Monday, December 31, 2007

Battle at Kruger

One of the most powerful videos I have ever seen and fascinated by it. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched it.

Imagine a baby buffalo (looks like an Indian Bison sans the white patch on its legs) which is mauled by a pride of lions and a crocodile surviving due to the collective effort of a herd of buffaloes. A must watch video, though amateurishly done, amazing. Truly, the ways of nature.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Benazir and Musharraf, Modi and Thapar

I have been thinking of ending this year and beginning next year writing things pleasant. But the happenings around has forced me to take stock of our neighbourhood. I have not been too much of a fan of Benazir Bhutto. I have not been in awe of her baritone voice or her macho looks. But her assassination truly was something that shook me. She was after all the first woman Prime Minister of any Muslim nation and also the beacon of the Bhutto legacy and family, and her life snuffed out like this shows the terrorist politics of the region. Nawaz Sharief too needs to be aware of the risks, though I am sure he will know what it is to be a politician in the military-ruled Pakistan, that any Pakistani politician is open to. As long as Musharaff supports and has the support and blessings of the "groups", he need not worry about his life. He is safe. But the politics and the fabric of the Pakistani politics and society has definitely taken a sharp dip southwards. Hoping our bretheren too can breathe easy in a "free and democratic" Pakistan soon.

I was also reading a write up by Karan Thapar about "Modification of Politics". The last paragraph was something I could not really comprehend. What does Thapar mean by sudden removal of Modi? He should be careful about the words he uses. Whatever said and done, Godhra or whatever, Modi is the democratically elected leader. This statement is unbecoming of a senior journalist. Ofcourse everyone has the right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the Indian Constitution but this is definitely inflammatory to say the least. Some check definitely needed here

P.S- I see that the last paragraph in this write up is blocked now. Is it intentional or just accidental. Anyways, here is what was there when I first read it

Only the sudden removal of Narendra Modi can stop this. For he is the agent forcing this change. And whilst he's with us, he will do just that. I have no doubt Indian politics after Sunday the 23rd is another country. We have to live with new challenges. Some of us have to accept new leaders.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Vimochana and Conflict Resolution

Vimochana is one organization in Bangalore which has been striving towards gendered justice and also striving hard to place the "woman" in her rightful place in society. Donna Fernandes who spearheads this organization has done yeoman's ahem...should I say yeo-woman's service in this field.

The country is riddled with multiple issues around which conflicts are taking place. The conflict on issues related to ethnicity, language, culture and religion abound and mar the process of social and economic
development of society. Country is witness to the outbursts of violence in various garbs and around various issues. The social conflicts saw their peak in the terror of religion based in the most recent times. The
simmering ethnic conflicts in the northeast and Kashmir have been a semi permanent sore from many decades. And many such events have put the whole social thinking in to great turmoil and are pointers to the danger lurking in the unresolved social tensions.Also these phenomena are threatening the very existence of our democracy.

While democracy has enough space for all the diversities to thrive in harmony what we are witnessing is that some vested interests are using these diversities as the tool for implanting the conflicts. Communities and social groups and political outfits have not paid much attention to conflict resolution, and curbing the political trends, which are stifling the liberal and democratic space.

Vimochana - forum for women's rights, Bangalore and Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai and CIEDS Collective Bangalore are jointly organising a State Level Training Programme on Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bangalore between 17th - 21st January 2008.

It is a programme for a selected group of 45-50 participants.

2. Food and accommodation will be taken care of by the organisers.

3. Travel (II class train fare / bus fare) will be reimbursed for out station participants.

4. Selection of participants will be made to maintain regional balance.

5. Last date for application 31st December 2007

The course has been designed with the aim to address the many questions running through our minds. It aims to strengthen the plural norms and ethos. It, in a way plans to equip the social activists to be able to deal with various conflict situations to ensure that the rights of weaker sections of society are protected, preserved and strengthened within the democratic framework of Indian Constitution.

It will cover most of the facets of conflict and will put special focus on conflict resolution for Peace in general. The themes to be addressed will pertain to multiple diversities, linguistic, ethnic, cultural and
religious. Since the country is vast and diverse these multiple issues need to be taken up for a proper appraisal.

There is a realization that there is no systematic attempt to spread the message of Peace. Few committed workers are working for this, but it needs to be broadened a great deal. There is a need to build up a chain of activists who can take this message to nook and corner of the country.

1. Course Objective
 To impart understanding of Indian Situation
 To inculcate appreciation for religious, cultural and linguistic diversities
 To re-orient participant's thinking about different religious communities
 To promote value and peace education
 To equip the participants with adequate knowledge and skills to promote conflict resolution

2. Course Content

1. Theories of conflict resolution
2. Partition tragedy
3. Communal conflicts-Role of social common sense
4. Minorities
5. Kashmir imbroglio
6. Islam violence
7. Religion, Secularisation-India’s trajectory late 19th century
8. Uniform civil code
9. Communal politics post independent India
10. Democracy, pluralism & identity
11. Education: faith or reason
12. Politics of terror
13. Hindutva & gender justice
14. Communal organisation
15. Psychological roots of communal violence
16. Gujarat- laboratory of Hindu Rashtra
17. Religion & society: Indian context
18. Hindutva & dalits
19. Practising secularism dilemmas of Indian state
20. Mumbai riots
21. Adivasis
22. Strategies of conflict resolution.

3. Methodology
The training will involve Lectures by eminent scholars, religious heads and prominent activists followed by discussions. Methods like group discussions and interactive games, role-play will be deployed. Audio-visual aids will be used and films relevant to the training course will also be shown. Some of the proposed films are, War and Peace, Mr & Mrs Iyer, Zakhm, Pinjar, & Nata etc.

4. Eligibility – Criteria
1. Priority will be given to those who have Experience of working in the filed of communal harmony, human rights, women rights, etc.
2. Activists among teaching community will be preferred
3. Activists from both sexes can be nominated
4. Those who have genuine concern in Peace and Conflict Resolution.
5. Since the workshop is designed at a national level, the resource persons will also be from out side Karnataka and the course will be conducted mostly in Hindi and English. Therefore working knowledge of Hindi and English is necessary.

5. Venue:
Vimochana Training Centre, Kolar. Tel: (08152) 232801 / 232802.

Donna- Tel: 080-25496934 (off)
Bhoga Nanjunda, Mob:9448206461

Pic- Donna Fernandes
Courtesy - The Internet

Monday, December 17, 2007

IIT and Dow Chemicals

In a move bound to send strong signals to Dow Chemicals that India has indeed not forgotten either the Bhopal tragedy or the unrelenting fight for justice to the Bhopal Gas vitims, IIT Delhi has decided to return the funding by Dow Chemicals for a three day international conference to be organized by IIT. This decision was taken on Saturday.

This was in response to a great pressure mounted by the alumni, students and supporters fo the Indian Institute of Technology. It was sad to read earlier about the IITs trying to get as much funding as possible from this company.

It is also reported that IIT-Madras has been urged to bar Dow Chemicals from recruiting on-campus. Such pressure is being mounted in IIT-Bombay as well as IIT-Kharagpur.

I had written earlier about the proposed partnership of IIT and Dow Chemicals

Just hoping the Bhopal gas victims do see the light of justice soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Who Won and Lost at Bali

In the nearly a decade since the U.S. rejected the landmark climate changeagreement known as the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S. has become accustomed tobeing attacked at U.N. environmental gatherings. But the pounding it took inthe tortured all-night negotiations that capped the UN climate changeconference in Bali was unprecedented. Not only did developing nations big and small from India to Papua New Guinea openly chastise the U.S. for its last-minute refusal to endorse the new agreement dubbed the Bali Roadmap,but — with the exception of a confused statement from Japan — not one of the allies that had generally stood with the U.S. the past two weeks —Australia, Russia, Canada — rose in its defense.

In the end, the U.S.'s total isolation was too much for even it to bear. "We've listened very closely to many of our colleagues here during these twoweeks, but especially to what has been said in this hall today," said leadAmerican negotiator Paula Dobiansky. "We will go forward and joinconsensus." Boos turned to cheers, and the deal was essentially sealed.

Here's a breakdown of what it means, who won and who lost:


The roadmap is essentially the beginning of a beginning. The negotiations to come have a specific end date — 2009 — and for the first time, dismantles what the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Yvo de Boer called "the Berlin Wall of climate change," the idea that only the rich nations need to take responsibility for fighting globalwarming. Both developed countries The two sides still have different responsibilities, with developed nations ready to take on more quantifiable emissions cuts, and developing nations preparing to take on less specific national actions, but no country is left behind. That matters because the majority of future carbon emissions will come from the developing world, and no climate deal can work without the participation of China and India. "The developing nations of the South areon the same road as the North," says Peter Goldmark, director for the climate and air program for Environmental Defense. "They're using the same road map."

Bringing the developing nations on board made it possible for the U.S. to join,since the Kyoto Protocol was signed. Lost a bit in the final drama was the Bali roadmap's most substantial achievement: putting forestry front and center for future climate change negotiations.

Deforestation accounts for up to 20% of man-made globalwarming emissions, but the Kyoto Protocol has no mechanism to support the protection of forests. That will change, and eventually tropical nations could be rewarded for not cutting down their forests, providing a way toreduce carbon emissions


The Bali roadmap contains no specific commitments or figures on the emissions reductions that developed countries will need to take, beyond language that "deep cuts" will be needed. Earlier in the week the EU fought hard to include a specific target of 25 to 40% cuts for developed nations by 2020, and a need to halve global emissions — two figures cited by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest assessment of global warming science. Neither made it into the final text, thanks largely to determined opposition from the U.S., although a footnote points to the IPCC report. For environmentalists who had hoped that the recent avalanche of data underscoring the rising crisis of climate change might prompt tougher action, Bali was a disappointment.

"It was a rather weak deal," said Meena Rahman, chair of Friends of the Earth International. "It'scompromised."


After years of essentially rolling over against the Bush Administration on climate change, the EU showed surprising spine. A mid-week threat led by Germany to boycott the upcoming major emitter' conference — a Bush initiative that would bring together the world's biggest economies to talk about climate change But the clear big winners are China and India, which have fully arrived as major players on international climate action. China in particular came to Bali ready to negotiate hard, but also prepared to give something — a vital change after years of insisting that it would take no responsibility for climate change. While India began the negotiations seemingly disengaged, the country elevated its game in the final day, and showed that it was willing to go beyond its own narrow national interests. That was the case for the developing world as a whole, which stood up to the U.S. without scuttling the possibility of a future deal.

"The developing countries allowed this discussion to begin in a whole new way," says David Doniger, policy director for the Natural Resource Defense Council's climate center.


It should be difficult for a country to make the final concession that allows a landmark deal to fall into place, and still appear selfish and churlish — but the U.S. somehow managed to do that. Years of blocking climate action at every turn meant the Bush Administration came into the Bali talks with little public credibility, and while there was a sense before the talks that the U.S. might show flexibility, that hope was quickly dispelled. Throughout the negotiations the U.S. — with help, at least until the last night, from Canada, Australia and Japan — blocked attempts to make climate diplomacy match the urgency of climate science. "The U.S. needed to come in here and build up its credibility," says Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Instead, they just burnished their Darth Vader image."


That's the real question. The roadmap outlines the next steps for negotiation, and calls for a deadline of 2009 — in time to have a formal successor to the Kyoto Protocol. But as tortuous as Bali was, the next round— which will have to tackle the specific actions to be taken by developedand developing nations alike.

Courtesy- Reuters and the Hindu

Saturday, December 15, 2007

List of Songs -Anth Tak - Ab Kya Misaal Doon

This is the list of songs that were sung in addition to many sung impromptu and also added on later. Members, please give the addition to the songs you sang, so that we can update the list accordingly

Anthtak 29 Song list – 3rd October 2009. (1pm to 5 pm)

1. Chitra - Bhajan
2. Kishore panwar - Tujhko pukare mera pyar
3. - Dil ki aawaz bhi sun
4. Rama n Chitra - Man kyun behka
5. Venkat -Pacha malar poovu
6. Chahoonga main tuje
7. Geethika - Dheere Dheere Machal
8. Ramita - Yeh hausla
9. Chandra n Madhu - Aaja panchchi akela hai
10. Priya - Yeh Hai Reshmi
11. Mukunda Mukunda
12. Priya n Vijay - E sambhashane
13. Chitra - Agar tum na hote
14. - Naina Barse rimjhim rimjhim
15. Ramya - Yeh dil deewana hai
16. Rama n Chandrakumar - Dil ki nazar se
17. Chandrakumar - Yeh dil na hota bechara
18. - Dekha na hai re
19. Aashish n Geetika -Meri zindagi mein aaye
20. Ram - Geet Gata Chal
21. - Jo Tumko Ho Pasand
22. Priya venkat - Kajraare kajrare teri kaale
23. Vijay - Meri Aawaaz suno
24. - Aaj ki raat mere
25. Rama - Yeh dil aur unki
26. - Joake
27. Kishore p n chitra - Wada karle sajna
28. Kaushik -Pukartha chala hoon mein
29. Vivek - Jao na ( Tum jo ho to gaa rahi)
30. Priya n venkat - Tu cheez badi hai mast mast...
31. Vijay n Geethika - Ade Bhumi
32. Kishore n Chitra - Tujh sang preet lagayi
33. Manak - Hamne Jafa na sikhi unko wafaa
33. - Aapke hasin rukh pe aaj naya
34. Tara - Aji rootkar ab
35. Imtiaz - Humen tumse pyar kitna
36. Aashish - Yaaron dosti
37. Madhu n Kishore P - Ek shahenshah ne banvake
38. Keerthana - Chand phir nikla
39. Priya n Venkat - Sagar kinare
40. Akshay - Kya hua tera vada
41. Anurag - O aaj mausam
41. Keerthana - Janaki jaane
42. Ram -Janam janam ka saath
43.Chandra - Tum jo mil gaye ho
44. Madhu - Dil ka khilona haye
45. Suchin
46. Suchin n Rama - Narumugaye
47. Imtiaz - Chahiye thoda pyar
48. Imtiaz n Rekha
49. Ramya - Tiruppavai song - Maale Manivanna
50. - Yeh Dil Dewaana
51. Shruti - Maa…..
52. Rajesh shenoy - yaad na jaaye
53. Praveen - Mehbooba o mehbooba
54. Suchin - Pacha malar poovu
55. Chandra - Teri duniya se hoke majboor
56. Vijay
57. Ramya n Kishore P - tujhe jeevan ki dor se
58. Anurag - Zindagi kaisi hai
59. Manak - aaj kal mein dhal gaya
60. Chandra - Dilbar mere
61. Rama - Mizhiyoram
62. Ram - Pyar deewan hota hai
63. Kishore P - Tujhko pukare mera pyar
64. Kishore P - Ai mere pyare watan
65. Khushi - Jingle bells
66. Imtiaz - Yeh mera prem patra
67. Ram - Yeh mera prem patra- English translation
68. Vijay - Chupake yun dil me
69. Poonam geetika - aaj jaan ki zid
70. Saraswati Subramaniam -Tere bina zindagi se koi
71. Suchin Ramya - Andhi mazhai
72. Geethika - Chain se humko kabhi
73. Vijay n Priya - Jo wada kiya
74. Rama n Venkat - Nee padhi naan padhi
75. Venkat
76. Chandra - Yeh jawaani yeh deewaani
77. Ashish - Raat khali ek khwab me aayee
78. Vijay - Ab kya misaal doon

And the programme continues…………………………….
( Songs are not in the order they have been sung)


Friday, December 14, 2007

Fireworks and Child Labour


- *Think Of These Kids When Sparklers Light Up Diwali Sky* [IANS]

Every time a sparkler lights up the sky during Diwali festivities, spare a thought for Karuppuswamy, Chitra and Muneeswari - three of the nearly 40,000 children toiling away in Sivakasi District fireworks and match industry.

The three children feature in a 25-minute documentary film, *'Tragedy Buried in Happiness'*, shot by South Korean broadcaster Taegu Broadcasting Corp in August with the help of *Manitham, a rights NGO working with children, Amnesty International and the National Confederation of Human Rights.

No volunteer of the National Rural Health Mission ever visits 12-year-old Chitra,who has been confined for four years within the walls of her tiny room - ever since the child, a rank holder in her school, got burnt while making crackers in the town, 650 km south of the state capital Chennai.

Today Chitra cowers before visitors, drawing up a grey sheet to cover her burnt body and her half burnt face. Her eloquent eyes speak to Hyuk Soo Seo's camera and say all that she does not tell.

Chitra's mother is reluctant to admit how much she was paid, what was the name of the unit where the accident took place. She only complains that it would have cost Rs.200,000 for the child's plastic surgery and that no one has helped her daughter.

Karuppusamy, 14, sits in an alley, surrounded by his siblings, stuffing gunpowder into holding trays for crackers. His hands and face are shrivelled. Asked if he feels pain, he says, 'No.'

Muneeswari's hands are yellow; no, not due to henna. 'The gum that the children in her work group use contains cyanide, which stains every hand that contributes to this industry,' said *G. Subramanian, executive director, Manitham.*

On camera, Muneeswari, 12, says she gets Rs.100 per week for eight to 12 ours of work every day. Her earnings help her parents feed her siblings.

Manitham activists say there are about 40,000 children working in the narrow bylanes of Sivakasi District, about 650 km south of Chennai and home to the fireworks and matchstick industry, employing 50,000 people.

'There is a ray of hope,' said rights activist and advocate Ajeetha B.S. 'We are beginning to notice a slight shift in the ages of the child labourers. A few years ago we found 10-year-olds working in these factories, now we find the children a little older, about 13-14,' Ajeetha told IANS at Chennai.

Another activist, not wishing to be named, added: 'What is happening in India today is exploitation of child labour, be it in the firework industry or in the farms. The issue is not poor working conditions, it is exploitation of children.'

India is estimated to have nearly 125 million child workers, 80 percent of them in rural areas. Appreciating the documentary, noted lawyer and rights activist Sudha Ramalingam said: 'We have been fighting to end child labour for more than two decades. The film is a shocking revelation of what still goes on.'

But making the film was not easy. Subramanian said, 'No Indian NGO or filmmaker was ready to shoot the film. We were, therefore, forced to go to filmmakers from Korea.' The documentary is in Korean, dubbed into Tamil and English. (Papri Sri Raman can be contacted at

Mr. G. Subramanian, the Director of the NGO, Manitham which has made this documentary says " This is said to be very first documentary made on Sivakasi Child.
Previously the fame dir. Shayam Benagal tried and failed. After facing a tough lot of opposition, we have made this. Original documentary was made with the support of Korean TV in Korean language. After that, we have dubbed it in English and in Tamil.

We made a jam packed public view on 03-11-2007 at AVM Studio, AVM A/C theatre, Chennai. Several Human Rights activists, film directors and noted personalities participated in that function.

NDTV, Deccan Chronicle, Indian Express, IANS has widely covered the stories Internationally. Thanks for support. You can have an idea by viewing this from our web page "

This DVDs priced, inclusive of postage charges, at Rs. 300 for naration in Tamil and Rs. 400 for narration in English is for sale and a part of the contributions goes to the affected children of Sivakasi. These rates are applicalbe for delivery within India.
The DD payment may be in favour of "G.Subramanian, Chennai" or payment can be made into the account as detailed below
I C I C I Bank:
Account Holder : Subramanian.G,
Account No : 6022 01518582,
Branch : Chennai R H Road, India

Dark indeed!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Priceless Amul

[Key Indian cricket fast bowlers Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, R.P.Singh and S. Sreesanth grappling with injuries. - Amul Ad for December '07]

All of us would have met the little moppet wearing the polka dotted frock. And we would have smiled at her, at her punchlines at some point or the other. This according to me, is advertising at its best. This endearing cherubic moppet has a place in the Guiness Book of World Records as the Amul's has the honour of being the longest running advertisement campaign. The moppet is none other than our little Amul Girl.

Amul ads have always been very creative, apt for the current situation, taking a dig at politicians, film stars or the current situation.Amul is said to be derived from the Sanskrit word, "Amulya" which means priceless. It however, is also the acronym for Anand Milk Union Limited.

We have heard about the big success story of the Co-operative movement in Gujarat to market milk which was eugolized in the Hindi Movie "Manthan". The architects of this movement being Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Morarji Desai which led the farmers to do their own procurement, processing and marketing. In December 1946, Tribuvandas Patel and some dairy farmers registered the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union. Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution, joined the union as general manager in 1950. In 1957 Kaira Co-operative registered the brand ‘Amul’ and Press Syndicate was entrusted the advertising job under the guidance of Jit Kantawala. In 1973, the Gujarat Milk Marketing Federation was set up which is today the largest milk federation.

The Amul Girl as the mascot was created so that at a time when hoardings were all hand painted, it was easy to paint her. The people who created the remarkable ‘utterly butterly delicious’ campaign were K Kurian, Eustace Fernandes, Sylvester Da Cunha and Usha Katrak of Advertising and Sales Promotion Company.

The Amul ads are something like the Common Man's cartoons by R.K. Laxman. Apt for the day. A mirror of our lives.

The Amul ads through the past four decades let us know how we have travelled the past 40 years. Hats off to a very Indian product, a very Indian mascot and advertisements very Indian.

[Bollywood's actress and dancing queen Madhuri Dixit in the movie "Aaja Nachle" (Let's Dance) in which music and dance being the essence of the movie - Amul's Ad for November '07]

Monday, December 10, 2007


I received an intimation about a meeting in Hyderabad today at the Press Club at 6 PM organized by Human Rights Forum (Manava Hakkula Vedika) to protest against the Andhra Pradesh High Court's judgment on Encounters.

The Judgement delivered by a Three Judge Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, two Judges Justice L. Narasimha Reddy and Justice G. Ethirajulu gave the verdict. The third Judge, Justice Bilal Nazki, dissenting with the majority judgement ruled in favour of the stance that rights groups have taken. But the majority judgement would only be regarded as the Judgement of the Court.

There would perhaps be no one in the State who has not heard the slogan "All Encounters are Murders". This slogan has been the defining element of the civil liberties and rights campaigns and democratic movements for more than 40 years now. People's campaigns and rights movements have also repeatedly clarified that this is not just a political slogan, but one which has constitutional and legal relevance. What this implies is that law itself recognizes an encounter as a murder. There is no big secret about this. No intricate legal or jurisprudential philosophy to be deciphered. It has become a habit of sorts for the police to declare after every encounter that, when they confronted an armed person to lawfully arrest him,instead of surrendering, that person attacked them (the police) which put their life in peril and therefore in exercise of their right to self-defence, when they engaged in cross-fire, that person succumbed to death. Even a murder committed in exercise of the right to self-defence is a murder in the eyes of law. If that were really to have been applied in the process of the exercise of the right to self-defence, then it would not entail any punishment, but by itself it would not cease be a murder. Whether the death was a consequence of the exercise of the right to self-defence is something that must be decided after investigation and by due process of law, but not in the declaration made by the person who has indulged in the killing, and such person has no right to make a declaration and go scot-free. A case of murder must be registered against him, crime investigation must be initiated, and he must be able to produce evidence in his favour that there were compelling circumstances that necessitated the murder. There is no difference between the police and the ordinary citizenry as far as this is concerned. Would there be any meaning to the right to life if the person who has indulged in killing is set to liberty merely by making a self-proclamation that he did so in self-defence. Would it not sound the death-knell of the right to life which is a Fundamental Right. We perceive that this is something that can be understood quite easily by any one. But it took a great deal of endeavour to make the Courts understand this and see the issue in perspective. The success in convincing the Court almost reached its threshold a decade ago, but slipped back to failure. The Andhra Pradesh High Court has recently ruled that *"An Encounter is not a murder by itself; it would be so only when a specific complaint is received that a certain police official killed a certain person intentionally and subsequently cooked up a story of chance encounter and only then should a case of murder be registered against him". **

*If the police wear masks on their faces and kill someone, or corner someone in the dark of the night and kill or if the deceased happens to be some anonymous Bangladeshi or Pakistani, killed in Hyderabad, who would have no relative or next friend to complain, there would be no specific or concrete complaint. Therefore these would not be murders! The High Court has ruled that in such cases a magisterial (executive) inquiry must be initiated and if anything suspicious is detected, steps must be initiated accordingly. Not only is this Judgement unconstitutional and a transgression of law, but is anathema to the very spirit of the right to life.

The Human Rights Forum and other Human Rights Groups are calling upon people to reject this Judgement and campaign for safeguarding the right to life.

The police, obtaining the guarantee that by killing someone, intimidating those who would want to complain and ensuring that no one deposes during the magisterial inquiry would put the very life and existence of common citizens in jeopardy. Just to recollect the incident that took place in Vishakapatnam not so long ago. An honest bank official was very brutally murdered by some ruthless persons. Subsequently, the police caught hold of two suspects and gunned them down and declared that they resorted to that step as the two persons had retaliated against them (the police) and they had no other alternative but to fire at them in self-defence. Either owing to fear or some other unknown reason, none of the family members of the deceased complained. What they said in the magisterial inquiry, whether at all they said any thing is not known. So, is that all? No dispute, those who had callously murdered the bank official must be dealt with as per law and punished. But who is to impose the sentence of punishment? The Courts? Or the Police? Let us assume for the sake of argument that these two were indeed responsible for the murder of the bank official. Today the police have killed these "bad" people. Tomorrow they would go ahead and kill "good" people and in a way best known to them would ensure that there is no specific complaint and that no witnesses depose during the magisterial inquiry. What then? To attack the opposite person in legitimate exercise of the right to self-defence is a remedy available not just to the police but also to the ordinary citizenry. Law clearly provides that the right to counter-offensive attack must be proportionate to the threat caused. If a person over-steps his limit and causes injury beyond what is required of that situation, it is a crime. Precisely for this reason, a person who claims that he resorted to violence in exercise of the right to self-defence is not permitted to go scot-free. How much of threat that person faced, how much of force or counter-attack did he resort to in order to over come that is something that must be established in due process of crime investigation. Moreover, law places the burden of proof on that person to prove to the satisfaction of the Court that he caused only that must force as was necessary in that situation. All this implies that a criminal case must first of all be registered against him, crime investigation conducted and the facts must come out of the investigation. In the case of ordinary citizens, this is a principle that the Courts accept. A principle that is routinely implemented on a daily basis. Law makes no distinction between the police and ordinary citizenry to the effect that the former must be treated differently. Nonetheless, the High Court opined that a different principle must be applicable in the case of the police. The High Court says that it is quite difficult to concede to the argument that the police, when commit crimes, in the course of their duty must be placed on the same footing along with ordinary citizens, given the fact that the police establishment has been placed in charge of a colossal responsibility of preserving public peace and security, controlling crimes and maintaining law and order. If at all any one has the authority to come to such conclusion, it is the legislators, but do Courts have that authority? The legislators of this country did not opine that to deal with the crimes committed by the police in the name of their duty, a separate Penal Code is necessary. The Indian Penal Code makes no distinction between the police and ordinary citizenry in this regard. Wherefrom have Courts the power to imagine what is beyond the pale of law. "Do those who resort to violence have any rights? "

This is a question that we come across quite often. Though this might sound quite convincing and even justifiable, is a society that recognizes the rights of only the good people a truly civilized one? Only that society can claim to be a civilized one, which recognizes the rights of even those who, for reasons good or bad, out-step the generally accepted boundaries of society and treats them as equal citizens and even if they are sought to be contained,they are dealt with only within that right framework. It is because of the fact that our Constitution-makers recognized this principle, they incorporated and guaranteed equal rights to all citizens. They did not draft the Constitution in an ambience of peace and tranquility. The Constitution of India was written in one of the most turbulent and violent times in history.

In the context of the partition of the country scores of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs resorted to and were subjected to bloodshed and killing on religious lines.There was an exodus of whole villages. At least ten lakh people died. The international community witnessed a hitherto unknown massive exchange of populace. Notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution was scripted during these intensely troubled times, it guaranteed equal and inviolable rights to all citizens. It is quite poignant and sad that the Courts seem to have conveniently forgotten that spirit. It would have been a very ideal and welcome situation if everyone respected and followed the law. But the problem arises when some one inflicts harm on others but claims equal protection of law and rule of law.

True, the Penal Code nowhere recognizes the principle that only those who follow law have the right to seek equal protection of law and rule of law. There is also no principle that there shall be no constitutional protection for those who refuse to respect the law. But the High Court opines that a person or group that indulges in the killing of innocent people and propagates to indulge in such killing cannot have the right to claim all forms of protection in the process of the state containing it. This is a totally anti-constitutional opinion. Setting aside the Constitution for a moment, a society that treats any one and every one in a civilized manner is only a civilized society.That society which treats only those who conform to its norms and standards in a civilized manner is not civilized in the true sense of the term. Even otherwise, the police are not just doing away with those who as asystematic programme kill "innocents". They are also assuming the role of justice-dispensers and killing those whom the Courts can, after due process of inquiry punish. They are also straight away shooting down those who are branded as "naxalites" despite having the opportunity of lawfully arresting them, without making any meaningful effort in that direction. As was the case with Mudigonda firing, they are also gunning down those who refuse to budge to their diktats of putting on hold their protest. They are also casually sniffing out the lives of one or two persons, whenever they perceive that crimes are on the rise and these hooligans must be reigned in and are creating a sense of fear-psychosis. The inappropriate and skewed understanding of law has resulted in this wrongful judgement.

Citing the incident of the attack on the Parliament of India on the 13th of December 2001 and of the five persons whom the CRPF Jawans gunned down, the High Court asked if cases of murder should also be registered against those 5 Jawans. The Court further extending its opinion said that if a case is registered,the intent of those who had come to attack, was only to kill the parliamentarians and not the Jawans and therefore, these Jawans would not be able to claim protection under the exercise of the right to self-defence and they would therefore be punished. But the right to self-defence as incorporated in law, not just extends to us but also to safeguard the person of others when in peril. Not just this, the police also have a right recognized in law to use necessary force to control crimes. Whether in exercise of the right to self-defence or in the course of discharge of ones duties, what needs to be established is whether force commensurate to the situation was exercised or not. And to prove this, a case must be registered and investigation conducted. What if, of the five persons whom the Jawans gunned down, only four had come to attack the Parliament? What if the 5th person were to be a tourist with little or no local contacts? Should his death also be counted in the list of the other deaths, if there is so specific complaint to the effect that the Jawans killed an innocent person, presuming him to be an assailant? It is therefore ever expedient that a case of murder must be registered and swift crime investigation must be done. All this does not mean that those CRPF Jawans would be suspended or they would be arrested. There is no rule that as soon as a case is registered they must be arrested or suspended. But an independent and impartial crime investigation must be forthwith carried out. If after due investigation, it is found that whether in the exercise of the right to self-defence (includes the right to defend the lives of others in peril – emphasis added) or in the course of discharge of ones duties, the accused resorted to firing in good faith, he/they can be declared as innocent. Adopting this kind of a practice would be a manifestation of a civilized society. Closing down a case uninvestigated, as happened with the attack on the Parliament in which 5 people were gunned down, is an expression of incivility. We conclude by making some observations on the profound faith that the High Court has reposed in the magisterial enquiry and the prominence which the Court has ascribed to it. These inquiries are carried out by officials of the rank of RDO's (Revenue Divisional Officers). They do not have any of the powers that a Court has. They cannot summon any witness for inquiry. They have no power to impose penalty in case any one does not turn up for inquiry or to depose. There would be no cross-examination of witnesses in that inquiry. The opinion of the Inquiring Official is not the Judgement. Above all, the police, whose respect for the authority of the Judiciary is itself questionable, have little or virtually nil respect for these inquiries. The police can very easily round-up the Office of the RDO and the village of the deceased and make sure that no one turns up for investigation and inquiry,and this is something that they quite often do. To argue that a case must be registered only if truth is established in such an inquiry is equal to saying that it is not necessary to register a case at all. Looked at any which way, this Judgement is a serious blow to the right to life of people.

The Human Rights Forum is organizing a State-Level Meeting on this issue and campaign for safeguarding the right to life.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Day for the Girl Child

Today is dedicated to the Girl Child.

We have days dedicated to Special causes all through the year. Today is also the National Day for the Mentally Challenged and also today is the SAARC Day.

Well coming back to "Girl Child Day", girls are generally considered a burden and not welcome in Indian homes as much as a male child would be. A few days back I had seen an article on India being a terrible place to be born a girl.

The reason for all this is the still largely prevalent dowry and the traditional marriage system as well as the pathetic position that women generally occupy in the largely patriarchal Indian Society. Female foeticide is still not a thing of the past and girls being abandoned by their parents or relatives is very much happening.

Whatever the development programmes maybe initiated by the Governments, maybe at the Central, State or District levels leaves a lot to be desired in terms of implementation. There are many NGOs in the scene who do yeoman's work, but it is much lesser than what is needed at the moment.

The awakening should happen from within and till that time, we will continue to have these special days for the girls who loathe the day they were born.

Pic- The Internet

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Burma's Person of the Year 2007

Burma Digest has come out with the names of some people who can be voted as the Person of the Year, 2007. We can contribute in our little way to the auguring of peace and democracy in a country where "freedom" is almost non-existent. One has to read the guidelines and vote.
Hoping our brothers and sisters in Burma awake to democracy soon

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tamil and Kannada, Classical Languages

Tamil has been declared a Classical Language whereas Kannada is still in the queue for it to be declared one. The only Indian language which has been recognized as a Classical language by International bodies is Sanskrit.

Both Tamil and Kannada are ancient and have a very rich heritage. Both are beautiful languages, though my knowledge of the IlakkaNa Tamil is very limited. Advocates of the Kannada language feel that the language has been slighted by the Government according the Classical status on Tamil and not yet on Kannada.

It was with a sense of pride and happiness that I read the report that Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found on pottery found in Egypt and it belongs to Circa 1 Century B.C. This shows that India was very well connected with many parts of the world through trade and commerce.

Instead of taking this to be all about a regional language, we should be proud that there is proof of an Indian language having withstood the tests of time and onslaughts of different natures.

Now that Tamil is a Classical language, it is just a matter of time before Kannada too is accorded this status.

Tamil is the official language in a few countries like Srilanka, Singapore and Malaysia. Hoping they too accord this status on Tamil so that Tamil gets closer to the coveted status of being a Classical Language recognized by the International Bodies.

Pic- Courtesy The Hindu