prosperous] Bharat, as Jaitley said.


Budget for India’s primary health infrastructure drops by 2.1%


In the budget speech, the finance minister focused on the health sector and introduced a new national health insurance scheme–he declared it was “the world’s largest”–to insure 100 million households for Rs 500,000 per family per year. This “National Health Protection Scheme” is the latest avatar of the Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (RSSY), which was previously the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) under the labour ministry. The latest scheme includes 30 million more households than the RSBY, which had been renamed as the RSSY in 2017-18 and has now again been renamed as the National Health Protection Scheme.


To meet these ambitious targets, however, there has only been a 2.7% increase in allocations to the health sector, from Rs 53,198 crore in 2017-18 (revised estimates) to Rs 54,667 crore (budget estimate).


‘Budget estimate’ for any ministry or scheme is the amount allocated to it in the budget papers for the following year. Once the financial year gets underway, some ministries may need more funds than were allocated to them under the ‘budget estimates’; these are then reflected as “revised estimates”.


Spending on the health ministry has declined to 2.1% of the total union budget from 2.4% in 2017-18. Health expenditure should be 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, according to the National Health Policy.


2014-15 33121.42 1794891.96 1.8
2015-16 30626.39 1777477.04 1.7
2016-17 37671.3 1978060.45 1.9
2017-18* 51550.85 2146734.78 2.4
2018-19** 52800 2442213.3 2.1

Source: Union Budgets; *Revised estimate, **Budget estimate


Further, there has been a 2.1% decline in the allocation for the National Health Mission–a national health programme that funds infrastructure for primary healthcare–from Rs 31,292 crore in 2017-18 (revised estimates) to Rs 30,634 crore (budget estimate).


On a positive note, the budget for the National Nutrition Mission–a programme that seeks to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia and low birth weight of babies–under the women and child development ministry, rose over three times, from Rs 950 crore in 2017-18 (revised estimates) to Rs 3,000 crore in 2018-19 (budget estimate). This restores the government’s commitment to the improving nutrition status among Indian children, after the programme’s budget was cut in the revised estimate for 2017-18. From an allocation of Rs 1,500 crore, the revised estimate came down 36.6% to Rs 950 crore for that year.


India has 48.2 million stunted–short for their age–children, more than any other country, IndiaSpend reported on January 30, 2018.


Under the Ayushman Bharat Initiative, there are two schemes–the national health protection scheme and the ‘Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022’ programme. The latter aims to improve infrastructure for medical education and health, with a provision of Rs 1 lakh crore over four years.


“The Ayushman Bharat will build a New India 2022 and ensure enhanced productivity, well being and avert wage loss and impoverishment,” said Jaitley. “These schemes will also generate lakhs of jobs, particularly for women.”


Health costs push 39 million Indians back into poverty every year, IndiaSpend reported in January 2018.


The government will also set up 24 new medical colleges and hospitals and upgrade existing district hospitals in the country, Jaitley said.


Other investments for health include:


  • Rs 600 crore for nutritional support to all tuberculosis patients: Rs 500 per month per patient for 10 months for the duration of their treatment;
  • Rs 1,200 crore for the National Health Policy, 2017; with 150,000 health and wellness centres, it hopes to address a rising tide of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular ailments.


Swachh Bharat Mission faces 7% cut from previous year’s revised estimate


Inadequate sanitation–management of human excreta, solid waste, and drainage–costs India Rs 2.4 trillion ($53.8 billion) every year in losses due to health, damage to drinking water and tourism costs, IndiaSpend reported on January 31, 2018.


In keeping with India’s mission to make India open-defecation free by 2019, the finance minister reiterated the government’s focus on toilet construction. In 2018-19, the government aims to build 18.8 million toilets under the Swachh Bharat-Gramin (Clean India-Rural) scheme, Jaitley said, adding, “This will create employment of 170 million person days.”


This will raise the total number of toilets to 147 million from 127 million–89% of the targeted 164 million toilets under the programme. Less than 20 months remain to the October 2019 deadline of making India open-defecation free.


While budget estimates for the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2018-19 are the highest since its inception in 2014, the Modi government has actually cut allocation to the mission by 7%–to Rs 17,843 crore in 2018-19 from Rs 19,248 crore in 2017-18 (revised estimate), according to a FactChecker analysis of budget data.


Of the total allocation for the scheme, only 4% of funds have been spent on information and education–below the recommended 8-12%, IndiaSpend reported on January 31, 2018. The budget for information, education and communication activities under Swachh Bharat-Gramin (rural) is down 6%–to Rs 300 crore in 2018-19 from Rs 318 crore in 2017-18.


Little attention to education and changing attitudes means that at least 522 million Indians still defecate in the open–leaving many millions susceptible to disease and poverty–according to this IndiaSpend report on January 31, 2018.


Share of education in budget lowest in five years


In his budget speech, finance minister Arun Jaitley, raised concerns over the quality of education delivered to children in school. The government has defined learning outcomes and conducted a national survey of more than 2 million children to assess the on-ground status of education in the country, Jaitley said.


“This will help in devising a district-wise strategy for improving quality of education. We now propose to treat education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12,” the finance minister said, allocating Rs 85,010 crore to the HRD ministry.


In absolute terms, this budget of Rs 85,010 crore breaks a declining trend in allocation to the HRD ministry under the Modi government and is a Rs 5,324 crore or 6.7% rise from 2017-18, when Rs 79,685 crore was allocated. However, as a share of the total union budget, the HRD ministry’s allocation has dropped 0.23 percentage points to 3.48% in 2018-19–the lowest since 2014-15–from 3.71% in 2017-18, shows a FactChecker analysis of budget data. In five years to 2018-19, that is a drop of 2.7 percentage points to 3.48% from 6.15% in 2014-15.


2014-15 1,10,351.10 1,794,891.96 6.15
2015-16 96,649.76 1,777,477.04 5.44
2016-17 92,666.65 1,978,060.45 4.68
2017-18 79,685.95 2,146,734.78 3.71
2018-19 85,010.29 2,442,213.30 3.48

Source: Union Budgets; All figures are budget estimates


In July 2017, the deadline to formally train 1.3 million teachers was extended to March 2019 (from March 2015) under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2017, Jaitley said in his budget speech. “Improvement in quality of teachers can improve the quality of education in the country,” the finance minister said, introducing an integrated bachelor’s of education programme.


However, the budget does not address the vacancies in government-run schools. In 2016, a million teaching posts–900,000 in elementary schools and 100,000 posts in secondary schools–were vacant, IndiaSpendreported on December 12, 2016.


“The Government is committed to provide the best quality education to the tribal children in their own environment,” Jaitley said. For this, by 2022, Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) will be set up in every tribal block or area with at least 20,000 tribal persons who comprise 50% of the population, the finance minister announced. Similar to the Navodaya Vidyalayas or ‘new-age schools’, launched under the National Policy on Education of 1986, the EMRS scheme was launched in 1997-98, according to this release from the Press Information Bureau on August 6, 2010.


As of January 2018, such schools had been sanctioned in 271–or 40% of 672–tribal blocks nationwide, according to this Lok Sabha response from January 1, 2018. As of March 2017, 161 EMRS were functional, according to this Lok Sabha response from March 27, 2017.


(Saldanha is an assistant editor, and Salve and Vivek are analysts with IndiaSpend and FactChecker.)

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UP Home Guard DG ‘pledges’ to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya #WTFnews



  • In the video, the DG can be seen vowing to build the temple, even if he has to go against the Supreme Court’s order
  • As the video went viral on the internet, the DG was quick to dismiss the allegations and said that he was misinterpreted

UP Home Guard DG 'pledges' to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya, video goes viral

NEW DELHI: UP Home Guard DG Surya Kumar Shukla landed himself in a soup after a video emerged in which he is seen taking a pledge to build the Ram Templein Ayodhya.

“We Rambhakts (devotees of Ram), pledge here today to ensure the construction of Ram Temple as soon as possible,” Shukla said as he took the oath, according to a report published in Navbharat Times.

The incident happened at an event in Lucknow University.

In the video, the DG said that Hindus should take the matter in their own hands and not rely on court to provide a solution for the dispute.

“Hindus must awaken. Leave Muslims out of this. There is nothing about them. Do not even talk about them. It is shameful that despite having 100 crore population of Hindus, we do not have a Ram Mandir,” he said amid the applause of the audience.

Shukla recalled that no permission was required on December 6, 1992, when Kar Sevaks stormed the Babri Masjid complex and destroyed the structure.

“Look at Hindus in Andhra (Pradesh) and Gujarat. They are devout. It is because of them there is voice being raised for Ram Temple. There is a need for awareness today. On December 6, we didn’t need the permission of any court. But, the work was done,” he said.

As the video went viral over the internet, Shukla was quick to dismiss the allegations and said that his statement was misinterpreted.

“There has been a misinterpretation. I had clearly said Ram Mandir issue is sub-judice, it won’t be appropriate to speak on it. The pledge was for communal harmony and not Ram Mandir,” he said.

There has been a misinterpretation. I had clearly said Ram Mandir issue is sub-judice,it won’t be appropriate to speak on it. The pledge was for communal harmony and not Ram Mandir: Surya Kumar Shukla, DG, Home Guard on being seen in a viral video taking pledge for Ram Mandir.

“I was taking a pledge to create an atmosphere of harmony. The video that has gone viral is an edited version and portions have been deleted deliberately to create mischief,” he said.

Shukla, who is a 1982-batch IPS officer, said there was a discussion at the programme that if Hindus and Muslims talk of temple construction in Ayodhya and a mosque at a distance from there, then the dispute will end.

The Supreme Court has suggested that a way should be found through talks, he said.

Commenting on the video, SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary termed it a violation of service rules by the IPS officer.

“Shukla is a public servant, and he is not supposed to take such a pledge at a public function,” he said.

सूर्यकुमार शुक्ला यूपी कैडर के 1982 बैच के आईपीएस अधिकारी है और इस वक्त डीजी होमगार्ड के पद पर तैनात हैं. खुले मंच से सूर्यकुमार शुक्ला द्वारा सुप्रीम कोर्ट के आदेशों की अवहेलना करते हुए शपथ लेने का यह वीडियो इन दिनों वायरल है.

Updated: February 2, 2018, 1:00 PM IST

उत्तर प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री योगी आदित्यनाथ अफसरों को कितना भी नैतिकता का पाठ पढ़ा दें, लेकिन बेलगाम अफसर सरकार की फजीहत करने में कोई कसर नहीं छोड़ रहे हैं. कहीं आईएएस अधिकारी सोशल मीडिया पर सरकार की खिल्ली उड़ा रहा हैं, तो एक आईपीएस अधिकारी सुप्रीम कोर्ट के खिलाफ जाकर राम मंदिर बनाने की कसम खाते नजर आ रहे हैं. तजा मामला डीजी होमगार्ड के पद पर तैनात आईपीएस अधिकारी सूर्यकुमार शुक्ला से जुड़ा है. इनका एक वीडियो इन दिनों वायरल ही जिसमें वे अयोध्या में राममंदिर बनाने का संकल्प लेते नजर आ रहे हैं.

पिछले दिनों लखनऊ विश्वविद्यालय मुस्लिम कारसेवक मंच द्वारा आयोजित एक कार्यक्रम में कुछ लोग राम मंदिर बनाने के लिए शपथ ले रहे थे. उनमें आईपीएस अधिकारी सूर्यकुमार शुक्ला भी मौजूद थे. उन्होंने मुस्लिम कार सेवक मंच के अध्यक्ष आजम खान और अन्य के साथ राम मंदिर बनाने का संकल्प लिया.

सूर्यकुमार शुक्ला यूपी कैडर के 1982 बैच के आईपीएस अधिकारी है और इस वक्त डीजी होमगार्ड के पद पर तैनात हैं. खुले मंच से सूर्यकुमार शुक्ला द्वारा सुप्रीम कोर्ट के आदेशों की अवहेलना करते हुए शपथ लेने का यह वीडियो इन दिनों वायरल है.

लेकिन इन सबसे बेफिक्र डीजी होमगार्ड सूर्य कुमार शुक्‍ला हर हाल में राम मंदिर को बनाने की कसम खाते और ‘जय श्री राम’ के नारे लगाते नजर आ रहे हैं. इस कार्यक्रम में उनके साथ हिंदू मंच के आजम खान सबको शपथ दिलवाते नजर आ रहे हैं.

डीजी स्‍तर के अधिकारी की इस हरकत से उन पर सांप्रदायिकता को बढ़ावा देने के आरोप लग रहे हैं. सवाल उठ रहा है कि जब सीनियर पदों पर बैठे अधिकारी ही इस तरह का धार्मिक उन्‍माद फैलाएंगे और सुप्रीम कोर्ट के आदेशों की अवहेलना करेंगे तो प्रदेश में शांति व्‍यवस्‍था कैसे दुरुस्त रहेगी.

इस मौके पर बोलते हुए आजम खान ने कहा, “अयोध्या में राम मंदिर निर्माण के लिए हिन्दुओं को जागरुक होने की जरुरत हैं. उन्होंने कहा कि अगर 100 करोड़ हिन्दुओं के होते हुए भी राम मंदिर का निर्माण नहीं हो रहा है तो यह सोचने की बात है. उन्होंने कहा कि मैं एक भक्त होने के नाते यहां आया हूं. कोर्ट में राम मंदिर का मु्द्दा जाना भी अच्छी बात नहीं है.

आजम खान ने कहा, “राम यूपी के हैं इसलिए यहां के लोगों में उनको लेकर जागरुकता नहीं है. साउथ और गुजरात के हिन्दुओं को जाकर देखें उनके लिए राम की आस्था कितनी है.”

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