SACW - 11 April 2018 | Sri Lanka: Caste, The Sangha & State office / Bangladesh: Free Speech / Pakistan: Geo News Blackout / India: Kashmiri youth; Dalits; Retrograde kulaks; Attack on Educational Institutions / Illiberal Leaders Attack Civil Society / fake doctors

Harsh Kapoor aiindex at
Tue Apr 10 19:04:09 EDT 2018

South Asia Citizens Wire - 11 April 2018 - No. 2982 
[via South Asia Citizens Web - since 1996]

1. Sad reality of the crisis facing free speech in Bangladesh | Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury
2. India: March For Science 2018 - Call For Protest In Delhi On 14 April And Charter Of Demands
3. India: Detention And Prevention Of Activists From Participating In Public Meeting On ‘Uranium Mining Impacts’ At Kadapa, Unlawful And Undemocratic - Statement By NAPM
4. India: The Politics of Retrograde Farmers Movements And The Right-Wing
5. Call For Solidarity With Brazilian People Versus Coup Regime, As Lula Enters Jail
6. Recent on Communalism Watch:
 - India-Kashmir: Local muslims face coninued social boycott from the majority Buddhist community since 2012
 - India: Exposing fault lines: the violence over Ram Navami processions - Editorial, The Hindu
 - India: A hatred filled Ram Navmi - reports from Bihar, Rajasthan and Bengal - selected reports
 - Islamist parties join hands to ‘establish sharia’ in Pakistan
 - India: The RSS the parent body of the BJP is fast getting a never-before grip on India
 - India: Bihar districts that witnessed communal violence in our times almost coincide with those having witnessed the same in the 1890s and the 1920s
 - India: The return of identity politics and its hefty cost - Editorial comment in business paper Livemint
 - India has never been as divided since Partition | Harsh Mander
 - Muslims: In the margins or pushed out? Ramachandra Guha
 - What makes Indian vegetarians different from Westerners | Aseem Hasnain & Abhilasha Srivastava
 - India: Law suit against Priya Varrier song says winking forbidden in Islam
 - India: State Body Objects to Papers on Adivasi Religion a seminar is postponed
::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::
7. Bangladesh: For peace to prevail - Editorial, Dhaka Tribune
8. Pakistan: The curious case of Geo News suspension | Marvi Sirmed
8.1 Blackout For Pakistani TV Channel Amid Tug-Of-War With Military  | Frud Bezhan
9. Pakistan - Karachi: Delimitation & identity politics | Tahir Mehdi
10. Sri Lanka: Acquiescence To Oppression - Caste, The Sangha & Government Office | S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole
11. Waiting For Moderators: Kashmiri youth are no longer amenable to sagacious advice | Bharat Bhushan
12. India and Pakistan are quietly making nuclear war more likely | Tom Hundley
!3. India: ‘Unless Dalits build bridges with oppressed people across castes, there is no future for Dalit politics’ | Anand Teltumbde
14. India: Toxic waste, callous treatment | Rasheed Kappan
15. India: Why the SC order on khaps may not be enough - Editorial, Hindustan Times
16. India has always been selective in human rights discussions, says Secretary General of Amnesty International
17. India: Two pundits on the road - They visited places far and near to learn | Niranjan Rajadhyaksha
18. Announced: People’s Tribunal on Attack on Educational Institutions in India
19. Texas Bill Prohibiting Male Masturbation Moves Closer To Becoming Law | Michael Stone
20. How Illiberal Leaders Attack Civil Society | Michael Abramowitz and Nate Schenkkan 
21. A brief history of fake doctors, and how they get away with it | Philippa Martyr

Text of Speech by Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury at Skien bibliotek, Skien, Norway

AIPSN has resolved that it will join hands with all organisations willing to participate on the Global March for Science, and hold joint rallies in various cities/towns in the country. It also appeals to the scientific community, progressive organisations and all right thinking people to join such rallies on 14th April 2018.

10th April, 2018: National Alliance of People’s Movements strongly condemns the high-handedness of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), a Govt. of India undertaking under the Department of Atomic Energy (headed by the Prime Minister) and the Andhra Pradesh police in misbehaving with activists of Human Rights Forum and NAPM and denying them access to the venue of a public meet yesterday in Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh by unlawfully detaining them for a couple of hours

Two papers on the changed political economy in the countryside, the organisations of conservative Kulaks and their trajectory in India

The undersigned WSF 2018 facilitating organizations call on all the Brazilian and international organizations participating in the WSF and on all world civil society, their movements and organizations of struggle, to take a clear stand against the coup that they are now seeking to be consummated with the arrest of former President Lula.

 - India-Kashmir: Local muslims face coninued social boycott from the majority Buddhist community since 2012
 - India: Exposing fault lines: the violence over Ram Navami processions - Editorial, The Hindu
 - India: A hatred filled Ram Navmi - reports from Bihar, Rajasthan and Bengal - selected reports
 - Islamist parties join hands to ‘establish sharia’ in Pakistan
 - India: The RSS the parent body of the BJP is fast getting a never-before grip on India
 - India: Bihar districts that witnessed communal violence in our times almost coincide with those having witnessed the same in the 1890s and the 1920s
 - India: The return of identity politics and its hefty cost - Editorial comment in business paper Livemint
 - India has never been as divided since Partition | Harsh Mander
 - Muslims: In the margins or pushed out? Ramachandra Guha
 - What makes Indian vegetarians different from Westerners | Aseem Hasnain & Abhilasha Srivastava
 - India: Law suit against Priya Varrier song says winking forbidden in Islam
 - India: State Body Objects to Papers on Adivasi Religion a seminar is postponed

 -> available via:
::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::

Dhaka Tribune
April 06, 2018


Schools and mosques which highlight Islam as a religion of peace are essential for continued peace and prosperity

All too often, the teachings of Islam have been distorted and misused by fanatics to spread hatred and create discord amongst the peace-loving citizens, of this country and the world over.

But, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said: Islam is a religion of peace, and teaches tolerance and harmony.

In this regard, her decision to set up nine model mosques and cultural centres is laudable, and goes a long way in introducing the real, peaceful face of Islam to the people of this country, especially the youth.

The last two years have shown us the horrible consequences of extremism, and to what extent this is used by certain people to further their own political agenda.

But Bangladesh cannot fall into that trap, and the PM has the right vision to solve this problem.

Bangladesh has a diverse populace and we, as a nation, will not tolerate religious and communal disharmony and violence.

The government has taken various steps to ensure that extremist militancy is quashed in our society, carrying out several successful raids in the past and eliminating terrorist cells. But, for a more well-rounded approach to the threat of Islamic militancy, education is crucial.

Schools and mosques which highlight Islam as a religion of peace are essential for continued peace and prosperity in the region. It will allow a platform for dialogue and discussion, and inform the public via religious leaders for whom they have the utmost respect.

These mosques and centres will expose the youth of this country to the true face of Islam which, as the PM has said, is essential for “peace to prevail.”

Marvi Sirmed
Daily Times
April 2, 2018

 State information minister says action underway against cable operators who have taken the channel off air

As reports emerge that Geo News has been taken off air in various areas across the country, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has categorically denied that her ministry has issued any directives for the suspension of the channel’s transmission.

Talking to Daily Times on Sunday, she said, “the government hasn’t shut down or suspended any channel. Why would we?” She said that the government could only take such a decision if a TV channel violated PEMRA law or the code of conduct. Even when such a violation took place, the PEMRA needed to follow the due process, she added.

Aurangzeb said Geo News’ suspension was in violation of PEMRA rules. She said the government had already initiated action against cable networks and cable operators found involved in the matter. “If they don’t address the issue, all of their cable services can be suspended,” she said.

The case of partial suspension of Geo TV in many areas across the country since last few days is turning out to be quite curious. No one from among the relevant authorities appears to know who is interrupting Geo News’ broadcast.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal tweeted about the matter on Sunday, “It is a shame & we will take notice. If it was wrong for a political party to do so in Karachi some time back, how can it be right for anyone else. [sic] Only PEMRA has the legal sanction to do so. Pakistan can’t be a pariah state for freedom of expression.”

Distributors, i.e. cable operators, have a huge stake in the electronic media. Speaking to Daily Times, Imran Nadeem, former general secretary of the currently inactive Cable Operators Association (CAP), said he had no knowledge of suspension of Geo News’ transmission, ‘except the one in DHA Karachi, which is mainly due to an ongoing conflict between Geo management and the local cable operators’. Nadeem, however, explained that digital cable distributors in Pakistan could offer no more than 70 channels to the public, while there were more than 150 channels in the country. “This means that some channels are inadvertently pushed off air,” he said.

When senior staffers at Geo News were approached, they denied having any ongoing conflict with cable operators in DHA Karachi. A journalist speaking on condition of anonymity said that cable operators in DHA Karachi were not showing Geo News since 2014. Another journalist said there had never been any such problem in the area before 2014. A senior reporter from Islamabad held that the distribution of Jang Group newspapers was stopped in DHAs for no reason in 2014.

In April 2014, Geo News was shut down illegally and arbitrarily hours after its senior staffer and veteran journalist Hamid Mir survived an assassination attempt in Karachi. After the attack, Geo News directly accused the then head of the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency for having a role in the attack. Subsequently, not only that Geo transmission was abruptly discontinued in many parts of Pakistan especially DHAs. This was followed by a slander campaign against the owner of the media house who was accused of blasphemy in hundreds of FIRs registered against him in different cities.

More recently, a top security official had reportedly told around 40 leading journalists in an off-the-record meet-the-press session that some channels, especially Geo News, were crossing red lines. While the official quoted the constitutional guarantee that no one would be allowed to malign state institutions, the provision concerning rule of law and due process were ignored, as per reports of the meeting in the media. The precise nature of the red lines was also not identified.

Looking at Geo News’ recent on-air behaviour, two aspects stand out. Firstly, many of its journalists and analysts have held strong views in favour of the 18th constitutional amendment and its edicts on provincial autonomy [another subject discussed in the off-the-record meeting]. Secondly, despite having many programmes and anchorpersons critical of ruling PML-N’s politics, the channel’s news bulletins have shown a sympathetic tilt towards the party, especially its emerging woman leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

8.1 Blackout FOR Pakistani TV Channel Amid Tug-Of-War With Military 
Frud Bezhan
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
April 07, 2018 09:53 GMT

Pakistani media outlets and journalists often face consequences for refusing to toe the line of the country’s all-powerful military.

The Pakistani military and its notorious intelligence services have long been accused of stifling the independent media and silencing opposition through intimidation, censorship, and even assassination.

Now observers say Pakistan’s popular Geo TV is being punished for its tug-of-war with the military. Geo TV, part of Pakistan's largest commercial media group, Jang, was taken off the air in many parts of the country on April 1, with media watchdogs and journalists claiming foul play.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PERMA) and the Islamabad government have insisted they were not behind the suspension of the channel. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said he launched an investigation on April 3, but the perpetrators have still not been found or named.

With no claim of responsibility, many suspect the military, which has an oversized role in domestic and foreign affairs in the South Asian country.

"There’s no doubt that the military is behind the blackout," says Ayesha Siddiqa, a Pakistani military analyst and author.

Last month, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa held an off-the-record briefing with a group of journalists in Rawalpindi that was widely reported. Bajwa described Geo TV as "subversive" and warned the channel that it would face consequences for crossing "red lines" by challenging the military, several reporters with knowledge about what was discussed during the briefing told RFE/RL. The military has rejected this account of events.

"The military doesn’t want any channel to report about anything that is against [its] interests, certainly not in its ongoing political battle," says Siddiqa. "Geo TV is one of the few Pakistani media outlets that are ready to provide an alternative perspective."

The Pakistani military did not respond to a request for comment. 
[ . . . ]

Tahir Mehdi
April 08, 2018

THE relationship between the sociocultural identity of voters and their voting patterns in Pakistan is intriguing. Political parties attempt to rally voters along linguistic, tribal, caste/ biradari and religious or sectarian lines and superimpose on them the promise of economic development and good governance. For some parties, identity politics offers greater electoral capital. However, one can never be sure what works better than the other in a specific election for a particular candidate.

It is even more difficult to see identity politics making its way to the delimitation of constituencies. But there has been one exception — the politics of the MQM, as it has always exclusively represented the Mohajir community of urban Sindh.

The Mohajir identity is perhaps the sole marker of its kind that could overtly express itself in the delimitation of constituencies. The delimitation commission formed for the 1970 general elections said in its report that “refugees were given representation in Karachi, Hyderabad, Multan, Lyallpur [now Faisalabad] and Dhaka to keep them intact and [to ensure] homogeneity of the population of the constituency as far as possible”. The commission did not generally consider biradari-based distinctions as sacrosanct. However, it made an exception when delimiting a constituency in Gujrat that fell in an area inhabited by the Gujjar and Rajput communities.

    Apart from Karachi, identity politics has been operating below the surface.

The next delimitation, under the Delimitation Act 1974 after the passage of the 1973 Constitution, however, refused to consider proposals to preserve the ‘settler’ and ‘local’ status of the population in making the constituencies contiguous. The commission told the objectors that these distinctions were not in sync with the national interest.

This was decried by leaders of the Mohajir community. As the latter was generally opposed to the PPP, Gen Zia placated it when he arbitrarily added seven more seats in the National Assembly, whose strength was set at 200 members by the Constitution, and gave two of these to Karachi. This continued until the next delimitation carried out by the next military ruler.

By the time of the 1998 census, the Mohajir share in Karachi had gone below the 50 per cent mark. It is likely to have gone down further in the 2017 census, but the MQM currently occupies 32 of the 42 provincial seats in the metropolis though it has failed to attract other communities. This would hardly have been possible without drawing up constituencies in a manner that favoured the party.

The Supreme Court had observed, while hearing a constitutional petition in 2010, that the way the boundaries of administrative units and electoral constituencies in Karachi are demarcated is helping territorialise communities instead of creating an environment that is conducive for different communities to live together in peace and harmony. It had asked the authorities to delimit Karachi again and the Election Commission of Pakistan did undertake a limited exercise but could not do so afresh for many reasons.

Since language data from the latest census is not yet available, it is difficult to analyse the current delimitation of Karachi. If the commission has not given any weightage to language as “other cognate factors to ensure homogeneity in the creation of constituencies”, the next elections are likely to have a lasting impact on identity politics in the metropolis and the identity narrative inculcated by its main proponents.

Elsewhere in the country, identity politics has been operating below the surface. It does not overtly express itself in terms of electoral outcomes but it helps shape the discourse around elections. The proponents of this politics prey on any hints in electoral processes that could help them promote a narrative of victimisation of their group.

The Seraikis have always found themselves on the wrong side of delimitation, across the provinces. The Pakhtun encroachment of Dera Ismail Khan, which is predominantly Seraiki, has been more than visible. In the 1988 delimitation, the district was awarded one seat against a share of 1.56 seats and in Punjab, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur were collectively given three seats against a share of 3.89. In the 2002 delimitations, the average size of the national constituencies in southern Punjab was bigger than the ones in northern and central Punjab by 8.5pc. This strengthened the Seraiki narrative of being victimised by ‘Takht Lahore’ and the Punjab-dominant central state. The new delimitation proposals, however, have added an interesting twist.

D.I. Khan now has two of the most equal seats in KP while its Pakhtun neighbourhood has one of the most unequal seats in the country — Bannu is the largest and Tank the second smallest constituency in the country. The anomalies in size of the southern KP districts have not caused a negative spillover into non-Pakhtun D.I. Khan this time.

The same is witnessed in the case of the non-Pakhtun majority Hazara Division where two Hindko-speaking districts have unequal seats. This shows that inequality in constituency size can only be blamed on the arbitrary sizes of districts and not on active gerrymandering on the basis of the ethnicity and language of the constituents.

In fact, language and ethnicity as delimiting factors have figured in the ECP’s preliminary report only in the case of Balochistan where it has been used to justify the clubbing together of certain districts in a manner that has resulted in marked inequality in the size of constituencies.

The northern and central Punjab districts have lost 11 national seats, seven to other provinces, one to their own capital, Lahore, and three to the southern Punjab districts of D.G. Khan, Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh. The seats in southern Punjab are comparatively smaller too. In previous delimitations, there were 44 national constituencies in Punjab that were smaller than the provincial average by 5pc or more; 42 of these were in central and northern Punjab. But now there are 30 such seats and 24 of these fall in southern Punjab.

The current delimitation counters the Seraiki narrative of victimhood in the electoral arena. But will it lead to a reverse narrative in which central Punjab complains of ‘victimisation’? That will be interesting to watch though a lot will depend on the outcome of electoral contests in new constituencies and their interplay with other factors.

The writer is an independent researcher with an interest in elections and governance.

by S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole
Colombo Telegraph
April 10, 2018

We are supposedly living in a secular country, notwithstanding Buddhism being the foremost religion sponsored by the state.

And yet, when my friend and senior schoolmate, Mr. K.C. Nithiananthan was to come as Governor of the Northern Province, effective 6 April, it did not seem to happen and his old posting as Governor of the Western Province is still on the relevant website.

On enquiry I am told that our former Governor, Reginald Cooray, who had been posted to Kandy, had been rejected by the Mahanayakes there, saying a fishing caste Christian is unacceptable but they would allow a Christian if he is of the agricultural caste. Unbelievably, negotiations happened. Cooray and Nithiananthan had a meeting in Colombo with the authorities. The government apparently bought this line by the Mahasangha and, as I gather, Cooray will go to Kurunagala and a woman of the right caste will go to the Central Province!

This is against all the laws and principles we profess and a part of the fraud that Sri Lanka is – preaching high principles and doing the opposite. Welcome to Sri Lanka, perhaps the most racist and communalist country in the world. Worse, our non-agriculturists have acquiesced by accepting their slavery – there are so many powerful fishing caste people in government from whom we have not had a whimper. People are people, cut from the same rags I think. Wondering about this, I asked my driver who worships Arumuga Navalar and is not an agriculturist, whether he knows Arumuga Navalar’s teaching to agriculturist school children in his Paalar Paadam that if a low caste person or a dog sees his earthen cooking vessels, he ought to destroy them and buy new ones? My driver was aghast and said no one taught him that.

Why just today (Sunday 8th) I drove from Jaffna to Batticaloa to attend the fiftieth ordination celebration of my good friend The Rev. Fr. Joe Mary tomorrow Monday. I settled down in my car to read my Sunday newspapers. A prominent English language Sunday newspaper had its top, page 1 story with the headline emblazoned: New Year Gift to the North: Army to free 650 acres. They take our private lands and think they are giving us a gift by vacating it? The Editor, presumably the best of the Sinhalese intelligentsia, let that headline pass thinking he is really giving us a gift of what is ours. All the way from Vavuniya through Trinco and Moothur  to Batticaloa, I saw all these encroached and forcibly settled lands, wondering what our future in this country is as Tamils.

I also recalled with bitterness my brother-in-law’s land which he had purchased in Keerimalai for a resort home, which has been taken over for the presidential palace. A government that promotes free trade cannot afford to violate people’s ownership rights over their property.

As we reached Batticaloa, I wondered if the people of Batticaloa who worship Pattini/Kannaki and at the same time had Navalar statues erected by their MP Yogeswaran, know that Navalar decried Pattini as a low caste Jaina Chetty goddess and demanded “What temples for that Chettichi?” The people of Batticaloa also have acquiesced to their slavery.  We are all willing slaves to those who oppress us. It is the culture of oppression.

The root of this master-servant relationship can be traced to the Mahavamsa where in the Second Century BC (if the Mahavamsa is to be believed) King Duttugemenu’s son, the Prince Salya, marries a low caste woman, Asokamala. For this, he is banished. The only difference now is that we are doing the same horrible low-class thinking in the twenty-first century. Lord Krishna said in the Gita that he created the castes according to their moral qualities – the higher the qualities, the higher the caste. In Sri Lanka we have those claiming to be high castes exhibiting very low qualities in disrespecting the rights of those who are not agriculturist.

Until the worldly powers of clergy are removed we will always be a third rate country. In Jaffna, we have in Neduntivu (or Nainativu) a monk who has the Navy in his service. According to a reliable professional from there, he has fathered some 10 children through Tamil women. These ladies, like the fisher caste people who accept that they cannot be governors of the Central Province, are willing concubines while he claims to be the Mahanayake of the North. These ladies have acquiesced to their oppression.

I do not regard Nainativu as a part of my heritage because of how the Navy behaves and foisted criminals as our representative. I visited there for the first time only recently when a relation, on the occasion of my daughter’s marriage, gave us all a picnic-tour of Jaffna. The bus she hired took us at some point by ferry to Neduntivu. We walked about and a monk without asking any permission, came and sat on the front seat that I had been occupying. I politely told him it is a private bus, but he glared at me. I am a slave in Jaffna and knew I could not throw him out without the Navy coming to his protection. I too had acquiesced to my oppression.

Should we not rethink the foremost position for a religion that brings out the worst in man – acquiescence to our own oppression. All jobs should be open to everyone based only on qualifications. Does the government have a new policy on caste as a qualification?

India Today
16 April 2018

Three instances point to a crisis in Kashmir—the death of two militants Zubair Ahmed Turay and Rouf Khanday in Shopian and Aanantnag, respectively on 1 April; and Junaid, the son of Ashraf Sehrai the new chief of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) taking up arms days after the father replaced Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Each one demonstrates that moderating influences on Kashmiri youth are lacking today.

I first heard of Zubair in December 2016. Some local residents of Shopian had gathered at the Dak Bungalow for a discussion with members of the Yashwant Sinha-led Concerned Citizens’s Group. Towards the end of the meeting, a bearded old man with an emotionless face and blank eyes began speaking haltingly.
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“My son Zubair Ahmed Turay has 19 FIRs against him and has been arrested eight times under the Public Safety Act (PSA). The first FIR against him was when he was 11 years old. He has been in and out of jail since then. He is 23 now. Each time a court quashes a case against him, he is re-arrested under another PSA charge. Tell me what I should do?” Bashir Ahmed Turay asked. On May 1, 2017, Zubair escaped from illegal police custody after yet another case against him had been quashed by the High Court. He joined the Hizbul Mujahideen. Eleven months on, he was shot dead with six other militants.

Zubair, an inveterate stone-pelter, had been a victim of revolving-door-detentions. Using PSA allows detention up to a year without trial. However, victims are released for a few minutes before the year ends and rearrested under the same law. Zubair had cut his teeth in the 2009 Shopian agitation against the twin rape-and-murder case. He was a good organiser and more aggressive than others. He did not listen to anyone and the local elders refused to “guarantee his good beh­aviour” to get him released from custody.

The second case involves 21-year-old Rouf, shot dead in Anantnag. He was holed up in a house with another militant whom the police convinced to surrender. Rouf’s parents were brought to the site to persuade him to surrender. When persuasion by both parents failed, the mother made a second bid, going in alone. Rouf did not budge and she came out crying. He was killed within hours.

After his son, an MBA, joined the Hizbul, Sehrai said, “Both the gun and our political struggle are important.”

The third case is of Junaid. Exactly a week after Sehrai took over as TeH head, Junaid, an MBA, joined Hizbul Mujahideen—the first progeny of any Hurriyat leader taking up arms. Sehrai ­expressed no remorse. He accepted political violence, saying, “Both the gun and our political struggle are important.”

There was a time when Syed Ali Shah Geelani would claim that the Kashmir movement was peaceful. Today, no Hurriyat leader condemns violence unequivocally. However, those Kashmiris who have seen militancy in the late 1980s and in the 1990s are worried about the worsening crisis.

Several factors have contributed to the present situation. They range from a persistent absence of dialogue; lack of democratic space for peaceful public protests, stone-pelting by youngsters, police retaliation with pellet guns that blind people; ­revolving-door-arrests under the PSA and the use of military force to curb militancy.

The net result of all this is that youngsters in Kashmir have got accustomed to daily violence. Bereft of any experi­ence of normalcy, they are emotionally inc­lined towards militancy. Their glorification of armed militants with their inevitably short lives is not inspired from across the border, but by local militant icons.

They are no longer amenable to advice from their parents, family, community elders, teachers or even religious leaders. No one is able to talk freely in an atmosphere charged with suspicion of what the other person thinks. In the absence of public debate, there is no way of predicting how youngsters think or how they will act. The only relationship the State has with them is through the security forces. And the State’s dilemma perhaps is that if it loosens its grip, then there is no knowing how many will pick up the gun. The situation is particularly acute in Shopian and Anantnag in South Kashmir.

Earlier, there was hope from Indian civil society and mainstream Indian intellectuals. However, even they have failed the Kashmiris under the current political dispensation in Delhi.

(The writer is a journalist based in Delhi)

Both countries are arming their submarines with nukes.
by Tom Hundley

The Times of India
April 9, 2018, 2:00 AM IST
TOI Q&A in The Interviews Blog | Edit Page, India, Q&A | TOI

Civil rights activist Anand Teltumbde has worked extensively on Dalit issues. Currently he teaches big data analytics at Goa Institute of Management. In a conversation with Sugandha Indulkar he analyses the fallout of Supreme Court’s verdict on the SC/ST Act:

Supreme Court said that people who were agitating had not read the verdict properly and were misled by vested interests. What is your opinion?

This is absolutely misleading. The judgment of the Supreme Court was in response to a simple appeal of a high official, who was given anticipatory bail by the Bombay high court, to quash the case. If Supreme Court found merit, it could quash the case. But where was the question of seeing the generalised misuse of the Atrocities Act by Dalits and taking up cudgels for those who perpetrate crime? This was totally unwarranted.

It invoked Articles 14 and 21, but the entire legislation in favour of the weaker sections is the constitutional exception to these Articles. Such a bland reading of the Constitution is astonishing. Dalit reaction to it is not engineered by any ‘vested interest’ or misreading but entirely justified.

What factors have triggered Dalit anger?

Dalit anger which manifested in the all-India strike on April 2 is an accumulated anger. It is an outcome of what the present government has done over the last four years. Misled by their leaders, Dalit community voted in large numbers for BJP in the last elections. PM Modi thought that by showing his bhakti to Babasaheb Ambedkar he could fool Dalits. Yes, it took some time for Dalits to realise what was going on.

The ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in IIT Madras, the Rohith Vemula episode, the persistent decrease in budget provisions for Dalits, be it scholarships or component plan, the curb on reservations in universities, the cow game that jeopardised nutritional security of poor Dalits and made them prey to cow vigilante goons, and galloping rise in atrocity numbers which zoomed from 39,000 in 2013 to 47,000 in 2014. The foul-mouthed references of ministers and persistent injustice being done to youth leaders like Chandrashekhar Azad of Bhim Army cannot pass unregistered.

Anger does not mean violence. Dalits do not resort to violence unprovoked. The very fact that violence happened in only BJP-ruled states, indicates some sinister plan. Provoke them to indulge in violence and gun them down so they would never dare to do it again. Ten people have lost their lives and only violence of Dalits gets projected.

Where is contemporary Dalit politics headed?

Independent Dalit politics was nipped in the bud. As a result Dalit politics remained divorced from the issues of Dalit masses. But now young Dalits are coming forth, realising the follies of the past. They are articulating their views confidently. It is being realised that caste politics and reservations aren’t getting them anywhere. They are disuniting them further. Unless Dalits build bridges with oppressed people across castes without using that poisonous term ‘caste’, there is no future for Dalit politics.

Do you agree Dalits who are well educated are disconnected from the rest?

This was bound to happen. Over the last seven decades, because of reservations and other things, a class has come up among Dalits whose umbilical cord with the Dalit masses snapped long back. Their behaviour is like Trishanku, not being able to fully merge with their class on account of caste barriers and not being able to fully identify with the labouring masses of Dalits.

The seeds of it were in the Dalit movement from the beginning itself. Babasaheb Ambedkar at the fag end of his life realised that whatever he had done benefitted only a small section of educated and urban Dalits and he could not do anything for the vast majority of rural Dalits. He expressed this to his followers and asked them to undertake a land struggle. It was on his prompt that three glorious land struggles took place, first in 1953 itself and thereafter in 1959 and 1964-65.

How do you situate Dalit politics in the larger context of Indian politics?

It is just rent seeking from mainstream politicians by brokering Dalit interests. Dalit leaders keep chanting Ambedkar and keep Dalit masses in limbo.

Is BJP anti-Dalit?

BJP is definitely anti-Dalit. Their ideological antecedents make a virtue of the Indian past, which clearly makes it anti-Dalit. Although for its political needs it cannot give free expression to its anti-Dalit self, its actions have proved this in ample measure.

*What needs to be done to resolve the matter?*

What do common people need for dignified living? They need quality education, healthcare, security of livelihood and a social climate of fraternity. Politicians have been playing people against one another in the name of caste, religion and so on just to perpetuate their class-caste rule. So, this kind of politics must stop if India has to have a future.

Deccan Herald
March 11 2018

Deadly, hazardous and toxic, untreated bio-medical waste could trap us in all in a twister of nightmarish infections. Isn't this reason enough to bring every healthcare setup in the city under a stringent regulatory system with the utmost urgency? Not so, if a damning report based by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is any indication.

First, what do the rules say: The Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 (BMW Rules) mandate every Health Care Establishment (HCE) generating BMW to take all steps to ensure that such waste is handled without any adverse effect on the human health and environment.

Glaring lacuna
The infectious wastes are required to be collected, transported, treated and disposed of strictly in accordance with the BMW rules. The CAG report found a glaring lacuna in the enforcement of this rule by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB): "KSPCB does not have details of the mode of treatment and disposal of BMW of 3,473 HCEs in the state. Disposal of a significant portion of the BMW using unscientific methods cannot be ruled out."

The implication is clear: A disturbing number of hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres are clearly guilty of not segregating the hazardous waste. Used syringes, contaminated swabs, expired drugs and even body parts are being mixed with municipal waste. Contamination of soil and water bodies is a real danger, a readymade recipe for an outbreak of deadly diseases.

Common facilities
The bio-medical waste collected is treated at the city's Common Bio-Medical Waste Treatment Facilities (CBMWTF). But the Pollution Board has been charged with not doing enough to monitor them. Studies have indicated that the efficiency of these facilities are low since they use outdated technologies. Their incineration facilities and emission control levels have also come under question.

An estimated 25 tons of BMW are generated by the healthcare units in Bengaluru every day. But how much of this ends up at the city's two CBMWTFs? This is not clear. Top KSPCB officials have themselves found during random checks that a majority of hospitals do not fully comply with the mandated BMW segregation.

But the Board has been found to be lax in cracking down on the violating hospitals. Waste management experts, environmentalists and concerned citizen activists are asking why the pollution watchdog is not closing down such facilities.

Deliberate mixing
Healthcare establishments have been repeatedly found mixing medical and general waste. Preferring anonymity, pourakarmikas confirm that they do find the hospital waste in huge quantities at the landfills and solid waste treatment centres.

Segregation of BMW is a continuous process, and this can be done efficiently only when there is continuous training. This has been found lacking even in big hospitals, notes Wilma Rodrigues from Saahas Zero Waste, a social enterprise. "This reiteration of training has to be taken right down to the cleaning person. Lab assistants too need to be vigilant about BMW," she notes.

Guilty clinics
Wilma also draws attention to the smaller clinics that hardly follow the BMW rules. "A lot of them don't even know that such rules exist. There is no segregation. Nor do they hand over biomedical waste to the right agencies. This violation is even worse with dental clinics where a lot of BMW is generated. Has KSPCB randomly visited such clinics?" she wonders.

At a prominent private hospital in Indiranagar, proper segregation of BMW and transportation to a common treatment facility is currently on. A visit to the hospital confirmed this. But the entire process was streamlined only a year ago.

An insider, who did not want to be named, reveals that before a newly trained officer took charge, the entire medical waste generated in the hospital was mixed with municipal waste and carted away to the landfills. Awareness was low and inspections too were rare.

No segregation
In Dasarahalli, at the BBMP Maternity Hospital, syringes, swabs and other waste were found dumped in a huge dustbin. However, there was no sign of any segregation. A hospital staffer explained the segregation would happen outside the health facility at a nearby BBMP garbage facility. But rules mandate that this process should be completed within the hospital by trained staff.

Segregated or not, once the biomedical waste leaves a health facility, does the entire load reach the CBMWTF? Narendra Babu, a solid waste management specialist and equipment supplier, notes that the BMW finds its way to the municipal waste dump yards enroute. This, he alleges, is in collusion with the Palike and the garbage mafia.

Environmental hazard
From an environmental perspective, the unregulated dumping of BMW with municipal waste can be disastrous. "We find tons of biomedical waste in a lot a quarries where garbage is dumped. This is particularly common in Anjanapura, Kengeri, Bommasandra and other areas. Besides being extraordinarily hazardous, BMW is highly pathogenic too. Infected body parts are coming out of hospitals. Infections can spread very fast since awareness on public health is so low," notes Leo Saldanha from the Environment Support Group (ESG).

The high rate of morbidity among the BBMP pourakarmikas, who are in direct contact with BMW -mixed garbage, is a clear indication of the hazards. "They are the most exposed," as Saldanha puts it. Conversations with pourakarmikas in early morning pickup vans in HAL area confirms that they do get hospital waste bags filled with used syringes, swabs and more.

Landfills to water sources
A recent study by ESG is another proof of how the hazardous waste finds their way to landfills. Finding fault with the treatment plant at Mavallipura, the study reveals that heavy metals are being released by the landfills into the water sources. Notes the report: "This is quite uncharacteristic of municipal garbage, indicating thereby the strong possibility that these landfills have been receiving hazardous wastes as well." This observation says it all.
(With inputs from Darshan Devaiah B P & Madhuri Rao)

Editorial, Hindustan Times
Hindustan Times
April 02, 2018

While the Supreme Court’s order is important, it will not stop attacks on couples altogether. To stop the custom, patriarchal mindsets that view women as property and part of an honour that needs safeguarding, have to change.

Chaudhary Jitendra Singh, the head of the Dhama khap, Haryana. What is equally important is to impress upon these khap panchayats that what they are doing is illegal and it is they, and not the couples, who will face the full force of the law if they overstep the legal boundaries.
Chaudhary Jitendra Singh, the head of the Dhama khap, Haryana. What is equally important is to impress upon these khap panchayats that what they are doing is illegal and it is they, and not the couples, who will face the full force of the law if they overstep the legal boundaries. (HT)

In any country ---- at least in the ones that are not so feudal ---- a marriage between two consenting adults is usually an acceptable practice. Not so in many parts of India, especially in the north, where Jat community groups, comprising elderly men (khap panchayats) , can question and stop sub-caste marriages and marriages within the same clan (or gotra). They can also punish couples and their families for overstepping stifling social boundaries, even though their decisions have no legal backing. Last week, the Supreme Court made this clear and ruled that it is illegal for khap panchayats to interfere in a marriage between two consenting adults, and also to summon and punish them physically. In many cases, such punishments mean death. The court has also laid down preventive, remedial and punitive measures to stop such so-called honour killings. The initial reaction of khaps in western Uttar Pradesh to the court ruling has been one of defiance. This isn’t just bluff and bluster; it is fuelled by the fact that these khaps have strong political support because they control huge vote banks.

While the Supreme Court’s order is important and can probably push state governments to take measures to deter khaps from pronouncing such arbitrary sentences and provide a safe environment for couples, it will not stop attacks on couples altogether. To stop the custom, patriarchal mindsets that view women as property and intrinsic to a code of honour that needs safeguarding, have to change. This will not happen unless families change their own belief systems, and boys and young men are taught to respect women (and included in structured gender sensitisation programmes).

What is equally important is to impress upon these khap panchayats that they will face the full force of the law if they overstep the legal boundaries. Last but not the least, political parties should not let electoral concerns prevail over social ones. They should speak up strongly and unequivocally against the regressive khaps. 

de of the hero. Of grace under pressure.

It’s one of the few among large democracies still using the death penalty and is brazenly attacking minorities, says the Secretary General of Amnesty International

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha
Jan 18 2013

If no one heeds your call/Walk alone, walk alone, walk alone...—Rabindranath Tagore

A popular visual metaphor of Indian wisdom is that of a sage meditating in splendid solitude, in a forest or on a mountain, far removed from the messy world we live in. Yet there is also a tradition of wise men travelling through the real world in search of knowledge. The first Shankaracharya left what is now Kerala to eventually set up monasteries in four different parts of the country. Guru Nanak not only travelled through India but also reached distant places such as Baghdad and Mecca. Swami Vivekananda wandered through India for almost five years as an impoverished monk.
What is true of religious teachers is also true of scholars. The usual image in our minds is of someone sitting for long hours in a library. But then there is a special category of peripatetic pundits who have travelled to learn. The two greatest examples modern India has seen are Dharmanand Kosambi and Rahul Sankrityayan.
Kosambi had told his astonishing story in Nivedan, his Marathi autobiography that has recently been translated into English by Meera Kosambi, his granddaughter. He left Goa as a young man in 1899, with little money but with a burning desire to learn more about Buddhism, and to spread its message in Goa and Maharashtra. He was at the forefront of the Buddhist revival in India in the early 20th century.
Kosambi’s travels took him to places such as Pune, Gwalior, Varanasi, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. He learnt Hindi, Sanskrit, Pali and English on the way. With barely a school education, he ended up teaching at Harvard University and the Leningrad Academy of Sciences. Kosambi eventually ended his life by starvation in 1947, at M.K. Gandhi’s ashram in Wardha, Maharashtra. Gandhi had said that his ashram had been sanctified by the presence of Kosambi.
Sankrityayan, born Kedarnath Pandey, left his home in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, in 1910, with little more than a primary school education. His travels took him to places such as Varanasi, Ladakh, Nepal, Ceylon, Tibet, Japan and Korea. He visited the erstwhile Soviet Union twice, and, like Kosambi, taught for some time at Leningrad. Besides his native Hindi, he gained mastery over several other languages such as Sanskrit, Pali, Urdu, Tibetan, Persian, French and Russian.
His political journey was fascinating as well. Sankrityayan began as a Vaishnav monk, and then became an Arya Samajist, a Buddhist, a peasant leader and finally, a Communist. He spent his final years in the hills near Mussoorie. His literary masterpiece was Volga Se Ganga, a sweeping narrative of human progress over two millennia, 6000 BC to 1922 AD, told in 19 stories. I have the Marathi translation in my library, though the English translation by Victor Kiernan has, unfortunately, been out of print for many years now.
Their burning passion for knowledge united Kosambi and Sankrityayan; so did the difficulties they endured at a time when travel often meant walking great distances. The humane message of the Buddha also unites their unrelated lives. But reading about their journeys and work tells us a lot else.
First, they wrote in Indian languages and have perhaps paid a price for this by being forgotten by the exclusively English-speaking elite of today.
Second, these were two towering intellectuals who barely had a decent school education but ended up teaching in prestigious academic institutions. I cannot but wonder whether they would have been able to do so today, when universities have become closed shops that shoo away anybody who does not have impressive certificates. It is hard to believe that either Kosambi or Sankrityayan would have been invited to teach at a contemporary Indian university.
Third, they often travelled with barely enough money to eat, yet were supported along the way by strangers who respected men of knowledge. In her introduction to Nivedan, Meera Kosambi points out: “So it was that a young and needy Marathi-speaking Brahmin student—who was also intelligent, hard-working and courteous—could find shelter and warm hospitality in many places far from home. In a way this was an extension of the pan-Indian ethos of honouring holy men and learning in general, without regard to caste and ethnic background; and it was not only Maharashtrians who helped Dharmanand.”
Finally, the journeys of these two men also show that there was an essential cultural unity in India far before there was a formal political union. It is often tempting to reach the glum conclusion that there is nothing in India but warring groups; the very lives of Kosambi and Sankrityayan, perhaps more than even the lives of more famous political leaders, reveal that there is a common cultural heritage binding India together over the centuries.
Niranjan Rajadhyaksha is executive editor, Mint.

People’s Tribunal on Attack on Educational Institutions is being organised by the People’s Commission on Shrinking Democratic Spaces on April 11-13,2018 at Constitution Club of India, New Delhi. Testimonies of close to 110 students and teachers from 35 educational institutions are on record and around 45 of them will be deposed during the tribunal. Please visit for more information and update.

by Michael Stone
What's Happening in Central Europe Is Part of a Larger Trend
by Michael Abramowitz and Nate Schenkkan 
Increasingly, attacks on civil society and independent media have become normalized throughout central Europe, threatening the future of democracy in the region.

Philippa Martyr
The Conversation
April 10, 2018

Impersonation of doctors is a modern phenomenon that grew out of Western medicine’s drive towards professionalism. from

Melbourne man Raffaele Di Paolo pleaded guilty last week to a number of charges related to practising as a medical specialist when he wasn’t qualified to do so. Di Paolo is in jail awaiting his sentence after being found guilty of fraud, indecent assault and sexual penetration.

This case follows that of another so-called “fake doctor” in New South Wales. Sarang Chitale worked in the state’s public health service as a junior doctor from 2003 until 2014. It was only in 2016, after his last employer – the research firm Novotech – reported him to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), that his qualifications were investigated.

“Dr” Chitale turned out to be Shyam Acharya, who had stolen the real Dr Chitale’s identity and obtained Australian citizenship and employment at a six-figure salary. Acharya had no medical qualifications at all.

Cases of impersonation, identity theft and fraudulent practice happen across a range of disciplines. There have been instances of fake pilots, veterinarians and priests. It’s especially confronting when it happens in medicine, because of the immense trust we place in those looking after our health.

So what drives people to go to such extremes, and how do they get away with?

A modern phenomenon

Impersonation of doctors is a modern phenomenon. It grew out of Western medicine’s drive towards professionalism in the 19th century, which ran alongside the explosion of scientific medical research.

Before this, doctors would be trained by an apprentice-type system, and there was little recourse for damages. A person hired a doctor if they could afford it, and if the treatment was poor, or killed the patient, it was a case of caveat emptor – buyer beware.

But as science made medicine more reliable, the title of “doctor” really began to mean something – especially as the fees began to rise. By the end of the 19th century in the British Empire, becoming a doctor was a complex process. It required long university training, an independent income and the right social connections. Legislation backed this up, with medical registration acts controlling who could and couldn’t use medical titles.

Given the present social status and salaries of medical professionals, it’s easy to see why people would aspire to be doctors. And when the road ahead looks too hard and expensive, it may be tempting to take short cuts.

Today, there are four common elements that point to weaknesses in our health-care systems, which allow fraudsters to slip through the cracks and practise medicine.

Shyam Acharya stole Dr Chitale’s identity to practise medicine. AAP Images

1. Misplaced trust

Everyone believes someone, somewhere, has checked and verified a person’s credentials. But sometimes this hasn’t been done, or it takes a long time.

Fake psychiatrist Mohamed Shakeel Siddiqui – a qualified doctor who stole a real psychiatrist’s identity and worked in New Zealand for six months in 2015 – left a complicated trail of identity theft that required the assistance of the FBI to unravel.

Last year, in Germany, a man was found to have forged foreign qualifications that he presented to the registering body in early 2016. He was issued with a temporary licence while these were checked. When the qualifications turned out to be fraudulent, he was fired from his job as a junior doctor in a psychiatric ward. But this wasn’t until June 2017.
2. Foreign credentials

Credentials from a foreign university, issued in a different language, are another common element among medical fraudsters. Verifying these can be time-consuming, so a health system desperate for staff may cut corners.

Ioannis Kastanis was appointed as head of medicine at Skyros Regional Hospital in Greece in 1999 with fake degrees from Sapienza University of Rome. The degrees were recognised and the certificates translated, but their authenticity was never checked.

Dusan Milosevic, who practised as a psychologist for ten years, registered in Victoria in 1998. He held bogus degrees from the University of Belgrade in Serbia – at the time a war-torn corner of Europe, which made verification difficult.
3. Regional and remote practice

It’s easier to get away with faking in regional or remote areas where there is less scrutiny. Desperation to retain staff may also silence complaints.

“Dr” Balaji Varatharaju fraudulently gained employment in remote Alice Springs, where he worked as a junior doctor for nine months.

Ioannis Kastanis had worked on a distant Greek island with a population of only around 3,000 people.
4. It’s not easy to dob

Finally, there are two unnerving questions. How do you tell a poorly trained but legally qualified practitioner from a faker? And who do you tell if you suspect something is off?

The people best placed to spot the fakes – other hospital and health-care staff – work in often stressful conditions where complaints about colleagues can lead to reprisals. If the practitioner is from another ethnicity or culture, this adds an extra layer of sensitivity. It was only after “Dr Chitale” was exposed that staff were willing to say his practice had been “shabby”, “unsavoury” and “poor”.
Qualified doctors, like former Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel, have also caused problems. DAN PELED/AAP Image
So, why do they do it?

The reasons for fakery are as diverse as the fakers. “Dr Nick Delaney”, at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, reportedly pretended to be a doctor to “make friends” and keep a fling going with a security guard at the same hospital.

On a more sinister level, there are possible sexually predatory reasons, like those of bogus gynaecologist Raffale Di Paolo. Fake psychiatrist Mohamed Shakeel Siddiqui said he only did it to help people.

There are also the less easily understood fakers, like “Dr” Adam Litwin, who worked as a resident in surgery at UCLA Medical Center in California for six months in 1999. Questions only began to be asked when he turned up to work in his white coat with a picture of himself silk-screened on it: even by Californian standards, this was going too far.
So how do we stop this happening?

Part of the problem is our cultural dependence on qualifications as the passkey to higher income and social status, making them an easy target for fraudsters. Qualifications only reduce risk, but they can’t eliminate it. Qualified doctors can also cause havoc: think Jayant Patel and other bona fide qualified practitioners who have been struck off for malpractice, mutilation and manslaughter.

Conversely, no one complained about “Dr Chitale” in 11 years. The only complaints Kastanis received in 14 years were from people who thought his Ferrari was vulgar. The German junior doctor had an excellent knowledge of mental health-care procedures and language – obtained from his time as a psychiatric patient.

Most of these loopholes can be closed with time and patience. What would help is if hospital and health-care staff felt sufficiently supported to report their suspicions to their employer, rather than to their colleagues. This would foster a more open culture of flagging concerns about fellow practitioners without fear of formal or informal punishment. It might also uncover more “Dr Chitales” before anyone is seriously harmed.

 Philippa Martyr: Lecturer, Pharmacology, University of Western Australia


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