Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Media Scan

Second Gay Bishop For Episcopal Church

Reverend Mary Glasspool of Baltimore (a city in of U.S. state of Maryland) has become the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican fellowship.

Elected as the assistant bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles-the Anglican body in the United States- the lesbian Mary Glasspool, however, needs approval from a majority of national church leaders before she can be consecrated for the same.

Episcopal Church had caused uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, U.S.A.

Meanwhile the head of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has reportedly said that she would consecrate any elected bishop as long as church rules for selection were followed.

With approximately 77 million members Anglican Communion is a family of churches that trace their roots to the missionary work of the Church of England. It is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Austerity: Kapil Sibal Spent Rs 3.23 Lakhs Just On A Toilet

Trinamool Congress has set an example by asking its member, Sultan Ahmed, who happens to be the minister of state for tourism, to foot the extra expenses for his bill of Rs 37 lakhs for staying in five-star Hotel Ashok.Though the minister who has left the hotel, was allotted a ministerial bungalow, he could not move into it as the CPWD had could not get it ready.

Even as one may or may not agree with the statement of the minister who is a first-time MP that he was misguided by the tourism ministry officials, the question being asked in political circles of the capital is:" Will the UPA chairperson and Congress chief, Sonia Gandhi, and prime minister, Manmohan Singh, take action to stop the brazen misuse of taxpayers' money by some ministers on furnishing their offices which are already furnished.

And now, if the revelations available on the basis of an RTI enquiry (it is surprising only seven of 78 ministers have responded to the RTI enquiry) are to be believed, nine ministers, including three ministers of state, have already spent about Rs one crore on the toilets, visitors' rooms and texture walls of their offices. It is learnt that, inspired by his boss, Anand Sharma, who has spent about Rs 14.78 lakhs, minister of state for commerce and industry, Jyotirditya Scindia, who belongs to the "Rahul Gandhi generation of leaders" has spent Rs 15 lakhs on renovating his office.

Even the ministers of the tribal affairs ministry have not lagged affairs ministry have not lagged behind. Kantilal Bhuria, cabinet minister and his minister of state, Tusherbhai Chaudhary, have spent about Rs 25 lakhs, not only on themselves but also on the furnishing of the offices of their staff. Chaudhary has spent less than one lakh on his room but the rooms allotted for his personal staff and his en-suite office have cost Rs 6.89 lakhs.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, minister for heavy industry, has spent Rs 17.5 lakhs on renovating his office while Jatin Prasada, a junior minister, has spent Rs 11.4 lakhs. Kapil Sibal Human resources minister has spent Rs 3.23 lakhs just on a toilet. Social justice and empowerment minister, Mukul Wasnik, has set a record of sorts by spending Rs 8.22 lakhs, not on his office but on his visitors' room.

Ram Janambhoomi Issue Lost Its Charm: Arun Shourie

After terming Bharatiya Janata Party “`kati patang'(a kite without a string), the Rajya Sabha MP of the party Arun Shourie has said that BJP cannot whip up the Ram Janambhoomi frenzy again.

His statement has come after BJP reiterated on the 17th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition that building a temple to Lord Ram at the mosque site was a “commitment” and that the party would seek a resolution to the issue through negotiation or judicial verdict.

The BJP had stepped forward to the central government post in 1998 by exploiting Hindu votes in the name of Ram Temple. However, the issue could not serve its cause in 2004 and then 2009 parliamentary elections where National Democratic Alliance lost to apparently secular UPA.

Since the 2009 Lok Sabha debacle BJP has been facing criticism forms its own party cadres. "You can't fire a bullet twice. The time has passed. Today the issue is delivery," Shourie reportedly said.

On criticism within a section of the BJP, which feels that the movement was now akin to a noose around the leadership's neck, Shourie said: "That's bunk...I myself was a strong supporter of the Ayodhya movement because one of the principle corrections that was required since independence was on the perversion of the meaning of the word secular.

"And the movement, which got personified by Mr (L K) Advani, was a very strong corrective in that regard," Shourie told a TV channel.

Maoist Uncle! Don’t Damage Our Schools: Children

In the wake of the increasing attacks by Naxals, hundreds of poor children from Bihar have appealed the Maoists not to target their schools as it impacts their education badly.

The children, according to a report, belong to a school in Aurangabad district of Bihar. They have demanded in a letter to the Maoists that they should not blow up school buildings as it deprives them of education.

"Maoist uncle, what is our mistake that you blow up schools and deprive us of education? You may have problems with the police but we fail to understand why we are your enemy? What is our mistake that our schools have become a soft target for you,” the children wrote in the letter.

After railways and mobile towers, schools in rural areas have become the soft target of Maoist guerrillas in Bihar. "Maoists have been targeting school buildings fearing that these buildings would be used by central para-military forces," a police official reportedly said.

According to police sources, more than 20 school buildings have been blown up by Maoists in different districts in Bihar. At least ten school buildings were blown up or badly damaged in Aurangabad, Gaya, Rohtas and Jehanabad districts which are the worst Maoist-affected districts.

Sanatan Sansatha Handed Over To NIA

The National Investigation Agency has been assigned the probe of the Sanatan Sanstha’s terror activities in the wake of the Goa blasts, said the sources.
According to the reports, the Goa government had notification to the centre demanding that Diwali eve Goa blasts be probed by NIA.
In a subsequent step the NIA formed a team and sent to the Goa police to get details of the case. This is the first time that NIA has been assigned to investigate Hindu terror link in any blasts.

“The disclosure by those arrested that the Sanatan operatives had planned to use cell-phone triggers to set off the blasts in Goa and the group’s well networked operations in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat displayed a level of planning and sophistication that needed a wider probe beyond the scope of the state police, highly placed government sources,” an English daily reported.

There are the reports that two months before executing the Goa blasts, Sanatan Sansatha members and their accomplices had allegedly conducted at least three successful trial runs in Goa and Maharashtra.

According to the media reports two trials were held on August 25 and 26 on a hillock in Talaulim in Ponda taluka in South Goa and the third was conducted a month later in a forest of Sangli district in Western Maharashtra.

The Goa police which is investigating the Margo (Goa) blasts have so far arrested four persons associated with the Sanatan Sansatha. It was on October 16, 2009 that a bomb kept in a scooter went off near Banjara Hotel in the Madgaon region of Central Margao city in Goa. The blast had killed two persons of Sanatan Sansatha Malgonda Patil and Yogesh Naik.

Imperialism Thrives On Political Parties Consent!

“The unjustified distribution of wealth among people has created a hard-to-bridge gap between poor and rich in India. While some lead a luxurious life, according to a conservative estimate 70% Indians earn a meagre Rs 20 daily,” said Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, Ameer-e-Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

He was speaking to a journalists’ gathering in Bangalore. The program was a part of the 10-day national anti-Imperialism campaign arranged by the organization from 11 to 21 December, 2009.

An evident example in this context may be found in the fact that despite India’s economy depends largely on agriculture; the sector does not get much attention. On daily basis hundreds of farmers commit suicide. Umri said that the unused land lying barren should be made productive.

“Every person has the right to live, food and education etc. The government is bound to fulfil all these necessities,” Umri said.

He emphasised that efforts should be exerted to remove the discrimination between poor and rich. “But, the tragedy is that none of the big political parties is trying sincerely to raise the issue,” Umri said adding, “Therefore imperialism is growing in India.”

Hindu Religious Sect Asaram Charged With Attempt To Murder

The controversial Hindu spiritual godman Asaramji Bapu (Gujarat) along with his two unidentified disciples was booked for attempt to murder a former trustee of his Ashrams in Gujarat and Rajasthan, Raj Chandak.

Chandak, who was shot and injured at late in December 5 night by two unidentified bikers in Sabarmati area, quite near the sect’s headquarters, has alleged that he was attacked at the behest of Bapu. Chandak had joined the ashram in 1977 but he quit in 2004 seeing the irregularities of Asaram and his son Sai Ram.

Dipesh and Abhished Waghela had died near Asaram Ashram

Earlier, Chandak had raised issues of moral turpitude in the Ashram, after two boys studying in a residential school of the ashram were murdered on July 3, 2008. The mutilated bodies of Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela were recovered from the Sabarmati riverbed two days after they went missing. During the subsequent investigation of their deaths by Justice DK Trivedi Commission, many ashram inmates, including Chandak, testified to bizarre rituals on the ashram premises. Since then, the reports say, Chandak earned the wrath of the Ashram people.

Former sadhak Ramesh Patel said in one of his statements that Asaram performed tantrik rituals on bodies under a banyan tree in his ashram since 1985. He preferred bodies of kids for the rituals, and ‘invested the tantrik powers’ gained into the ‘vad’ for common people’s good. In this connection the state CID has filed chargesheet against seven people.

The police have filed an FIR based on Chandak's complaint, right not hospital, which makes Asaram the prime accused in the case. This is the first formal criminal complaint against the religious sect leader after the death of the Vaghela boys.

Asaram Bapu
The `godman' and his ashrams in Ahmedabad and Surat have been embroiled in controversy for some time. Besides the mysterious deaths of the two boys the supporters of Asaram have been allegedly involved in the attacks on journalists and grabbing lands in Surat and Ahmedabad.

The issue of land encroachment by various ashrams set up by the godman was raised in the Gujarat assembly and the state government admitted that 67,099 sq m government land has been encroached upon the Asaram Gurukul.

Meanwhile, the ashram has issued a press release stating that the complaint was an attempt to malign the religious sect leader and that it had nothing to do with the assault.

The release also sought to inject a communal slant, by charging that the Gujarat Police, headed by DGP Shabbir Hussain Sheikhadum Khandwavala, was trying to malign the `Hindu' religious leader.

In the last of November, a protest rally by Ashram followers had turned violent injuring more than two dozen policemen.The police had arrested more than two hundred supporters of the `godman' in this connection.

SC Takes Tough On Public Places’ Encroachments By Religious Shrines

In what showed a strong commitment of the Supreme Court over its verdict that no new “temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras will be allowed on public parks, public streets and public spaces,” the court on December 7 instructed the high courts and lower judiciary to refrain from passing any directive “inconsistent” to its order banning shrines on public places.

According to the media reports, the apex body stated that state governments cannot let “personal faith” eat up public space for fear of provoking religious sentiments. "Looking at the gravity of the matter we direct that no order, which is inconsistent with our order would be passed by any court in the country," ruled the bench led by Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Patnaik.

Adding they said, “The court is going to be very strict on this ban, even if it gives rise to a law and order problem. We are making it abundantly clear that any fresh construction is banned.”

The order came after solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam and advocates representing the states requested the court to do so. Subramaniam, who appeared for the centre, told the court that its earlier order of September 29 banning more religious shrines on public places can get frustrated if any court entertained a plea related to the matter.

The SC on September 29 had put a blanket ban on encroachment of public land for building religious shrines; temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras etc. This order had followed a petition by Union of India that challenged a Gujarat High Court order that had in 2006 directed municipal body to take action against such illegal structures. It had put the onus of allowing no new unauthorised construction of religious places on public land on the chief secretaries of all the states and union territories.

As for the existing structures, the court had asked the states to deal with them on individual, case-to-case basis after hearing the parties concerned. The court had also sought the response of all the states and union territories as to how they intended to implement its order. Except Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya, none of the states have filed their response so far.

The chief secretaries were given four weeks time to formulate a policy to deal with existing constructions, and an affidavit furnishing information of how the states have complied with the apex court order has to be submitted before Jan 27, 2010.
In the case of inability to present the affidavit the chief secretaries will have to appear before the court on next hearing scheduled on February 4, 2010.

Pranab Mukherjee Admits Lacuna In System Leading To Corruption

The union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has admitted there are some lacunae in the system that give rise to corruption in the country.

Being asked to comment on the corruption cases involving former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and three other former
ministers in disproportionate assets (DA), Mukherjee said that Koda could not make such huge money ‘in too little time’ had the system been free from lacunas.

Meanwhile Mukherjee has assured that Koda scam will be fully unearthed after the investigation is over. Mr Mukherjee told that the cases were under investigation at three levels - first, allegation of tax evasion that was being looked into by the Income Tax department, secondly, allegations of money laundering case under the scanner of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and thirdly other irregularities that were to be perused by the state vigilance bureau.
India ranks 84th in a list of 180 countries, according to Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index, a measure of domestic and public sector corruption. The corruption watchdog says that many African, East European and Latin American nations fare much better than India.

50 Channels Under Scanner For Illegal Broadcasting

At least 50 TV channels involved in illegal broadcasting have come under scanner.
According to the reports, the Centre told the Parliament house that in this year alone it has served 50 notices to difference channels this year alone as a part of its corrective measures against the channels violating content of the code. The Centre has also asked the states to set up district level committees to monitor telecast of such channels.
Meanwhile, the information and broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told that the ministry has received several complaints regarding illegal channel being broadcasted.
"We wrote to all chief secretaries of states to take action against cable operators and multi-system operators (MSOs) who are showing them," said the minister.
The minister said state governments had also taken action against cable operators showing such channels and seized their equipment, adding that this led to law and order problems in some areas. "Therefore, I recently also wrote to home minister P. Chidambaram to look into the matter. He has said the situation is being monitored and strict action will be taken against violators," said Ms Soni.

Americans Booked Under Anti-Terrorism Act In Pakistan

The five young Muslim Americans who were arrested in Pakistan early in December have been booked under the tough Anti-Terrorism Act.

"We will try them under the Anti-Terrorism Act and sections of the Pakistan Penal Code. We will soon reach the local people related to this network," Usman Anwar, the police chief of Sargodha reportedly said.

The authorities also obtained physical remand of the suspects Waqar Hussain Khan, 22, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, 20, Ramy Zamzam, 22, Iman Hassan Yemer, 17, Omar Farooq, 24 and his father Khalid Farooq for 10 days from a magistrate in Sargodha on December 15.
The youth who are from Washington suburbs had gone missing in November last year were detained during a police raid in Pakistan.

According to the media reports, their arrest had come at a house in Sargodha occupied by one Khalid Farooq who allegedly has ties with the Pakistani banned outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad.

After the disappearance of the five- all ranging in age from the late teens to early 20s-in later November, the concerned family members contacted local imams and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - an advocacy group that is working with the families of the young men. “The Officials with the group met with the families on Dec. 1 and put them in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation the same day,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group.

American and Pakistani officials said the five men flew from Dulles International Airport outside Washington and landed in Karachi, Pakistan, on Dec. 1. They travelled to Hyderabad, Pakistan, and then to Lahore, where they spent five days before moving on to Sargodha.

“We are working with Pakistan authorities to determine their identities and the nature of their business there, if indeed these are the students who had gone missing,” the justice department of U.S. is quoted to have stated as per a media report.

"The Muslim community has taken the lead in bringing this case to the attention of law enforcement authorities and will offer ongoing cooperation with the FBI as the investigation moves forward," said Awad, executive director of CAIR.

The intentions of the arrested youth is not clear, however, it is said that one of the men had left behind an 11-minute video calling for the defence of Muslims in conflicts with the West and suggesting that “young Muslims have to do something,”.

However, Nihad Awad cautioned against hasty conclusions about the episode during a news conference in Washington with other Muslim leaders.

Three-Month Jail After 33-Year Trail

The trial ran for 33 years and the sentence awarded to the accused in a three month imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000.

A FIR was lodged by an inspector in Cantonment police station in Lucknow on April 18, 1977, claiming that 11 persons, planning to commit robbery in the house of one Sri Ram Yadav, had been arrested on a tip-off from village Loga Khera.

Uday Raj, and his other alleged accomplices, absconded and the court later issued a non-bailable warrant against them. Uday Raj was finally arrested in October this year.

“Though I was not in jail but these 33 years have wreaked havoc in my life. I could never get a job and was constantly on the move. We were made to pay the price for a crime which was not even committed,” he said.

30,000 More US Forces To Afghanistan Will Help Bring Progress!

Supporting the Barrack Obama’s announcement of sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan the head of the US Central Command-the body which oversees the Afghanistan war-general David Petraeus urged the congressmen to reserve judgement on Obama’s new war strategy for a whole year.

Petraeus told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 9, that he expected increased fighting in the spring and summer. The US general, who executed the so-called US surge in Iraq in 2007, also warned that the military situation in Afghanistan is "likely to get harder before it gets easier”.

According to Petraeus Afghanistan is in no worse condition now than Iraq was when he arrived there in 2007 to take command of US force. He however, says that "Achieving progress in Afghanistan will be hard and the progress there likely will be slower in developing than was the progress achieved in Iraq."

Nevertheless, he believes sending an additional 30,000 US troops "will over the next 18 months enable us to make important progress".

All of the additional US forces are expected to be deployed by the summer or autumn, aiming to reverse Taliban momentum while increasing the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces, improving the safety of the Afghan people and upgrading "the Afghan governance".

Gen Petraeus said he thought all those factors would help allow for a gradual US withdrawal from Afghanistan starting in July 2011, according to Obama's plan.

2.7 Crore Cases Pending Before Subordinate Courts
The Chief justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan recently said that there is immense need of more subordinate courts in the country for speedy justice.

Speaking at a conference held December 12 in Bangalore on ‘Alternative Disputes Resolution-Conciliation and Mediation’, the chief justice said, “India needs 35,000 subordinate courts to dispose cases, the present courts are not adequate to dispose the backlog of cases.”

He added that at present there are only 16,000 subordinate courts in the country for which only 14,000 judges are working. "As an immediate measure at least 3,200 judges should be appointed to subordinate courts,” he said.

Mr. Balakrishnan said that in last two years, 200 additional judges were filled up to all the High Courts. He emphasised that more vacancies should be filled up in the subordinate judiciary. “I requested all states to fill up at least ten per cent of the posts in existing vacancies,” he reportedly said adding that presiding officers too be recruited.

“The States are not recruiting judicial
officers every year and this is leading to vacancies not being filled in time,’ he is reported to have said.

“As of July 2009 there were 53,000 cases pending before the Supreme Court, 40 lakh cases before the High Courts and 2.7 crore cases before the subordinate courts,” said Supreme Court judge P. Sathasivam.

Suggestions were made that following Gujarat model other states too should implement evening courts.

Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said if the concept of grama nyayalayas (village courts) picked up, 50 per cent of the cases pending before the subordinate judiciary could be dispensed.

The mediation centres, Supreme Court Judge Justice P Sathasivam Supreme said, are doing well in settling the disputes amicably. He also said that its scope can be widened by including cases of real-estate, constructions, banking, partnership disputes and consumer related cases.

Supreme Court Judge Dalveer Bhandari suggested that litigants including the government should not approach the Supreme Court on every small matter. Besides, he said that the retired law officers should be appointed until the backlog was cleared.

No Muslims Was Capable For Being PM: Rahul Gandhi

After creating a soft corner for himself among the Dalit of Uttar Pradesh and other marginalized sections of the society, Congress general secretary appears to be all set to appease the Muslims too.

In such an attempt, he visited Aligarh Muslim University, and interacted with about 1,100 students and 200 professors of AMU-affiliated institutions.

Being asked why there has
been no prime minister from Muslim community since independence, Gandhi indirectly stated that so far no Muslims were capable of being a PM of India.

“When we do have a Muslim prime minister, it will not be because he is a Muslim, but because he is capable. It is about what you bring to the table, what capability you have,” he said indicating that a Muslim too can hold the post of PM in future provided he possess the ability.

“Manmohan Singh is not the Prime Minister of India because he is a Sikh. He is the prime minister because he is the most capable person to do the job,” he added.

Speaking on his vision for a “new India”, Rahul Gandhi urged the Muslim youth to participate in politics. “The destiny of the country is shaped by the youth hence they must fully participate in the political system of the country. Nobody knows how to enter politics as there is no well-defined procedure and path into politics has to be clear and transparent.”

Adding he said, “The number of leaders from Muslim community needs to go up. Nobody would have ever imagined that in a country of over a billion people we would have a Sikh prime minister. Sikhs are a very small percentage of this country,” he said.

Notably, the Muslim community, the second largest majority in the country, has been complaining that Prime Minister post aside, they have been almost deprived of other key posts too like foreign & home ministry on both national and state levels.

Vanity Fair: Blackwater helped target Abdul Qadir Khan

The notorious outfit Black Water once again was in news for some days for no good reasons. The outfit reportedly helped CIA assassination teams to target the Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, among others.

Referring to the Vanity Fair profile of Xe Service (changed name of Black Water) CEO Erik Prince, a U.S.-based news portal, The Majlis, claims this. It writes on December 2, 2009, “The story of the Central Intelligence Agency's aborted post-9/11 plan to put together paramilitary hit squads focused on Al-Qaida leaders broke this summer. A month later, the New York Times connected Prince and Blackwater to the program.”

The report also adds that regarding Khan, VF writer Adam Ciralsky has said that the C.I.A. team supposedly tracked him in Dubai.

“In both cases, the source insists, the authorities in Washington chose not to pull the trigger. Khan's inclusion on the target list, however, would suggest that the assassination effort was broader than has previously been acknowledged,” the report reads.

It also says, “According to Ciralsky, former CIA Counterterrorism Center chief Enrique "Ric" Prado was the man who brought Prince and Blackwater into the agency's hit squad planning. Prado joined Blackwater as vice president of "special operations" in 2005 after leaving the CIA, but he had been working with Prince while still a company man - Ciralsky reports that Prince was actually on the books as a CIA asset, according to anonymous sources.

When Prado was still at the CIA, the squads were composed exclusively of government agents, though they trained on Blackwater grounds, Ciralsky reports. It seems from the article that it was during this period that the team tracked Khan, who was selling nuclear secrets to such unpalatable as Libya, North Korea and Iran. When Prado joined Blackwater, the teams composition shifted to government contractors and third-country nationals. Apparently, the new arrangement was "off the books" at Blackwater, a private effort supported by Prince, yet still operating under the auspices of a covert CIA program.”

Blackwater is a private military company founded as Blackwater USA in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark. Based in North Carolina, the company operates a tactical training facility which it claims is the world's largest, and at which it trains more than 40,000 people a year, mostly from US and other military and police services. The training consists of military offensive and defensive operations, as well as smaller scale personal security.

SC Advices Centre To Legalize Prostitution

After homosexuality, is it the turn of legalizing prostitution? Dealing with a PIL complaining about large-scale child trafficking in the country and seeking directives to contain it, the Supreme Court asked whether prostitution can be legalized.

“When you say it (prostitution) is the world’s oldest profession and when you are not able to curb it by laws, why don’t you legalise it? You can then monitor the trade, rehabilitate and provide of medical aid to those involved in the trade,” a bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice A K Patnaik told December 9, the Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) and the intervention application moved by Childline. According to the petitioner a number of minors, particularly girls, are being pushed into sex trade.
Childline counsel Nandita Rao alleged several minor girls are being sexually exploited by circus owners and there has to be adequate legal framework to prevent such exploitation.

The SC while posting the matter for further hearing to January 5, 2010 also said that child trafficking and sex trade are flourishing because of poverty which needs to be tackled. "We are talking about growing GDP. I do not know what the development is we are all talking about when the number of BPL families is at 37% which has increased from 30%.”

The founder of an anti-trafficking organization “Apne Aap Women Worldwide” Ruchira Gupta is believed to have said, that in case prostitution is legalized the buyers will seek more young girls which in turn will increase trafficking of young women and children.

It may also give rise to the number of those adopting prostitution as profession and the rates of assault and rape against prostituted persons may increase as is the case in Australia and Netherlands.

“Following the legalization of prostitution in Victoria, Australia, not just legal brothels proliferated; it in fact gave rise to illegal brothels - by 300% in one year. It also created a conducive environment
for sex tourists. As a result, women and girls are being trafficked from South-East Asia to meet the demand.

The same is the case with Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where there are more Eastern European and North African girls than Dutch ones in the brothel district, which according to the city mayor, Job Cohen, has become a centre for illegal immigration and money laundering,” reads a report of TOI.

According to the Women and Child Welfare Ministry, there are over three million women working as sex workers in India as of 2003. Of them 1.3 million are children below the age of 14. But activists, who believe the real number is much more than the official figure, fear once the profession is legalized, the number of sex workers would surpass the population of some European countries like Finland, which has a population of about five million.

However, some other experts welcomed the court suggestion by saying de-criminalization of the trade is important as it would accord legal status to prostitutes.

"The move could also give a fillip to the fight against HIV/ AIDS by ensuring that sex workers have greater access to medical and preventive facilities," said Anjali Gopalan, the founder and executive director of Naz Foundation Trust.

Hasan Ghafoor To Face Action, Clean Chit To Maria

Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil while standing by the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said that Hassam Ghafoor will have face strict action for his remarks against four top police officers in connection with the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

Speaking during a debate on law and order situation in the state, Mr Patil on December 14 called the remarks of Ghafoor as “not satisfactory” and asserted that the officers were on the field during the attack.

Mr. Ghafoor, in an interview with a weekly magazine prior to the first anniversary of the attack, had alleged that the officers -- KL Prasad (then joint CP, law and order), Parambir Singh (then additional CP, ATS) , K Venkatesham (then additional CP, south region) and Devendra Bharti (then additional CP, crime) -- had "refused to be on the ground" during the attacks. “A section of senior police officers refused to be on the ground and take on the terrorists. By doing so, they chose to ignore the need of the hour. Nothing more,” Gafoor had reportedly told the magazine. He, however, later said that that he was misquoted.

"We have inquired into the allegations made by Gafoor, then Mumbai police commissioner, against four of his subordinates and found no substance in them. The officers were very much on the field on the fateful night and also lost their colleagues in the attack. The log and wireless records prove this," Patil reportedly stated.

He added, "Why did he (Gafoor) keep mum for a year...? He could have made a complaint to his seniors, to the home minister or the chief minister and above all, he had a fair chance to reveal this before the Pradhan Committee during his testimony," Patil said.

The home minster, however, has given clean chit to Rakesh Maria against whom allegations had been made by Vinita Kamte, widow of the slain Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte.

In her book To the Last Bullet, Vinita Kamte has accused Maria of leading Kamte, ATS chief Hemant Karkare and senior inspector Vijay Salaskar towards Cama Hospital, where they were ambushed and killed by the terrorists.

Patil reportedly said, "Rakesh Maria is one of the finest officers in the force. He was responsible for the successful investigations of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, for streamlining the crime branch and [ensuring] corruption-free recruitment in the force." He added that a senior officer will be sent to Vinita to clarify her doubts. "I am sure that the authentic records will help clarify her misconceptions," he said.

Patil also said that strict action, even dismissal from service, would be ordered against 10 people responsible for the misplacement of the file on bullet proof jackets and jacket worn by former Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hement Karkare.

BJP Shouts “Jai Shri Ram” In Delhi House

The Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that it was the ideology of BJP which led to the demolition of Babri Masjid.

She stated this while replying a no-confidence motion moved by BJP for alleged “misrule”, “corruption” and “insensitivity” towards the common people’s problems.
The comment of the CM on December 16, the last day of Delhi winter session, instigated anger among the BJP leaders and they shouted their slogans “Jai Shri Ram”.

In response the Matia Mahal MLA of National Lok Dal (INLD) Shoaib Iqbal shouted Na’ra-e-Takbeer Allah-u-Akbar (Allah is the greatest). He was supported by the RJD Okhla MLA Asif Muhammad Khan.

Iqbal also said that he was upset with Congress as it could not control the BJP while they were shouting slogans.

Iqbal had decided to support Congress Lok Sabha MP J P Aggarwal in Northeast Delhi constituency during the Lok Sabha polls in May.

Seven Arrested For Converting People To Christianity

The campaign of converting marginalised persons to Christianity? Another love jihad in South India?

According to a report published in The Hindu daily, the police arrested seven persons on the charge of trying to convert some people to Christianity.

The police rushed to Siddara Kattea village in Tumkur district of Karnataka on December 20 where a Christina priest accompanied by six persons was delivering discourse to a gathering of 50 villagers.

The police arrested the seven persons: Nagesh, Jasom Boston, Lingaraj, Anjinappa, Kashinath, Shivakumar, and Balaram. The police raid had come in the wake of a complaint by Jayaram, convenor of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti.

Although the police said that the main accused Nagesh was a priest at a local church, sources have denied that any priest of the church was among the arrested.
Jasom Boston is from Bangalore, the others are from Tumkur district. The accused have been remanded in judicial custody.

No Window Blouses In Government Schools: TN Education Department

The School Education Department of Tamil Nadu has shot a communiqu̩ to all chief and district education officers to strictly implement dress code Рfor teachers in government schools.

According to the media reports, joint director C. Usha Rani asked the education officers to instruct teachers to dress decently. The step is meant for ensuring that lady teachers do not come to schools exhibiting their backs by wearing low cut, `window-type' designer blouses.

The instruction has followed the complaints surfaced from parents of wards that some women teachers wear ‘window-type’ designer blouses and male teachers, bleached and skin-tight jeans and T-shirts to schools, the department has said a strict no to such informal wear.

Ms Rajani Ratnamala, chief education officer, Madurai, said, “We received a communication yesterday (December 15) in this context. However, there is no such complaint from our region so far.”

The `window-type' blouses are popular among a cross-section of upwardly mobile working women in Chennai, a Metropolis that is deemed conservative compared to fashionable cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh.

These blouses with diamond cuts, `U' and `V' cuts are also popular in second tier cities like Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai. However, parents of some students have found this to be a distraction in class as a result of which their children (read boys studying in higher classes) were unable to concentrate on what is being taught.
The department has also objected to male teachers wearing rugged jeans since it is seen to reflect a casual attitude.

A few months ago, the Madras High Court had frowned upon a dress code imposed for teachers and students of a private college, which had barred teachers from wearing salwar kameez to work.
Justice K Venkataraman had in his verdict said "Salwar kameez with dupatta and churidhar with dupatta are considered to be decent dresses.

So, insisting that saree alone is a decent dress, by no stretch of imagination could be considered a fair decision of college authorities. Absolutely, there is no rhyme or reason to come to such a conclusion."

Meanwhile, All India Democratic Women’s Association has reportedly objected the circulation by the education department. ‘‘A woman should be allowed to wear what is convenient to her, clothes she can afford to buy and those that are in keeping with her culture and tradition.”

The male teachers too want physical education teachers to be allowed to wear T-shirts.

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