IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 15th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Abdul Basheer once saved my life from attackers, says friend Prabhakar (Jan 7, 2018, Times of India)

Abdul Basheer, who succumbed to his injuries on Sunday, once saved the life of a Hindu friend while the pair was working in Saudi Arabia in 1993. Prabhakar, revealed a group of Muslims had cornered him with the intention of attacking him, but Basheer stood by his side, dissuaded the group from harming his friend.

Prabhakar said the intended attack was, perhaps, in retaliation for communal violence in the coastal districts. It had spread its ugly wings to the gulf nation as well.

“Prabhakar is our man, nobody dare touch him,” Prabhakar recalled Basheer as saying when the mob came to attack him. “Basheer had warned them, ‘If you do, there will serious repercussions’. The group eventually left and it is because of him my life was saved.”…


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Democracy At Stake, Things Not In Order: 4 Supreme Court Judges (Jan 12, 2018, NDTV)

Democracy in India is at stake, said four senior Supreme Court judges on Friday as they went public with complaints against the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. The “rebel” judges – the four most-senior at the top court after the Chief Justice – said that “things are not in order” with what they described as “the administration of the Supreme Court”. An independent judiciary is essential for a functioning democracy, they said. Asked if they believed the Chief Justice should be impeached, they said, “Let the nation decide.”

…”The four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country,” Justice J Chelameswar said on the lawns of his residence. He is the second most-senior judge of the Supreme Court. The judges said that their concerns include cases of “far-reaching consequences”being allocated without transparency. They made available a letter written by them to the Chief Justice two months ago, alleging “selective assignment of cases to preferred judges” and that “sensitive cases were being allotted to junior judges”.…

Judge Loya was hearing a case that accused BJP president Amit Shah of murder when he died in Nagpur in December 2014. His family has alleged that his death was unnatural and came after he was offered 100 crores as a bribe to rule in favour of the BJP leader. Medical records show Judge Loya died of a cardiac arrest. Within weeks of his death, Amit Shah was discharged before he faced trial. The Supreme Court has been asked to order an independent inquiry into Judge Loya’s death. On Friday morning, the case was assigned to a bench that does not include the four senior judges who held the press conference.…



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Loya case judge is close to BJP: Dave (Jan 14, 2018, Times of India)

A day after the virtual revolt by four judges of the Supreme Court, senior advocate Dushyant Dave has alleged that Justice Arun Mishra – assigned to hear the judge Loya death case – has close relations with BJP and top politicians.

News channel CNN News18 quoted Dave as having said, “Everyone knows Justice Arun Mishra has close relations with BJP and top politicians”. He also said, “Justice Arun Mishra shouldn’t hear the Loya case.”

Meanwhile, in a further twist to the judges’ dissent, a petitioner in the case of the alleged mysterious death of Justice Loya has told Times Now, that Dave attempted to pressurise him to withdraw the case from the bench of Justice Arun Mishra.…



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Current communal narrative not in India’s interests: Ex-CJI (Jan 11, 2018, Business Standard)

In an apparent indictment of the Hindutva politics, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Jagdish Singh Khehar on Thursday said such politics will be counterproductive for India’s aspiration to become a global power.

“India is aspiring to be a global power. In a global scenario, if you want to befriend Muslim countries, you can’t afford to be anti-Muslim back in you country. If you want strong ties with Christian nations, you can’t be anti-Christian,” Khehar said while delivering the 24th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture here.

“Whatever is happening today is not in the interest of India, especially if we are projecting a communal bend of mind,” Khehar said as he emphasised that India consciously chose to be secular in 1947….



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RTI Reveals Modi Called Health Minister to Discuss Removal of AIIMS Whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi (Jan 10, 2018, The Wire)

At the peak of the controversy surrounding whistleblower Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi exposing major corruption in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a telephonic call to the then health minister Harsh Vardhan to discuss the issue, an RTI has revealed. The hospital administration and the Union health ministry had been pushing for Chaturvedi’s removal from the post of chief vigilance officer (CVO) at the premier medical institution at the time.

But while Chaturvedi was later divested of the charges, no action was taken against those who were indicted by him in his investigation as CVO. Queries filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act have revealed that Prime Minister Modi made a call to Harsh Vardhan on August 23, 2014, to discuss the issue of removing Chaturvedi from the post of the CVO at AIIMS.…

While it is not known what transpired in the conversation between Modi and Harsh Vardhan, the RTI replies reveal a level of inertia in governance. Ideally, Modi should have either taken an action against Chaturvedi in case his documents were false or Nadda should have been sacked in keeping with the much-proclaimed policy of zero tolerance against corruption. But neither of the two options were exercised. Nadda, in fact, was given a free hand and went on to close all the major corruption cases exposed by Chaturvedi, overruling the Central Bureau of Investigation’s recommendations for action against the accused.…



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Uttar Pradesh in last 10 months: 921 encounters, 33 deaths and an NHRC notice to Yogi Adityanath govt (Jan 11, 2018, Indian Express)

On Tuesday, history-sheeter Channu Sonkar became, in Azamgarh, the 30th person killed by UP police in encounters in the less than 10 months since March 20, 2017, when the current government took over. The 30 were killed in 29 encounters while three policemen were killed in separate encounters – out of 921 during that period.

On November 22, the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the state government over 19 encounters in six months. Records accessed by The Indian Express show at least 29 encounters so far in which wanted men were killed. In the month-and-a-half since the notice, eight encounters – three in the new year – have led to the death of eight wanted men and a constable.

The government says it has yet to receive the notice from the NHRC, which had given it six weeks to reply. “We have so far not received any notice from NHRC in connection with the deaths in police encounters,” principal secretary (home) Arvind Kumar said Wednesday.…



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Girl Driven to Suicide Over ‘I Love Muslims’ Message on WhatsApp, BJP Youth Wing Leader Arrested (Jan 9, 2018, News18.com)

A 20-year-old Hindu woman allegedly committed suicide after being hounded for sending a WhatsApp message that said “I love Muslims”. A local BJP youth wing leader has been arrested and police is on the lookout for four others.

Dhanyashree, a 20-year-old B.Com student, was found hanging in her room on Saturday, the police said. The incident took place at Mudigere town near Chikkamagaluru, also known as India’s coffee bowl. The woman was chatting with her friend, Santhosh, on Friday when the conversation veered towards the futility of fighting over caste and religion. In a reply to a question posed by him, she had replied “I love Muslims”.

Anilraj, who is BJP Yuva Morcha’s Mudigere town president, went to the woman’s house to warn her against befriending Muslims, police said. Infuriated by her message, Santhosh warned her against having any kind of relationship with Muslims. He had also shared the screenshot of their conversation with local Bajrang Dal and VHP members. The screenshot of the message went viral, causing mental agony to Dhanyashree and her mother. Chikkamagaluru SP M Annamalai said that some youths, including the BJP youth wing leader Anilraj, then visited her house on Friday evening and threatened her and her mother against being friendly with Muslims.…



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Just 1% of targeted Indian women “receive” maternal benefit under Modi’s aadhaar-linked Matru Vandana project (Jan 11, 2018, Counterview)

A year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the government would provide maternity benefit of Rs 6,000, under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), which succeeded the previous UPA government’s Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY), just about 1% of the targeted beneficiaries have so far been covered under the much-trumpeted scheme.

Revealing this, well-known Belgian-born Indian developmental economist Jean Deze, known to be a close associate of Nobel laureate Amarya Sen, has said in a blog that while RGMSY has been “discontinued”, the PMMVY has been “held up by a series of delays”, and, “according to a recent statement of the ministry of women and child development, only 10,000 women have received maternity benefits under PMMVY so far.”

Modi’s announcement, made on December 31, “possibly aimed at sweetening the demonetisation pill”, however, failed to mention is that the maternity entitlements of Rs 6,000 per child, which he referred to, was only “a legal right of all Indian women since 2013 under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), and that his government had done nothing about it”, Dreze writes.…



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PMO asked state to not arrest Hindutva leaders accused in Bhima Koregaon violence: Prakash Ambedkar (Jan 8, 2018, Scroll.in)

Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar on Sunday alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office had asked the Maharashtra government to not arrest the two Hindutva leaders accused of inciting violence in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.

A day after the violence on New Year’s Day, the police had filed cases against 85-year-old Sambhaji Bhide, who leads the organisation Shiv Pratishthan, and Milind Ekbote, who heads the radical Hindu outfit Samasta Hindu Aghadi. The two have not been arrested yet.…

“One of the ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis government told me that directives have come from the Prime Minister’s Office to not arrest the two Hindutva leaders,” Ambedkar told The Indian Express. Ambedkar, the grandson of BR Ambedkar, is the leader of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh. “I don’t understand the silence of the government in the case, even days after the FIR was filed,” Ambedkar said. “The government has not even condemned those behind the violence…why is the government trying to protect people who tried to divide two communities?”…



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Dalit prof at Hyderabad univ complains against ABVP leader over ‘abusive’ FB post (Jan 9, 2018, Hindustan Times)

A Dalit professor at the University of Hyderabad has accused authorities of ignoring his complaint against a leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, who allegedly made an abusive comment against him on social media.

K Laxminarayana of the School of Economics complained in his letter to vice-chancellor P Appa Rao on November 30 last year that Karan Palsaniya, a research scholar, used filthy words on his Facebook page against him for asking a question about privatisation and saffronisation of education.

“There had been no communication from the vice-chancellor’s office until December 30. I sent a reminder as to what action the authorities are taking with regard to my complaint. I got a mail from them stating that the complaint was referred to a proctorial board which would look into it,” Laxminarayana told the Hindustan Times.…



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Noida cop lures 7-year-old with Rs 10, ‘rapes’ her in front of brother (Jan 12, 2018, Times of India)

A 45-year-old police constable on deputation with Sales Tax department Gautam Budh Nagar allegedly raped a 7-year old girl in presence of her younger brother after luring her with a ten rupee note on Wednesday evening.

The accused Subhash Singh assaulted the girl for half an hour and fled from the spot as people started gathering due to rescue cry. The accused believed the matter would have resolved and returned to his one-room set rented accommodation on Thursday morning.

The victims’ family members and local residents disturbed over the brutal assault, lost cool, and roughed up the constable with shoes and sandals and handed over to police.…



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Opinions and Editorials

India’s democratic institutions are crumbling. And Modi government is to blame for it – By Ashok K Singh (Jan 15, 2018, Dailyo.in)

First to be on the chopping block was Parliament. Then came the media. With two pillars of democracy having fallen, the judiciary, presumably the most independent of all, was naturally in line to come under pressure.… The unprecedented press conference held by the four senior judges of the Supreme Court was symptomatic of not only the existing tension within the court but also between the judiciary and the government.… this government uses more subtle and pernicious ways in trying to achieve its objectives. It has perfected the art of undermining democratic institutions quietly. …

The government tried to influence the appointment and transfer of judges through the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) but failed. A five-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court struck down the NJAC by a majority of 4:1 in 2015. Incidentally, justice Jasti Chelameswar happened to be the dissenting judge on the bench. That all is not well between the judiciary and the government has come out in the open on many occasions.…

It’s obvious the matter of appointment of judges has been a major cause of concern between the government and the judiciary. The government has been trying to chip away the powers of the judiciary in the appointment of judges. The judiciary is the last bastion tasked with keeping democracy alive and in good health. Democracy will fail, as the four judges emphasised, if judiciary fails to stand up to the political executive. That’s where a totalitarian state begins.



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Aadhaar Of Injustice – By Anjali Bhardwaj, Amrita Johri (Jan 11, 2018, Indian Express)

In September 2017, 11-year-old Santoshi, resident of Simdega district of Jharkhand, succumbed to starvation. According to her mother, she died “asking for rice, but there was not a single grain at home”. She was deprived of her subsidised ration as her family’s ration card was cancelled because it was not linked to Aadhaar.

Marandi in Jharkhand met the same fate – he could not avail of his share of ration supplies since his Aadhaar Based Biometric Authentication (ABBA) failed. Similar cases of starvation deaths have been reported from other states too, including Shakina Ashfaq from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, who could not present herself at the ration shop for ABBA due to ill health.

When the Narendra Modi government came to power riding on the promise of fighting corruption and ensuring effective service delivery, it was assumed that it will put in place a strong anti-corruption and grievance redress framework to ensure that no one is denied their rightful entitlements. However, instead of operationalising anti-corruption legislation like the Lokpal or implementing the grievance redress and social audit provisions in various laws, the government has been pushing Aadhaar as the ultimate solution to corruption.…



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Bhima-Koregaon has made the RSS’s social engineering boomerang – By Kumar Ketar (Jan 8, 2018, The Print)

…Hindutva ideologues hated Ambedkar viscerally, and even condemned a ‘shudra’ being appointed chairperson of the Constitution drafting committee. The Brahminical RSS, more prominent until the 1960s and ’70s, was hostile to Dr Ambedkar and all Dalits. The deeply researched book on the journey of Hindutva, Gita Press by Akshaya Mukul (Harper Collins), traces the Hindutva hatred of Ambedkar.…

The internal rivalries and ambitions within the Dalit movement added yet another contradiction. Ramdas Athavle, seen by most Dalit activists as an opportunist who surrendered his Mahar identity to the Brahmins of the RSS-BJP by aligning with them, was frontally challenged by Prakash Ambedkar. The invitation to Jignesh Mevani, elected last month as an MLA in Gujarat, was like adding fuel to the fire. Mevani had challenged the entire Sangh Parivar in Gujarat, and particularly Narendra Modi. His speeches in Bhima-Koregaon were bound to exacerbate the situation.

Sambhaji Bhide, an 85-year-old “guru”, is a militant leader of the Hindutva brigades. He has dedicated followers, mostly Maratha youth, although he is a Brahmin. He dons the name Sambhaji, taken from the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji, to spread Hindutva ideology among the masses. His campaign converted the confrontation into a Maratha-Dalit conflict. Finally, mayhem was let loose.…



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Lead and Mislead: Ten Claims Made by PM Modi in 2017 That Don’t Add Up – By Arjun Sidharth (Jan 12, 2018, The Wire)

Modi made a series of claims throughout 2017, many of which turned out to be either untrue or partially true. Here is a list of ten such claims.

1. Former PM Vajpayee was a passenger on India’s first ever metro At a speech to mark the inauguration of the Magenta line of Delhi metro, PM Modi on December 25 said that former PM Vajpayee became a passenger on India’s first ever metro service when the Delhi metro was flagged off in 2002. The contention proved to be incorrect.

The first metro service to be launched in India was the Kolkata metro, the foundation stone for which was laid by former PM Indira Gandhi in 1972. The service was finally launched in 1984. Delhi metro was India’s 2nd metro service after Kolkata.…



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The Day Gandhi Began His Last Fast – By Apoorvanand (Jan 13, 2018, The Wire)

Last month, winter came knocking on the doors of Delhi’s residents and it was pleasant to sit in the sun. I spent one such afternoon in the company of three young men. To say they were Indian would not suffice; they were Muslims. And, although it was an awkward question for a first meeting, I nevertheless asked them, “What is the biggest worry for the Muslim youth of India?”

There was a short pause before the reply came. “Security,” they said. It was not as though their reply came as a surprise to me, but even so it gave me a jolt. I was aware that if they had been Hindu youths, this question would not have fetched the response it did. Then they would have said educational opportunities, jobs. Had they been Dalit youths, the reply would have been equality, dignity. For Muslim youths, however, these concerns are secondary. Protection and security are their prime concerns.…

September 18, 1947. Gandhiji has come to Delhi’s Daryaganj area, where houses and shops are shrouded in desolation. Many have been looted. Walking through deserted lanes, Gandhi reaches Asaf Ali’s residence. About 100 Muslims are gathered there. They all speak in one refrain: “We want to stay on in India as loyal citizens. But we want a guarantee that we shall be safe.”…



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The 6.5% warning – By Ila Patnaik (Jan 11, 2018, Indian Express)

The GDP forecast for FY 2018 of 6.5 per cent does not come as a surprise. The introduction of a Goods and Services Tax, even in its cleanest and simplest form, would have inevitably led to disruption in any economy. In India’s case, multiple rates and a complex structure have made compliance cumbersome and created gaps in the supply chains.…

The central puzzle is the decline in investment. Investment did not start declining immediately after the global financial crisis in 2008, but with a lag. For a couple of years, the economy was held up by expansionary fiscal and monetary policy, and the momentum of the previous years. But since 2012, the demand shock seems to have caught up with us.

Investment in the Indian economy has declined from 34.3 per cent of the GDP in 2011-12 to 27 per cent of the GDP in 2016-17. The first advance estimates on national income show that investment as a per cent to GDP has further fallen to 26.4 per cent in 2017-18.…



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