Category Archives: Breaking News

WhatsApp shares phone number and contact details with Facebook

WhatsApp said that they are not going to share any kind of content with Facebook as WhatsApp have no access to the content. WhatsApp only store user name,phone number and information regarding other users with whom they are in contact on it’s server. This information was provided to the Delhi high court by senior advocate Siddharth Luthra who is representing WhatsApp.
The bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal directed WhatsApp to file an affidavit regarding this.

A PIL has been filed in Delhi High Court by Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi against the new policy of sharing data with Facebook.
Senior advocate Pratibha Singh, who was representing petitioners Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi argued that the new privacy policy issued by WhatsApp clearly stated that if a user chose to opt out of the sharing of information for Facebook ads and products, the information shared via WhatsApp could “still be used for other purposes”.

WahtsApp was acquired by Facebook in February 2016 for US $ 19 billion. In August 2016 WahtsApp changed it’s privacy policy. According to new privacy policy WahtsApp will share user’s account information with Facebook, consisting of the phone number of the account owner and aggregated analytical data.

 

North Korea celebrated founding anniversary with its fifth and largest nuclear test

Defying pressure from the U.S. and World community North Korea celebrated it’s 68th anniversary of the founding of North Korea in Kim Jong Un’s style by conducting a successful nuclear test.This is North Korea’s fifth and largest ever nuclear test. North Korea State Media confirmed that North Korea conducted a test explosion of a nuclear warhead at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
“This nuclear warhead explosion test is part of responsive measures to threats and sanctions from the U.S. and enemies denying our strategic position as a nuclear state,” The KCNA announcer said during the broadcast.
KCNA is North Korea state television.
According to the state media after this successful nuclear test North Korea is capable to produce nuclear-tipped missiles “at will”.
This nuclear test alarmed the neighbouring countries like Japan and South Korea.Japan has termed the test as “grave threat” .
South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Gyo-ahn says South Korea will call for additional and stronger U.N. sanctions against North Korea.
“We are facing a grave situation which is totally different from the past when North Korea conducted nuclear tests once in three years. North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats are clear and existential,” said Hwang.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test was “not acceptable.” “If North Korea did conduct a nuclear test, it is absolutely not acceptable, and we must lodge a strong protest,” Abe told reporters.
China has also criticised the nuclear test by North Korea. South Korea termed this act as “fanatic recklessness”.
Japan and China have begun testing the air for radiation.
This is the second nuclear test by North Korea in this year.
Earlier U.S. Geological Survey,European agencies and The China Earthquake Networks Center detected a magnitude 5.3 earthquake near North Korea’s nuclear test site.

Vijay Mallya’s trick to avoid expulsion failed. Resignation rejected by Hamid Ansari and Ethics panel of Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari has turned down resignation of Vijay Mallya on procedural ground.

Raya Sabha ethics committee has also rejected Vijay Mallya’s resignation. This has paved the way for his expulsion from the Upper house.

“Hamid Ansari, Chairman, Rajya Sabha does not accept the resignation of Vijay Mallya. Secretary General, Rajya Sabha writes to Sh. Mallya that his resignation letter does not conform to prescribed procedures & does not bear signature in original.

“As per Rule 213 of RS procedures, the resignation must be voluntary and genuine,” Ansari’s Officer on Special Duty to Gurdeep Singh Sappal said on Twitter quoting from the Secretary General’s letter.

Vijya Mallya has sent a scanned copy of his resignation letter to Hamid Ansari just a day before the Ethics panel was going to recommend his expulsion.

 

Yet another setback for Congress. The High court ordered to demolish Adarsh building.

It seems nothing is working in favour of the Congress Party.

The Bombay High court ordered to demolish the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society building. The High Court has also ordered to investigate the role of Politicians and officers in this scam.

This is yet another setback for Congress just after Agusta Westland scam and loosing two governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The high court also gave 12-week time to Maharashtra government to appeal in Supreme Court against the order.

Former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan said “I don’t want to react on the court judgement.”.

Mumbai court drops charges against 9 accused due to lack of evidence in Malegaon blast case.

A Mumbai court has accepted the discharge applications of nine accused in Malegaon bomb blast case and ordered the release of the accused. Atleast 37 people were killed in the Malegaon blast in 2006.The court headed by Session Judge VV Patil has also ordered to drop charges against the nine accused.

Till now two accused have been convicted in this case and six were released.

“It is submitted that evidence collected by NIA in further investigation is not in consonance with evidence collected by the Anti-Terrorism Squad and the CBI. The court may kindly pass appropriate orders in the matter,” the anti-terror agency told a special NIA court in response to discharge applications filed by the nine accused.

The 2006 bombings were part of a series of explosions that had rocked Malegaon, a communally sensitive power-loom town in Nashik district of Maharashtra, located about 300 km from Mumbai.

 

Bangladesh summons Pakistani’s high commissioner for detaining Bangladeshi official

Diplomatic ties are worsening between Pakistan and Bangladesh. Bangladesh detained an official of the Pakistan High Commission due to his “suspicious movement” few days back. Pakistan reciprocated by detaining Bangladeshi official in Pakistan for hours on Monday.A report has been published in The Nation News paper.

Bangladesh protested by summoning Pakistan’s high commissioner to lodge the protests on this incident.

“We have summoned the Pakistan high commissioner to lodge the protests on the missing incident,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry in Dhaka, who asked not to be identified in the absence of authorisation to speak to the media.

Last month, a Bangladeshi diplomat in Pakistan was expelled in what Dhaka officials called “an act of retaliation” after a Pakistani diplomat in Dhaka was expelled after being accused of spying.

President’s rule imposed in Arunachal Pradesh. President has accepted Union Cabinet’s recommendation.

President Pranab Mukherjee has accepted the recommendation of the Union Cabinet to impose President’s rule in Arunchal Pradesh after meeting with Union Home Minister Sh. Rajath Singh.
The Union Cabinet on Sunday had recommended President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and it was sent to Pranab Mukherjee for his approval.
Congress party challenged the constitutional validity of the decision in the Supreme Court.
The matter has been posted for urgent hearing on January 27.

8 terrorists entered in Uttarakhand

Eight suspected terrorists have entered in Uttara Khand and one of the terrorist was found moving in an unspecified area in Dehradun late Monday night.Police got the information of the terrorists through a video clip.Police released a photograph of the suspect.

“There is a group of eight men moving in the region. One (of them) was seen in Dehradun late Monday night,” said Uttara Khand director general of police BS Sidhu.

He was speaking after flag hoisting ceremony at the state police headquarters in Dehradun during Republic Day celebrations.

Police have been put on high alert  and an intensive hunt has been launched to nab him.

Brand Aam Admi: Poor Kejriwal spent Rs 60 crores in 11 months for self-promotion

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Most of the time content of advertising is self-promotion of blaimg others for failure and problems.

Arvind kejriwal is spending approximately Rs 5.45 crores per month on promotion of brand Aam Admi.Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal spent Rs 60 Crores in just 11 months for the publicity and marketing of brand “Aam Admi”. Aam Admi is no more ‘Aam Admi’.

This includes campaigns across print, television, radio and outdoor publicity by all the departments of the state.

There are various campaigns (print, television, radio and outdoor publicity by all the departments of the state) going on and they are going to cost another Rs 35 crore.

Kejriwal allocated a massive budget of Rs 526 for advertising and publicity.

AAP government will launch new phase of marketing on February 14.AAP government will complete one year on 14 February.

Content of most of the advertisement is always negative and Arvind Kejriwal is the center of all campaign.

Shocking: Muslim cleric says ‘half naked girls’ are responsible for Cologne sexual assault in Germany

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Open-door policy is being questioned after Cologne sexual assault

A Muslim cleric has blamed victims for cologne sexual assault since they were half naked and wearing perfume. This shocking claims made by Sami Abu-Yusuf of the Salafist Cologne mosque.

On New Year’s Eve mobs of refugees sexually molested and robbed  in and around Cologne railway station.

The events of New Year’s Eve were the girls’ own fault, because they were half naked and wearing perfume.” – Sami Abu-Yusuf

This incident has caused uproar in Cologne.Question has been raised on Germon Chancellor’s Open-door policy.

Till now A 26-year-old Algerian asylum has been arrested on suspicion of groping a woman and stealing her phone in Kerpen, about 30km (19 miles) south-west of Cologne.

883 have filed criminal complaints including three rapes over the events in Cologne.

The attacks in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve sparked mass outcry and increased anxiety over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policies to welcome refugees.

There is immense pressure on Angela Merkel to change the Open-door policy for refugee.

Terror attack on University in Pakistan.15 Killed.50 Injured

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There is a terror attack on Bacha khan University university in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday morning by unidentified Islamic terrorists.

Bacha Khan Univeristy is situated in Charsadda district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan.

Key updates:

  • Two attackers killed: DIG Saeed Wazir.
  • Armed assailants scaled university walls and opened fire.
  • Multiple blasts heard along with continuous heavy gunfire.
  • 3,000 students enrolled in the university.
  • Accroding to Edhi Volonteers 15 people have been killed.
  • Emergency imposed in Hospitals
  • Rescue officials say some 50 students have been rescued from the premises.
  • Security forces, including SSG special forces have entered the premises of the university.
  • An eyewitness rescued from the university said the university was not adequately secured, especially at the backside of the building, which had low boundary walls
  • Attackers entered the University after scaling its walls.

Could the BRICS New Development Bank usher a New Bipolar Financial World Order?

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With the emergence of the New Development Bank, formerly known as the BRICS Development Bank, and the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), the world is increasingly becoming Bipolar, with China and India together growing as the ‘Eastern power Bloc’ challenging dominance of the Western powers led by the United States. The Bank was created with an idea to counter the dominance of European countries and the U.S. in global financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF.

Infrastructure is needed in much of still emerging Asia, and by providing the funding to construct it, China and India make stride towards achieving economic and political status at par with the United States. BRICS countries have also created a $100 billion Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), meant to provide additional liquidity protection to member countries during balance of payments problems. The CRA, unlike the pool of contributed capital to the BRICS bank, which is equally shared, is being funded 41% by China, 18% from Brazil, India, and Russia, and 5% from South Africa.

China and India are among the fastest growing Economies in the world. The economies of the five BRICS nations account for almost 30% of global GDP and 40% of the world’s population. BRICS countries produce a third of the world’s industrial products and half of all agricultural goods. Trade between BRICS countries has increased by 70% since the group was established in 2009. Noone can deny the ubiquitous presence of both India and China in the world stage.

Besides, China has recently proposed the IMF to add its currency Renminbi as a reserve currency as part of the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).This move has the potential to shift the global economy toward a bipolar order with two dominant reserve currencies-the U.S. Dollar and the Chinese Renminbi.

In the past IMF has been accused of practicing ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and imposing liberalization indiscriminately even on those countries where financial institutions were not well-developed. IMF conditionalities allegedly ruined several developing economies. The World Bank along with the WTO has advocated protectionism against industries of the developing countries while protecting interests of the developed countries, such as the recent Agreement on Agriculture, which stipulates reduction of export subsidies on agricultural produce on which livelihoods of the poor in the developing countries depend.

Emergence of this new ‘Eastern power Bloc’ will motivate the IMF and the World Bank to function more normatively, democratically, and efficiently, in order to promote the reforms of international financial system as well as it will lead to democratization of international relations.

China is also undertaking ambitious project to build Maritime Silk Route connecting all major ports across South, South-East and Central Asia through land and sea to boost its trade and gain strategic importance. The initiative will push each economy to advance toward the goal of setting up deep integration of markets, multi-level communication, efficient network of land, sea and air passages, and closer cultural exchanges.

Recently India has also been accorded full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with Pakistan at its Ufa summit held in Russia. SCO membership to India will have significant benefits from Economic point of view. It will open up trade, energy sector and strategic transit routes between India and Russia, Central Asia, China. As Iran has observer status in the SCO, it will serve as a platform for India to boost trade through the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar. These ports are considered as India’s gateway to Central Asia through International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Thus, in this politically polarized world, SCO will play an important role in counter-balancing India’s perceived tilt on security issues towards U.S. and its allies. It can help to maintain full balance of India’s relations with the western powers.

Regional stability is the basis of the economic collaboration and economic development boosts regional stability. Therefore, both the BRICS and the SCO will jointly and effectively promote stability and prosperity in Asia and counter the hegemony of global institutions such as World Bank and IMF.

Unlocking the Greece Crisis: Is the world tilting towards socialism the wrong way?

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Greek Debt Crises

The Greek crises is interesting, not just because it points to how bad government policies can bring a state on the brink of its own failure but also because it points to a much a deeper crisis within capitalism. Capitalism as a system has its inherent weakness in generation of excess capacity from overproduction of goods and services arising from the two of its own major tenets viz. competition and maximization of self-interest. When market forces fail to match demand with supply, it leads to unemployment and depression. This was the main reason for Great Depression in the free-market US Economy of the 1930s. In the 1930s Keynes gave a new lease of life to Capitalism with the ‘General Theory of Employment ,Output and Money’ wherein Government’s intervention through fiscal policies was advocated to raise aggregate demand and pull an economy out of depression. Hence State assumed a greater importance only after the world realized market forces are only invisible, and they need to be regulated and directed with State’s intervention.  But, isn’t this exactly what the Greeks did? Perhaps they over-did it.

In the years preceeding the US Financial Crises of 2007, the Greek Government had doled out huge pension plans and socialist schemes, the cost of which they could never meet. For years they had been fudging their fiscal accounts and understating their debt inorder to be able to borrow more and more money to finance their excessively costly socialist schemes. With years and years of mounting Debt, Greece ultimately had to be bailed out by the IMF and ECB in 2013 with a package of almost 200 bn$, further adding to their debt. The IMF in return had imposed its usual conditionalities on the borrowing state in the form of fiscal austerity measures. In the years that followed, Greece was pushed to a deeper recession with spending cuts and steep hike in taxes which lowered aggregate demand of the economy and led to deeper unemployment and humanitarian crises in the country.

In the normal course of action, an economy would seek to recover by devaluing its’ currency or lowering its’ interest rates to boost investment. But unfortunately, Greece being part of a Currency Union EU does not have that leverage of pursuing an independent Monetary Policy.  If Greece defaults on its sovereign debt and chooses to exit the EU i.e. a ‘Grexit’ then it may trigger a whiplash effect throughout EU as most of the major banks spread across Germany, Italy, Iceland, Spain, Portugal that are holding Greece debt may go bankrupt, leading to a recession of a wider magnitude. This may eventually threaten the very existence of EU.

Greece is totally stuck, and there seems to be no way it can get out. A ‘Grexit’ will only make things worse. It clearly will never be able to repay all that mountain of debt. It should rather focus on restructuring its fiscal policies and building stronger and transparent institutions to prevent recurrence of such a calamity in the future.

 

Modi Deepens Ties with Sri Lanka, Seeks Edge over China on a Landmark Visit

PM Modi during bilateral talks with the Sri Lankan counterparts
PM Modi during bilateral talks with the Sri Lankan counterparts

As part of PM Narendra Modi’s first tour to Sri Lanka, India and Sri Lanka today signed four bilateral pacts which includes agreement on visa and customs to simplify trade and reduce non-tarriff barriers, agreement on youth development and building Rabindranath Tagore. Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka is the first stand alone bilateral tour by an Indian Prime Minister since 1987.  Modi met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and discussed issues of regional importance. Modi called for greater security cooperation with Sri Lanka whose drift towards China has raised concerns in India.

Modi said that it will take time to reach an amicable solution to the fishermen’s issue between India and Sri Lanka as it has both livelihood and humanitarian dimensions to it. The Prime Minister said his meeting with Sirisena has been very productive. It “gives me confidence and optimism about the future of our relations,” Modi said.

The progress indicates the countries’ shared commitment to stronger economic cooperation.

Modi said India stands ready to help Trincomalee become a petroleum hub and announced that India will provide a fresh Line of Credit of up to USD 318 million for the railways sector in Lanka to procure rolling stock, and to restore and upgrade existing railway track.

In addition, the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka have agreed to enter into a Currency Swap Agreement of USD 1.5 billion to help keep the Sri Lankan rupee stable.

“We stand with you in your efforts to build a future that accommodates the aspirations of all sections of society, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka”, said Modi.

Repatriation of Bru Refugees: Displaced but not Disenfranchised

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Repatriation of Bru Refugees: Displaced but not Disenfranchised

The hill tracts of the Mizoram-Tripura border have always been the same as long as one could remember. Roads are hard to find even under the clear skies of late summer. Earlier this year, monsoon rains in July had flooded the forest paths and rendered the territory almost inaccessible. But Bru refugees from Mizoram have been streaming into refugee camps in North Tripura District since 1997, after a conflict with the majority Mizos over land possession.

Divided and dispersed

Over eleven thousand Bru refugees currently live in six refugee camps in North Tripura district. Scarce amenities mark their lives as they refuse government initiatives to be repatriated. They say the government has not fulfilled the promises of proper rehabilitation to the returned Brus. Committees representing the refugees have also been known to discourage and even obstruct the camp inmates to return to their homeland.

The immediate cause of this self-imposed exile was the killing of a Mizo Forest Officer by miscreants which provoked retaliation by the Mizos. The Brus also argue that the demand for an Autonomous District Council raised by their community was resisted by the majority Mizos. Long held grievances between the two communities sprang out into the open and the Brus started crossing over into neighboring Tripura to look for safer sanctuaries. There were more than 30,000 Bru refugees living in the camps located in Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura a decade ago.

The Bru, primarily an agrarian community is the second largest tribe in Tripura. They are spread across the states of Mizoram, Assam, Manipur and Bangladesh. They practice jhum cultivation, worship Vishnu and maintain little contact with the majority Bengali people in Tripura.

The Brus are an ethno-linguistic minority in their native Tripura and in their adopted homes in other parts of North East India. Their history is thus an account of dispersion and division. The dislocation suffered by the Brus has from time to time given rise to demands for self-determination. These demands have sometimes taken violent forms. The Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) was formed in 1997 after the clashes with Mizos that sparked the mass displacement to Tripura. Bru militants are still active and a trader was abducted from the Assam-Mizoram border by the militants only last month.

On the other hand, fear of total marginalization led the Brus to raise the demand for an Autonomous District Council in Mizoram in 1997. But the resistance showed by the ethnic Mizos only added to the growing suspicion of the Brus. Then the long-winded exodus followed.

The flipside of the lived experience of the Brus is that they are insecure even in their native Tripura. They fled Mizoram to avoid suppression of their legitimate demands and camped in Tripura where they have no constitutional safeguards to guarantee their rights. Their sociological location in Tripura is not very different from that of Mizoram.

The ballot comes home

The coming Assembly elections in Mizoram have pushed the state administration once again to convince the Brus to return home.

A team comprising officials from the Election Commission and Mizoram poll administrators recently visited the refugee camps in Tripura after the displaced Brus were identified as eligible to vote in the Mizoram Assembly polls. Elections are supposed to be held at the site of the refugee camps according to government officials. The relocation of the ballot to the site of displacement camps is in sync with the displaced people’s marginal location. The ballot has come home for the refugees. They refuse to be repatriated but the government is equally headstrong to ensure the displaced people do not fall outside the electorate.

Skeptics can brush aside this initiative of the Mizoram government as political gimmickry to appease the Brus and other minority communities in Mizoram. But this step will prevent the displaced Brus from being further marginalized. Bringing the ballot home to the Brus will ensure that they would have a say in governance and preserve their right to choose their representatives even while living outside the politico-geographical boundaries of the state.

The interesting thing is that while the entire country goes for the more reliable Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) this time, the Brus will stick to the ballot paper while voting in their temporary home. Nearly 11,311 internally displaced Brus are preparing to cast their vote in the Mizoram Assembly polls.

Come December. How far will the Mizoram government succeed in preventing a displaced people from being disenfranchised?

When there can be politics on women, about women, how about politics for women?

women-politics-world
When there can be politics on women, about women, how about politics for women?

“I can’t stress enough why women’s political participation is important,” Ms. Bachelet said. “It is, of course, because it’s the right thing to do, because it will create better democracies…” Ms. Michelle Bachelet is a Chilean Social Democrat Politician who served as President of Chile from 2006-2010. “For me, a better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect but to be elected”, she adds. As observed by Philips Ann and Rai M. Shirin that Democracy has historically served men better than women.

Women have been kept outside the domain of politics and this view is celebrated and cemented by political philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes simply because women possessed a caring nature which is suitable for being mothers and wives. The ringing question is doesn’t today’s democracy need precisely this caring attitude in politics? And hasn’t this care and affection, or ‘the feminine factor’, mingled with discretion has placed female political leaders at the apex of political glory? But the small amount of women who are able to access this route and also the stereotypes attached to a female leader is alarming.

There are presently 8 women Presidents, 10 women Prime Ministers, And 1 women chancellor in the world. The talk of the credibility of the women in power would leave everyone awestruck. Women from time to time have been successful in making crucial decisions with pragmatism and discretion in the history of world politics. India as a country is as richer in biases as much in culture. The concluding statement of IPU conference “Towards Partnership between Men and Women in politics” held in New Delhi in February 1999 was highlighted by nearly all male and female delegates present. It stated that allthough the Constitution of their country provided for equality between men and women, there is a vast difference between theory and praxis. “Women’s political power is increasing, still not equal “ stated one of the member of the Nordic country in the conference.

The diligence of women in political affair have been proved but still not approved. The lineage of this diligence in India can be traced back to the Mughal Period. Noor Jehan, the wife of emperor Jehangir. She had her mastery over poetry, jewellery and garment designing and had an appreciative eye for art objects. Despite possessing the ‘feminine’ qualities of care and affection, one cannot fail to notice the political insight she had. When Jehangir was productively paralyzed because of alcohol and opium, Noor Jehan ran the court and firmly took all the decisions. Ministers consulted her on most matters of state and finance. In 1626 Jehangir was captured by rebels while he was travelling to Kashmir.Noor Jehan provided him release by her negotiating skills. She is believed to be the greatest power behind the Mughal throne.

The recent Muzaffarnagar riots became one of the prime examples to weigh the strategies of Mayawati and Akhilesh yadav. The Hindustan Times newspaper under the title “ Akhilesh cant, Mayawati can” reprimanded Akhilesh’s strategies as incompetent, flagging him as a “failure” with the killing of 35 people in the communal riots. It’s been well stated that the riot was foretold but failed to be stopped. How did Mayawati control it for 5 years under the same machinery? The answer is Mayawati’s clarity of thoughts and leaving no loopholes of confusion making it a successful strategy as the lack of proper communication, because of many interventions, is the reason behind Akhilesh’s failure. The distribution of works under Mayawati’s time period was more systematic giving the machinery a coherent structure which failed with Akhilesh.

Zooming out, the world is full of examples of powerful women leaders with strategic chorence, delicacy of attitude, organized decision making skills and prudent thinking. Angela Markel, A German politician is elected as the Chancellor of Germany third time in a row. Her careful techniques is well appreciated and hence she holds great faith within the Germans. She has been successful in controlling Euro crisis to some extent. After the nuclear disaster at Fukoshima she shut down all the nuclear power plants in the country. With the care and concern of human lives it also had a strategic plan of eliminating her opposition The Green Party who opposed nuclear power. Joining Ms. Merkel are many names such as Margaret Thatcher, Condoleezza Rice et al, all outstanding when it comes to politics.

To observe is that women who participate and shine in politics are not necessarily single.In the IPU survey of Women’s Political  experience and their Contribution to the Democratic Process, done with a total of 187 women of 35 different countries, 60% were married, a close proportion were either single or divorced , and a small proportion were widowed. Although the vices of power and the greed for money is not absent from women leaders and this becomes evident in some cases but the point here is that the qualities of care and affection on which grounds the earlier philosophers rejected women in politics are precisely was is needed to re-orient the otherwise dissembled state of current politics. And there are many women leaders who can mingle this care and affection with the prudence of mind and such women should be given a free route to change the face of poilitics.

Vashudhaiv Kutumbkam – Why concept of countries is irrelevant today ?

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Divide the state. Don’t divide the mind.

The building of nations was a step in the “evolution “of both humanity and social structures. It germed out of the formation of small settlements and as the population grew the competition for land became more and more fierce. The world is divided into as many problems as the number of groups it is identified with. But the most basic which the people don’t even relate to is ethnic violence. In 2010, an Indian student was allegedly set on fire in Melbourne followed by many more similar attacks. Well, this can shunned as racism. Too distant, right? Lets hop into our very own country. In January 2012, a mob in Tamil Nadu lynched a youth suspecting him to be a North Indian burglar. The mentally challenged youth was beaten to unconsciousness by the local people. This incident happened because the police had few days earlier encountered 5 burglars, 4 of them were Biharis while the other was from West Bengal.  Since then locals eyed every outsider with suspicion.

This can be sunned as state bias. I am not going to visit Tamil Nadu anyway. How does it matter! Too distant again, right. Let us narrow down a bit more. 16th December 2012, gang rape case in the capital. When the police found naked body of the brutalized victim, they initially rejected to handle it saying the area does not fall under their administration. Now, is that distant too?

Vashudhaiv Kutumbkam.( “vasudhā”, the earth; “ēva” = indeed is; and “kutumbakam”, family;) is a Sanskrit phrase which means that the whole world is one single family. It is closely related to Marshall Mcluhan concept of the Global Village. McLuhan suggests that with the advancement in technology where people can read and know about each other, it forces us to become more involved with one another from various social groups and countries around the world and to be more aware of our global responsibilities. But the ringing question is, do we really want to take up this responsibility? There are crucial events which suggest the answer to be negative.

The recent Uttrakhand flood tragedy witness massive destruction and above all innumerable loss of human life. In the wake of these moments, BJP member Narendra Modi is seen rescuing 15000 pilgrims. It stands out as an impeccable act until unless one comes to know that the rescued were not just 15000 pilgrims, but 15000 ‘Gujarati’ pilgrims. Indeed it doesn’t neglect the good part of it but the mentioning of only ‘gujaratis’ hint at the point that a state doesn’t remain just a state, a subdivision to better the administration, but has become entities to fulfill the agendas of political parties and to continue selfish political systems.

The biases towards one’s city, state or country prevents one from seeing the loopholes it possess. Every Indian will be proud to be an Indian on Independence Day no matter how much the state of the country is disgracing. This patriotism is only helpful when you acknowledge the damage and work towards its repair. But is it really happening?

The European Union (EU) which firstly started as a solely economical cooperation can be considered as a positive step towards the abolition of border controls. Its primary aim was to make the countries, who trade with one another, interdependent to avoid conflicts. But in 1993 a shift in the system took place. The name changed from European Economic Community (EEC) to European Union. The idea change behind this was to turn it into a political union. The EU as a union has helped raise the living standards and spread peace and stability. In no time, human dignity, equality and human rights became the main objectives of the European Union.

When steps like these are being taken across the globe, aren’t we making our microbial existence more dilute? By cementing the boundaries in our mind, we are distancing ourselves from the things which affect us. Today India is against India. States should prosper but they shouldn’t do so by glorifying themselves and demeaning others. They should prosper to reach such a position where they could help the under developed states.  When  this process would start at the ground level, it would perpetuate higher. So the next time you incorporate cultural, regional or state biases in your arguments, take a step back and think whom are you benefiting?

Verdict of the Delhi Gang Rape Case: An End or a New Beginning?

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Verdict of the Delhi Gang Rape Case: An End or a New Beginning?

On a chilly winter morning of 16th December 2012, a girl woke up to a promising new day but little did she know that by the end of the day her life would have turned upside down. The Delhi gang rape case of December 16th 2012 became a nationwide horror as the whole nation was shocked with the brutality the victim had to face. Unfortunately, despite the best of efforts, the victim could not be saved.

 

However, her death started a revolution of a kind with many demanding capital punishment for the guilty. On September 10th 2013 the victim was finally given justice, when four of the six accused were given death sentence (of the remaining two, one had killed himself in Tihar jail and the other being six months short of being an adult at the time of crime was sentenced to three year in a correctional facility under the Juvenile Justice Act). The Delhi gang rape case brought awareness about rape as a crime. Many times in the past society blamed rape victim for “provoking” the men. But the outcry made after this Delhi gang rape case changed this notion. It also brought many victims forward to put forth their complaints who were previously afraid to face the world. The recent cases of gang rape of photo journalist in Mumbai and of a girl victim by Asharam are the cases where the society has come out in support of the victims.

 

But what is it that has made number of rape cases increase in India in the recent year? There could be many factors leading to it, but the most important one could be the easy access of pornography and increasing misuse of social media. Many adolescents have unrestricted access to pornography. This makes them curious and in the absence of proper sex education they are more likely to get attracted to commit sexual crimes.Another important factor to note is the socio-economic background of the accused. Many accused are unemployed youth whose frustration finds such wicked outlets.

 

Under The Juvenile Justice Act, the maximum sentence for any crime is three years which makes them bold enough to commit such crimes. There should be amendments made to law where in if a juvenile is convicted for sexual crimes he should not be considered as a juvenile but as an adult,  as the nature of the crime itself  proves  that he is no longer a juvenile and should be punished more severely. Of course such amendments take time to transpire, but we are on the path of change.

 

The victim of Delhi gang rape has been given a justice but partially. Only when the accused juvenile gets capital punishment that full justice will be given.

 

The victim of Mumbai’s Shakti mills gang rape too has been promised that she will get justice, with the fast track court hoping to punish the accused in two months. The third case of the minor being raped by the ‘God man’ Asaram is complicated as he has many followers and has an influential position. We can only hope that the justice be given to the minor.

 

These recent gang rape cases have sparked off a revolution of a kind in the country. The courage of these victims to come out and report the crime has set an example for the society. Due to their bravery, the society has now become more aware about the sexual crimes committed against women and the word ‘rape’ no longer remains a taboo it once was.

 

But only when justice is not denied to any rape victim, of any age or of socio-economic background that we will be sure of success of the revolution that triggered on 16th December.

Chinese dragons in the sea: China’s marine encirclement of India

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Even though China has consistently denied the possibility of using these Indian Ocean ports as naval facilities, there seems to be a motive in this apparent development of ports at strategic locations and commercial choke points.

Does Confucianism hold as much sway in China today as it did during the rule of the Ming Dynasty?

A massive Chinese armada commandeered by the navigator Zheng Le embarked on a seven-voyage maritime adventure from 1405-1433. His inimitable feat took him as far as the Persian Gulf and the East coast of Africa with the purpose of collecting tributes from the ‘barbaric’ countries across the seas.

This was half a century before the Portuguese and the Dutch ‘discovered’ the Indian Ocean.

But by the time the indefatigable Zheng Le returned after his last voyage with a wealth of cargo, the ruling Ming Emperor had changed his mind. He ruled that the act of voyaging to foreign, ‘barbaric’ countries was against the spirit of Confucius’ teaching.

Historians have ever since marveled on the turn world history would have taken had the Chinese continued their nautical exploits.

Hard power in the seas

Of late, China’s aggressive strategy of securing the sea lanes of communication from the South China Sea through the Malacca Strait to the Persian Gulf has left many jittery. Many believe that the Hambantota port in Southern Sri Lanka is the latest addition to China’s policy of securing maritime sea routes by developing ports in strategic areas (commonly known as the String of Pearls strategy). In August this year, Sri Lanka started operating a $500 million container terminal in the Colombo port with the aid of the Chinese government. This chain of ports begin from the Hainan Island in South China Sea and encompass Hambantota in Sri Lanka, the port of Sittwe in Myanmar, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Marao in Maldives, the port of Gwadar in Baluchistan, Pakistan and the port of Sudan.

These nodes of influence could be upgraded as air bases and naval stations, apart from securing China’s oil supply routes from the Persian Gulf.

A common denominator unifies most of these possible Chinese military bases: insurgencies and conflict mar these port cities. The Baloch insurgents have threatened to disrupt China-backed construction projects in Gwadar and Sittwe stands at the centre of a protracted conflict between the Kachin rebels and the Myanmar government. Protests in Bangladesh’s Shahbagh have spilled over to Chittagong state while Sudan faces sanctions from the international community for its abysmal human rights record in Darfur.

Does conflict leverage the role that China plays in these countries?

China has been trying to intermediate talks between the Pakistan government and the Baloch insurgents. In February this year, China hosted peace talks between the Myanmar government and the Kachin rebels. It has systematically defied a US-led call to isolate Sudan from oil trade.

Even though China has consistently denied the possibility of using these Indian Ocean ports as naval facilities, there seems to be a motive in this apparent development of ports at strategic locations and commercial choke points. Kanwar Sibal, member of India’s National Security Advisory has succinctly affirmed a “method in the madness” vis-à-vis the location of the ports that China has decided to help build, upgrade and run.

Ghosts of 1962

The events of 1962 might have taught the Indian government to be fixated on all things terrestrial in terms of its relation with China. Chinese troops had already entered India through Arunachal when Nehru realized the gravity of the situation. The invasion took days after Nehru had asked the nation to be rest assured about India’s enduring friendship with China.

India deliberately did not use Air Force for fear of spreading the site of conflict to other regions. Ironically the brutal crackdown on generations-old Chinese pockets in India’s North east by the Indian state touches many a sensitive nerve even today.

The 1962 conflict taught India to be suspicious of the Chinese dragon, and also for some reason or lack of reason taught India to concentrate its security policies on land- Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin, Tibet and Kashmir. The waters of the Indian Ocean never occurred as a potential threat.

What could Zheng Le teach the Indian strategic and defence think tanks?

That five centuries ago the Chinese had awed the world by making a series of expeditions to as far as the Persian Gulf. That the Chinese are better equipped today to repeat an unrivaled chapter in their history.

The new Chinese President Xi Jinping might have promised to crack down on increasing corruption within the Communist Party of China and address growing economic inequalities.

But who knows how inspired he is with the analects of Confucius?

Communal violence and riots – The Snake which needs to be slayed

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Communal Riots in UP Muzaffrnagar

Communal violence in UP has raised its head again. At least nine people including a TV journalist were killed and as many as 34 were injured as fresh violence erupted  at Muzaffarnagar, UP. As per reports, the tension had been simmering in the region since 27th August . Violence has reached nearby villages too. Killings have been reported in villages of Bhavdi, Laakh, Hassanpur and Lisad.

Communal violence is not new to Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party Government. As many as 27 incidents of communal violence have occurred since Samajwadi Party (SP) formed the government in the state. The first riot under SP government occurred on 1st June 2012 with clashes between two communities over using water at a religious site in Kosi Kalan village.  Four persons were killed and sixteen others were injured in the riots that followed.

Clashes continue and on 3rd September, one person was shot dead in Muzzaffarnagar over a clash between the two communities over dumping of garbage in Shamli.

Such communal violence may prove too costly to Yadav- led SP government as the series of communal violence and partisan role played by the police during these incidents may cause  downfall in the Muslim votes in 2014  Lok  Sabha elections.

In 2012 assembly elections, Muslims had reasserted their faith in the SP government by voting in large numbers, when Yadav had promised them many changes to improve their conditions including the release of Muslim youth who had been wrongly arrested on charges of terrorism. However, when he actually came in power he didn’t fulfill these promises, instead, he nominated many Muslim political figures as spokespersons and gave them posts in his government. These acts proved to have no effect on the life of ordinary Muslims, who are the majority voters and can thus affect Yadav’s chances in the 2014 elections.

The communal violence is having a deep impact on the society and is causing a lot of social insecurity and unrest. Innocent have lost their lives and not even children have been spared. In the Kubta village ,  rioters armed with guns, knivies and petrol bombs ambushed residents on Sunday morning,  leaving 3 dead and 8 injured .These innocent children who didn’t even understand the meaning of communal violence were orphaned and their future was ruined in a matter of moments.

Political parties like RLD, BSP, BJP and SP are all playing the blame game. Ajit Singh of RLD is of the opinion that since Yadav government has little to show in terms of development during its rule it is using communal divide to gain votes.  BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad feels that the current situation would not have occurred if strong action would have taken place earlier. CM Akilesh Yadav meanwhile alleges that this was a political conspiracy to destabilize his government.

While these political parties are busy blaming each other and disrupting the Lok Sabha proceedings; countless number of innocent people keep on suffering.

Worst victims of such violence are the poor. With limited resources, these people depend on daily wages and hence cannot afford long curfews and have no option but to go out of their houses to earn their bread and butter.

Long curfews also lead to closing of daily activities of life, thus livelihood of vegetable vendors, milkmen fruit vendors is affected.

Small children are not allowed to go to school, due to fear of violence on streets. Even Middle-class is affected. Daily commuting becomes hazardous and people even face setbacks in their careers. Overall development and economic activity comes to a standstill which is evident from the low growth rate in UP.

Political parties may blame each other, but whenever there is communal violence, the socio-economic burden falls upon the common man.

As Martin Niemoller rightly says,

“They came first for the communists,

And I didn’t speak speak up

Because I wasn’t a communist.

And then they came for the trade unionists,

And I didn’t speak up

Because I wasn’t a trade unionist

And then they came for Jews,

And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew

And  then…they came for me..

And by that time there was no one

Left to speak up.”

Being Woman: Breaking the illusions of culture

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Breaking the illusions of culture

It was a bright Sunday morning. Fresh, sunny and upbeat. Sometimes you don’t look beautiful but feel like one. That’s the time when you are worth capturing even if the picture doesn’t come out to be perfect. One such day it was. One beautiful morning, I went to my balcony to feel the wind gushing my cheeks, flattening it. I wanted to open my arms and inhale the fresh air .I wanted to smile for no reason not at anybody but as a reflection of joy. But I couldn’t. Somehow the gesture doesn’t suit a ‘good’ girl. As I was looking out, a group of boys appeared on the other side. Their eyes pierced me from top to bottom. And suddenly the words came out. Their gesture was improper but nobody cared. My mother hailed me inside. And warned never go out in the balcony at ‘improper’ times. I failed to comprehend, who was the victim? And who was punished?

The things which are very close to eyes often appear blurred. One such thing is culture. Culture isn’t  only the performative actions of a society. Culture is the internalized reality that we live in. But everytime we fail to realize that no culture is given. It is a construct. And what we need is the eye to deconstruct it. Every dominant system is extremely vulnerable. It is precisely for this reason that it needs to be protected by various sources. Try and give your patriarchal father a book on feminism and he will refuse to read it. Not that he finds the topic non-interesting but because he is scared to encounter counter factual of his dominant ideology. And not just encounter but validly proven too. I heard that a group named MARD if very prevalent these days fighting for women’s right. While I acknowledge the issues raised by them as applauding and praise worthy, what strikes me in discord is the name MARD ( Men Against Rape and Discrimination). It cements the very gender categories that it wants to demolish. MARD as a name suggests fecundity, power, strength which interiorly reflect that a man is needed to protect a woman. Why is woman fighting for a woman’s cause is rejected as gibberish and a man ding the same is called a MARD? For instance when Bollywood actress Preity Zinta spoke about her alleged threatening from the underworld, she was hailed as the only man in Bollywood. Why didn’t she get applauded for what she did being a woman itself? It happened ten years ago. Ten long years! Has much changed since then ?

Streaks of inequality are visible in every culture. What it takes is to make that streak into an abyss by your words and thoughts. I have seen my mother keeping ‘Karwa Chauth’ ( a traditional practice of fasting for one’s husband for his long life) .It’s a celebrated ritual in India. But one never sees the socio political forces working behind it. If a woman prays for a man’s long life then who is going to pray for hers? A man is placed on a pedestal in the very daily domestic life and a woman is placed on a pedestal culturally as a goddess or ‘Devi’. I sense a cultural politics here. The hailing of a woman as goddess is a façade so that a man can be hailed as a God domestically.  Even after that one’s own family and friends suggests a girl to be ‘proper’.

A talking woman is a threat to society. Why? Precisely because she dares to speak the truth that no one wants to hear. Precisely because it will make the whole system haywire and the chairs of power holders will be shaken. A talking woman is a threat in her own house. Precisely because she can deconstruct the culture that is a given to her. It is not the time to stand up and wash away the illusions so that people can see the reality. That has already been done. It is time to see the reality, accept the truth and work towards it.

Sen-Bhagwati Debate: The missing link in the two-way effect of growth and development

growth vs developmentThe recent debate on growth-development dynamics between two economists Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati has created much interest in the world of Development Economics.  At the heart of the debate lies the question whether growth is a pre-requisite for development or whether development must precede growth.Growth often refers to sustained increase in per capita income of a country, while development is a structural concept encompassing improvement in the overall standard of living, health, nutrition, education levels of a country.

In Sen’s terminology ‘Capability Development’ refers to enabling people to attain freedoms to achieve goals which they have a reason to value.Sen firmly believes that state-led human development welfare measures must be given precedence over pro-market growth reforms and that growth will be an inevitable outcome of improved human development indicators such as literacy, life expectancy etc. Eradicating poverty which Sen defines as a ‘Capability Deprivation’ through state-led welfare programmes should be given priority over pro-market growth reforms. This implies once poverty is eradicated and a country has well-educated healthy and productive citizens, growth would follow. On the other hand, Bhagwati is of the view that growth is indispensable to achieve better human development indicators and must precede development. This means growth is necessary, particularly for poorer countries, for attaining resources to spend on welfare programs.

India has somewhat followed Bhagwati’s model since the 1960s when it moved away from policy of import substitution to export promotion. The priority for the government was at that time to build fiscal resources through improved growth and later on spend those resources on welfare programmes. In India several state led reforms have been initiated in recent times, such as MGNERGA, Mid-Day meals Scheme, ICDS, PDS,Right to Education, with an aim to improve the abysmal levels of human development. However very little has been achieved so far. India ranks very poor in global hunger Index and fares worse than many sub-saharan African countries in several other indicators of development. This means that there has been flaw somewhere in India’s growth story. The growth effect has not trickled down to the poor. In other words growth has not translated into development as Bhagwati would have expected. Also state led welfare programs have not yielded any positive results for the growth as Sen would have expected. These welfare programs have added more to the fiscal deficit than contributing to the growth. For example, despite enabling better access to education, unemployment levels are still quite high, particularly among urban youth in India. Hence it would be inept to hold polarized viewpoints in this debate as the reality suggests.

Unlike what Sen believes, growth itself is not to be blamed for the failed results and unlike what Bhagwati believes growth need not always translate to development. There are issues much deeper and intrinsic to the system such as corruption, bureaucratic bottlenecks,market rigidities and  lack of transparency in Governance. These structural factors are specific to an economy and cannot be sidelined in the debate. Hence the conclusions also need to be contextual. One cannot arrive at a policy prescription for all developing countries based on general perception unless one examines the root cause behind failure of delivery mechanisms inherent in the structure of an economy. Unless the root cause is attacked neither growth will lead to development and neither development can bring growth.