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Vodafone reveals that governments are collecting personal data without limits

Vodafone reveals that governments are collecting personal data without limits

The world’s second largest cellular carrier Britain’s Vodafone says many countries have unfettered access to private communications. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)
BY CRAIG TIMBERG June 6 at 10:47 PM
Britain’s Vodafone revealed Friday that several governments are collecting surveillance data directly from its networks without any legal review and publicly urged more safeguards against such unfettered access to the private communications of its customers.The declarations, made by the world’s second-largest cellular carrier, show that the type of access to telecommunications networks enjoyed by the U.S. National Security Agency also occurs in other countries where legal protections almost certainly are lower. Vodafone’s networks span much of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia.

The company said that voice, Internet and other data could be collected without any court review in “a small number” of nations. Although the company does not name them, news reports suggested that one is Britain, whose GCHQ intelligence agency is a close partner of the NSA in filtering the world’s Internet traffic.

“It is a healthy reminder that no amount of legal reform in the United States will solve the problem if there isn’t an international solution,” said Peter Eckersley, director of technology projects for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that is based in San Francisco.

Vodafone’s statements, coming in the company’s first report on data demands made by authorities in the countries where it operates, were unusually pointed, detailed and sober by the standards of the “transparency reports” issued by a growing number of companies since the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Vodafone report includes an 88-page annex detailing laws and experiences in 29 nations where, collectively, government agencies have made millions of data requests of the company.

In several of those countries — South Africa, Turkey, Egypt and others — publishing even such rudimentary totals of requests are prohibited by law. The report merely summarizes the legal standards there rather than quantifying the extent of government data collection.

“Refusal to comply with a country’s laws is not an option,” the company said in its report. “If we do not comply with a lawful demand for assistance, governments can remove our licence to operate, preventing us from providing services to our customers. Our employees who live and work in the country concerned may also be at risk of criminal sanctions, including imprisonment.”

Privacy advocates praised Vodafone for issuing such a thorough report but expressed dismay about the revelations of “direct access” that allowed governments to intercept any communication without seeking a court order or making a formal request to the company. Governments could use such access to collect increasingly massive troves of personal information — voice calls, e-mails, video chats, search histories and online address books — without any form of oversight.

“This is the kind of practice that needs to end,” said Eric King of Privacy International, an activist group based in London.

Governments have been gaining increasingly intrusive access to communications for at least two decades, when the United States and other nations began passing laws requiring that powerful surveillance capabilities be built directly into emerging technologies, such as cellular networks and Internet-based telephone systems.

Those demands became even more forceful in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when intelligence agencies scrambled to prevent a similar tragedy. A burgeoning surveillance industry, with regular conferences around the world, grew to meet the well-funded appetite for gathering information on criminals and possible terrorist threats.

Such systems can collect and analyze almost any information, including the content of most phone calls, that flows over the Internet when it’s not encrypted. As a result, governments can learn virtually anything people in their nations say or do online and frequently can learn where they are using location tracking, which is built into most cellular networks.

The Vodafone report distinguishes between content — words or other information conveyed over its networks — and meta­data, which reveals who is contacting whom and what kinds of communications systems they are using.

Metadata tends to be more useful in establishing relationships among surveillance targets and, even in countries with rigorous frameworks for protecting personal information, can be gathered more readily by governments with a lower legal standard.

In the Czech Republic, for example, the government compelled Vodafone to turn over the content of conversations 7,677 times during the 12-month reporting period, from April 2013 to March 2014. Hungary collected metadata 75,938 times. Italy, with its government investigations into organized crime, led the Vodafone list with 605,601 demands for metadata.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper, relying on documents provided by Snowden, reported last year on GCHQ’s Tempora Program, in which the British intelligence agency taps into the fiber-optic cables that carry much of the world’s Internet traffic — the kind of “direct access” that Vodafone’s report argues should be curbed.

American technology and telecommunications companies have been scrambling to protect their reputations in the year since Snowden’s revelations began appearing in news reports by The Washington Post and the Guardian.

U.S.-based technology companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook have adopted new encryption measures, demanded more latitude to report on government data requests and lobbied Washington for legal curbs on surveillance.

Big telecommunications providers, such as Verizon and AT&T, have been less assertive in their responses, although both companies over the past year have issued their own “transparency reports,” for the first time tallying up government data requests.

Verizon listed 320,000 requests in the United States in 2013 and several thousand collectively in 11 other nations. AT&T listed more than 300,000 requests. (Vodafone was a partner of Verizon in the largest U.S. cellular network, Verizon Wireless, before selling its share to Verizon this year.)

The close relationship between the NSA, the FBI and major telecommunications companies long has been a sore point with privacy advocates.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, based in Washington, said the Vodafone report “underscores the much closer relationship between communications providers, both in the United States and outside the United States, with national intelligence agencies. . . . It’s time to rebuild the wall separating church and state in surveillance.”

Eckersley said that most global telecommunications companies are “handmaidens of their governments’ surveillance apparatuses,” and he expressed little hope for a global treaty. Only new technical solutions capable of thwarting even the most aggressive intelligence agencies could significantly curb the spying of the Internet, he said.


Read more here-

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Odisha – Initiate Action against Vedanta

Kondh Lady

Kondh Lady (Photo credit: ramesh_lalwani)


By Express News Service – BHUBANESWAR

Published: 23rd March 2014


The State Government has directed the Pollution Control Board and the Jharsuguda district collector to take appropriate action against Vedanta Aluminium for causing pollution and damage to agricultural land.

The Government directive came in response to a written complaint by former member of Rajya Sabha Kishore Mohanty alleging pollution and damage to agricultural land by the ash pond created by Vedanta Aluminim near Katikela village in Jharsuguda district.

Meanwhile, a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Committee for Legal Aid to Poor (CLAP) on behalf of petitioners Budharam Patel and others seeking a ban on establishment of the ash pond on agricultural land at Kumudapalli village is pending in the Odisha High Court.




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Canada – Every Year Nestlé Waters extracts 265 million litres of fresh water for free #WTFnews

The price of a litre of bottled water in B.C. is often higher than a litre of gasoline.

However, the price paid by the world’s largest bottled water company for taking 265 million litres of fresh water every year from a well in the Fraser Valley — not a cent.

Because of B.C.’s lack of groundwater regulation, Nestlé Waters Canada — a division of the multi-billion-dollar Switzerland-based Nestlé Group, the world’s largest food company — is not required to measure, report, or pay a penny for the millions of litres of water it draws from Hope and then sells across Western Canada.

According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, “B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t regulate groundwater use.”


“The province does not license groundwater, charge a rental for groundwater withdrawals or track how much bottled water companies are taking from wells,” said a Ministry of Environment spokesperson in an email to The Province.

This isn’t new. Critics have been calling for change for years now, saying the lack of groundwater regulation is just one outdated example from the century-old Water Act.

The Ministry of Environment has said they plan — in the 2014 legislature sitting — to introduce groundwater regulation with the proposed Water Sustainability Act, which would update and replace the existing Water Act, established in 1909. But experts note that successive governments have been talking about modernizing water for decades, but the issue keeps falling off the agenda.

This time, many hope it will be different.

“It’s really the Wild West out here in terms of groundwater. And it’s been going on for over 20 years, that the Ministry of Environment, the provincial government has been saying that they’re going to make these changes, and it just hasn’t gone through yet,” said Linda Nowlan, conservation director from World Wildlife Fund Canada.


In the District of Hope, Nestlé’s well draws from the same aquifer relied upon by about 6,000 nearby residents, and some of them are concerned.

“We have water that’s so clean and so pure, it’s amazing. And then they take it and sell it back to us in plastic bottles,” said Hope resident Sharlene Harrison-Hinds.

Sheila Muxlow lives in nearby Chilliwack, downstream the Fraser River from Hope. As campaign director for the WaterWealth Project, she often hears from Hope residents who worry about the government’s lack of oversight with Nestlé’s operations there.

“It’s unsettling,” Muxlow said. “What’s going to happen in the long term, if Nestlé keeps taking and taking and taking?”

While Nestlé is the largest bottled water seller in B.C., others, including Whistler Water and Mountain Spring Water, also draw groundwater from B.C.

When asked by The Province, those companies declined to release the volume of their withdrawals.

RELATED STORY  – Nestlé’s – Cut back on water take during droughts is not in the public interest.


Nestlé is one of the largest employers in the District of Hope, providing about 75 jobs, said District of Hope chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky. Though Nestlé is not required to measure and report their water withdrawals to the government, the company voluntarily reports to the District of Hope, said a Nestlé Waters Canada executive, reached in Guelph, Ont. last week.

“What we do in Hope exceeds what is proposed by the province of British Columbia,” said John Challinor, Nestlé Waters Canada’s director of corporate affairs. Nestle keeps records of water quality and the company’s mapping of the underground water resources in the area exceeds what government scientists have done, Challinor said.

“We do these annual reports … We’re doing it voluntarily with (the local government). If we are asked to provide it as a condition of a new permit, that’s easy to do, because we’re already doing it,” Challinor said.


But the fact that Nestlé’s reports are internal and voluntary is the very issue of concern, said Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“There’s a big, big difference between voluntary reporting and mandatory,” said Parfitt. “If it’s voluntary, there’s nothing to stop a company or major water user from choosing not to report … That is absolutely critical. You can’t run a system like this on a voluntary basis.”

Since groundwater remains unregulated in B.C., Nestle does not require a permit for the water they withdraw.

“No permit, no reporting, no tracking, no nothing,” said David Slade, co-owner of Drillwell Enterprises, a Vancouver Island well-drilling company. “So you could drill a well on your property, and drill it right next to your neighbour’s well, and you could pump that well at 100 gallons a minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and waste all the water, pour it on the ground if you wanted to … As far as depleting the resource, or abusing the resource, there is no regulation. So it is the Wild, Wild West.”


The Council of Canadians, a national citizen advocacy group, takes the position that water should be treated as apublic trust, a valuable resource protected for the benefit of all Canadians.

But when the government allows a multi-billion dollar, international corporation to withdraw water for free to sell back to us, this doesn’t seem to serve the public good, said Emma Lui, national water campaigner for the Council of Canadians, reached in Ottawa. Compared with the rest of the country, Lui said, “When you look at all these different factors, B.C. actually is doing quite poorly: that they don’t include groundwater (in their water licensing system), they don’t have any sort of public registry of who’s taking groundwater, they don’t charge.”

Nestlé is far from the only large company withdrawing B.C.’s groundwater for free, and Challinor said Nestlé is

HOPE, BC -- August  12,  2013 --  Sheila Muxlow has concerns about Nestle withdrawing millions of litres of water without payment, outside Nestle's bottling plant near Hope on August 12, 2013.

“largely supportive of what the government is trying to do” with modernizing the Water Act. He said he plans to sit down with B.C.’s new environment minister Mary Polak in the fall, to discuss these issues. Nestle supports the government moving toward increased regulation, monitoring and reporting.

As far as the government charging for groundwater, Challinor said “We have no problem with paying for water, as long as the price is based on the actual cost of regulating the program.”

If you walk into Cooper’s Foods in downtown Hope — less than 5 km away from Nestlé’s bottling plant — and buy a 1.5 litre bottle of Nestlé Pure Life water, it will set you back $1.19.

That’s $1.19 more than Nestle paid to the government last year for withdrawing more than 265 million litres of fresh water from the well.

Nestlé’s other water bottling plant in Canada is in Wellington County, Ont., where the province requires them to buy a licence and pay for the water they extract. Some critics, including Lui and Parfitt, feel that Ontario’s charge of $3.71 per million litres is still too paltry. But still, they say, it’s more fair than B.C. charging nothing.


ALSO READ: Nestle-is-sucking-an-ontario-town-dry-for-bottled-water/

AND READ: Harper’s water privatization

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Press Release- Government ‘criminally negligent’ Bhopal survivors forced to consume contaminated water

Photo: Madhya Pradesh Government 'criminally negligent' allege Bhopal survivors as thousands forced to consume contaminated water.

Photo: (c) Andy Spyra, Bhopal Medical Appeal

Please join the Bhopal Medical Appeal emailing list:
August 14, 2013

At a press conference yesterday , leaders of the five organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal charged the Madhya Pradesh government with criminal neglect in providing clean drinking water to neighbourhood residents of the abandoned pesticide factory. They said that thousands of residents are forced to drink and cook with local ground water that is contaminated by the hazardous wastes of Union Carbide.

Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that despite a Supreme Court order of May 2004 and the intervention by the Monitoring Committee set up by the Supreme Court at least 800 families are being denied piped supply of clean drinking water as of today.

Sarangi who is also a member of the Monitoring Committee said that on February 19, 2013, Justice K K Lahoti, the Committee’s Chairman had given clear directions that the work of providing drinking water connections to all families that are resident of the 22 communities known to have contaminated ground water had to be completed by July 30.

Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that there were 1000 people in Kainchi Chhola, Shiv Nagar and other areas whose houses were yet to be connected with pipelines. He said that homes of 3000 people in Jaiprakash Nagar, Karim Baksh Colony, Shakti Nagar, Navjeevan Colony and other areas were connected with pipelines but they had no water supply.

Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said that hundreds of families in Prem Nagar, Shiv Nagar, Blue Moon Colony, Navjeevan Colony and Preet Nagar faced chronic shortage of drinking water because of low pressure of water that was supplied every alternate day.

Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that in November 2012 and again in January 2013 the Supreme Court had issued clear directions to ensure that sewage lines and drinking water lines are kept apart so that there are no risks of contamination. He said that despite these orders in Nawab Colony, Preet Nagar and Shivshakti Nagar, there are several places where sewage and drinking water lines are close to each other.

Safreen Khan a founder member of Children against Dow Carbide said that in June 2012 Justice Lahoti had reported to the Supreme Court that there was a great need for creating drainage in the areas being supplied with drinking water. She said that in the absence of drainage, large areas in Preet Nagar, Shankar Nagar, Blue Moon Colony, Nawab Colony, Gareeb Nagar and Sundar Nagar remain water logged and are a health hazard for thousands of residents.


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#India – Lessons Learnt From UID Data Loss

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by Robin Chatterjee 22nd July, 2013 in Security


In April 2013 when Maharashtra government admitted to the loss of personal data of around 3 lakh applicants for Aadhaar card, it served to highlight just the tip of the potentially disastrous, catastrophic iceberg we are sitting on. The possible misuse of citizen data, containing Permanent Account Number (PAN) and biometric information, has raised question marks around trusting UIDAI’S IT infrastructure with the data of a billion. And more importantly, around the government’s empathy and understanding on the issue of data privacy. Three months down the line, we take a peek into the measures undertaken by the government machinery to avoid such incidents in the future, and bring to the table some suggestions from an expert.

The Facts

As per media reports, the data was lost while being uploaded from Mumbai to UIDAI server in Bengaluru. “While the transmission was in progress, the hard disk containing data crashed. When the data was downloaded in Bangalore, it could not be decrypted,” the newspaper report said quoting an official from Maharashtra Information Technology (IT) department, which is overseeing the enrolment of citizens. According to Rajesh Aggarwal, Secretary, Information Technology, Government of Maharashtra, the number of individuals affected is expected to be less than 1 percent of total enrolment done.

Measures Undertaken

Many analysts term this incident a case of extreme irresponsibility. From the very first phase of enrolments, several flaws were detected. But, the question is has the government learnt from its past mistakes and what is it doing to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself? According to Aggarwal, in Phase II some fundamental changes have been made to eliminate most of the irregular practices. For instance, now the operator has to authenticate himself/herself before starting the enrolment; hence, no unauthorised person can do the enrolment.

On the question of delayed sync with the national server, Aggarwal explains that the enrolment agency is supposed to sync the machine within 10 days of enrolment; else no further enrolment is possible on the machine. The packets need to be uploaded within 20 days; else there is a huge penalty. The agency is now pro-actively uploading the data packets quickly and within time, which significantly reduces the chances of hard disk failure, data loss, etc.

What More Can Be Done

With applicants getting added to the system by the thousands and lakhs on a continuous basis, scale is going to be critical. “Irrespective of what the agency believes, it seems that most of the IT infrastructure that UIDAI has was not meant for this scale. The agency should think of scaling up the existing infrastructure so that trivial things like a hard disk crash can be averted,” says HP Kincha, Former Secretary IT, Government of Karnataka and Chairman, Karnataka Innovation Council.

He further adds that dependency on IT is critical to effectively manage a process of such scale as the Aadhar project. Hence, IT awareness among operators needs to be given due importance. The government also needs to figure out how to backup the data and re-use the same in cases of urgency.

There isn’t an iota of doubt about the criticality of the data that is at potential risk in the entire Aadhar operation. But data loss due to trivial failures such as a hard disk crash only raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the government machinery. In the end, we expect our government to be pro-active in matters of data security and privacy.  But, we also recognise the fact that continuing to criticise the government alone is not the answer. Let the government take up this particular incident as a wake-up call to rectify existing flaws within the system and avoid such mishaps in the time to come.

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#India – Threat of exclusion, and of surveillance #UID #Aadhaar



Uid- I am not a criminal

The aadhaar project has become the bane of average Indians, threatening their access to all manner of services. basic questions have sometimes been asked and almost never been answered, says
Usha Ramanathan, in the first of a multi-part series.

The Unique Identity (UID) project has been around for over four years. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was set up by an executive notification dated 28 January 2009 and came into its own after Mr Nandan Nilekani was appointed as chairperson in July 2009. Now it has, as some observers say, become an experiment being conducted on the entire  country.
In its early stages, it was marketed, simply, as giving the poor and the undocumented an identity. It was to be voluntary, and an entitlement. But, it is evident even from the Strategy Overview document of the UIDAI that it was never intended to be an entitlement that people may choose to adopt or ignore. That document said that “enrolment will not be mandated”, but went on to add: “This will not, however, preclude governments or registrars from mandating enrolment”. So, the potential for compulsion was built into the architecture of the project. Starting in 2012, voluntariness began to be eroded, and threats of exclusion from services and entitlements began to be bandied about. By January 2013, a virtual panic was set off when it was announced that various services and entitlements would not be accessible to persons who did not have a UID number.
Mr Nilekani has said time and again that half the population is expected to be enrolled by the end of 2014; yet, there have been warnings that people without a UID number may find themselves unable to access benefits and subsidies if they did not have it, if a bank account had not been opened, and if the UID number were not embedded in the bank account. So, subsidy for cooking gas, kerosene, and scholarships, for instance, became dependent on having a bank account seeded with the UID, or aadhaar, number. In case anyone wonders what the UIDAI has to do with these decisions, it is the chairperson of the UIDAI, Mr Nilekani, who chaired the committees that recommended these changes. The reports are in the public domain.
From its inception, the UID project has been about creating the ‘database resident’. The website of theDepartment of Information Technology, which has been renamed as Department of Electronics andInformation Technology, modestly carrying the acronym DeitY, has said all along that “Project UID, aPlanning Commission initiative, proposes to create a central database of residents, initially of those above the age of 18 years”. Except, that the UIDAI got more ambitious and wanted everyone, from the newborn to the oldest resident, on its database. And it was always intended to converge variousdatabases to construct a profile of the individual, and to this effect the website of DeitY says that “the project envisages provision of linking of existing databases, as well as providing for future additions, by the user agencies”. The MoUs between the UIDAI and various registrars that include the state governments, oil companies, banks and the Registrar-General of India, who is in charge of census and the National Population Register and socio-economic and caste census, not only provide for various additional fields of data being collected during enrolment, but also for having the UID number appended to each such database.
As for biometrics, documents reveal that when the decision was made to use fingerprints and iris for enrolment, there was no knowledge about whether these biometrics would work in India, given the demographic and environmental conditions. In fact, it has since been found that with age the fingerprint fades, that manual labour makes the fingerprint difficult to read, that malnourishment-induced cataract blights an estimated 8-10 million people, and so on. In fact, as recently as 23 April 2013, Mr Nilekani said in his speech at the Centre for Global Development in Washington: “We came to the conclusion that if we take sufficient data, biometric data of an individual, then that person’s biometric will be unique across a billion people. Now we have to find that out. We haven’t done it yet. So we’ll discover it as we go along.” First, the conclusion. Then they will wait to find out! That is why some observers of the project have been saying that it is an experiment being conducted on the entire population. The consequences of failure have not been discussed, although, in a talk at the World Bank in Washington on 24 April 2013, Mr Nilekani said in response to a question about what he thought was the greatest downside risk to the UID: “To answer the question about what is the biggest risk,” he said “in some sense, you run the risk of creating a single point of failure also.”
There is more to cause concern, and much to be answered about UID.
(The writer is an academic activist. She has researched the UID and its ramifications since 2009.)
The UID project is proceeding without the cover of law. There is only the notification of January 2009 which says the UIDAI “owns” the database, but which says nothing about how it may be used, or what will happen if it fails or if there is identity fraud, or some outside agency gains access to the database. A Bill was introduced in Parliament in December 2010, after the project had been launched and data collection had begun. The Bill collapsed in December 2011 when the Parliamentary Standing Committee found it severely defective, and after it found that the Bill and the project needed to be sent back to the drawing board. There is no sign yet of a Bill, and any protection that the law may offer is non-existent. There is no law to protect privacy either.
Convergence and snooping
The UIDAI, and Mr Nilekani, have refused to address the probability of surveillance, convergence, tracking, profiling, tagging and intrusions into privacy that is likely to result from the creation of the database of residents and the intended convergence. The link between technology, databases, governmental power and corporate involvement in creating, maintaining, managing and using databases has produced various scenarios of surveillance that we ignore at our peril. PRISM is such a stark demonstration of the ambitions that can fuel a state that the UIDAI can no longer just say `no comment’ when asked about the surveillance potential being created.
In the same period, the state has already set up agencies such as the Natgrid, NCTC, NTRO, CCTNS, MAC which will use the potential for convergence of databases that the UID makes possible. In April 2011, the government made rules under the IT Act 2000, by which it would be able to access any data held by any “body corporate”. More recently, we have been hearing about the CMS, or the Central Monitoring System, speaking to a surveillance and control approach that will have the state snooping on us with no oversight, no prior permission, no answerability at any time to anyone.
The companies engaged by the UIDAI to manage the database include L1 Identity Solutions and Accenture. The UIDAI, in response to an RTI request, has claimed that they have no means of knowing that these are foreign companies, given the process of their selection! Yet, a search on the internet reveals the closeness between the L1 Identity Solutions and the CIA, and that after a recent transaction, it is part-owned by the French government; while Accenture is in a Smart Borders Project with the US Department of Homeland Security. Data security, personal security, national security and global surveillance are all drawn into a ring of concern, but remain unaddressed.


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#India – Chhattisgarh Diagnostics Privatisation Cancelled #goodnews #healthcare

The plan for privatisation of diagnostics services in Chhattisgarh has been cancelled. The RFP and tenders which had come in are no longer valid. This is a victory for  Jan Swasthya Abhiyan in Chattisgarh , The most heartening part of the struggle was the overwhelming support that this issue got from varied quarters.

Chhattisgarh diagnostic project on hold


State government says the policy requires a “fresh look”

The Chhattisgarh and Union governments have decided to halt the prestigious public-private partnership (PPP) project in diagnostic services in the State.

While Chhattisgarh’s Principal Health Secretary M.K. Raut said privatisation of diagnostic services was rolled back “for the time being,” the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) refused to partially fund the outsourcing of diagnostic services. Last February, the State government invited private players to “set up shops” in the health facilities sector. Defending the programme on the government’s behalf, the Health Department’s technical assistance body, the State Health Resource Centre (SHRC), said that “outsourcing of health services” to private laboratories would enhance efficiency and facilitate delivery of services.

Mr. Raut, however, denounced the flagship privatisation project, which required a “fresh look.”

“In [the] near future we will take a fresh look at the project and decide a course of action,” he told The Hindu . A “revised PPP model” would be in place “in the coming months.”

Chhattisgarh has 154 community health centres (CHC) and 756 primary health centres (PHC). The government, Mr. Raut said, may consider implementing the PPP model in “a few” remote CHC and PHCs. “It would depend on whether it is possible for us to reach those areas or not. The PPP in diagnostic services will not be implemented in the district hospitals or 5,211 sub health centres.”

The government had issued request for proposals (RFP) from private health service providers to set up diagnostic services at public hospitals and health facilities, paid for by the taxpayer. The proposal was severely criticised by health activists and Mr. Raut said the “RFP and the floated tenders are closed chapters now.”

Explaining what compelled the government to retract a project floated only few months back, he said the “gaps need more scrutiny.” “We have to figure out a mechanism to monitor private players in remote areas.”

The Health Department is also not sure how the private players can be regulated. “A diagnostic chain may use government premises to market its services to the outpatients. We need to ask, why the government should provide incentive to a private player to do business using public facility,” said Mr Raut. He clarified that the government would not dismantle its “existing infrastructure and retrench staffs” to create space for the private players.

Owing to inadequate and chaotic public health care services in India, patients turn to private facilities, which are mostly unregulated and where quality is a concern. With the Union Health Ministry’s growing focus on more privatisation in health care, it was clear decades back that the health budget would not get the necessary boost. Rather, in view of the growing flow of private finance in health sector a National Health Policy was formulated in 2002 and the PPP model was suggested.

Chhattisgarh, known for abysmal health care in remote regions, has followed that model as it could not fill the post of 965 radiographers and laboratory technicians over the last several years. To fill those vacancies and provide necessary equipment to the health centres, the State health budget needed an additional funding of at least Rs. 30 crores, which was not available. Besides, trained technicians are generally reluctant to work in remote areas. In this context, the government opted for the PPP model.

However, in a span of four months the policy changed and Mr. Raut said the government had a “new PPP policy” in place and the “diagnostic sector policy has to fall in line with the new one.”

The NRHM has also refused to partially fund the present model and asked the State to “revise the proposal based on the Government of India recommendation” and submit a supplementary programme implementation plan.

  • Private players were invited to “set up shops” in the health facilities sector last February.
  • The Chhattisgarh Government has put the scheme on hold pending a “fresh look”.


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#India – Plea in Kerala HC against #Aadhaar enrolment #UID


By Express News Service – KOCHI 19th June 2013 1

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200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




A petition has been filed before the High Court challenging the decision of the government to insist upon the public for Aadhaar registration as a prerequisite to avail of the benefits of government schemes.



The petition was filed by Asees Kakkadan, general secretary of the Kozhikode Jilla Pouravakasha Samrakshana Samithi. According to the petitioner, the National Identification Authority of India Bill-2010 was rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee in December 2011. But even then the Centre is going ahead with the project only to aid the private agency involved in the enrolment procedure, the petitioner alleged.The petitioner submitted that the government insists on Aadhaar registration for availing of benefits of schemes like LPG subsidy, welfare pension and education benefits.



“A citizen cannot be denied the benefits of government projects only for not registering under an authority. And the Aadhaar lacks legislative sanction. At present, various identity cards are being issued like election identity card, ration card, driving licence, pan card etc., which clearly establish the identity of a person. Hence insisting on Aadhaar number is illegal,” the plea said.



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Press Release – Delhi protests against the arrests of peaceful protesters in Kolkata

Protest outside West Bengal govt’s bhawan, Rajiv Bhawan, New Delhi
Photo courtesy: Bijayalaxmi Nanda

June 14th


The Resident Commissioner

West Bengal Bhavan


We, members of the Citizen’s Collective against Sexual Assault, women’s groups, progressive groups and concerned citizens from across the country are outraged at the unwarranted arrest of a peaceful gathering of feminist and human rights activists on June 13, 2013. We strongly condemn these arrests. We strongly uphold people’s democratic right to peaceful and non-violent dissent and protest.

The activists were trying to seek an appointment with the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, in order to hand over a letter of protest against the incidents of gang rape and murder of two young girls in Barasat and Nadia. The CM had earlier refused to meet civil society activists at Writers Buildings. Therefore, on June 13, 2013, members of MAITREE Network (a network of women rights groups in West Bengal) decided to gather outside her residence to seek an appointment. They were not even allowed to enter the street leading to the CM’s residence.

When they wanted to hand over a protest letter to the CM, they were told to hand over the letter to the police instead. They rejected this on the ground that it was the CM who was the elected representative and the head of the government. Without any prior warning to disperse, the totally peaceful gathering, modest in size, was suddenly dragged by the police and bundled into police vans. Thirteen activists were arrested and taken to the Lal Bazar Central lock-up. Surely, activists of women’s organisations are not perceived by the WB State Government as a security risk? Especially when they were there to express their concern about the gang rapes of women and girls in the state.Is that an act that threatens the CM or the Government of WB?

The attitude of the West Bengal government with respect to cases of sexual assault and sexual violence against women has, at best, been dismissive. This is evident in the Chief Minister’s response to the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). It recorded 30,942 incidents of crime against women in West Bengal in 2012 as against 29,133 the year before. The government’s disclaimer was, “The situation in the state has improved and rape incidents have come down considerably”. Even as the state battles the shame of the Barasat and Nadia rape and murders, Bengal has again topped the country in crimes against women, accounting for 12.67% of such cases across India. Further, as the statistics reveal the state also recorded the third highest number of rapes (escaping the second slot by a whisker) while Kolkata registered the highest number of assaults on the ‘modesty’ of women among all the metro cities in the country.

We, the undersigned, condemn the increasing incidents of sexual assault and atrocities on women and girls in West Bengal. We deplore the rapidly deteriorating law and order situation in the state and how that is severely affecting the safety and mobility of women, especially high school and college-going girls in suburban and rural areas.

Some zones have become particularly unsafe, like the Barasat belt in North 24 Parganas where an undergraduate student–daughter of a day-labourer–was gangraped and killed on 7 June on her way back from college. Women are being regularly harassed, molested and raped in that area and several such incidents have been reported in the local media in the last two years. But the administration refuses to act. As the panchayat elections are drawing near, activists fear an escalation of violence against women in the state.

We also condemn the way in which women rights and human rights defenders have been treated by the Government, in complete opposition to the democratic principles of the country.

We demand:

  1. Immediate action initiated against the police personnel responsible for their arrests.
  2. That the West Bengal government accept the right of all, regardless of political leanings, to protest peacefully and democratically on important issues.
  3. That the Government, judiciary and law enforcing agencies initiate speedy action and arrest the culprits responsible for cases of atrocities against women, including the latest two cases of rape and murder against the young girls in Barasat and Nadia.
  4. That proper investigation and a fair and unbiased trial be fast tracked that would enable victims and their families to access justice and lead culprits towards due punishment.
  5. Further, steps should be taken to end instances of violence against women in the state, in consultation with the women rights’ and human rights’ groups.


Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault (CCSA), New Delhi, is a group of individuals and organisations that has come together to protest against the extreme culture of sexual violence against women and girls in Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon. We raise these issues with the public, as well as the administration and the police of Delhi-NCR and work in different ways to stop and prevent sexual harassment against vulnerable groups. CCSA can be contacted at and


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क्यूँ घर नही सवारते
क्यूँ घर मे सब को मारते,
क्यूँ परिवार का बना हिस्सा,
मजदूरो के  गर्व को दुतकारते …

घर मे सब बिखरा सा है,
अहंकार और दमन दिखता  है ,
मजदूरो के मानवधिकारो का ,
उड़ा दिया चिथड़ा- चिथड़ा है..

तुम मजदूरो को प्रताड़ते,
चक्रव्युह रचा रचा,
जेलो मे मजदूर थूसते,
बुनियादी मांगों पर झाड़ू मारते…

छवि तुम्हारी धुल गई,
रही सही मिट्टी मे घुल गई,
अब I LEAD INDIA कह ,
किस छवि को तुम सुधारते..

ज़रा सी , तुम करो शरम,
जो करना ही है कोई करम,
जाओ ! माँगो माफी इक इक मेहनतकश से तुम,

सब मारुती यूनियन के मजदूरों को वापिस काम पे लो

जो जेल के अन्दर हैं उनको आजादी दो ,

सारे झोठे केसेस वापिस लो

इज़्ज़त करो मजदूर की तुम…

जन जन देख रही है तुम्हे,
नारा कर रही बुलंद,



By- Rahul Yogi Deveshwar,  a contribution to #IMISLEADINDIA JOIN US ON FACEBOOK  group


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