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Archives for : February2018

Shamir Reuben harassment row, and why women must learn to trust their instincts #Vaw


It’s a rude reminder that even woke, seemingly practising feminist men, can perpetuate the same misogyny in their personal lives that they speak against.
Shamir Reuben/Facebook

The last few months have been difficult. Many famous men I admired and looked up to fell like dominoes in light of the ‘Me too’ movement, and thank goodness for that. But on Wednesday, something hit a little too close to home.

I have known Shamir Reuben, a well-known name in India’s up and coming spoken word poetry circles, as a friend. Additionally, I, and many others, have known the 24-year-old as one of the few ‘woke’ men, who speaks openly about empowerment, sensitivity, and gender equality.

So, when he was accused by a number of women on Facebook of sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment in some cases, it felt like the final nail in the coffin.

It began with a post by another poet, Sakina Bootwala, who recounted her own experience with him. A number of women began reaching out to her with their own interactions with Shamir – 50 screenshots in two Facebook posts where at least 20 women accused Shamir of coercing them into sexting and/or initiating unwanted physical contact such as kissing.

Some of the women who came forward with their stories were 16 or 17, when Shamir, an adult, allegedly sent them unsolicited sexual messages. He persistently asked the girls and women to send explicit pictures and sexts; he also sent them sexually graphic messages such as wanting to be their “first kiss” or “take their virginity”.

The compliments, the friendly banter and attempts to build an emotional connection to ultimately get sexually intimate with them seems typical to the behaviour of a groomer.

Others spoke about being solicited or sexually harassed when they were emotionally vulnerable, and despite their apparent discomfort. These advances were almost always accompanied by compliments, “I love you”, jokes or other things to make them feel comfortable, they said. The pattern was not difficult to spot.

After the initial shock and denial of it, I was compelled to face the uncomfortable truth about sexual violence and abuse that we don’t acknowledge often enough: the perpetrators are among us.

Perpetrators don’t always come packaged as ‘bad guys’

The flaw with our perception of predators is this – they are not always monsters who treat you badly. They can be quintessential ‘nice guys’, impressively ‘woke.’

We are conditioned to see the perpetrator as a stranger who is not from our social class, a man who doesn’t smile unless it is sadistic, and looks ‘like a criminal.’ He’s the bogeyman, and his fear makes us blind to the perpetrators who walk in our midst.

What has also come to light in these series of events is that some of Shamir’s friends knew about his sexual misconduct and that he was soliciting minor girls. Their complicity ended only when he was called out by the other women.

It’s a rude reminder that even woke, seemingly practising feminist men, can perpetuate the same misogyny in their personal lives that they speak against. And it becomes even more important to call them out for it.

The perpetrator does not decide what is sexual harassment

Earlier this evening, Shamir responded to the allegations on Facebook. He apologised for the discomfort he caused to these women. He added, “Several things said are an incorrect portrayal of past events during 2013 – 2016, and the messages shared form part of longer conversations. […] Violence of any form against women should not be tolerated. But, I have not and never intended to harm or harass them in any way.”

The statement is a textbook example of the excuse most abusers use: That they did not ‘intend’ harm. Except, sexual harassment is not about what the perpetrator intends – it’s about how the victim feels. And the most overwhelming thing these women felt, apparent from the screenshots, was discomfort and coercion.

Women are taught from very early on they should be compliant. That they shouldn’t be rude. That they should learn to let a man down easy, and not bruise his ego. To feel guilty for refusing sex to a man they’re involved with, because a man has ‘needs’. And that they can ‘fix’ people because they are ‘natural’ caregivers and nurturers. Popular culture is full of these references to the ideal woman.

And when someone older, more influential is showering you with compliments and attention, it gets harder to say ‘no’. And it’s not because women would do anything for attention. It’s because we are conditioned to want to please men, especially those we have feelings for.

I also want to address another justification men use continually – that they were just being persistent.

So, it’s never a ‘no’ when we say it? It only means ‘no until you make me say yes’?

Consent is consent only when it is informed and enthusiastic, not coerced. No, we are not ‘teasing’ you, men, or playing ‘hard to get’.

Learning to trust our instincts

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this is just how pervasive it is for women to second guess themselves. We tend to do it more when the perpetrator is someone we know, or care about. In liberal circles especially, it is easy to be dismissed as prudish for not being down with casual sex, sexting and so on.

There is undeniably room for misunderstanding in interpersonal relationships. But passing off manipulation and predatory behaviour as a ‘misunderstanding’ is never okay.

And even though saying ‘no’ is important, it is not always easy, for ample reasons such as the ones mentioned above. Maybe the society needs to understand one of the reasons ‘why she didn’t just say no’ is because she wasn’t encouraged to embrace and express her discomfort.

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India – #Love in the climate of hate


Right-wing forces are trying to portray Ankit Saxena’s death as an ‘Us versus Them’ clash, but his family has given us hope that we can fight attempts to divide

Have you been in love? Have you suffered a heartbreak or a loss? Have you been told you are not allowed to be with someone because of reasons linked to religion and hate? Ankit Saxena, a 23-year-old professional photographer, was stabbed to death in Delhi’s Khyala area on February 1. His crime: falling in love with a woman who is a Muslim. The two had planned to get married, but her family members were so outraged by the thought that they allegedly murdered him.

So far, I haven’t heard anyone describe Ankit’s relationship with the woman as ‘love yudh’ or whatever the opposite of love jihad is. I have heard a number of people say “look, what Muslims did to us”, “look, they are the enemy”, “look, they hate us”.

This is not the first time someone in India has been murdered because they dared to love after defying diktats of society and the political class. Also, this is not the first time in the country that politics of hatred is dominating the public discourse.

We don’t have leaders who can speak the language of love; we have leaders who talk about mandir-masjid, shamshaan-kabristan. Many people are stoking tensions by making outrageous statements, but few are sending out messages of love and tolerance. The dominant political forces aren’t saying love whoever you want to, the law will protect you. Much like Donald Trump, they are building a wall in India. An invisible wall with ‘us’ on one side and ‘them’ on the other. They seem to be working hard to bring about the second partition.

Make no mistake, identity related murders have nothing to do any particular religion or community. The blame for the deaths should be laid at the door of those who profit from a climate of hate and divisions, and those who are responsible for maintaining law and order but are doing exactly the opposite. Whose side are you on?

In our country right now, there is only one political outfit which gains when there are hate crimes. When a Muslim is murdered, they want you to focus on what he eats or which animal he was transporting. He deserved to be murdered, they absurdly claim. If they don’t want to be killed, why don’t they go to Pakistan, they shamelessly ask. They provoke you by citing events that took place hundreds of years ago and insist that you, too, must be enraged if their honour and history is questioned or criticised. When a Hindu is murdered they tell you, look they are the enemy, fanning hatred. When hatred is spread, it claims victims on all sides.

Unfortunately for the flag-bearers of the politics of hate, Ankit’s family has said it does not hate or blame Muslims. It only blames the people who committed the crime and wants justice for Ankit. His friends, one of whom is a Muslim, echo the sentiments. The Muslim friend participated in the last rites with Ankit’s father. A video shows them saying they want a nation where love prevails over hatred. They reminded me of the movie Rang De Basanti.

I salute Ankit for daring to love at a time where so much is stacked against love. I salute his family for their courage and refusal to be swept away by the tide of hatred that has engulfed all of us. I salute the woman who loves Ankit. I salute his friends. They give me hope. I hope they find the strength to cope with their loss. There is no political force which can prevail over young people who want to love. India needs them.

They need India too. The thousands of people who reject hatred, stand up for what’s right and dare to love. They need more Indians. They need you. They need leaders who can defuse tensions and unite communities.

Caste, religion, sexuality, age, laws — love has to battle many factors. Love is the underdog, always fighting to overcome hatred. Who are you rooting for?
ATTN BANGALORE -The brutal murder of Ankit Saxena in broad daylight in Delhi has disturbed us. He was murdered by his girlfriend’s relatives who disapproved of their inter-faith relationship. In solidarity with Ankit Saxena, Shehzadi and Yashpal Saxena,VIMOCHANA is  organising a Women in Black action on the 14th of February – 5:30 PM at the Big 50 Bus stop, near Opera Circle, Brigade Road. Please joinin large numbers to protest against the fast shrinking secular spaces in our country.

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India- Even in Sports Feminism Loses, to Money #StopPatriarchy

Mithali Raj & Co were stars after the 2017 World Cup, and yet the women’s game is not viewed as a commercial project

On February 6, the 60th anniversary of one of the saddest dusks sport has ever seen, my daughter asked me why we hadn’t seen the women play yet. As she nears her seventh birthday and becomes aware of the casual sexism that is all around us, I’m frequently asked why all the sport I watch features men. Why, for example, don’t I watch Liverpool ladies play? Why does cricket coverage primarily mean Virat Kohli and his sidekicks?

Last week, I promised her that once the Indian women’s team started their series in South Africa, we would watch them. But where? Forget the main sports channels, the games aren’t even available on YouTube. As ever, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a convenient lightning rod for social-media angst, but the reality is that broadcasters haven’t shown the slightest bit of interest.

Last year, July 23 marked another #MeToo moment, albeit in a positive sense, with every Amar, Akbar and Anthony climbing aboard the women’s cricket bandwagon. Mithali Raj’s team may have lost a World Cup final they should have won – as well as Anya Shrubsole bowled, India fluffed their lines with one hand on the trophy – but by beating England, New Zealand and Australia on their way to the summit clash, they did more for the game’s profile than a decade of BCCI largesse.

But what has happened since? Where did the wellspring of support go? The ODI in Kimberley, which India won with ease, was their first international outing since that final more than six months ago. In the interim, they’ve toiled in anonymity in a couple of domestic tournaments, while two of them — Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy — had distinctly underwhelming Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) seasons.

And while some of the Under-19s, coached by Rahul Dravid, have just earned multi-crore Indian Premier League (IPL) deals, the women are no better off than they were before the World Cup adventure. Almost predictably, the media hasn’t walked the big talk of July. While half a dozen publications were represented at the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand – hardly an inexpensive trip – there wasn’t one Indian journalist on the ground in Kimberley. There are more than a handful of Indian scribes in South Africa right now, but they’re all following the Kohli caravan.

In that sense, things are no different from the summer of 2014, when there was almost no attention paid to the women’s first Test in more than eight years at Wormsley. Only one Indian journalist made it to that picturesque venue to watch what turned out to be a historic victory, and even he was there for just one day.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) have just lost millions of dollars thanks to the fiasco that was the Global Cricket League. They haven’t arranged a telecast. The BCCI’s broadcast partners in India haven’t either. During the World Cup, you could at least watch the live stream on the ICC website. For bilateral games, that isn’t an option, unless the host board sets up basic two-camera coverage.

It boils down to will. If we can invest so much in Under-19 coverage – the Kohlis of the future – surely we can spare something to make sure that India’s best female cricketers don’t have to fly under the radar. It may not be a money-making enterprise now – the BCCI didn’t make a dime from men’s cricket until the early 1990s – but nothing attracts sponsors and advertisers like success. And if the screens are blank, they aren’t exactly going to be queueing up.

These are grim times in terms of cricket economics, and there’s great danger in putting all the eggs into IPL and Kohli baskets. In the last financial year, while the Indian captain raked in well over 15 crores in endorsements, not one of his teammates took home more than two. That should be a warning sign. And if you as a nation claim to be so proud of what the women achieved last summer, then show us the money. Or shut up with the platitudes.

Smriti Mandhana


India Women Beat South Africa, Seal Series

Opener Smriti Mandhana slammed a quickfire 135 as Indian women’s cricket team beat South Africa by 178 runs in the second ODI and clinch the three-match series in Kimberley on Wednesday. Sent into bat, India scored 302 for 3. Just like the first ODI, Indian bowlers too were clinical in their approach, bowling out South Africa for just 124 runs in 30.5 overs. BRIEF SCORES India: 302/3 (Smriti Mandhana 135; Sune Luus 1/31) beat South Africa: 124 all out in 30.5 overs (Lizelle Lee 73; Poonam Yadav 4/24).

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India – 28% Rise In Communal Incidents Under NDA

Chaitanya Malla


Mumbai: Communal violence under the National Democratic Alliance government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party increased 28% over three years to 2017–822 “incidents” were recorded that year–but it was short of the decadal high of 943 in 2008, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of home ministry data.


Uttar Pradesh (UP)–the most populous state in the country–reported most incidents (1,488) over the last decade.


Kasganj in western UP witnessed communal violence on January 26, 2018, in which a 22-year old youth–Chandan Gupta–was killed after being hit by a bullet.


As many as 44 people were arrested in connection with the violence, which erupted over an unauthorised march on Republic Day, the Indian Express reported on January 27, 2018.


Communal incidents in UP have increased 47% from 133 in 2014 to 195 in 2017. The year 2013 saw the most incidents in UP–247–also the most by any state over the last decade.


India was ranked fourth in the world in 2015–after Syria, Nigeria and Iraq–for the highest social hostilities involving religion, the Huffington Post reported on April 14, 2017.


As many as 7,484 communal incidents have been reported over the last decade–between 2008 and 2017–or two every day, killing over 1,100 people, according to data released to the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament).


The most incidents–943–were reported, as we said, in 2008 during the United Progressive Alliance government led by the Congress, killing 167 people. The least incidents (580) were reported in 2011.


UP, which reported the most incidents, was followed by Maharashtra (940), Karnataka (880), Madhya Pradesh (862) and Gujarat (605).


Source: Lok Sabha replies on February 8, 2018August 8, 2017December 2, 2014May 7, 2013, and August 10, 2010


The five states accounted for 64% of communal incidents over the decade.


Election-bound Karnataka witnessed a 37% increase in communal incidents from 73 in 2014 to 100 in 2017.


UP also reported the most deaths–321, or 28% of 1,115 deaths–due to communal incidents, followed by Madhya Pradesh (135), Maharashtra (140), Rajasthan (84), and Karnataka (70).


Source: Lok Sabha replies on February 8, 2018August 8, 2017December 2, 2014May 7, 2013, and August 10, 2010


Western UP is considered the communal hotbed, divided on religious lines, and is home to Muzaffarnagar that witnessed communal riots in August and September 2013. These riots claimed 60 lives and more than 40,000 people were displaced.


Between 2010 and 2015, communal violence in Muzaffarnagar rose five-fold, according to data sourced from the office of the director general of police for Uttar Pradesh, reflecting a trend of tension evident across 90% of the state, IndiaSpend reported on February 28, 2017.

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India – Are monetary penalties effective enough to save forests?


The Union Environment Ministry has issued guidelines to deal with forest clearance violations by revising penalties. Will these guidelines prevent violations of forest clearance norms?


                    The new guidelines fall short of addressing misuse of forest land caused by FCA violations  Credit: Chinmayi Shalya
 The new guidelines fall short of addressing misuse of forest land caused by FCA violations Credit: Chinmayi Shalya

The new guidelines issued recently by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to deal with violations by user agencies under the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980, fall short of addressing the same.

On January 29, 2018, the MoEF&CC released the guidelines to impose revised penalties on user agencies and forest department officials for starting projects on forest land without obtaining FCs. The expert panel of the ministry constituted a committee in June last year, which after due deliberation in its meeting, came up with a decision of adopting a set of five rules and their respective sub-rules, which would be uniform across India, mentioning different situations under which the penalties over violation of FCA can be levied. The uniformity in imposing the penalties was to be brought as it was observed that penalties imposed for the similar offence were different on different occasions in the absence of common guidelines.

Under the existing rules, the penalty based on Net Present Value (NPV) is applicable in cases in which the forest land is diverted before the FC is granted to the user agency.

The NPV is the amount (between Rs. 5.8 to 10.43 lakh per hectare of forest) deposited by the user agency to the government exchequer to compensate for the diverted forest land by afforestation.

The existing rules have been reframed to inflict heavy penalties which can go up to a maximum of five times the Net Present Value (NPV) of the forest land per hectare, and 12 per cent simple interest over the amount.

Problems with NPV

Shortly after the guidelines were framed in November last year, criticism started pouring in from experts, who questioned the provision of levying the penalty based on NPV, and termed it to be “inadequate”. Sanjay Upadhyay, an environmental advocate in the Supreme Court of India, made a remark mentioning the guidelines’ broad categorisation and scenarios for levying penalties as “short-sighted” and “incomplete”. He also cited the examples of FC-related violations in the protected areas and other ecologically sensitive areas where the provision of penalties does not consider forests for their quality and health.

Similar concerns were raised by one of the previous members (non-official) of the ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), who mentioned the NPV as a poor measuring tool to calculate the monetary value of forests, which, consequently goes down to the equation, “You pay the money, we will give you forest land”. The inherent problem with NPV against forest diversion is its inability to truly account for the real value of an ecosystem, because the natural forests once cleared, the lost ecosystem cannot be replaced by afforestation. Moreover, there has been a history of the poor implementation of compensatory afforestation even for the projects for which the NPV has been collected.

The question of deterrence

Do sanctions based merely on monetary terms provide any deterrence against violations of provisions under the FCA? Kanchi Kohli from the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi says, “Many times, the user agencies under the allegations of violations of the FC Act contested against penalties and the matters went to courts, where the user agencies downright denied violating any rules at all”. Moreover, is there a risk that user agencies might see the provision of penalties on monetary terms, more as a tool to get FC than as a deterrent? For instance, the Mundra Special Economic Zone Ltd. had agreed to pay 5 times the NPV for getting the FC for a forest patch of 100 ha in the Sircha village of Kutch district in Gujarat. The Conservator of Forests highlighted the ecological importance of the region for being one of the best Acacia nilotica forests, breeding ground for many bird species and home to the Indian Wolf. The user agency cited the reason for diversion that there was no alternative to that patch of forest land and it needs that patch of land to be a part its expansion into the 8,464 ha of land declared as a Special Economic Zone.

Sircha is one of the many cases where the user agencies have made huge investments in acquiring the non-forest area near or adjacent to a forest area for development activities, and applied for diversion of forest land on the basis that their investments, and the already progressed work cannot be undone, creating a deliberate fait accompli situation.

The FCA mentions under Section 3 (a) that “Whoever contravenes or abets the contravention of any of the provisions of Section 2, shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for a period which may extend to fifteen days”. However, despite numerous documented cases of FC violations, any serious penalty against the violator is still unheard of.

In this regard, Praveen Bhargav from Wildlife First says, “When seen in the context of near zero rate of prosecution of both officials and user agencies despite a huge number of documented violations, the new guidelines appear to be woefully inadequate. This, coupled with growing number of ex-post facto clearances is making a mockery of the law. Consequently, user agencies are increasingly using the strategy of fait accompli to push projects started without prior approval. Despite the Supreme Court directions and guidelines in the Lafarge Judgment of 2011, the MoEF has not yet established a National Regulator at the state and Central level to appraise projects, enforce conditions and impose penalties. Merely imposing additional NPV, without strong penal action including cancellation of FC, is grossly insufficient to curb emboldened user agencies from willfully violating the FC Act”.

Soft on erring officers

The new guidelines also deal soft handedly with culprits from the forest department by giving directions to regional offices of MoEF&CC and state governments to initiate formal enquiry in cases of such violations. Given poor record of prosecution and penalties for past violations, it is unlikely that such enquiries and penalties, if any, will prove to be a significant deterrent to forest land misuses. In Section E of the guidelines, no penalty is prescribed for erring forest officers in cases of changing the category of forest land itself in government records, by mentioning “if the violation is not attributable to the user agency, no penalty shall be imposed”. It will potentially give a free hand to forest officers to misappropriate forest lands in future.

Given the rising importance of forests in the era of climate change, FCA needs amendments to raise penalties and strict enforcement of Act is imperative.

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India – Aadhaar must not be made mandatory for any purpose

A strong data protection law must be enacted and penalties imposed on irresponsible handling and leakage of private data

A visitor gives a thumb impression to withdraw money from his bank account with his Aadhaar or Unique Identification (UID) card during a Digi Dhan Mela, held to promote digital payment, in Hyderabad on January 18, 2017. The Digi Dhan mela is a government initiative aimed at digital transformation in the country following the recent demonetization.
A visitor gives a thumb impression to withdraw money from his bank account with his Aadhaar or Unique Identification (UID) card during a Digi Dhan Mela, held to promote digital payment, in Hyderabad on January 18, 2017. The Digi Dhan mela is a government initiative aimed at digital transformation in the country following the recent demonetization. (AFP File Photo)

Let me start with full disclosure: the Nilekanis were among the earliest donors of the institution of which I am a co-founder. The proposals in this article are entirely my own and they have neither sought nor had any influence in the writing of it.

Much of the ongoing national heartburn over Aadhaar is due to the profound change in “the use case” between that of the UPA government which initiated it and the Modi government which seeks to proliferate it.

We thus have a governance framework that was meant for a voluntary instrument to avail of government entitlements, while Aadhaar itself became effectively a mandatory ID for a whole range of public and private services. Under the Modi government, the governance framework is playing catch-up even as use cases are sprinting far ahead into areas such as eKYC, digital payments and so on.

The governance gap has led to unscrupulous behaviour by service providers and enrolment agencies. It has also led to odd scenarios such as the email I received from my bank, requiring me to link my Aadhaar to my credit card account under money laundering prevention laws, and informing me that I will be doing this voluntarily under Aadhaar regulations.

This doesn’t mean we should undo Aadhaar. Rather, it means we must close the gap between what Aadhaar can be used for and the rules governing how it is used. There are five high-level changes that have to be made in the governance of Aadhaar.

First, Aadhaar must not be mandatory for any purpose. Indeed, given the reports of how some very vulnerable people are being denied public services, prudence demands that Aadhaar must not be the sole requirement even to avail rations and pensions. Letting different modes of identification to coexist will allow the people of this diverse country to make the transition towards an all-digital system. Of course, where Aadhaar can genuinely speed things up, it is only fair that those who provide Aadhaar enjoy expedited services.

Second, Aadhaar should move away from being a single number to a one-time token based system. Apart from a limited number of government departments (police, tax and passports, for instance) no public or private entity should be allowed to ask for or retain Aadhaar numbers. Instead, all authentication should be done on the basis of one-time tokens. Instead of offering the personal Aadhaar number, the user will give a one-time token that is freshly generated for every new authentication. This will ensure that no two service providers — public or private — will have the same number on their records, making mass profiling extremely difficult. Yes, there will be technical challenges in getting the entire population to use one-time tokens, but these are not insurmountable and will get easier with time.

Third, users should be allowed to replace or cancel their Aadhaar numbers. Like in the case of a lost credit card, if my Aadhaar number has been leaked, I should be able to ask UIDAI to cancel it and give me a new one. The UIDAI itself can issue new Aadhaar numbers to people if it determines that the privacy of their numbers has been compromised.

Further, there might be some who no longer want an Aadhaar. Allowing people to cancel their Aadhaar, together with expunging of the accompanying biometric data, will be respectful of the individual’s liberty.

Fourth, a strong data protection law must be enacted to prohibit the collection and storage of Aadhaar numbers, and impose penalties on irresponsible handling and leakage of private data. The prohibition and penalties must apply both to government and private entities, including to UIDAI itself, while allowing aggrieved citizens to register complaints with the police.

Finally, the regulatory architecture must be recast to reflect the vastly different use Aadhaar is being put to now. UIDAI cannot be the service provider, regulator, enforcement agency and adjudicator. Each of these roles must be structurally separated from the other.

We can reap the benefits of Aadhaar while addressing concerns over equity, liberty and privacy. A good, constitutional balance is possible. Of course it won’t be easy. But that is what we should demand of our technocrats and policymakers.

Nitin Pai is director of the Takshashila Institution, a centre for research and education in public policy

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#Goodnews – Vedanta hit by iron ore mining halt in Goa  

Shares in Vedanta, the London-listed natural resources company controlled by one of India’s richest men, fell as much as 5.5% on Thursday on the news that the Indian Supreme Court had cancelled all the 88 existing iron ore mining licences in Goa.

According to the ruling, the process of renewing the cancelled permits in 2015 was against the law. As a consequence, the country’s top court said that no mining activity would be allowed in the western state, one of India’s top iron ore producers, after March 15.

Top court said process of renewing permits in 2015 was against the law and ordered the cancellation of all the 88 existing iron ore mining licences in Goa.Mining companies, said Vedanta, can then apply for new licences, but the 20 affected companies will have to wait before re-starting operations.

The court also said a special investigation team should be set, which mission will be recovering any payments the companies have made since 2015.

Vedanta’s stock dropped as much as 5.5% on the news, and it was 4.26% lower at 727.60p near the end of the day.

The company, India’s largest miner and No. 1 iron ore exporter, said it was is assessing the financial and operational impact of the ruling, which will impact 20 million tonnes a year, more than a quarter of which is operated by Vedanta.

A similar ruling in 2012 banned iron ore mining in the coastal state for more than two years. Before that, Goa generated about 50 million tonnes of iron ore a year, most of which was exported to China.

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Gujarat- Dead Man’s #Aadhaar card used to siphon Rs 1.53 Lakh #AadhaarFail

Dead man’s Aadhar card forged to con firm of Rs 1.53 lakh
Accused Tarun Sureja
AGota resident allegedly forged an Aadhaar card belonging to a dead man to con a finance company of Rs 1.53 lakh. Police have arrested accused Tarun Sureja, a 32-year-old resident of Silver Gardenia in Bopal. They were acting on a complaint filed by Abhijeet Dave, 27, assistant manager of the fraud control unit of the finance company. According to Navrangpura police, the incident came to light when Sanket Sharma, collection manager at Bajaj Finserv, informed Dave that the credit cardinstalment of customer Ajay Rathod, residing at Silver Gardenia, was overdue. When Dave visited the Gota house, a woman told him that no one named Rathod lived there.

The assistant manager dug into the records and realised that five loans had been issued to people living at the same address between February 2015 and November 2017. While four loans had been issued to Rathod, one had been given to Tarun Sureja.

Discrepancies found 
He checked the records and found that Aadhaar card copies submitted by Rathod and Sureja were the same, except for the difference in names and birth dates. While two of the loans (one issued to Sureja and the other to Rathod) had been paid off, three loans totalling Rs 1.53 lakh were still pending. The assistant manager realised that the first loan in Rathod’s name, which had been paid off, mentioned an address in Ankodia village in Vadodara district. “He visited the address and found Rathod’s brother Vijay who told them that Rathod had died on May 29, 2016. He also showed him the death certificate,” said police. Realising that Sureja had somehow committed the fraud, he filed a police complaint against Sureja on Tuesday.

Modus operandi 
Investigation revealed that after Rathod died, his mobile number was reissued to Sureja. When Sureja, who had already taken and repaid a loan from the company, registered for another loan from the new mobile number, he received a message that the number was already registered. “He received an OTP which gave him access to Rathod’s loan with the finance company,” said police. The company issues an EMI card with a pre-approved loan amount to its customers.

While the firm carries out a thorough check the first time the card is issued, if the customer wants to apply for a second loan, all s/ he needs to do is submit an id proof. “Realising this, Sureja first got the address on the EMI card changed to his. Then, he modified the PDF of his Aadhar card to change the name from Sureja to Rathod. He submitted this as id proof for the loans he took on December 2, 5 and 6 under Rathod’s name. The card’s limit was Rs 1.58 lakh, and he took a loan of upto Rs 1.53 lakh,” said police. Sureja, who studied till MPhil, is a graphic designer and creates websites for a living. “He bought LED TV and mobile phones on credit then sold it off to get hold of cash. We are looking into all his purchases,” said police.

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Without Aadhaar cards, hundreds of inmates at UP’s old age homes denied pension #WTFnews

Priyangi Agarwal and Ishita Bhatia

Bareilly / Meerut: Scores of inmates at old age homes across Uttar Pradesh are yet to get benefits of pension in the absence of Aadhaar cards. Many inmates have not been able to get Aadhaar cards as their fingers are oblate — with age and labour — and they are unable to give thumb impressions. At the old age home in Meerut, none of the 49 inmates have got pension, while 40 persons at Bareilly are awaiting pension.
Senior citizens aged between 60 and 79 years who are below poverty line are entitled to a monthly pension of Rs 400, while those above 80 years get Rs 500 per month. Inmates who have been abandoned by their families and forced to stay at old age homes need the pension money to meet their personal requirements.

When TOI visited the old age home in Meerut, it found that not a single person here was being given pension ever since the home was opened in March 2017. Ramesh Chaudhary, 68, a native of Muzaffarnagar, said, “After I parted ways with my son, I have been living in one old age home or the other. I haven’t been able to receive any pension here. They give us food, electricity, water and even medicines, but there are some medicines which are unavailable with them and for that I have to ask for money from my daughter, which I do not like. Only if we would have gotten any pension, things would have been different.”

Another inmate, Shashi Bala, 63, said, “If we want to visit our families and meet our grandchildren, we need money for travel expenses and purchasing gifts.”

An affidavit recently filed by the UP government in the Supreme Court said, “The state is fully committed to implementing provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 and is providing old age pension and implementing various welfare programmes for elderly citizens.”

Ashok Dixit, Bareilly social welfare officer, said, “Several inmates are not getting pension as their Aadhaar cards could not be made and they have no other identity card for address proof. According to the rules, Aadhaar cards cannot be made on the address of an old age home or any other organisation. Some of the senior citizens have not been able to register their biometric details because their fingerprints have been smoothened out by years of manual labour and sheer old age. According to the government’s policy, toe impression can be taken only for persons with disabilities.”

Raj Kumar, manager of an NGO which runs the old age home in Meerut, said, “The only budget we got is Rs 20 lakh for the furniture. Food, electricity and water is being provided by the NGO from its own funds. The procedure of pension can begin only after the social welfare officer makes a visit here and sends a monthly report but since it has not been done, the pension procedure cannot even begin in the first place. There are inmates who do not possess Aadhaar cards.”

Asked about it, Umesh Diwedi, Meerut social welfare officer, said, “I will ensure online pension application forms for every inmate is filled within this week

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Women Delegates Write to Law Ministry on the Bill of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2017


A delegation comprising of P.K Sreemathi (M.P Loksabha),  Sudha Sundararaman    (Vice-President) , Kirti Singh (Legal Convenor, AIDWA)  S.Punyavathi (Vice-President) ,  Tapasi Praharaj (National Secretary) , Asha Sharma  (General Secretary, Delhi JMS)    Maimoona Mollah   (President, Delhi JMS) met the Law Minister and submitted a memorandum regarding the Bill of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2017, bringing to his attention the concerns of various women’s organizations and individuals about it.

The Law Minister gave a patient hearing to the views expressed by the delegation and also explained the government’s stand point. He assured that the government would examine the questions raised in the memorandum seriously.

The Memorandum which had been endorsed by many women’s organisations and individuals was disseminated at a joint press meet held on February 8th, 2018 at 3 pm in the IWPC is attached. The press meet was addressed by Kirti Singh, Sudha Sundararaman, S Punyavathi, Shabnam Hashmi, Sheeba Aslam Fehmi and Maimoona Mollah.


Sh. Ravi Shankar Prasad,

Hon’ble Law Minister,

Ministry of Law and Justice,

Shashtri Bhawan,

New Delhi


Sub: The Bill of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2017

Dear Sh. Prasad,

We the undersigned women’s organisations and individuals wish to lodge our strong protest about the manner in which the government is seeking to push through the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2017 in Parliament.

All of us have been involved with the campaign and struggle against Triple Talaq for several decades and welcomed the Supreme Court judgment setting aside this abhorrent practice.

We are, therefore extremely surprised that neither Muslim women (groups, organisations, concerned individuals, well-known social workers or as a whole), nor women’s organisations, nor others concerned with the issue were consulted before the present Bill was very hastily drafted.

We feel that the Bill is flawed for a number of reasons including the fact that it criminalizes Triple Talaq.

We further feel that there was no urgency in bringing forth such a Bill as the Supreme Court, by a majority, had already held that the practice of Triple Talaq was invalid and it was wrong for the government to cite the minority judgment, which is not binding, to bring forth the legislation.

The bill prescribes a punishment of up to three years imprisonment for the pronouncement of Triple Talaq and makes the crime cognizable and non-bailable. We feel that turning a civil wrong into a criminal offence is unjustified and legally flawed. In any case this draconian clause is totally unnecessary and the punishment is disproportionate to the crime alleged to have been committed. If along with the pronouncement of Triple Talaq, the wife has been subjected to any mental and physical cruelty or violence, she can approach the police under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Ironically, this provision is being sought to be diluted in various ways with implicit and explicit government support. We strongly feel that Section 498 A needs strengthening and better implementation.

By making the offence cognizable and non-bailable, the government wants to permit anyone to file an FIR and hasn’t restricted this to the woman concerned or even her relatives. This means that anyone from the public can use the section, allege that the crime has been committed, and the police can arrest the husband even if the wife does not want to take action. Please note that the offences of “bigamy’”and “adultery” are both non-cognizable and bailable, even though bigamy is punishable with imprisonment for 7 years and adultery is punishable with imprisonment of up to 5 years. Further, for the offence of Bigamy punishable under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code, only the first wife can lodge a complaint.

We also feel that this section will be counterproductive and will further aggravate the economic condition of the wife and children who will not be able to ask for a suitable maintenance if the husband is in jail and unable to work and earn. Additionally, the opportunity for reconciliation between the parties will be lost if an FIR is registered and the husband is placed under arrest.

The section allowing the wife to approach the magistrate’s court for a subsistence allowance is also flawed. Why should the wife and children be only allowed to ask for a subsistence allowance while the law of maintenance for women and children in the country clearly lays down that women and children should be given maintenance which will allow them to live in the same lifestyle that they were living in the marital home or ‘shared household’?

The Supreme Court in Shayara Bano’s case has only outlawed Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-Biddat. Thus, the other forms of Talaq which a husband can pronounce in the Ahsan and Hasan forms have not been invalidated and therefore still remain. The Supreme Court in Shamim Ara’s case had held that, for any Talaq to take place, two Arbitrator’s have to be appointed; one from the wife’s side and one from the husband’s side and they will try to bring about reconciliation and examine whether the talaq is for a reasonable cause. In the minority judgement in Shayara Bano’s case, the Supreme Court had quoted the laws from several South-East Asian and other Countries. Most of these laws laid down the procedure to be followed in cases of talaq and outlawed Triple talaq. Some of these laws also dealt with issues like maintenance, division of marital assets, and residence, which the wife and children require immediately while  the divorce is taking place. Some also stipulate that compensation should be paid for injuries and hurt suffered by the wife. Only in the law in Pakistan and in Bangladesh, a punishment of up to one year is prescribed for not following the procedure laid down under their respective statutes. Some of these laws also provide for Khula, and the Iraqi law exempts the wife from giving any ‘consideration’ for this. The best practices from some of these laws can be looked at if any legislation has to be made.

We reiterate that the present Act that is sought to be introduced by the Government with undue haste, is ill-conceived and flawed. In any case if the Government insists on pressing the Bill then it must be referred to the Standing Committee so that all those affected by the Bill can have an opportunity to argue their case. Any move to push through the Bill will not only be undemocratic but will be doing an injustice to those whom the Government claims will benefit from it.

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,

All India Democratic Women’s Association (Mariam Dhawale, General Secretary, Malini Bhattacharya, President)

All India Progressive Women’s Association (Kavita Krishnan, Secretary)

Guild of Service (Mohini Giri, Chairperson)

Joint Women’s Programme (Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji, Director and Secretary)

Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan (Poonam Kaushik, General Secretary)

Swastik Mahila Samiti (Kusum Sehgal)


Sewa (Nalini Nayak, Kerala)

YWCA of India (Vinodhini Moses, National General Secretary)

YWCA of India (Sheeba Verghes, Vice-President)

Ayesha Kidwai (Centre for Linguistics)

Dr. Meera Velayudhan, Policy Analyst, Centre For Development Studies,Trivandrum

J Devika, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram

Mridul Eapen

Nandita Narain

Qudsia Anjum

Rana Safvi

Adv Ruksana Chaudhury

Sayeeda Hameed

Shabnam Hashmi (Social Activist)

Sheeba Aslam Fehmi

Suroor Mandar

Zoya Hasan

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