IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 31st, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

US academics raise concerns over PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ campaign (Aug 30, 2015, Economic Times)

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley to promote ‘Digital India’ campaign, more than 100 prominent US-based academics have raised privacy concerns about the project.

In a statement, these academics, said ‘Digital India’ seems to ignore key questions raised in India by critics concerned about the collection of personal information and the near certainty that such digital systems will be used to enhance surveillance and repress the constitutionally-protected rights of citizens.

“We are concerned that the project’s potential for increased transparency in bureaucratic dealings with people is threatened by its lack of safeguards about privacy of information, and thus its potential for abuse,” said the statement signed by about 137 academics, a significant majority of whom are of Indian-origin.…

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48730696.cms

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German bakery blast: IM an ‘imaginary concept’, says Baig’s lawyer in court (Aug 28, 2015, Indian Express)

The lawyer of German Bakery blast accused Mirza Himayat Baig Thursday claimed in the Bombay High Court that Indian Mujahideen (IM) is an “imaginary concept”, while the prosecution maintained that it is a terror outfit banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).…

Baig’s counsel Mehmood Pracha said IM was the creation of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad. Special public prosecutor Raja Thakare said it was a banned terror outfit. Pracha said there was nothing to prove if it really existed. Pracha also claimed that investigations by three agencies, including the National Investigation Agency, have shown that it was Qateel Siddiqui who allegedly accompanied accused Yasin Bhatkal, and not Baig.

Meanwhile, two witnesses, who had earlier supported the prosecution’s theory, and later retracted, claimed that their statements to the police, and those given before a magistrate were made under duress.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/german-bakery-blast-im-an-imaginary-concept-says-baigs-lawyer-in-court/

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Think tank debunks fear over rise of Muslims (Aug 29, 2015, Deccan Herald)

At a time when right-wing organisations are crying hoarse about a “rapid increase” in Muslim population, a private think tank on population issues sought to debunk such an analysis, saying fertility rates among all major religions are declining, with Muslims showing the highest fall.

Citing Census and other government data, the Population Foundation of India has said the population growth rates have declined for all religions in India over the past decade and the decadal growth rate among Muslims has been the lowest ever.

The PFI said it is important to note that fertility for a religion varies substantially across states. “Fertility among Hindus of UP is higher than that of Hindus of Tamil Nadu and the same holds true for Muslims. Census data shows that growth rate varies among states. Southern states, especially Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have low population growth rates, whereas the north central states have been growing at a high rate,” it said.…

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/497913/think-tank-debunks-fear-over.html

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Who can return our homes now, ask Bhagalpur riot survivors (Aug 25, 2015, Indian Express)

Mohammed Javed, 48, guides The Indian Express team through Parbatti mohalla of Bhagalpur town, his return drawing looks of suspicion from his former neighbours. The frail motor mechanic stops and points at a pucca house. Back in 1989, this was where his brick-and-tile house used to be. Javed, who had lost 12 members of his family to the Bhagalpur riots, sold his house in 1996.…

Twenty-two Muslim families had sold their properties cheap and the government has now been advised to return these to the original owners. The Justice N N Singh Commission, whose report was submitted in the Bihar assembly earlier this month, has recommended that the government introduce a law to restore property sold in “distress or duress”.

Javed looks nostalgic but Parbatti’s residents clearly resent his presence. “Why has he come here now?” says an elderly resident, who has read of the commission’s report. Javed, then 22, was outdoors on October 24, 1989, while his parents Nazim and Jehana, brothers Firoz, Sohrab and Babar, sisters-in-law Rukhshana and Israt and five nephews and nieces were in the house. “I wanted to go home. But when I did, I saw Kameshwar Yadav (later convicted) there and ran away. I later learnt that my family had been slaughtered and their bodies thrown into a well near Bhagalpur University,” he says.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/who-can-return-our-homes-now-bhagalpur-riot-survivors/

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Indian Scholar Who Criticized Worship of Idols Is Killed (Aug 30, 2015, Washington Post)

An Indian scholar whose criticism of idol worship had angered religious groups was fatally shot Sunday, the police said. The killing of the scholar, Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, drew immediate comparisons to the 2013 murder of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, who spent decades debunking gurus, sorcerers, healers and godmen.

Two men entered the home of Mr. Kalburgi on Sunday morning, opened fire and fled on a motorcycle, according to Ravindra Prasad, the police commissioner in Dharwad, a town in the state of Karnataka in southernIndia. A neighbor, Nagaraj Tigade, said he helped take Mr. Kalburgi, 77, to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.

The police said they did not yet know the motive behind the killing. “Right now there is no breakthrough,” Mr. Prasad said. Mr. Kalburgi, who taught classes in the Kannada language at Kannada University in northern Karnataka and was a former vice chancellor of the university, became the target of protests and threats last year, when he spoke out against idol worship and superstition at a public event.…

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/31/world/asia/indian-scholar-who-criticized-worship-of-idols-is-killed.html

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Court moved against naming Aurangzeb Road after A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (Sep 1, 2015, Free Press Journal)

A plea was filed on Monday in Delhi High Court seeking to restrain New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) from issuing a notification regarding changing the name of Aurangzeb Road to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road in the late former president’s honour. The plea said that “act of altering the historical name is nothing but an outcome of sick and communal politics”.…

The PIL filed by advocate Shahid Ali said that the decision to change the name “lacks understanding of history” and the move of NDMC to change a historical name was bound to “adversely affect the image of India as a secular and justice-imparting country”.…

“The NDMC in utter violation of law and procedure, instead of naming a new road in memory of late A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, has renamed an historical road known as Aurangzeb Road to be known as A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road,” the plea said.…

http://www.freepressjournal.in/court-moved-against-naming-aurangzeb-road-after-a-p-j-abdul-kalam/

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Muzaffarnagar riots film screening stalled in four cities: Organisers (Aug 28, 2015, Business Standard)

The nationwide protest screening of a documentary on the Muzaffarnagar riots was stalled by police – who were allegedly tipped off by Bharatiya Janata Party supporters – in four cities across India, organisers said on Friday.

Nakul Singh Sawhney’s documentary “Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai” was screened in at least 60 different venues across 50 cities in India on August 25 by Cinema of Resistance (COR), which promotes alternate cinema.

The pan-India screening was a mark of protest against the “recent hooliganism by ABVP (right wing students’ body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) goons” who “forcefully stalled” the screening in Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College on August 1, organisers said.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/muzaffarnagar-riots-film-screening-stalled-in-four-cities-organisers-115082800701_1.html

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A prosperous clan in India rallies for government aid, sparking violence (Aug 25, 2015, Washington Post)

Violence erupted throughout the western Indian state of Gujarat on Tuesday night after an emotionally charged rally where one of India’s most prosperous clans had gathered to demand that they be included in government programs for the socially disadvantaged.

The “megarally” had brought the city center of Ahmedabad to a standstill Tuesday as thousands of members of the powerful Patidar, or Patel, community marched in the streets, waving banners critical of government programs for those on the lower end of India’s ancient social order, the caste system.

The relatively peaceful rally descended into chaos after night fell and police briefly detained the movement’s charismatic young leader, 22-year-old Hardik Patel, triggering disruptions around the state. Patel protesters clashed with locals, including some from the Dalit community, once known as “untouchables,” as agitators threw stones, burned police stations and dozens of buses, and set a state minister’s home ablaze.…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-india-a-powerful-clan-protests-preferences-for-the-underprivileged/2015/08/25/fb6dd7ec-49dd-11e5-9f53-d1e3ddfd0cda_story.htm

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Six Delhi policemen dismissed for taking undertrial shopping (Sep 1, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Six Delhi police personnel, including a sub-inspector, have been dismissed from service for taking an undertrial gangster for shopping after a court hearing in Agra. The personnel were identified as – Ashwini (Assistant Sub-inspector), Rajesh (Head Constable) and constables Sanjay, Krishan, Yoginder and Padam.

They were all posted in the 3rd Battalion of Delhi Armed Police, which is entrusted with transport of undertrials between Delhi Prisons and courts both in and outside Delhi and to hospital etc, said a senior police official today.

“They were earlier suspended for dereliction of duty and the dismissal form was signed yesterday by the 3rd Batallion DCP,” said the official.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/newdelhi/six-delhi-policemen-dismissed-for-taking-undertrial-shopping/article1-1386321.aspx

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Indian sisters rape punishment: More than 27,000 Brits sign petition calling for action amid global outrage (Aug 29, 2015, Mirror.co.uk)

More than 27,000 people have signed a petition to save two Indian sisters from being raped as a punishment for their brother running off with a married woman. Meenakshi Kumari, 23, and her 15-year-old sister have fled their village after an unelected all-male village council made the order.

The council also demanded the sisters were paraded naked with blackened faces to humiliate them for their brother’s actions. Amnesty International today condemned the “disgusting” ruling. Rachel Alcock, Amnesty UK’s Urgent Action Coordinator, said: “Rape is a revolting crime, not a punishment. It’s no wonder this disgusting ‘sentence’ has provoked global outrage.

“These Khap courts routinely order vile sexually violent punishments against women. India’s Supreme Court has rightly declared such orders illegal. The government of Uttar Pradesh has an urgent duty to keep this family safe.”…

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/indian-sisters-rape-punishment-more-6338678

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Opinions and Editorials

Painful Patel punch: Gujarat is once again subject of major pilot project on social engineering, deliberate and planned – By RK Misra (Aug 25, 2015, Counterview)

Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it scum floats to the top. But those who do so must bear the burden of the stink. Both stirred and shaken, Gujarat is going through turmoil-filled days as its affluent and numerically strong Patidar (Patel) community mounts a fierce assault for other backward class (OBC) reservation that is straining the fabric of inter-community harmony to its tensile limits.

Fearful of a Patidar led-Anandiben Patel government caving in to their demands, a counter-movement against it is building up as well. Two days ahead of the Patels’ biggest-ever show of community strength on August 25, the OBCs mobilized members from the 146 communities in its fold for a dharna near the Sabarmati ashram in Ahmedabad on August 23.

The scheduled castes SCs and scheduled tribes (STs) symbolically joined it and the tone and tenor were distinctly repudiatory of the Patels. “Any move by the government or any community to snatch our rights will first ensure this government’s pack-up, and thereafter force us, the laboring class, to take to a Naxalism style stir,” warned their leaders.…

http://www.counterview.net/2015/08/painful-patel-punch-gujarat-is-once.html

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The problem with Modi’s ‘Team India’ – By G. Sampath (Aug 31, 2015, The Hindu)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address this year, though delivered in Hindi, was peppered with English words. Three kinds of English words. The first kind was as follows – those that were already a part of spoken Hindi, though not quite the norm in formal speech; words such as ‘busy’, ‘injection’, ‘side-effect’, ‘request’, ‘fashion’, etc.

Then there were those that belong to a specific semantic cluster – the world of the market, business, management. To this category belong terms such as ‘work culture’, ‘financial inclusion’, ‘productivity’, ‘good governance’, ‘transparency’, ‘parameter’, ‘dimension’, ‘pyramid, ‘brand ambassador’, etc.

Closely allied to the linguistic milieu of the second is the third set of English usages: ‘Start-up India, Stand-up India’; ‘per drop, more crop’; and ‘Team India’. In fact, ‘Team India’ occurred no less than 32 times in his speech of 85 minutes – more than any other catchphrase in either English or Hindi.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-problem-with-modis-team-india/article7596770.ece

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Poison of Demographic Prejudice – Editorial (Aug 29, 2015, EPW)

A fear that has been cultivated in India is of the majority being swamped by the minority “Other”: Hindus by Muslims. In Eastern India, the xenophobia has taken the form of a belief that a Bangladeshi influx is changing the demographic profile of the region. Across the rest of the country, a much older mythical fear is that the small Muslim minority will, in size, soon overtake the huge Hindu majority. It is claimed that Islam disapproves of any form of family planning and it is therefore just a question of a few decades (or even years) before Hindus become a minority in “their own country.” Until a few decades ago, such views were held only on the fringes; but since the late 1980s, aided and abetted by Hindutva groups, these have become mainstream views. The facts, if anything, increasingly show that the opposite is happening.

Take the case of the Census of 2011 population figures according to religion which were released earlier this week. Hindus now constitute 79.8% of the population, Muslims 14.2%, Christians 2.3%, Sikhs 1.7% and those of other religions and atheists making up the remaining 2%. The Muslim population of India grew by 2.46% a year between 2001 and 2011, which was indeed higher than the Hindu population growth rate of 1.68% a year. Yet, what is relevant for studying demographic changes is not this difference but how it has changed over time.

The Muslim population growth rate of 2.46% between 2001 and 2011 was lower than the 2.95% recorded in the previous decade of 1991–2001. That of the Hindus too has declined, from 1.99% to 1.68%, respectively. But the decline in population growth is larger and faster among the Muslims. This is no surprise, rather it is common knowledge. Between 1992–93 and 2005–06, according to the National Family Health Survey, the fertility reduction among Muslims was as much as 30% while that among the Hindus was 20%. So much for Muslims not practising birth control or obeying religious diktats prohibiting the use of contraceptive techniques.…

http://www.epw.in/editorials/poison-demographic-prejudice.html

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‘State’s Deprivation, Exclusion & Discrimination Of Muslims’ – By Hamid Ansari (Sep 1, 2015, Outlook)

…The Independence of India in August 1947, and the events preceding and following it, cast a shadow of physical and psychological insecurity on Indian Muslims. They were made to carry, unfairly, the burden of political events and compromises that resulted in the Partition. The process of recovery from that trauma has been gradual and uneven, and at times painful. They have hesitatingly sought to tend to their wounds, face the challenges and seek to develop response patterns. Success has been achieved in some measure; much more, however, needs to be done.

In the past decade, work has also been done to delineate the contours of the problem. The Sachar Committee Report of 2006 did this officially. It laid to rest the political untruth in some quarters about the Muslim condition and demonstrated that on most socio-economic indicators, they were on the margins of structures of political, economic and social relevance and their average condition was comparable to or even worse than the country’s acknowledged historically most backward communities, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It specified the development deficits of the majority of Muslims in regard to education, livelihood and access to public services and the employment market across the states.

In the same vein, Expert Group reports were prepared in 2008 on the need to develop a Diversity Index and establish an Equal Opportunity Commission. Taken together, these and other studies bring forth sufficient evidence to substantiate the view that “inequality traps prevent the marginalised and work in favour of the dominant groups in society”.…

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/states-deprivation-exclusion–discrimination-of-muslims/295209

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Act against right-wing groups – Editorial (Sep 1, 2015, The Hindu)

Sunday’s murder in Dharwad of the outspoken Kannada scholar, M.M. Kalburgi, is tragic and alarming. It is the first such instance in Karnataka, which has a tradition of free speech and a record of outspoken scholars and writers. Kalburgi, a Sahitya Akademi award winner and an authority on Vachana literature, was known for his sharp criticism and questioning of superstitious beliefs, and received a death threat from the leader of a fringe right-wing group last year. Since June 2014 he was given police protection but some months ago he requested that it be withdrawn.

While the identity of the two assailants, and their motive, are yet to be conclusively established, the nature of the threats against him has led investigators and the intelligentsia to suspect the role of fringe groups. This, especially given the backdrop of the murder of rationalist writer Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, and of CPI activist Govind Pansare in 2015, both in Maharashtra. In all the three cases the assailants were motorcycle-borne, and shot from point-blank range.

While hasty conclusions on the latest murder would be imprudent, there is no denying that fringe right-wing groups have created an atmosphere of intolerance to outspoken writers and academics who question religious practices and myths, thereby putting pressure on freedom of speech and expression. Soon after Kalburgi’s murder, a case was filed by the police in Mangaluru against a Bajrang Dal activist who tweeted that the “next” victim would be the Kannada writer K.S. Bhagwan, and the activist was arrested. The social media have amplified such threats, which are acerbic and abusive in nature and typically target writers or academics who question ideologies and religious beliefs.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/mm-kalburgi-murder-case-act-against-rightwing-groups/article7600393.ece

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Aurangzeb to Kalam: A road to history revisited – By Manimugdha S Sharma (Aug 30, 2015, Times of India)

A 17th-century dhrupad, now almost lost, celebrates the martial feats of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. When Alamgir mounts his horse, it says, the whole world, the heavens and even the netherworld tremble. The author of the piece may have taken a lot of poetic liberties but the assessment of Aurangzeb’s might wasn’t entirely off the mark.…

On Friday, though, the Indian government decided to “right the wrongs of history” by renaming Aurangzeb Road after Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. A “bad” Muslim was replaced by a “good” Muslim. Not too long ago, Akbar the Great was the standard “good” Muslim, but now, even he has failed the Sangh Parivar’s acid test of goodness – he is being pitted against the new Hindutva icon, Rana Pratap.…

But can a rechristened road actually change history? Says Mukhia: “History has seen healthy changes and only grown. But this sort of change thrust from above is dangerous and counterproductive. Soviet Union did that and imploded. India needs mature politics. Changing the road name is just a reflection of this urge to erase uncomfortable parts from history. But history has survived assaults, so both Akbar and Aurangzeb will live on-one in popular culture, one maybe only among historians.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48735388.cms

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