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.

Telangana Heat Catches Gujarat

The Central government’s decision to carve out a separate Telangana state comprising 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh, including Hyderabad, may have livened up spirits of people in Gujarat seeking statehood for Kutch and Saurashtra regions.

The controversial move, some say, may harm Gujarat’s integrity by spurring regional divide in the state and may lead to protests similar to the ones spearheaded by Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhara Rao.

A Congress MLA from Rapar city in Kutch district, Babu Meghji Shah, says the region deserves statehood. He claims the region contributes Rs 700 crore revenue to the state government’s kitty and Rs 1,500 crore to the Centre’s coffers. Despite this, he says, Kutch doesn’t get enough funds for development.

Shah feels that if the Centre cannot grant statehood to Kutch, it, along with the Gujarat government, should at least try to give the district an autonomous development board. Gorkhaland activists have also made a similar demand. Some, however, say that the demand for a separate Kutch was made a long time ago and had fizzled out due to absence of a strong leader and local support for the cause. “The claim for statehood for Kutch lacks merit and public support,” former chief minister Suresh Mehta, who hails from Mandvi, said.

Mehta feels a region should be granted a separate identity only if it’s the wish of people. Any request for statehood for Kutch, he says, is not appropriate at this juncture.

“Some of the recent exercises of forming smaller states have not yielded positive results. The government should consider economic viability and the spread of a region before giving it a new identity,” he said.

‘Form a panel resolve regional rows’

Mehta favours constitution of a state re-organising commission looks into claims for new states. He says the commission can be similar to the state rehabilitation panel that was formed after independence.

He, however, acknowledged that the state government was not doing enough for Kutch. He feels the government should put in place a land use plan to tackle environmental problems of the region. “Infrastructural development in Kutch has taken place at a slower pace compared with other parts of the state,” he said.


The prince of the erstwhile royal family of Kutch, Pragmalji III, believes the region deserves its own identity. He feels the Kutch movement has failed to take shape because of leaders from the district have failed to popularise the issue. Former Mandvi MLA Chabil Patel also wants the Centre to heed calls for a Kutch state. He says the state has done a lot of injustice to the arid region in terms of development.

“The Central and state governments earn a lot of money (through taxes and mineral royalties) from the region, but give back very little,” Patel claimed. “The Narmada water is supplied only for drinking purposes and not for irrigation.”

While leaders are divided over statehood for Kutch, a similar status for Saurashtra has been slowly gaining ground.

Joshi, however, clarified that there would be no mass campaign. He said that the Samiti would push for constitution of a state re-organisation commission. “Our movement will be aimed at gauging public opinion and channelling energies of people who identify themselves with Saurashtra, and not Gujarat,” he said.

The former state minister claims people of Saurashtra do not emotionally associate themselves with Gujarat. He says leaders from the territory have always faced hostility in Gandhinagar.

‘Why are people from Saurashtra taunted?’

“People from Saurashtra are often taunted with titles such as “kathiawadi” and “via Viramgam”,” Joshi said. A Rajkot-based leader Ratibhai Channa was one of the first few leaders who launched a campaign to seek the status of a state for Saurashtra. The movement didn’t gather much ground as Channa had little public support.

Joshi feels Saurashtra would flourish as a separate region. “Smaller states such as Haryana and Himachal Pradesh witnessed considerable industrial development after they came into existence. The same could happen in Saurashtra,” he said.

Another proponent of a separate Saurashtra state, Pratap Shah, says the territory has always been an economic powerhouse. According to him, the region accounts for 20-30 per cent of state’s growth in sectors such as health and infrastructure.

“Saurashtra has always fuelled state’s growth,” Shah, a former state finance minister, said. “It was an ideal place for governance even when it was a separate identity. It faced a lot of injustice after it was merged with Gujarat.”

According to Shah, leaders from the region gave stability to previous governments. “Leaders from Saurashtra have held key positions in past governments,” he said. “However, in the past 10 years, their role has decreased.”

On suggestions that recently formed states have poor economic growth, he said: “Newly constituted states face economic problems because of illiteracy and corruption. Saurashtra, however, will not face such issues.” Shah also acknowledged that calls for Saurashtra state were currently feeble.

Keshubhai Patel

Senior sitting Congress MLA Babubhai Meghji Shah, who is representing the Rapar constituency in Kutch, is all for separate Kutch state. It is high time Kutch is carved out from Gujarat as a separate state for its balanced and all-round development, he said.

Shah told that besides the state government collecting about Rs 700 crore in VAT from Kutch, the Centre mops up revenue of over Rs 1,500 crore annually through royalty of minerals/petroleum products and customs duty from this largest district of Gujarat. Against this, the annual budgetary allocation for Kutch district is negligible.

Shah, former state Finance Minister in the Shankersinh Vaghela Government, said: “Our government, in 1997, had recommended to the Centre to have a Kutch Development Board. We had even made the budgetary provision of Rs 100 crore for this. But, as the Vaghela government could not survive for long, we could not pursue the issue further”.

The Congress MLA said if the demand for a separate state or the development board for Kutch is conceded, this vast border district could avail more funds from the Centre. At present, the Finance Commission allocates funds to states on the basis of their population and not the geographical area.

“The Kutch district has a geographical area of 45,000 sq kms, having a population of just 16 lakh. The district’s population density is 22 (persons) per one sq km, as against the state’s density of 200 per one sq km,” he added.

Former Chief Minister Suresh Mehta, who hails from Kutch, does not agree with Shah. “It would be economically unviable to have a separate Kutch state, for this district yields only 1.8 per cent of the state’s total revenue in taxation, which may prove difficult to maintain this sprawling border district having 23 per cent of the state’s total geographical area,” he said.

Mehta, however, suggested that the Centre set up a State Reorganisation Commission to consider the demand for separate states that may be raised by people in different parts of the country following the demand for Telangana in Andhra Pradesh.

During the last Parliamentary elections, Vijayrajsinhji Jadeja, the son of the erstwhile ruler of Kutch, had raised the demand for separate Kutch state. According to Jadeja, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had promised statehood to Kutch in 1947.

Congress leader from the region Valji Danicha has now openly come out in support of the demand for separate state for Kutch.

“There is a clear lack of political leadership on the issue. Though this is the largest district in Gujarat, it has only one MP and six MLAs. Even small districts like Surendranagar and Amreli have similar representation,” said Danicha. According to him, people want a separate Kutch state, but they don’t find political representation.

However, BJP MP and Saurashtra-Kutch in-charge Vijay Rupani has different view on the issue. “In Gujarat, one cannot miss to notice balanced growth. The demand for separate statehood for Kutch never became a movement because people never found a need. Since the BJP has come to power, there has been an overall growth of the regions, be it Saurashtra or Kutch,” said Rupani.
Rupani said that in fact Saurashtra and Kutch have given the state two chief ministers—Keshubhai Patel and Suresh Mehta.

By: Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

“Separate Telangana” Issue Swallows Up Liberhan Report

The Telangana issue dominated the media and the winter session of the Parliament distracting attentions from the Liberhan report. Whether Telangana issue was deliberately raised and TRS Chief Chandrasekhara Rao was persuaded to go on indefinite fast, some question.

Has the midnight statement of the union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on December 9, 2009: “process of separation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh will be initiated soon" fulfilled the four decade long dreams of Telangana people? What about the demands of those living, for example, in Western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, if the answer is yes?

KCR Went On Successful Hunger Strike

There are always some perceived reasons for any movement may it be political or public. The failure of Andhra Pradesh State to implement the Gentleman’s Agreement 1956 is said to be the important cause behind the demand of a separate Telangana state. The agreement done between Telangana and Andhra leaders before formation of the state of Andhra Pradesh provides safeguards with the purpose of preventing discrimination against Telangana by the government of Andhra Pradesh.

But, with the exception of Hyderabad all the other districts of Telangana region: Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy and Warangal remains to be among the least developed areas of the country. Rampant poverty, illiteracy, malnourished children, child labour, farmer suicides, unemployment, electricity shortage and water scarcity constitute some of the problems of this region.

On December 6, 1968 students took out a procession from Vivek Vardhini College in Hyderabad demanding a fair implementation of the 1956 agreement. The discontent intensified in January 1969. It was later known as the Telangana Movement 1969 which led to widespread violence across Telangana and deaths of hundreds of people and students of the region. The movement for a separate Telangana state witnessed several ups and downs. (Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen also promised to support the cause keeping in mind the interests of the Muslim community.) It got reinforced in 1990s when Bharatiya Janata Party promised for a separate Telangana state provided the party came to power. As per the promise, BJP created Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand states in year 2000. But it could not live up to the promise about Telangana state because of the opposition from its coalition partner.

To press for the demand of separate state of Telangana, K. Chandrasekhar Rao formed Telangana Rashtra Samiti at Hyderabad in April 2001. The party created a sensation by winning one third of Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies (MPTC) and one quarter of Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies (ZPTC) in Siddipet within sixty days of its formation. In the 2004 assembly elections, the TRS formed an alliance with Congress and won 26 state assembly seats. The party also won 5 parliament seats at the national level. It joined the governments at both state and central level. In September 2006 the party withdrew support for the centre on the grounds of indecision by the government over the delivery of its electoral promise to create Telangana, which was also put in the Common Minimum Program (CMP).

The timing of the Telangana announcement of P. Chidambaram raises questions. It diverted attention from the Liberhan commission report over Babri Masjid demolition. It constitutes merely one example as to how the Congress facilitates for the culprits of the demolition to escape punishment. After 17-year long hiatus the report was presented giving clean chit to the late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, who undoubtedly was instrumental in the case, and indicting Atal Bihari Vajpayee without giving him any chance to defend himself.

There was the news that Ranganath Mishra commission report would be presented in the Parliament for debate. To avoid embarrassment, Congress has once again promised to table the report on December 21. But it is no less than a mockery with minorities for whom the report recommends 15% reservation in education and employment. One day does not seem enough for debate on the report and the subsequent approval with the opposition BJP strongly resisting any reservation based on caste or religion.
If there is wide coverage to anything, then it is Telangana issue which sparkled after the fast-unto-death by TRS chief Chandrasekhar Rao.

Some doubt whether Rao’s 11-day fast was his own decision for the sake of Telangana or he was persuaded to do so. In the wake of the TRS’s defeat in the assembly elections 2009, there were rumours that people had taught him a lesson because of his greediness to money and power and not sticking to original agenda of getting Telangana as a State. Whatever may be reality, he has now become hero of Telangana.
It seems as if Congress, by the announcement, has not only pacified the anger of Telangana people esteeming out of Congress’s inability to live up to its words to create a separate Telangana but also managed to check the possibility of emerging any great leader like that of Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy.

The protests by non-Telangana MLAs and MPs, including those from Congress, can give the party an apparently valid reason for “not hurrying” in the issue. Whenever the state is bifurcated, Congress and Rao will be the benefiting politically from it. No wonder if BJP curses itself as its rival Congress seems to have snatched the opportunity from its hands of luring voters to ensure a saffron-supported rule in the state.

Locals Demand For Separate Telangana

The way to carve-up of new Telangana state is almost clear. The state’s major parties-Congress, Telgu Desam Party and TRC are among the supporters for demand. Pressures have been made on the opposition leader in the assembly N Chandrababu Naidu to support Telangana demand as the party had made a promise to do so. The resolution to the effect in the Parliament will also not face much resistance. The Congress MPs now raising hue and cry cannot go against the high command. BJP have been believing in smaller states’ strategy.

Mayawati wrote a letter to PM Manmohan Singh for splitting UP into three more states: Bundelkhand, Paschimanchal and Poorvanchal. Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has once again put a demand for Gorkhaland to be carved out of Darjeeling Hills in West Bengal. Congress MP Vilas Matamwar too has demanded a Vidharba state in Maharashtra and BJP leader Jaswant Singh a Maro Pradesh in Rajasthan. Their demands have intensified in the wake of the announcement for separate Telangana. On the same time, they never opposed the move.

If present scenario is any indication to the future happenings, Congress will manage the support of TRS in the separate Telangana. Might be TRC and INC will be merged. To what extent may be the hold of Rao in the would-be Telangana, he would lag behind the popularity of Y. S. Reddy.

It was Reddy who, despite the incumbency factor, won INC a startling majority of 156 seats (out of total 294) in state assembly elections 2009 and 33 out of the total 42 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. He was the first leader of the Congress who sought votes in his own names. Some opine that the tall Reddy would have been a challenge to Rahul Gandhi. However, for now, the matter is quite different.

Commenting on the nod by Congress for separate Telangana state, an English daily writes, “If party insiders are to be believed, it was not so much to placate fasting TRS leader K Chandrasekhara Rao as to ensure that the Congress gets a good number of Lok Sabha seats in 2014 polls when Rahul Gandhi intends to assume the high office.” The assurance that Sonia Gandhi gave to the coastal region MPs “I have taken the decision in national interests.” the report says, “National interest should be read as Rahul becoming prime minister.”

What the report reveals is also the summary of the whole Telangana issue: the purpose of Congress to instigate the issue is to attain political gains and that the party is more concerned about its own interests-Rahul as PM- instead of people’s welfare and their demands.

By: A Hameed Yousuf

Nitin Gadkari Has Tough Task Ahead: Save The Sinking Boat Of BJP

“If someone from young generation was to hold president post of BJP, why Vinay Katiyar and Mukhtar Abba Naqvi were neglected,” argues the writer.

Neither much experience is needed nor is seniority required for leading the crisis-struck BJP! The only condition is the assurance that one is adherent to the party’s imported ideology and is a supporter of the ideologist; RSS.

It may seem foolish but reality should be accepted. The post-Lok Sabha debacle BJP went through in the wake of the second consecutive defeat in the general elections, shook the very foundation of the party. Besides, the leadership of the party its ideology too was held responsible for the defeat. RSS, which allegedly sent its members to campaign for BJP during the elections, in no way accepted the responsibility for defeat while some party leaders murmured that the outfit caused people, cast their votes against the party. The attempt to revive the party by allocating president portfolio to Nitin Gadkari, some believe, will distant public from BJP.

Of course, Gadkari, 52, fits in the RSS frame for BJP president which refuses the aged ones like Keshubhai Patel and Murli Manohar Joshi. But, what played the instrumental in his selection for post is hidden in his deep relations with RSS. Can anyone, then, opine that despite being in crisis BJP still could not liberate itself from caste-based Hindutva ideology?

Nitin Gadkari, BJP President

It might be taken into consideration here that Nitin Gadkari happens to be from a middle class Deshastha Brahmin family. It served as a plus point for him as Brahmins, according to Hindu ideology have been born to govern. The disciplined soldier of RSS Gadkari had been attached to Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and student union wing of ABVP. Moreover, he hails from Nagpur, the RSS headquarter. Gadkari maintained his close proximity with the RSS leadership right from the days of the then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras and later with Rajju Bhaiyya, K C Sudarshan and the current head of the organisation Mohan Bhagwat. Both Gadkari and Bhagwat are from Maharashtra.

Owing to all these distinctions he was unanimously elected BJP president on December 19. It is said that Bhagwat has a great role in Gadkari’s appointment the party president. One may ask why a state level leader like Gadkari was given the post while there was no scarcity of national leaders in the party.

Experienced Mukhtar Abbas Naqwi Was Ignored

Take for example, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the current national vice President of Bhartiya Janata Party. Naqvi-52 years, 2 months- is younger than Gadkari-52 years and 6 months. If the intention of BJP was the replacement of aged ones by Gen-next, Naqvi should have been the best choice. There mere work to be done was to upgrade him to the president post. But, the problem perhaps lies in his being a member of minority community and also he is not a Brahmin.

Vinay Katiyar Was Not Made President

With the age of 55 years and one month, Vinay Katiyar, presently National General Secretary of BJP and the founder-President of Bajrang Dal too should have been considered for the president post. But, he was from Uttar Pradesh not Maharashtra; the native place of RSS Sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagawat.

Even the poster boy of BJP Narendra Modi, 59 years, 3 months, a non-Brahmin, was not selected for the post. It is despite the fact that he has been a quite perfect man fulfilling the criterion of being a Hindutva supporter. He is responsible for genocide of Muslims in Gujarat; a step Hindutva organizations want to eliminate minorities from democratic India.

It is correct that Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, 41, cannot be compared to Nitin Gadkari but, at least, he belongs to the young generating of BJP leaders. Yes Nitin Gadkari served as a successful PWD Minister during the Sena-BJP’s 1995-99 regime. That he built 55 flyovers in Mumbai and roads all over the state has drawn plenty of kudos from his supporters. But, one deep thought reveals that praise is baseless. Consider for a moment, 55 flyovers in one city! It is more concerning especially in a state like Maharashtra where farmers are committing suicide out of starvation and burden of debt. While Gadkari was never elected to Lok Sabha, Shahnawaz Hussain had this honour in 1999. While being in Delhi he organized rickshaw-pullers and fought for the rights of the poor hailing from his home state of Bihar. He candidly voiced against the poor and poverty-stricken image of those hailing from the state.

It remains unanswered why, in the presence of such leaders, Gadkari was elected for the post. Gadkari a state level leader who has neither wielded authority at the national level—when he took over as the party chief he himself said that he was going to see Delhi for the first time—nor does he enjoy a national standing, which might have helped.

The most goes to his favour is that he served as general secretary of Maharashtra BJP unit, opposition leader in the state Legislative Council and also in later days as state president of BJP.

The above analysis shows that the point which was considered while electing the new president of Bhartiya Janata Party was that president should be one bearing RSS mentality and thus carrying the agenda of the outfit.

However, an in-depth study of the current situation of Indian society will reveal that this will alienate BJP from public support. As a matter of fact, majority of Indians, including Hindus, do not believe in the divisive policies of RSS which its political wing BJP has no choice but to follow blindly.

Gadkari Has To Save Sinking BJP

A very tough task is lying before the newly elected BJP president Nitin Gadkari. He not only has to regain the confidence of its Hindu supporters but also appease the minorities by changing the party’s ideology.

Will it be so? Just after his appointment as BJP president Gadkari has hinted that the party will welcome notorious Kalyan Singh, Uttar Pradesh CM when Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, and Uma Bharti, who took the “moral responsibility” for the demolition. This step of Gadkari is seen as an effort to enforce RSS line in BJP.

By: Arolda Rose

Has Opposition Grown Weak In Democratic India?

Though in the assemblies, there are strong regional parties to play opposition role. But, as on national level, with the infighting of BJP and its weakness there seems to be not any effective opposition. Will it give the UPA a free hand to govern as per its will?

Despite anti-incumbency factors, the spectacular victory of Congress-led UPA in the 15th Lok Sabha general elections was an indication that its rival National Democratic Alliance led by BJP has grown weaker. In 2004 elections NDA had lost power to UPA and since then it seems as if it has been destined to declination. It is not a good sign for a democracy.

Though it is too early to predict of a one-party rule, sooner or later it is going to be if the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party continues to ignore the mindset of common Indians. It is near to impossible for any party, in normal situations, to come to centre without taking other-than-Hindus into confidence. What majority of Hindus believe in is secularism and not communalism. Despite the fact that the written ideology of BJP consists of secular norms, the party from its very formation in 1951 has been trying to lay the foundation of its victory on exploitation of the emotions of Hindu community against minorities.

Since the constitutions of BJP talks of “Integral Humanism” instead of “Hinduism”, the party seems to have gone astray from its real path. "The party is pledged to build up India as a strong and prosperous nation, which is modern, progressive and enlightened in outlook and which proudly draws inspiration from India's ancient culture and values and thus is able to emerge as a great world power playing an effective role in the comity of Nations for the establishment of world peace and a just international order. The Party aims at establishing a democratic state which guarantees to all citizens irrespective of caste, creed or sex, political, social and economic justice, equality of opportunity and liberty of faith and expression. The Party shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.”

Had the BJP been an adherent to these principles, Muslims and other minorities would not have taken it as anti-minorities. Being a political wing of the Hindu radical outfit Rashtriya Swamasevak Sangh, it is difficult for BJP to go against its anti-Muslim, rather anti-minorities, stand; something which must be changed to revive in a cosmopolitan India crowned with title of ‘biggest democracy in the world’.

If only Gujarat, for example, were to decide the fate of BJP in the centre then its assertion on the politically moved commitment of changing India into a Hindu Rashtra would have carried some sense. The minorities, read other than upper caste Hindus, in a large number of the 28 states and seven union territories are king maker.

Once Babri Masjid was demolished in BJP-ruled UP, the party lost the subsequent assembly elections in 1993 to the regional Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. The internal differences between SP and BSP later allowed BJP to resume power but not for long. Now, the UP politics has become regional and to retain power appears to be a dream for BJP.

The blossoming of the Lotus in South India for the first time ever, was a great triumph for the BJP. But important is to maintain the same position. With a considerable number of MLAs led by Reddy brothers of Bellary going against the Karnataka BJP Chief Minister Y.S. Yeddyurappa, the party faced a severe setback and was on the brim of division. The removal of some minsters and appointment of others on some of the posts as per the demand of the Reddys, though had pacified the issue for then, insurgency against Yeddyurappa seems to have emerged again.

According to the media reports, dissident MLAs and ministers in the B S Yeddyurappa government held a closed-door meeting at a resort on the outskirts of Bangalore city on December 14 and sent a list of demands to Chief Minister with the warning that they would resign if he failed to fulfil their demands by December 21.

They are demanding that several ministers be dropped from the Cabinet. The list includes - Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Hartalu Halappa and PWD Minister C M Udasi. Their demand is also of appointing various boards and corporations change in district-in-charge ministers and allocation of more funds to constituencies represented by the dissidents.

At a time when BJP needs to expand its hold to other states to come out of the crisis it went through during the last Lok Sabha general elections, it is not a good omen for it to lose the states where it is already dominant.

The BJP has already lost many seats in myriad states to the rival Congress reducing its total of 138 in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections to merely 116 in 2009. The Congress, on the other hand bagged 61 more seats in 2009 taking the tally to 206; the highest ever achieved by a single party in the coalition era.

BJP defeat in 14th LS Elections also smashed Mr. L K Advani’s Dream of becoming PM

In Uttarakhand where BJP had snatched the rule from Congress in 2007, the former was defeated on all the five Lok Sabha seats in 2009.

Whether they were the Lok Sabha or the assembly elections in 2009, BJP failed to give a fight to the Congress. In Maharashtra, BJP and its ally Shiv Sena failed not only to check the Congress to come to the rule for the consecutive third time, they also saw a decline in their seats. If one compares the 1995 Maharashtra assembly elections result-in which Congress won 80, BJP 65 and Shiv Sena 73- to the assembly elections 2009 they find that the saffron parties have been on continuous decline. As in the elections BJP could registered its victory over 46 and Shiv Sena on 44 seats while Congress on 82 seats despite the anti-incumbency factor.

In Arunachal Pradesh 2009, elections Congress gained 8+seats and BJP lost six seats in comparison to the previous elections.

While Congress is becoming stronger by the passage of the day, the BJP and other regional parities, for example SP in UP and RJD in Bihar, have been getting weaker. As usual with any weak organization or community, differences emerge among them naturally. It has stunned their very foundation besides sending a message to public as to how the parties engaged in internal war will be able to lead a government either in the centre or at state level.

The exposure of the intention behind Building Ram Mandir and other provocative slogans seems to have shaken the belief of common Hindus in it. With the promise of building Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, BJP fooled the Hindus to grab centre twice in 1998 and 1999 but it did not live up to its promise.

Just some months back the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who had asked the top BJP leadership to sort out problems in the wake of Lok Sabha debacle, suggested that party needs a "surgery" or even "chemotherapy" treatment. "As far as BJP is concerned, whatever surgery, medicine, chemotherapy is essential for them, it has to be diagnosed.”

The most worrisome in this context is not that BJP is growing weaker but that there seems to be no opposition on national level to the Congress party. It may give a free hand to it for doing the things as per will. This fear is valid. Indira Gandhi announced an unopposed National Emergency in 1975.

It was the opposition that did not let the UPA pass the Indo-Us nuclear agreement with ease. Had there not been a split among the opposition the government would have been dissolved and had not there been a strong opposition the UPA would have finalised the deal without even contemplating the agitation by common Indians.

The strong opposition is instrumental to maintain the true spirit of democracy. The present situation of the opposition is an alarming bell to the future of democracy in India.

By: Staff Writer