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Archives for : February2018

Angel Investor Mahesh Murthy arrested on charges of sexual harassment, gets bail


  • The Mumbai Police  arrested venture capital investor Mahesh Murthy on Feb 9th
  • The police arrested the investor after a woman entrepreneur from Delhi approached the Delhi Police.
  • Murthy had allegedly sent derogatory and obscene messages to the woman on social media.
  • Mahesh Murthy arrested on sexual harassment charges, gets bail

    A file photo of Mahesh Murthy

    Delhi-based woman complained to the National Commission of Women (NCW) against the investor


    Well-known startup investor and managing partner of Seedfund Mahesh Murthy who was arrested on Friday by the Mumbai Police in connection with an alleged sexual harassment case filed in December last year has been released on bail.

    Murthy, in a post on Twitter, said:  “I received anticipatory bail in this case some time ago. I am told its a procedural technical arrest and I have already been released on the bail granted earlier. This is exactly the same issue on which I had filed a case earlier and where the Delhi high court had already passed an interim order in my favour and against the complainant back in April 2017. I believe this is an attempt to counter-sue. I will fight this too in court to defend my reputation to the fullest of my ability,” Murthy said in his post.

    To all: the hon’ble court granted me anticipatory bail in this case some time ago. I am told it was a procedural technical arrest and I have already been released on surety.


    Murthy, a serial entreprenuer and an angel investor, was arrested in Khar, Mumbai, after a Delhi-based woman complained to the National Commission of Women (NCW) against the investor for sexually harassing and stalking her on social media last year. The NCW had then registered a case against Murthy on December 30, 2017.

    NCW had also written to Maharashtra’s Director General of Police regarding the alleged use of objectionable, derogatory and sexual remarks and obscene signs by the investor on social media platforms against the complainant and several other women in the past including famous author Rashmi Bansal, who has penned down several books on the Indian startup ecosystem and entreprenuers and a government officer.

    The 52 year-old Murthy is a Engineering drop out and started his career as a salesman for Eureka Forbes before moving on to become the country head at Channel V in 1999.

    As an investor he has helped several smaller startups by providing then seedfund through his early-stage investment firm Seedfund along with Bharati Jacob and Pravin Gandhi.

    Murthy rose to fame following his exit from RedBus in 2013 where he is understood to have made his millions. He has also invested in startups such as CarWale, Afaqs, News Laundary, Chumbak, Doolaly amongst others.

    Murthy, who was also the biggest critic of the e-commerce sector, is known to have criticised and slammed companies such as Flipkart and Snapdeal on social media and public platforms.

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Karnataka Govt cannot hand over tax payer’s money and public property to a private hospital that refuses to be regulated.

Dr. Sylvia Karpagam

The government of Karnataka has been flip-flopping around the issue of healthcare. The initial posturing by the health minister about bringing the private sector under strict regulatory guidelines was welcomed by citizen groups.

It also unleashed a unified, large scale protest by the private hospital doctors, led by a strident Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), protesting against regulations that weren’t even there either in the original Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act, or in the Amendments. This throwing of rationale and reasonable engagement to the wind was spearheaded by Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, an entrepreneur who had initially taken his Yeshaswini health insurance model to the policy making table and then gradually moved onto the board of the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha trust, the Karnataka Knowledge Committee to the Steering committee on health for the 12th 5 year plan.

A comparative study of health insurance schemes in Karnataka by the Institute of Socio-economic Change (ISEC) found that hospitals located at Bangalore such as Narayana Hrudayalaya & Multispecialty Hospital, BGS Global Hospital, Sagar hospital, Vydehi hospital and Bangalore Institute of Oncology have accounted for over 53 per cent of patients from Gulbarga and over 60 per cent of amount spent. Patients from Gulbarga have obtained treatment mostly from super specialty hospitals located at Bangalore. There is mounting evidence that health insurance schemes disproportionately benefit large corporates that resist any form of regulatory mechanism, on the one hand, and complete breakdown of public health systems with their larger social mandate of preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative care. Health insurance leads to fragmentation of health care and pushes more and more people towards the private sector, often centrally located. The out of pocket expenditure for screening, diagnostics, food, accommodation for attenders, travel, post-operative complications add up to huge amounts.

The NH chain also has no qualms about pulling out of projects it finds are not lucrative enough and there is no system to hold the group accountable, including show cause notices!!

The Narayana chain’s ambitious project in the Cayman Islands has also encountered serious criticism, with the Public Accounts Committee stating that ‘the facility has not only failed to attract all but a fraction of the number of patients predicted, but also competing unfairly with existing health care providers with no ‘monitoring of the extensive package that the facility has received’.  The criticism also extended to the ‘lack of any framework surrounding the governance of medical tourism, including issues such as quality control and doctors standards.’ Delroy Jeffersson, the medical director and the Health Services Authority said that without a governance structure and framework and a regulatory body to ensure adequate oversight to monitor quality, there was a situation where goalposts were being moved as things went along. Because of moving goal posts as they went along, the NH hospitals were also accused of  competing with local hospitals unfairly as they have benefits that other hospitals and healthcare providers are not getting.

It is astonishing that the Karnataka government is now considering handing over a brand new super-speciality hospital of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike on Broadway road in Shivajinagar, to Narayana health, without any process of public consultation. The investment in this public hospital, built on 20 thousand square feet, has been in the range of 40 crores of tax payer’s money for a lease period of 30 years. In addition the NH has demanded an additional 11.7 crore to cater to National Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH) Standards. The intent of these standards is to eliminate the ‘competition’ offered to the corporate health sector, from the government and charitable institutions. The Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) are a more egalitarian system of ensuring accountability and quality of care within the public facilities. These are never referred to by the private sector. This move to privatise the government super-speciality hospital, initially intended to cater to the economically marginalised, is being opposed by the health department of the BBMP and citizen’s groups, but the state government feels well within its right to hand over the government structure to a private entity that has been on the forefront opposing regulations. 10% beds will be given free while the rest of the beds are available to NH to generate resources – and this after they have vociferously resisted any form of price control. How will the state government keep the NH in check if there are violations of cost, procedure and patient rights? When the state government is being dictated terms on how private hospitals should and should not be regulated, can this decision to hand over a super-speciality hospital to the very same corporate hospital be considered as another extreme form of coercion of the state government by the corporate sector?

The government does not seem to feel accountable to the people who are contributing to these public hospitals. It is clear that the state governments are being held to ransom at secret close door meetings where corporate agenda seems to be the only priority. With medical tourism, surrogacy, clinical trials, vaccines without clear testing are being pushed onto communities, the situation of health care will only become more dire. As a form of slow genocide, those who are poor will be pushed out of all social safety nets to exist only to provide informal labour from the fringes as a kind of half hungry, half healthy, half demanding population while the corporates rake in tax-payers hard earned money, in collusion with a government that couldn’t care less about the health of its citizens.

The writer is a public health doctor and researcher

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Noida cow vigilantes find a new role, go moral policing on Valentine’s Day

NOIDA: Members of a so-called ‘Gau Raksha Dal’ kept aside their cow vigilante boots and turned moral police on Valentine’s Day, harassing couples at various malls and parks in Noida and Greater Noida throughout the day. Couples seen together were also branded “anti-national” by the group.
At a park in Greater Noida, they forced a Nepali couple to crush roses under their feet and made them promise not to mark Valentine’s Day in future. They also filmed the episode and shared it on YouTube. Police, however, said they had not received any complaint in this regard.At other spots, they created panic. Men and women were seen scurrying off to avoid them. In some cases, couples pretended not to know each other so that they are not harassed.

The ‘Gau Raksha Dal’ had a free run despite past precedence of outfits taking to moral policing in the name of Indian culture on Valentine’s Day.

At Samrat Mihir Bhoj Park in Greater Noida, the vigilantes “advised” couples against “celebrating Valentine’s Day”, said Ved Nagar, who described himself as president of the Gau Raksha Dal. Nagar also said he told couples that on February 14, three Indian freedom fightersBhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev — were awarded death sentence by the British government. “We should remember the freedom fighters and their supreme sacrifices. Valentine’s Day has no place in Indian culture and tradition. People celebrating this can’t be nationalist,” Nagar said.

This isn’t true. What Nagar was doing was merely repeating what the propaganda mills had churned out.

The death warrant for the three of them was issued on October 7, 1930 and they were hanged on March 23, 1931. When this was pointed out to them, Nagar and his men refused to accept the fact.

The Nepali man who was forced to crush roses was left flustered by the whole episode. “I am a Nepali citizen and not fully aware of Indian history,” he said, adding though Valentine’s Day should be marked, “you have to give priority to freedom fighters”.

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In Condemnation of Rape Threats issued to Shehla Rashid #Vaw


Shehla Come back on Facebook


By – Rahman Abbas

Former JNUSU vice-president and well-known student activist Shehla Rashid was reportedly forced to deactivate her Facebook account , as some Muslim youths issued multiple rape threats and hate messages to her. Shehla’s crime was to speak in support of freedom of interfaith marriages and to raise the issue of the right of Muslim women to choose a partner.  Shehla had raised this issue in the backdrop of the recent murder of Ankit Saxena in Delhi allegedly by the Muslim girlfriend’s family. In addition, Shehla had referred to the Hadiya case and stated that if Muslim girls are not allowed to marry a non-Muslim of her choice, then they lose the moral authority to fight the ruckus created by RSS over so-called love-jihad.

In another post, Shehla had stated that when we insist that Hadiya be treated as an adult, as an individual who has constitutional rights, let’s uphold the same standard for all adult Muslim women regardless of who they love or marry.

Shehla Rasheed has said what she believes in and that is the freedom one enjoys in a democratic setup. She has neither said anything unconstitutional or sacrilegious. In the Hadiya case, everybody except right-wing fanatics were speaking in support of Hadiya’s freedom to choose a partner. While a majority of Muslims remain silent in their response to the report that Ankit Saxena was allegedly killed by the family of his girlfriend, this silent majority believes exactly the way Hindu right-wing fanatics believe that a girl cannot marry outside her faith.

Right-wingers on both sides have tried to snatch the freedom of women in the name of faith and religious beliefs. Moreover, in the public domain, the issue was taken as a tussle between what fanatics want versus the Constitution of India and basic human rights. Shehla has appropriately compared both the cases and demanded equal rights and freedom for women to choose a partner or lover beside or outside the faith of her family. She has spoken in favor of the fundamental rights and about the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Shamefully, a bunch of fanatic Muslim youths have abused her online and threatened her with rape. The filthy, uncultured and venomous language used by these youths is criminal, and not only is this, an insult to women but it’s also a blatant disrespect of the teachings of Islam. The patriarchal mindset here has loudly humiliated and attempted to affect the modesty of a girl but the system won’t take action by itself because it has been a blind and mute spectator.

As a friend, I know Shehla Rasheed cannot be dominated by these criminal threats. I can also understand her pain and distress, but again I will urge her soon to come back on Facebook as a warrior against the communal forces and the fanatics alike. The youths who have abused her have shown their ugly mindset.  We all have to fight this inhuman psyche and Shehla, you are the strongest to fight it, expose it, and defeat it.

Shehla had stressed that if we do not make room for love, we deserve to be ruled by hatred. Right now, she has been forced by the hatemongers to deactivate her Facebook account, and if she doesn’t return, it will result in the victory of hatred.

To defeat hate we all have to ask Shehla to come back to fight and reclaim the lost space of love.

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The Economist explains“Cow vigilantism” in India

Often just an excuse to exacerbate tensions between religious communities

MANY stock images of India’s cities show cows lying by the roadside or ruminating in the middle of the street as cars and bikes swerve around them. The animals, sacred to Hindus, have a licence to roam. Earlier this month the state government of Uttar Pradesh proposed making medicines with their urine, which is rumoured to cure cancer, eliminate wrinkles and prevent ageing. Their dung is believed to absorb harmful radioactivity. The animals’ status is now so high that in recent years “cow vigilantes” have taken to attacking and sometimes killing people they suspect of trafficking in cattle intended for slaughter. Thirty-seven such attacks were reported in 2017, many more than in previous years. Just last month a mob in the eastern state of Bihar beat up a truck driver whom they suspected to be carrying beef.

It was not always so. D.N. Jha, a historian, writes in “The Myth of the Holy Cow” that beef, along with other varieties of meat, was often used in the haute cuisine of early India. But sometime during the second millennium BC, with agriculture evolving, cows were increasingly considered more useful as a source of milk, manure and ploughing power than as meat. Fast-forward to the 19th century AD and for upper-caste Hindus the eating of beef had become a taboo. Cows were central to the first big riot between Hindus and Muslims, in Uttar Pradesh in 1893, which took place after Muslims had been stopped from slaughtering cows during an annual festival.

Most of India’s 29 states have either banned or restricted the killing of cows. In Gujarat it is punishable by life imprisonment. Rajasthan has a cow-welfare ministry. In the “cow belt” of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, “cow protectors” armed with bats, swords and guns look for vehicles that are transporting cows across state borders. They have been known to extort money from drivers without verifying whether the cows they carry are being sent to slaughter or, in the case of meat, whether it is indeed beef. In a country where relations between some Hindu and Muslim communities remain especially fraught, this behaviour does not necessarily reflect greater religiosity. But politics does seem to matter. According to IndiaSpend, a data-journalism website, 97% of all cow-vigilante attacks reported since 2010 took place after the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, with Narendra Modi as prime minister. Most have targeted Muslims and Dalits (formerly known as untouchables), who traditionally skin the carcasses of cows. In a report published in January, Human Rights Watch, a global campaigning group, wrote that the Indian government has failed to investigate the attacks in credible fashion, while “many senior BJP leaders publicly promoted Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism, which encouraged further violence.”

The costs of the attacks are high. India’s $83bn dairy industry has taken a hit. Farmers are increasingly unwilling to expand their herds, as it is hard to get rid of unproductive livestock. Shelters for old cows are often overcrowded, says Kavita Srivastava, an activist. In Rajasthan a 10% surcharge is levied on stamp duty to fund the shelters. In many states boxes outside shops encourage people to donate towards their upkeep. But the system is opaque. “No one knows where the money ends up,” says Arjun Sheoran, a lawyer. Some steps would improve the situation. Stricter laws that recognise cow vigilantism as a crime against minorities could be enacted. Victim-protection schemes and faster court rulings could be funded. And more stringent punishments could be meted out to those who use cows as a pretext to exacerbate communal tensions. But moves of this nature will be difficult in a country where a judge claimed just a few years ago that cow dung was more valuable than the Koh-i-noor diamond.

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NIA: don’t teach journalism, turn the spotlight on yourself! #KamranYousuf

The Network of Women in Media, India, (NWMI) a forum for women media professionals from across the country, is shocked to read that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has laid down what it considers to be the “moral duty of a journalist‘”, in its charge-sheet against Kashmiri photojournalist Kamran Yousuf. The charge-sheet against 12 accused dated January 18, 2018, which charges Yousuf with stone-pelting and conspiracy says:

“Had he been a real journalist/stringer by profession, he may have performed one of the moral duty (sic) of a journalist which is to cover the activities and happening (good or bad) in his jurisdiction. He had never covered any developmental activity of any Government Department/Agency, any inauguration of Hospital, School Building, Road, Bridge, statement of political party in power or any other social/developmental activity by state government or Govt of India.”

Being the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency, the NIA is obviously not aware of the duties of journalists, moral or otherwise. We would like to inform the NIA that the basis of credible journalism is to ask questions about happenings in society and relay verified information to the public, without fear or favour. Reporting inaugurations of public works by the government or army is the job of government and army PROs. Surely the prestigious NIA knows the difference between a journalist and a PRO?

Before telling journalists what their duty is, maybe the NIA should turn the spotlight on itself.
On September 5, 2017, Kamran Yousuf, a 23-year old freelance photojournalist from Pulwama, Kashmir, was summoned by the local police, after which the NIA took him to Delhi, without so much as informing his family. Is that lawful conduct?

The local police at that time told the press that there was no FIR against Yousuf. For a long time, the NIA did not disclose the charges against Kamran Yousuf. Is it empowered to arrest and detain journalists, or indeed, any citizen, without charge for months?

There is enough documentary proof available to establish that Kamran Yousuf was working as a photojournalist, and contributed, among other publications, to the Greater Kashmir, the largest circulated daily in the valley. The NIA might be delighted to know that one of his photographs in Kashmir Uzma, August 27, 2017, shows the state police chief at a wreath-laying ceremony. He was indeed, fulfilling his “moral duty” as per the NIA.

Has the NIA fulfilled its moral and legal duty in the way it has dealt with Kamran Yousuf?

The Network of Women in Media, India

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What Happens When an Extra Finger Gets Caught in #Aadhaar Process

Trikha, resident of Gandhi Nagar locality of Nashik, was struggling for the past eight months to get an Aadhaar card, but he was turned away by several Aadhaar registration centres because it was difficult to collect his fingerprints.

What Happens When an Extra Finger Gets Caught in Aadhaar Process
A woman goes through the process of finger scanning for the Unique Identification (UID) database system, also known as Aadhaar, at a registration centre in New Delhi. (Image: Reuters/File photo)

Nashik (Maharashtra): Thirty-six-year-old Gurudayal Dilbagrai Trikha and Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan have at least one thing in common: Both have an extra finger.

But when it came to getting enrolled for Aadhaar, the extra finger of Trikha’s left hand stuck out like a sore thumb, becoming a stumbling block.

Trikha, resident of Gandhi Nagar locality of Nashik, was struggling for the past eight months to get an Aadhaar card, but he was turned away by several Aadhaar registration centres because it was difficult to collect his fingerprints.

Among other biometric details, Aadhaar registration requires fingerprints of both hands.

What made the process difficult for Trikha, he told PTI, was the fact that not only he has six fingers to his left hand, but the extra finger is joined to the thumb.

“I even met government officials, but to no avail,” said Trikha, who works with a private firm.

As it was a unique case, it attracted the attention of media and a Marathi news channel reported on his predicament.

Following which, apparently because the case got media attention, he could finally register for Aadhaar at one of the centres yesterday where his fingerprints were accepted.

“I completed the whole process yesterday and hope to receive the Aadhaar card soon,” he said.

However, he feels that there would be many who would be finding it difficult to get Aadhaar card due to various kinds of disabilities, and the government must relax the rules in such cases.

“The system should be changed.

At least for handicapped people and senior citizens, it should be made easier,” Trikha told PTI.

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Sardar VallabhBhai Patel – A Legacy appropriated and distorted

Neha Dabhade

Historical figures are complex and shaped by the context they lived out of. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is no exception. Vallabhbhai Patel popularly known as the “indomitable iron man” of India is credited with unifying India when India was a cluster of numerous princely states at the time of independence and Patel was the first home minister of independent India. During the tumultuous times of the partition and subsequently the assassination of Gandhi, the leadership of the country had to guide it through many ups and downs towards a secular democracy that India has evolved into and still evolving. Nehru and Patel along with the others took tough decisions to serve this end. One of them was banning of RSS. Though Patel was instrumental in this decision, he is appropriated and co-opted by the RSS and BJP as one supporting their brand of politics and ideology- Hindutva while Nehru is derided for being weak and responsible for partition. Moreover the narrative that pits Nehru against Patel has gained currency and the two unfairly compared by the right wing which completely obliterates the fact that both leaders had one vision for the country and enjoyed each other’s confidence.

Patel was again brought at the centre stage of public discourse by the Prime Minister recently. “Had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been India’s first Prime Minister, a part of my Kashmir would not have been with Pakistan today” (Ashok, 2018). BJP and RSS have positioned themselves lately as ideological heirs of Patel. PM Modi wants to build ‘statue of unity’ as he refers to Patel and also commemorate his birthday as national unity day. He goes on to add, “There have been attempts to run down Patel, to ensure that the contribution of Patel is forgotten. But Sardar is Sardar, whether any government or any party recognizes his contribution or not but the nation and the youth will not forget him” (Indian Express, 2017). Similarly Venkaiah Naidu also praised Patel. This appropriation is problematic. Appropriation of mass leaders has been a thrust of RSS strategy by distorting historical facts. Similar attempts have been made towards Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh. Thus it is imperative to demystify Patel.

Though a lot has been written about Patel and his equation with RSS, keeping the aggressive appropriation of icons like Patel, it is important to repeat and emphasize on the following points. One point to be noted at the very outset is that historical figures are multidimensional and it is difficult to capture them in all their complexity. However one must try to understand Patel in a more nuanced way.

  1. Patel was an admirer of Gandhi. He was pained with the assassination of Gandhi. He was all his life a staunch Congressman though sympathetic to plight of Hindus and Sikhs during the communal violence post and pre partition.
  2. Though he was distrustful towards Muslims in India as a section of the community supported the Muslim League, he as a Home Minister vowed to protect all citizens equally and certainly did not encourage communal violence against Muslims.
  3. Patel was not a supporter of the RSS or endorsed Hindutva politics which is narrow, discriminatory and exclusionist in its outlook.

The right wing is appropriating Patel for a number of reasons. It is no secret that the RSS had no role to play in the freedom struggle of India. Their members were not incarcerated in the prisons or enjoyed following amongst masses due to leaderships in any social movements- peasants, trade unions, women, reform in Hindu personal laws, eradication of caste etc. The freedom struggle represented certain ideas that of equality, pluralism, inclusion and democracy. The struggle was not just against the colonial powers for political power but also for a just and equal society ridden of hierarchies based on caste, religion and class. Patel being a tall leader of Congress can bring this legitimacy to the RSS, give them a respectable face and wider support base. Secondly with constant exaggeration and misrepresenting the differences between Nehru and Patel, the Nehruvian vision of the society and India is sought to be discredited since this vision is completely conflicting and incompatible to that of Hindutva. The Hindu supremacists want to taint this legacy and establish a new social order and deepen the existing hierarchies.

The actions of BJP leaders should be analyzed from this prism. To begin with, it would be interesting to study the views of Patel on RSS itself.

There can be no doubt that the RSS did service to the Hindu Society. In the areas where there was the need for help and organisation, the young men of the RSS protected women and children and strove much for their sake. No person of understanding could have a word of objection regarding that. But the objectionable part arose when they, burning with revenge, began attacking Mussalmans. Organising Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing”.

On the assassination of Gandhi, he expresses his anguish in no uncertain terms.

“All their speeches were full communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison and enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the valuable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of sympathy of the Government or of the people no more remained for the RSS. In fact the opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS.

As regards the RSS and the Hindu Maha-sabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organisations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the government and the state. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure”(Zakaria, 2016).

It becomes clear from Patel’s words that he opposed the RSS politics of hatred and targeting of the Muslims. He condemns the assassination of Gandhi and the politics that claimed his life. This is antithetical to the stand of RSS which hasn’t condemned Gandhi’s death but gone to the extent of installing busts and building temples of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Gandhi!

It also speaks volumes on the idea of India nurtured by Patel. Being a staunch congressman and influenced by Gandhi, he understood the contribution of different communities to India. The very fact that Patel skillfully brought as princely states onto one political platform without bloodshed and prevented balkanization gives an insight into his vision for an India which gave space to all- different languages, cultures, religions. Pluralism and democracy were hallmarks of his vision. This vision is again in contrast of a Hindu rashtra where the Hindus are rightful citizens and citizens of other religions merely second class citizens.

However this doesn’t necessarily mean that some of his views were not problematic. He had certain extent of reservations and also distrust about the Muslims. This grew out of the support of a section of Muslims that the Muslim League enjoyed. Naturally it was wrong to paint the whole community with one brush, since large sections of Muslims supported the Congress and rejected the two nation theory. Nonetheless some of his policies have attracted flak. For example the enactment of the Evacuee Property Law, which resulted in the expropriation of their businesses, industries, shops, houses, lands and all such assets, movable and immovable; even Muslims, suspected by the police of intending to go to Pakistan were covered under it. However this law was for political exigency and in response to a similar law enacted by Pakistan. Another policy was the draconian permit system where the Indian Muslims who went to visit Pakistan after 15thAugust 1947, were at a risk of losing their citizenship.

These actions, though questionable, doesn’t make Patel communal or suggests that he supported violence against Muslims or encouraged it for his own political or electoral interests. Manufacturing of violence and communal polarization is a project resorted to by the Hindu supremacists for electoral gains. This distinction is significant but often sought to be blurred by the Hindu supremacists when they co-opt Patel. As a leader who has constitutional duty he was of the opinion that India is a country for all and not a Hindu state and thus all citizens have to be protected. “I do not think it will be possible to consider India as a Hindu state with Hinduism as a state religion. We must not forget that there are other minorities whose protection is our primary responsibility” (Zakaria, Sabrang India, 2016)

This is of course a far cry from the approach of the current government which praises Patel. There is an atmosphere of impunity and encouragement given to vigilantes to target the vulnerable groups like Muslims and Dalits under the name of cow protection. Though the current political dispensation prefers to call the perpetrators of violence as ‘fringe’ elements or criminal elements thereby trivializing their acts of violence, Patel had a different approach as a statesman. There are numerous hate crimes taking place unabashedly with no justice. On the other hand, there were instances where Patel himself went to spots of trouble to quell any violence and took proactive steps to protect the Muslims and punish the criminals. The famous Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya in South Delhi was surrounded by some miscreants. He went there himself and clearly instructed the officers to protect the Muslims and take action against the miscreants. Whenever such incidents took place where the Muslim community was harassed or instigated, he said, “If you think that you can go on constantly troubling loyal Muslims because they happen to be Muslims, then our freedom is not worthwhile.

Cow protection is linked to nationalism as is the building of Ram Mandir where the Babri Masjid was demolished. Interestingly Patel had a more balanced approach towards Babri Masjid based on inclusion and dialogue. In 1949, a mob descended upon the Babri Masjid and, after chasing away the muezzin, installed an idol of Ram Lalla in order to claim it as a temple. Within a month of the incident, Patel shot off a letter to the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, GB Pant warning that “there can be no question of resolving such disputes by force”.Differing even more starkly from the final outcome of 1992, Patel opined that “such matters can only be resolved peacefully if we take the willing consent of the Muslim community with us” (Daniyal, 2014).

The latest statement of PM on Kashmir where he again pitted Sardar Patel against Nehru is another attempt distorting the legacy which stood for unity, democracy and pluralism. Patel was a mixed bag, multifaceted, complex. He was of course different from Nehru or any other political colleague. Patel had his own temperament, resoluteness and biases. But what he was not was communal and parochial. He espoused the cause of a united India where all citizens had an equal stake.  He shared a vision of an India based on equality with Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar. He was a man who had fought for the rights of the farmers at Bardoli and other places. If the Hindu supremacists want to emulate Patel, their starting point should be his efforts for justice and equality. The Hindu supremacists on the other hand at ideologically at loggerheads with Patel by upholding, manipulating and further deepening of caste and religious divides.

The articl e first appeared in (Secular Perspective Feb.16-28, 2018)


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Maharashtra Healthcare spend less than Rs 1,000 on each citizen  

MUMBAI: Despite the “progressive” tag, Maharashtra spends just Rs 996 per capita on the healthcare needs of its citizens and should increase its public health budget by almost 50%, said Jan Arogya Abhiyan(JAA), a network of NGOs.

“So-called less developed states such as Chhattisgarh spend more at Rs 1,671 per person and Telangana spends Rs 1,801 per person,” stated JAA’s Dr Ravi Duggal and Dr Abhijit More. The national figure stands at Rs 1,538 per capita for 2017-2018.

On Thursday, the JAA presented an “alternative budget” for healthcare. The alternative budget said the state should shun insurance-based schemes and public-private partnerships. “Analyses of government insurance schemes have shown that a small percentage of the population benefit from it,” said Dr More.

“Maharashtra is known as a progressive state but it spends only Rs996 per person on public health expenditure. The amount is much lower when compared to national average (Rs1,538) and even lesser developed states such as Chhattisgarh (Rs1,671) or Telangana (Rs1,801),” said Dr Abhijit More from JAA.

The people’s budget, focused on development of areas such as hiring of quality human resources, universal free and adequate medicine schemes, up gradation of rural health services and adequate funds and training for urban health posts to relieve the stress of medical services provided by tertiary are medical facilities.

“Even today, majority of vacancies in healthcare sector — doctors, nurses and paramedic staff — are filled on contractual basis. The contractual employees are paid less salaries, which in turn impacts the quality of care to patients,” Dr More added.

JAA officials said an additional Rs267 crore to be added to the budget to ensure availability of staff in each sub center, public health center and district hospitals.

Citing the current state medicine budget allocation of Rs471 crore, JAA members said that if Maharashtra wants to ensure fill availability of medicine in all public health facilities they need to copy the Rajasthan model, which spends about Rs 65 per capita on medicines. The total cost
of the scheme is quoted to be Rs728 crore.

The activists also demanded allocation of Rs400 crore to develop nutritional rehabilitation centers in rural and district hospitals. Currently there is only one center per district to attend to malnutrition and underweight children cases from that district.

“The funds can be used to provide nutritious food to malnourished children, medicine and food allowance to parents and daily wages to the parents, on lines of social security benefits provided in the United States,” said nutrition expert Vinod Shende from Right to Live.

If Maharashtra improved its revenue collection, then it would be able to spend more on health. “Maharashtra is eighth from the bottom as far as revenue collection among Indian states is concerned,” said Duggal. Maharashtra only collects Rs 306 per capita as revenue from non-ferrous mining while Gujarat collects Rs 1,579 per capita. As Maharashtra has huge revenues locked in uncollected taxes, experts said that better tax administration could rake in up to Rs 20,000 crore annually. The experts gave examples of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, which distribute free medicines to its citizens.

“The tendering process in Maharashtra is lax unlike the system followed in Tamil Nadu,” said Dr More. The JAA suggested that it would help the state if ASHA (accredited social health activists) in both urban and rural areas are put on full-time payroll and given a monthly payment of Rs 5,000.

Universal free and adequate medicines could be provided if the state hiked its medicine provision from Rs 471 crore to Rs 728 crore. On the National Health Protection Scheme, the JAA’s stand is that the state should follow the example of Karnataka or Tamil Nadu, instead of agreeing to the Centre’s health insurance mechanism. The National Health Protection Scheme, which was announced by the Union government on the budget day, envisages a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per family for 10 crore families. “These states have set up a trust that takes care of the healthcare expenditure,” said Dr Duggal

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India –   Woman’s caste raises her exposure to mortality: UN report

Ashwaq Masoodi, LiveMint,
The average Dalit woman dies 14.6 years younger than women from higher castes, says the UN report
New Delhi: The average Dalit woman in India dies 14.6 years younger than women from higher castes. While identities, perceived or real, can increase risks of discrimination for an individual or a group, a woman’s caste in India increases her exposure to mortality because of poor sanitation and inadequate healthcare, says a UN report released on late Wednesday night.
“Those left furthest behind in society are often women and girls who experience multiple forms of disadvantage based on gender and other inequalities… This can lead to clustered deprivations where women and girls may be simultaneously disadvantaged in their access to quality education, decent work, health and well-being,” states the report Turning promises into action: gender equality in the 2030 Agenda by UN Women.
Pointing to the “interaction of multiple identities and experiences of exclusion and subordination”—a concept introduced in the 1980s to capture the interaction of gender and race in shaping black women’s experiences in the US, the report says disadvantage is intensified for women and girls living at the intersection of inequalities.
Two years after the adoption of Agenda 2030, this report examines through a gender lens the progress and challenges in the implementation of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, adopted by world leaders in 2015, from ending poverty and hunger to tackling climate change. The report highlights how women are affected by each of them and looks at both the ends (goals and targets) and the means (policies and processes) that are needed to make the achievement of the ambitious agenda for sustainable development a reality.
The UN Women report also shows through data how progress for women is a pre-requisite if progress for all is to be achieved.
The report stresses on the commitment to make benefits and services available to all. This commitment, the report says, is complemented by the pledge to “leave no one behind” on the path to sustainable development. “Grounded in the human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination, this commitment recognizes the multiple and intersecting inequalities that so often prevent the full and equal enjoyment of specific groups’ rights in practice,” it says.
The report also points to how in India a young woman aged 20–24 from a poor, rural household is 21.8 times less likely to ever attend school than one from a rich urban household, five times more likely to marry before the age of 18 and 5.8 times as likely to become an adolescent mother.
“The likelihood of being poor is greater if she is landless and from a scheduled caste. Her low level of education and status in the social hierarchy will almost guarantee that if she works for pay, it will be under exploitative working conditions,” the report states.
There has been a significant increase in overall literacy rates and school participation rates across India since the early 1990s. However, gender and social disparities still exist. Scheduled castes (SC), who comprise 16.6% of the population, and scheduled tribes (ST), who make up 8.6% of the population, have lower literacy rates than the Indian average. The literacy rate for female STs is still under 50% and 57% for SC women, while the numbers are slightly higher for men.
The UN Women report shows how women who live in poor households spend as much as 24% of their work time collecting firewood and water, and foraging for edible and non-edible items to be used as food and housing materials, while women in non-poor households allocate about one half of that time, 12%, to such tasks.
Suggesting a way out, the report says strategies to leave no one behind should aim to create a sense of solidarity through risk-sharing, redistribution and universal services. “Where all citizens reap clear benefits from such services, their willingness to contribute to funding them through progressive taxation is also likely to increase,” it says.
SDG Report: Gender Equality

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