2014 elections: Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi isn’t the real political story

By Subhabrata Guha

India seems to be in a frenzy over the high-pitched campaign of Narendra Modi. Meanwhile, after his public denouncement of an Ordinance and the PM, Rahul Gandhi has been catapulted to lead the Congress campaign. But it is worthwhile to ask whether Indians have a choice beyond the Congress and the BJP.

It is assumed that India is heading for bipolar politics. But, interestingly, 52% of Indians who voted in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections didn’t cast their votes either for the Congress or the BJP. More than 220 members of the present Lok Sabha do not belong to either of the two parties.

In the 2009 polls, the Congress got 119 million votes, BJP 78 million, BSP 26 million and the CPM 22 million. No single political party got 120 million votes in the 2009 elections. But remember, around 120 million Indians will be casting their vote for the first time in the coming elections in 2014.

So, the question is: do voters have a choice beyond the “secular” Congress and “communal” BJP? Going by the mood of the nation – be it public anger due to large-scale corruption, the dilemma of corporate houses and policymakers over the current slowdown or the recent communal riots in Muzaffarnagar – it is likely many people will resort to negative voting.

To put it in perspective, voters will either elect or discard one party in order to find an alternative. If public opinion against the Congress is due to corruption, inflation and job losses, the BJP will find it difficult to come out of its “communal” tag, especially after the elevation of Modi, accused of engineering one of the worst riots in independent India. The Gujarat killings in 2002 were by far the most extensive and brutal in the new millennium.

But are these two parties as different as they are perceived to be?

Not really.

When it comes to economic policies, both parties are pro-market, pro-FDI and pro-privatisation. It is no coincidence that both parties come to a common platform when it comes to key economic reforms. For example, the BJP didn’t hesitate to back the Congress-led government for the passage of the Pension Bill in Parliament. Both are equally uncomfortable with the idea of formulating laws against hoarding by traders.

If the Congress is blamed for rampant corruption in the country, the BJP is also not far behind. Look at how the BJP is wooing its poster-boy in the South, BS Yedyurappa, who has been accused of large-scale corruption, back to the party. Not to forget the sensational images of then-BJP boss Bangaru Laxman taking a wad of banknotes as a bribe.

Is the Congress a viable alternative to the BJP when it comes to communalism? The track record of the Congress doesn’t say so. In fact, unlike the BJP, the Congress is “secular” in choosing between different brands of communal politics – it can play the Hindu card (Babri Masjid case) as well as the Muslim card (the Shah Bano case) or the Bhindranwale card in Punjab or the Christian card in Kerala to drive home its point of view.

But there’s a third side to the story.

The two most communally sensitive states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have not seen any major communal flare-ups, barring the recent Muzaffarnagar riots, in the last two decades. Neither the BJP nor the Congress has been in power in either state in this period. Both states are ruled by regional parties.

There has been no communal tension in Tamil Nadu where the Congress has not been in power since 1967. In Bengal, the Congress has been out of power since 1977 and there has not been major communal tension.

There have been nearly 1,000 communal incidents across the country in the last eight years, according to data collected from the answers of the home minister in response to questions on communal incidents in the country. More than half of these incidents took place in five states: Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala. All are either ruled by the Congress or the BJP. Only Kerala has a Left coalition alternating with a Congress one.

Interestingly, several Indian states have chosen alternatives other than the Congress and the BJP. When will the urban middle class realise that there is a choice beyond the Congress and the BJP or Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi?


controversy over Statue of Unity – Sardar Patel, Nehru and the RSS

Sardar Patel, Nehru and the RSS

The latest prime-time

Sardar patel

Sardar patel

is the one between Narendra Modi and Dr.Manmohan Singh regarding the legacy of Sardar Patel.

Narendra Modi said that if Sardar would have become the Prime Minister of the country, the country’s future would have been different. He then went on to explain the vision of the great Sardar.

Dr.Manmohan Singh responded by reading out a speech ( which disproves the point that he was reacting to Modi ) that Sardar Patel was a Congressman and he fought for the principles of secularism throughout his life.

As part of the orchestra, Manish Tewari and others jumped into the fray on Main stream media and social network that Sardar Patel’s legacy cannot be appropriated and that he was a Congressman and other parties dont have any history etc etc..

Now let us have the facts :

1. This is not the first time that someone has said that Patel would have been a better Prime Minister than Nehru. C.Rajagpolachary, who was the Governor General of India said If Nehru was Foreign Minister and Patel the Prime minister, it would be undoubtedly better.

2. The legacy of the great national leaders is not the property of a single political party. The Indian National Congress ,pre-independence was a vehicle in which people of many political hues participated in their quest for freedom. The legacy of those leaders belong to the entire nation and not to one political party. It is for this reason that Mahatma Gandhi resolved to disband the Congress after Independence.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote ” Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means provided by the Indian National Congress, the Congress in its present shape and form, i.e., as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use. India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its seven hundred thousand villages as distinguished from its cities and towns. The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India’s progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the A. I. C .C. resolves to disband the existing Congress organization and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh under the following rules, with power to alter them as occasion may demand.
(*Gandhiji’s idea of a transformed Congress was published in Harijan under the title “His Last Will and Testament”. Also published in ‘The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi – Volume 90’, published by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s publication division in 1984.

Can the Congress leaders explain why Mahatma Gandhi who as per them is the sole architect of freedom was completly ignored in this essential point ? Does it not show the power-hungry nature of Nehru and his ilk ?

3. Let us now come to Dr.Manmohan Singh’s certificate of Sardar Patel that he is indeed a secularist. The only certificate of “Secularism” in India must come from the Congress because they own the meaning of this word. ” Secularism” in Bharat i.e., India means the opposite of what it is worldwide.

In his book ” With No Ill-Feeling to Anybody”, Sri MKK Nair, an IAS officer of the 1947 batch who was close both to Sardar and VP Menon,writes
“Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India, was insulted, humiliated and disgraced by the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, during a Cabinet meeting. “You are a complete communalist and I’ll never be a party to your suggestions and proposals,” Nehru shouted at Patel during a crucial Cabinet meeting to discuss the liberation of Hyderabad by the Army from the tyranny of the Razakkars, the then Nizam’s private army.

A shocked Sardar Patel collected his papers from the table and slowly walked out of the Cabinet room. That was the last time Patel attended a Cabinet meeting. He also stopped speaking to Nehru since then.”

So RSS is not the only one that Nehru called communal. He had those kind words for the then own Dy.Prime Minister, Sardar Patel.

4. Manish Tewari, Congress MP, ( Information & Broadcasting Minister ) ,in an interview to a news channel, quotes a letter by Sardar Patel to Guru Golwalkar of the RSS dated 11th Sept 1948. “On 9/11/1948, Sardar Patel wrote a letter to Golwalkarji. And, in that letter, he said that the communal poison which had been spread by the RSS was responsible for the sacrifice of Gandhiji. As a student of political history, it has always intrigued me that the RSS, BJP has been attempting unsuccessfully to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Patel. I wanted to ask the BJP or their newly-anointed pretender that do they endorse, or agree with the views of Sardar Patel with regard to the RSS. If not, as the chief minister of Gujarat and possibly as the ‘Swayamsevak’ within history bears testimony to the fact that those who do not have a history of their own, try to appropriate the history of others,” he added. Tewari said the Indian freedom struggle was conceived, conceptualized and led by the Indian National Congress. “The unification of India was also the result of the efforts of the Indian National Congress. So, therefore, it would be advisable before you try and appropriate legacy to at least study it carefully,” he added.

In the same letter that Tewari cites , the Sardar wrote ,
“There can be no doubt that the RSS did service to the Hindu society. In the areas where there was the need for help and organization, the young men of the RSS protected women and children and strove much for their sake. No person of understanding could have a word of objection regarding that” and he writes further “ I am thoroughly convinced that the RSS men carry on their patriotic endeavour only by joining the Congress and not by keeping separate or by opposing. ” Source: Justice on Trial

It is clear that he wanted the Sangh to join Congress for whatever reasons he deemed fit.
Therefore, it would be nice if a student of political history as Tewari claims himself to be, he goes through the entire documentation.

What is further interesting is the following correspondence:
After removal of the ban on the RSS on 12 July 1949, Sardar Patel wrote a letter to Shri Guruji on this occasion and made a telling remark: ‘Only the people near me know as to how happy I was when the ban on Sangh was lifted. I wish you all the best.’

Any person who is genuine and wants to present the truth, would have mentioned the whole correspondence between Sardar Patel and Guruji Golwalkar and not quote as it suits him. It clearly exposes the lies that Manish Tewari and his ilk are indulging in.

5 . How the Efforts by the Congress to malign RSS Continue
Inspite of all the direct evidence, the Congress did not end at this, In 1966, Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi appointed another commission under Justice JL Kapur, a retd judge of Supreme Court. It examined over 100 witnesses and submited a report in 1969. The Kapur Commission report said ”
…RSS as such were not responsible for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, meaning thereby that one could not name the organisation as such as being responsible for that most diabolical crime, the murder of the apostle of peace. It has not been proved that they (the accused) were members of the RSS..”

8. In his speeches, after the ban was lifted, Shri Guruji endeared himself to many people outside the Sangh ranks with his magnanimity and moderation. ‘Let us close this chapter of the ban on the Sangh,’ he told swayamsevaks and RSS sympathisers. ‘Do not let your minds be overcome with bitterness for those who, you feel, have done injustice to you. If the teeth were to bite the tongue do we pull out the teeth? Even those who have done injustice to us are our own people. So we must forget and forgive.”

Compare this with Nehru’s mean and jealous attitude of sidelining everyone who opposed in his way, so much so, that he arm-twisted even Mahatma Gandhi to name him as the Prime Minister when 12 out of 15 Congress committees named the Sardar over him as their Prime Ministerial choice.

Both Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi tried falsely implicate the RSS in the Gandhi murder. Nehru’s great-grandson, Rahul Gandhi continues to harp on the “people who killled Gandhi”. Having failed in their efforts, the Congress leaders & the communists continue to raise the bogey of Hindu communalism every now and then in a lowly attempt to garner votes and keep the country in a state of uncertainty. .

The only difference is that the nation is seeing through their game !

Encl :
Annexure A – More Information on the Ban on the RSS

Annexure A
More Information on the Ban on RSS
The subject of the ban on RSS in connection with Gandhiji’s murder needs some more attention. It is clear that Sardar Patel was of the opinion that the RSS was not involved in Gandhiji’s murder. This fact is evident from the correspondence between Patel and Nehru. Replying to the Prime Minister’s letter urging him to ascertain the RSS connection in the case, Patel sent a categorical reply on 27 February 1948, less than a month after Gandhiji’s assassination: ‘I have kept myself almost in daily touch with the progress of the investigations regarding Bapu’s assassination case. All the main accused have given long and detailed statements of their activities. It also clearly emerges from the statements that the RSS was not involved in it at all.’

Therefore, it is clear that it was on Nehru’s insistence and some later fictitious reports from some of the state leaders that forced Patel to impose the ban on the RSS.
Shri Guruji was arrested again on the night of 13 November 1948 under the notorious Bengal State Prisoner’s Act. It was the very Act which Nehru had condemned before Independence as a ‘black law’. Soon after his arrest, Shri Guruji wrote a letter to all the swayamsevaks: ‘This state of affairs is humiliating. To continue to submit meekly to this atrocious tyranny is an insult to the honour of citizens of free Bharat and a blow to the prestige of our civilised free State. I therefore request you to stand up for our great cause.’ He gave a call for nationwide satyagraha on 9 December 1948. The main slogan of the satyagrahis was a blatant challenge to the Nehru government: ‘Prove the charges against the RSS or lift the ban.’

The satyagraha was a huge success all over the country. The government soon realised that public opinion was going against Shri Guruji’s illegal arrest. So in order to break the stalemate, Patel communicated a request to Shri Guruji to prepare a written constitution for the RSS and to send it to the Government of India for its perusal. Until then, the RSS had been functioning without a constitution. Shri Guruji readily agreed to this suggestion and the text of the Sangh’s constitution was sent to the government in June 1949. This paved the way for removal of the ban on the RSS on 12 July 1949, followed by Shri Guruji’s release the following day.

On a side note, it is interesting to note that after the ban was lifted, Shri Guruji embarked on an all-India tour in August 1949, touring the country extensively for six months. Wherever he went, he received a tumultuous welcome. The massive ovation he got in Delhi on 23 August 1949 attracted international attention. BBC radio reported: ‘Golwalkar is a shining star that has arisen on the Indian firmament. The only other Indian who can draw such huge crowds is Prime Minister Nehru.’

This explains why Nehru was so insistent on banning the RSS. It was probably because he saw a potential political threat in the RSS to him.

Final Constitutional proof that lifting the ban on RSS was unconditional.
Coming to the propaganda that RSS made compromises, here is the final proof.
Proceedings of Bombay legislative assembly of the 14th October 1949 after lifting the ban :

Mr. Lallubhai Makanji Patel

Will the Hon Minister for Home and Revenue be pleased to state: –

(a) Whether it is a fact that the ban on RSS has been lifted
(b) If so, what are the reasons for lifting the ban
(c) Whether the lifting of the ban is conditional or unconditional
(d) If conditional, what are the conditions
(e) Whether the leader of the RSS has given any undertaking

Answered by Mr. Dinkarrao Desai for Morarji R Desai

(a) Yes
(b) As it was no longer considered necessary to continue it
(c) Unconditional
(d) Does not arise
(e) NO

It is therefore clear that the lifting of ban on the RSS in 1948 was unconditional and the organisation and its swayamsevaks were falsely implicated.

Conviction percentage in Vigilance cases has reached a record 58 percent this year

Speech of Hon’ble C.M. at Vigilance Awareness Week celebration at Rabindra Mandap

Bhubaneswar, 31.10.2013 – I am glad to be here today on the occasion of the observance of Vigilance Awareness Week.
Awareness is the first step towards action; and it is hoped that the Vigilance Awareness Week will help us in catalyzing our efforts in the war against corruption. Over the years, the State Government has created and strengthened several institutional mechanisms to channelise the complaints and grievances of the public into concrete action to eradicate corruption from public life.
The Vigilance Department has been playing a vital role in the fight against corruption. The State Government has created fully functional Vigilance Unit Offices in each district, and a new Vigilance Division in the tribal district of Koraput. Thus, the people have easy access to the Vigilance Unit Offices within the district itself and can conveniently lodge complaints against corrupt public servants whenever they are aggrieved. Our proactive action has encouraged people to lodge complaints against corrupt public servants. As a result of such activism, the Vigilance Department was able to register 402 criminal cases last year and launch prosecution against 705 public servants.
Our Government has established a chain of 15 Special Vigilance Courts in the State to expedite the trial of corruption cases. This year, two new Courts of Special Judge, Vigilance have started functioning at Phulbani and Baripada. During the past 5 years, as many as 424 public servants have been convicted by the Vigilance Courts and 145 public servants have been dismissed from service on grounds of corruption. The continued emphasis on effective prosecution in Courts has started yielding dividends, and I am happy to learn that Naveen Pattanayak, which is much better than all other cases. The Department should continue with its good work.
The State Government has accorded paramount importance to the maintenance of the highest standards of integrity amongst senior public servants, including those holding high political offices. Odisha is the first state in the country to enact the Special Courts Act towards achieving this goal. Under this Act, two Special Courts have been established at Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. So far, 157 cases of corruption have been transferred to these Special Courts for expeditious trial and 15 accused persons holding high public offices have been convicted.
Two Courts of Authorized Officer have been set up at Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to try confiscation proceedings under this Act, and 97 confiscation proceedings have been initiated in these Courts. In 17 out of the aforesaid 97 confiscation proceedings, the Authorised Officers have passed final orders for confiscation of the properties of senior public servants. It is a matter of immense satisfaction that our pioneering efforts have received nation-wide recognition and the State Governments of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajastan have enacted similar legislation based on the Odisha Special Courts Act.
Providing good and clean governance for the people of Odisha has been the cornerstone of our policy and it is very appropriate that the Central Vigilance Commission has chosen the theme “Promoting good governance- positive contribution of Vigilance” for the Awareness Week this year. Good governance is indispensable to ensure that the benefits of developmental schemes reach the people for improvement of their lives. An exemplary initiative in this regard is the enactment of the Right to Public Services Act by our Government covering 63 services under 10 Departments in order to ensure timely delivery of public services. The law enables the citizens to demand public services as a right and also includes a provision for penal action against officials failing to provide the services within the stipulated time.
Promoting greater transparency in administration has been an avowed objective of the Government. Several e-governance projects have been initiated in order to promote greater transparency in government services and convenience to the people.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that such initiatives have been yielding satisfactory results in improvement of the lives of the common people. A lot of ground still remains to be covered. Let us resolve to firmly implement the principles of integrity and probity in our lives as per the pledge taken by us today and steadfastly move towards a new era of clean and corruption- free Government.

N.B. – The Chief Minister administered an oath to all present on the occasion. He awarded 27 prizes to best performing divisions and officers of Vigilance Deptt. He also awarded students who own various competitions organised on the subject. Chief Secretary Shri J.K. Mohapatra focused on the negative of corruption on development and social change. He stressed on systemic change to bring transparency in governance and eradicate corruption.
Rabinarayan Panda


-Additional 90 crs. Sanctioned by IFAD
-People’s Participation boosted up 95%

Bhubaneswar, 30th October,2013
Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Project has been ranked as a high performing and leading project among 9 such projects operating in different states of the Country. The review team of IFAD ( International Fund for Agricultural Development ) has given similar remarks after their field verification of the actual progress made in the field in different sectors like enhancement of livelihood options, increase in agricultural production, peoples’ participation in the activities of the project , skill development, outputs and outcomes, sustainability and other indicators of development. This has come to light in the Programme Steering Committee Meeting held under Chairmanship of Chief Secretary Sri Jugal Kishore Mohapatra in secretariat conference hall last evening, wherein Secretary ST & SC Development Sri Santosh Sadangi outlined the issues for discussion. Director OTEPL Sri Susant Nanda said that assessing the progress, IFAD has sanctioned additional funding of 90 cr. to intensify the ongoing activites. Chief Secretary Sri Mohapatra advised to promote more layer poultry farming and link up the farmers with local MDM and Anganwadi SNP (Supplementary Nutrition Programme) for the assured marketing of their products. The Committee recorded its appreciation for Secretary Sri Santosh Sadangi for his dynamic guidance in scaling up the activities of the programme.

Review reveals that the achievement of the project has been rated as over 81% in all its components and activities. The impact assessment of the project on income generation shows that by 2012-13 around 100% families in project area have accepted one or other permanent source of livelihood, 98% of households have got 2 sources, around 91% have got 3 sources and around 61% of the households have got four sources of livelihood. The programme has boosted up food security of the households from 77% achieved in 2011-12 to 94% in 2012-13. The impact of the programme on agricultural production shows that by the year 2012-13 around 81% of families are using irrigation systems throughout the year and 65% of families are cultivating land both for consumption and sale compared to 28 during 2010-11. Around 55% of the families are also growing high value crops. Assessment of other indicators show that around 73% of households have adopted key technologies like seed replacement, composting, crop diversification, growing of vegetables, kitchen gardening, nutritional garden etc. promoted by the Programme. Around 67% of households have increased income from live stocks like goat, backyard poultry and duck rearing and 4% of families have adopted pisciculture. Drinking water and sanitation programme have reached to more than 80% of families and 77% of households have got access to credit institutions. Land titles have been settled in favour of 26038 families and more than 18000 destitute families have been supported with livelihood assets. Various innovative projects like pico/micro hydro projects, hydraulic ram for lifting water to uplands etc are being piloted and people are responding to such interventions in encouraging measure.

Available data shows as of now a total amount of Rs 296.23 cr. have been received as grants in aid out of which Rs.282.55 cr have already been utilized in different activities of the programme. Out of Rs.50.39cr. budget for 2013-14 expenditure till the date has been Rs.14.89 cr. Since the preparatory ground work for implementation of Annual action Plan has been over, it is expected that the expenditure rate will go up during coming months.

The project has promoted a large number of women SHG’s and village level institutions and has equipped them with skills to plan and implement the development projects. A number of village youths have been trained in various sectoral skills. A number of soil and water conservation structures have been constructed across all project villages. Near about 100% of the beneficiary households have been made aware about the project and its activities and more than 95% have been involved in various land and water management activities. Around 81% of households have developed their land through project activities and 81% have been involved in various agricultural development programmes. Agricultural production has gone up around 60% and vegetable production has also been boosted up to 90%.

It may be of worth to mention that OTELP was launched in 2003-04 in 1042 villages of 30 backward blocks of Koraput, Kalahandi, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Malkanagiri, Nawarangpur and Rayagada districts in phased manner. Considering the growing demands of people from the adjoining community, Govt of Odisha has extended the programme in to additional areas in the existing districts and to three new districts of Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj & Sundargarh. This new programme named as PTELP Plus has been approved for 585 Micro Water Sheds ( MWS), covering near about 2000 villages in 10 districts. This new programme is running with State Govt. funding and convergence of ongoing poverty eradication and productivity enhancement schemes of Govt. OTEPL Plus has been scheduled up to 2018-19. Till now 535 MWS have been formed and made operational in 9 districts covering 1530 villages and 310157 treatable land for development.

Additional Chief Secretary Finance Sri U.N. Behera Additional Chief Secretary and Administrator Western Odisha Development Council Dr. Taradatt, Secretary ST & SC Development Sri Santosh Sadangi, Secretary Panchyati Raj Sri D.K.Singh, Secretary W & CD Smt Arati Ahuja, Secretary FARD Sri Sanjeeb Mishra along with other senior officials participated in discussions.
By Rabinarayan Panda

How many will die for the beautiful game?


This morning, at one end of Kathmandu’s international airport, proud parents will bid farewell to their sons leaving Nepal in search of better jobs. But for the last month, the scene has been very different at the arrival terminal where wailing parents are met with the bodies of construction workers who died working in Qatar. Three to four bodies arriving daily[1].

Is this just the beginning? Experts estimate over 1 million migrant workers could be at risk of modern slavery in Qatar between now and the 2022 World Cup; an average of twelve workers could die per week[2] unless action is taken at this critical stage in the construction process.

We might have an opportunity to stop this crisis before it gets any worse… but time is short. Recent media coverage has caught the attention of international leaders and the Qatari government and most importantly – FIFA[3].

Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup by FIFA. With their formidable leverage, FIFA could help ensure slavery is not tolerated in Qatar or in any country FIFA seeks partnership.

Click here to call on FIFA to help ensure construction for the Qatar World Cup does not use slave labour. http://www.e-activist.com/ea-campaign/broadcast.response.do?ea.url.id=177548&ea.campaigner.email=CLqxkNU1BrcKKVSUT6%2FVdOo8APZb9NR99hyTm127Uk8=&ea_broadcast_target_id=0

Reports of modern slavery from World Cup 2022 construction in the Qatari desert are chilling:

– In a matter of weeks, 44 construction workers have died.
– Thousands of Nepalese workers are being forced to work in 50C/122F degree heat with no access to food or water, not paid, passports held to prevent them from leaving[4].
– And just last week, investigative journalists were detained and questioned by Qatari authorities[5].

Historically, there have been serious challenges to protecting migrant workers from modern slavery in Qatar. But with the prestige of hosting the World Cup on the line, there has never been a better chance to push the Qatari government for change.

This is our moment. If FIFA takes advantage of this opportunity for policy reform, workers could be protected from falling into the nightmare of modern slavery in Qatar for generations to come. This could be the break we have been waiting for in the entire region.

It all comes down to us – ask FIFA to join our call to help end slavery in Qatar.

We’re asking FIFA to:
[1] Call on the Qatari Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022 to update contracts to meet international labour standards.
[2] Include audit requirements for all contracts affiliated with FIFA sporting events that include large-scale construction projects for cases of modern slavery with the initial bidding process.
[3] Publicly report the findings of audits for cases of modern slavery.

The tagline of FIFA’s World Cup is “Expect Amazing”. Tell FIFA you expect them to help end slavery in Qatar

Thank you in advance for your support. Once you have taken action, please forward this message on to everyone you know. Together we have helped changed policy all over the world; together we can help end slavery in Qatar.

In solidarity,

Debra, Mich, Jess, Kamini, Sarah, Nick, Kate, Kyle and the Walk Free Team

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/25/qatar-nepalese-workers-poverty-camps
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead
[3] Fédération Internationale de Football Association
[4] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/25/revealed-qatars-world-cup-slaves
[5] http://www.policymic.com/articles/69343/qatar-world-cup-is-being-built-through-slave-labor-while-fifa-stays-silent

Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: Modern slavery.

Home minister Shinde dances to filmi tune on blast day.

Last updated on: October 28, 2013 15:01 IST
Susil sindhe
On Sunday evening, while a shocked Centre and a hapless Bihar government were grappling with the aftermath of the Patna serial blasts, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was busy with an assignment of a different kind.

To be more specific, the Bollywood kind!

Shinde was in Mumbai to launch the music of Rajjo, a film starring Kangna Ranaut, at a glitzy event.

So what if six people have been killed, the deadly Indian Mujahideen is back in action and the inability of our security agencies in thwarting terror strikes has once again been revealed?

Incidentally, the home ministry, under Shinde’s impeccable supervision, is in charge of all matters related to national security, intelligence agencies and tackling terror threats.

Shinde has obviously got his priorities straight. Filmi events with Bollywood starlets come first, not national security.

The survival of the smallest

It is true to say that our agriculture depends on small and marginal farmers, rather than say that small and marginal farmers are dependent on agriculture!

The status of farming and farmers in India is inversely proportionate to their criticality to the nation.

A high official reputed to be among those writing India’s economic policies for almost three decades shocked the IIT Bombay students when he said that if farm lands did not yield adequate return, farmers should sell their lands and invest in stocks and elsewhere for better returns. He was not joking.

Share http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/the-survival-of-the-smallest/article4630655.ece
Reports of the small farmers’ demise are wildly exaggerated
Reports of the small farmers’ demise are wildly exaggerated
Small farming is on the rise and has defied doomsday predictions.

When the BSE Sensex, driven by global hot money flows, first touched 20k in December 2007, a financial daily celebrated the news with the headline “Super Power India”. But, when Indian farmers, without FII money or FDI, toiled and produced a record 257 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2011-12 and the Press Information Bureau proudly announced the record output in July 2012, the news was shoved to a corner.

Economic discourse has always been mixed up with that what is fashionable and modern. And the modern economic discourse equates development to urbanisation. Agriculture associated with rural life, far from being fashionable, is socially and economically regarded as index of backwardness. As urban living is indicator of both modernity and development, that settles the status of agriculture and also of agriculturists as un-modern and under-development.

It explains why farmers do not get brides for their sons and grooms for their daughters, however rich they are and however deserving their sons or daughters may be. Bottom-level government staff in towns command better social status than rich farmers.

And those who sell their farm lands, move to cities, become peons in Sensex companies, and live in slums are considered modern because they sport a city pincode.

Inversely proportional

A high official reputed to be among those writing India’s economic policies for almost three decades shocked the IIT Bombay students when he said that if farm lands did not yield adequate return, farmers should sell their lands and invest in stocks and elsewhere for better returns. He was not joking.

He was expounding rational choice economic theory. Yet, does it need a seer to say India might manage to live without stock markets but it certainly cannot without agriculture. And no country in the world has the land or the labour to produce food for India.

Yet the status of farming and farmers in India is inversely proportionate to their criticality to the nation. This inverse status is the final outcome of the neo-Varna modern economics, where finance rules at the top, IT services and the like run second, manufacturing comes next and agriculture remains at the bottom. How this inverse socio-economic order evolved needs some recall of economic history dating back to the birth of economics itself as a discipline.

Chayanov’s theory

Adam Smith, acclaimed as both the Adam and the Smith of economics, shaped the discipline on division of labour and economies of scale. As market economics evolved, economists applied the industrial principle of economics of scale to agriculture. They theorised that small and marginal farms would be gradually eroded by large farms and with industry opening up job opportunities, rural migration to urban area would bring in capital-intensive agriculture.

Even the Left agreed with the Right that the market economics would consign the small farmer to history.

Karl Marx, who saw in the peasant both a capitalist because he owned a small piece of land and also a proletariat as he was his own wage worker, believed that the larger farmers would, in course of time, swallow the small peasants. [See Alexander Chayanov on the Theory of Peasant Economy. The University of Wisconsin Press]. In the 1920s, when the communist revolution shook Russia, a courageous intellectual — Alexander Chayanov — stood up against Marx and asserted that the small farmer would survive capitalism and, by implication, communism too. He postulated that peasant economy ought to be treated in its own right as a [non-capitalist] system of national economy, not as capitalist business enterprise. Asserting that peasant family farms were more competitive than large-scale farms, Chayanov said that family economy was distinct from the socialist economy and it should have its own theory.

This logic defied the Marx-Lenin prescriptions and that was adequate to arrest and dump Chayanov in concentration camp in the 1930s. He was released but later arrested on October 3, 1937, tried and shot on the same day for contending that the small farmer was not a capitalist.

But the world woke up to find the truth in his theory some three decades after Chayanov was killed and his theory of small farmer-family economy was discredited by both free market economists and communists. In the mid-1960s, the Western economic establishment found that small farming was not only not dying, and the small farmer, far from surviving, was out-competing larger farms. This led some think-tanks in the West to recover Chayanov’s thoughts from archives and translate them from the Russian.

Chayanov’s theory that the small farmer would survive and outcompete larger farmers is proved by the history that unfolded after him. Russia began celebrating — but a trifle late for its good — Chayanov but only when the Western scholars began finding the merit in his thoughts. Now, experience has confirmed that small farms are more efficient than large ones and that advantages of scale that apply to industry do not apply to agriculture. Now, come to Indian agriculture and the role of small farmers.

gaining prominence

According to Agricultural Census 2000-01, out of some 120 million farming households in the country, 98 million were small and marginal farms. Far from being wiped out, small farming is on the rise — with their number rising from 62 per cent in 1960-61 to 81 per cent in 2002-03. More recent data [2005-06] improve their number to 83 per cent. And the area operated by them has risen from 44 per cent from 19 per cent in 1960-61.

With 44 per cent of the cultivated area, they account for more than two-thirds of national vegetables and milk production and more than half of cereals and fruits produced. In social terms, Scheduled Castes account for more than a fifth of small farmers and Scheduled Tribes, one-sixth. Their share of medium and large farms is far less than a tenth.

Studies say that the small farmer character of Indian agriculture is much more prominent today than even before. They are going to stay put in villages and not likely shift to urban areas to facilitate big farms and contract farms. The Planning Commission has concluded, though a little late, that “the small and marginal farmers are certainly going to stay for a long time in India”. But, with very little marketable surplus, their farming is hardly commercial.

Consequently market intervention policies, such as Minimum Support Prices and Procurement Price do not touch or reach small farmers who have negligible marketable surplus.

[FAO Asia Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics 23rd Session April 26-30, 2010] In effect, some 100 million small and marginal farm households with a population of 40 crore feed themselves by tilling their small holdings. They have survived as Chayanov had prognosticated decades ago and not faded away as all other economic theoreticians had believed.

Assume that small farmers follow rational economic theories, give up farming and sell off their farms, what will happen to Indian agriculture? Agricultural production and productivity will fall by almost a third. And no country in the world can produce to fill the resulting demand-supply gap. And more, if they stop doing so, some others have to produce food for them and there is no one else, here or elsewhere in the world, who can feed them.

QED: It is true to say that our agriculture depends on small and marginal farmers, rather than say that small and marginal farmers are dependent on agriculture!

Even better, it is not that our villages are dependent on agriculture, but that our agriculture is dependent on villages. How ridiculous then is it to talk about urbanisation as the index of development, unless it is development sans agriculture?

How does this match with the estimate that even by 2050 more than half of India will live in villages? Is anyone listening?

(The author is a commentator on political and economic affairs, and a corporate advisor)

A culture of haters

Article has a Great spirit
Pakistan needs to revive its cultural roots, reach out to others.
Pluralist societies fear military invasion from ideological/religious societies. Ideological/religious societies fear cultural invasion from pluralist societies.
The great Pakistani leader of the masses and educationist, Hafiz Saeed, recently complained from the Madrasa Qadisiya on old Lake Road in Lahore that “Pakistani culture was being changed” in the name of education. He was probably angered by a local English-medium school’s attempt to teach comparative religion to its senior classes. The “scandal” was, of course, unveiled by a TV anchor
After the TV discussion, the state took action, confiscating all the textbooks informing high school children about Islam along with other great religions of the world, including Hinduism. The school backed off, fearing terrorist attacks, and the dust has settled over yet another effort to inform Pakistani culture with other global belief systems.
On August 4, a website called Pakistan News Pakistan Views had one SajjadShaukat voicing, once again, the fear of India’s “cultural penetration” of Pakistan. He went through the tiresome catalogue of smears that this paranoia justifies: India is moulding “the behaviour pattern of a country’s people on the basis of a handful of elements in Pakistan”. The target was Indian films and plays used for this “penetration”. The default status quo assumed by this plaint is the condition of war.
Of course, “psychological warfare” was mentioned. It is on this ground that the state already disallows Indian news channels and at times pulls channels like BBC, CNN and National Geographic off the air. The question is: why is the Pakistani citizen attracted to Indian entertainment? The next question is, why do people want entertainment? Why can’t they always be busy doing serious ideological things? Why do people living under an ideology want more entertainment than the ideological state can afford to give them? Why do such culture-related elements as Pakistani singers, actors, cricketers and cricket commentators survive by going to India?
And no one in Pakistan asks why Pakistani culture doesn’t threaten India.
Hatred of culture can get dangerous. Low-intensity bombs were set off outside theatres in Lahore in January 2009, and educational institutions were threatened with violence unless they banned coeducation. This was the rise of dormant ideological elements, encouraged by Taliban attacks on the tombs of great mystical poets, which embody the country’s cultural icons. Pakistani culture draws much entertainment from its song-and-dance-filled mystical tradition.
People in Pakistan have been forced to look for entertainment on their own because the concept of entertainment cannot be discussed without attracting a restrictive maximalism from the clergy. As a modern state, Pakistan is prevented from discussing culture because of its pre-modern ideology and the new standards of piety being established by Talibanisation.
Pakistan is reaching out to India for a number of political and economic reasons, but one subliminal intent it will not spell out officially is culture. When governments in Islamabad announce their policy of normalising relations with India, one unspoken reason is the thought of retrieving the “soft image” that Pakistan has lost because of the conflict between religion and culture raging in the country.
Pakistan is unable to talk about culture because its constitution is mum about it. The constitution of Bangladesh, in its Article 23, requires the state to “adopt measures to conserve the cultural traditions and heritage of the people, and so to foster and improve the national language, literature and the arts that all sections of the people are afforded the opportunity to contribute towards and to participate in the enrichment of the national culture”. Compared to that, Pakistan’s constitution has only a vague article devoted to regional languages and nothing more.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Pakistan has leaned secretly on India to relieve the wasteland produced by the madrasa and the Taliban. Under the Islamising General Zia, people “stole” Indian culture through the dish antenna. Under the liberalising Musharraf, they absorbed the entertainment of Indian film culture through cable TV. Subject to irreducible military instincts, Musharraf tried to draw back from too much contact with India, but the trend was irreversible.
Culture is another name for tolerance among potentially violent identities. Pakistan killed culture to face India more effectively in the battlefield. Now, it is being asked to survive economically by getting it back from India. Much of it we have done surreptitiously. As a nuclear power, we have to be more agile intellectually to benefit from India’s rise as a regional and world economy. But the stakeholders in the state of Pakistan are divided, and one section of them is not reading the signals the state is sending out to them.
It is always difficult to define culture. People insist on its aesthetic aspects, but much of what they do in the name of culture is simple entertainment. The sophisticated man wants to separate aesthetic pleasure from vulgar entertainment, and that is where the people get a raw deal. People do a lot of things to lessen the burden of living in a difficult environment, and much of this “defensive” routine of pleasure-seeking becomes creative and assumes the title of culture.
India is not the only cultural threat to Pakistan. We are also targeted by American culture through globalisation. (Why doesn’t India feel threatened by this global assault?) Every Pakistani seems to agree that Western media is tendentious. It is supposed to be anti-Muslim. It is not only India that we fear culturally, it is also the world itself, as it is subject to America’s “imperial” culture. But, quite clearly, the threat from the culture of India is deemed more dangerous than the threat from American culture. Why?
There is a history of “foreign onslaughts” in Pakistan. They are opposed to each other and their absorption is under false pretences. Islamisation was begun in Pakistan in real earnest by General Zia, who debated national identity (tashakhus). The debate implied that the earlier Islamisation had been perfunctory and therefore not equal to the founding fathers’ pledge to make Pakistan a truly Islamic state.
The first target of this wave of Islamisation was Pakistani culture. On close examination, Pakistani culture was found to be mixed up with non-Islamic elements of the subcontinent. Religious seminaries were opened all over the country with seed money on offer. And textbooks were rewritten, with tougher Islamic content. Result: painting exhibitions were attacked in Lahore.
Islam became more and more prescriptive and hard with jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir. It started being termed Talibanisation in the late 1990s. The state was affected by it, as were the big cities. But, as if in reaction, cable TV was nothing but Indian film and drama. This was the people’s defensive response to this invasion called Talibanisation. It was an unspoken reliance on culture to offset the hardness of a more stringent and intrusive religion.
Pakistan will survive by reviving its cultural roots and by reaching out to other cultures. This is what has happened in history. Modern economy says states need peace to achieve growth targets, and peace can’t be sustained without culture, which is another name for tolerance and coexistence.
The writer is a consulting editor with ‘Newsweek Pakistan’ express@expressindia.com

Communal Violence Bill is Sonia’s game plan

Muzaffarnagar can be a good benchmark against which to judge the presumptions governing the Bill.

…..This was recently witnessed in Kishtwar, where a private arms factory was generously opened to help miscreants arm themselves against an unarmed populace of anther community.

By Sandhya Jain on October 21, 2013

Communal Violence Bill is Sonia’s game plan

The Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh which put the ruling Samajwadi Party on the defensive, and Narendra Modi’s taunt that his State had ‘passed’ him with distinction while the Congress still had to give an account of itself, have driven the latter to revive the contentious Prevention of Communal and Targetted Violence Bill, now slated to be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament.

The coveted prize is the Muslim vote-bank, put into jeopardy since Deoband’s Maulana Mehmood Madani reprimanded the party for trying to instil fear of the Gujarat strongman among Muslims.

The Bill, widely perceived as anti-Hindu, is the brainchild of Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council. It has been opposed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some regional parties, and is certain to be resented by public servants who are liable to be penalised for ‘dereliction of duty’ and ‘breach of communal responsibility’ in the event of targetted violence against a community.

Muzaffarnagar can be a good benchmark against which to judge the presumptions governing the Bill. It is widely known that a young school girl was constantly harassed by a boy from the minority community. Two members of her family confronted the miscreant, who died in the altercation between them; the duo was brutally murdered in retaliation.

When the police arrested seven of the alleged assailants, they were ordered by a senior Cabinet Minister of the State to release the men; this triggered a series of group meetings of both communities and the subsequent spiral of violence. How will the proposed Bill apportion guilt and deliver justice to the victims on both sides?

The original version of the Bill, drafted by UPA-I in 2005, was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which submitted its report in December 2012. Minority Affairs Minister Rehman Khan, who mooted revival of the Bill after the Muzaffarnagar riots, is reportedly busy giving it more teeth. This could intensify opposition to the Bill when finally presented in Parliament this winter.

The extant draft has been resisted because it empowers the Centre to declare an area in a State as “communally disturbed” on its own and send Central forces without the State’s request, thus compromising the federal structure of the Constitution and creating situations of potential confrontation between the Centre and the States. The BJP, Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and Bahujan Samaj Party opposed this as usurping the rights of States.

A contentious provision is transfer of cases outside the State concerned for trial (as happened in Gujarat), ostensibly to protect witnesses. This could establish a dangerous precedent of presuming the entire judiciary of a State as incapable of delivering justice to victims of riots. If riots simultaneously break out in several States (as Maoist violence has affected many at the same time), how feasible will it be to shunt cases, witnesses and lawyers across the country? Who will bear the cost of this exercise?

Controversies pertaining to some Gujarat riot victims (who claimed they had not been raped and did not know that this allegation figured in their sworn affidavits which were in English) establishes that it is not proper to leave witnesses and victims to the mercy of NGOs and activists who may have their own agendas, and may tutor their wards to that end.

The essential criticism of the Bill is its flawed conception, which aims to prevent and control targeted violence, including mass violence, against Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and religious and linguistic minorities in any State. Large sections of society that do not fall in any of these categories, and might fall prey to communal violence, are denied protection under this legislation.

Worse, it does not extend to Jammu & Kashmir, where Kashmiri Pandits were targetted and driven out of the Valley in the 1990s, and where Hindus of Jammu Province are now in the crosshairs of jihadi elements who want to drive them out of the entire State.

This was recently witnessed in Kishtwar, where a private arms factory was generously opened to help miscreants arm themselves against an unarmed populace of anther community. If ever there was a State where citizens need the protection of such legislation, it is Jammu & Kashmir.

As rape and gang rape is one of the specific crimes listed in the Bill, it bears asking if rape will be considered as having occurred only on the statement of an alleged victim, or will have to stand medical scrutiny? Secondly, there is no recognition that a communal conflict could be triggered by the targetting of girls from the majority community, a phenomenon widely known as ‘love jihad’.

As for public servants who are to be held responsible for failing to control a situation, it needs to be mentioned that the proposed Bill offers no protection against political interference in the arrest and prosecution of culprits. The extant Bill places disproportionate emphasis upon the role of public servants (police, civil servants), who are all too often forced to abide by the whims of a political class. Nowhere does the legislation provide for punishment for political interference leading to the release of arrested persons in a riot situation.

The proposed National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation, if retained in the final draft, will likely be a sinecure for unelectable politicians and other cronies of the ruling dispensation.

The Authority seems to duplicate the functions of the National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Women, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

A six year term for the Members, along with attendant permanent bureaucracy, seems an entirely avoidable drain on the exchequer in an era of economic meltdown.

The draft proposes to make all offences committed under the Act as cognizable and non-bailable. This is not objectionable in itself, except for the fact that political interference (as seen in Muzaffarnagar) could ensure arrests from a single community, which may even be the victim/aggrieved community. And if culprits who are arrested are promptly released due to political interference, such persons will roam free with impunity throughout the trial and prosecution of the case, and will have ample freedom to tamper with or intimidate witnesses. The whole legislation is thus flawed in conception and certain to be unfair in implementation.

The proposed National Authority / State Authority has been given the power to order further investigation or re-investigation of cases deemed not to have been carried out in a fair, impartial or unbiased manner. But under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the power to order re-investigation is vested only in a competent court, and further investigations also needs court permission.

Clearly, the UPA is trying to make a mockery of the established law of the land for petty political gains.

Muzaffarnagar communal riots and selective compassion by NHRC

By Sandhya Jain on September 19, 2013

Muzaffarnagar communal riots and selective compassion human rights bodies

Do statutory national bodies such as the National Commission for Women (NCW) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have only cosmetic value, or are they a political tool to help the ruling dispensation at the Centre to harangue or protect State Governments?

In over three weeks since the murder of a Muslim youth for allegedly tormenting a young girl on her way to inter-college at Nangla Mandore in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh on August 27, the retaliatory murders of her two brothers, and the communal violence that followed and took 49 lives, there was not a peep from these august bodies despite so much human suffering and angst.

Twenty-three days after the first death, on September 19, after a rattled Chief Minister began looking for ways to cover his inadequacies, NCW chairperson Mamata Sharma arrived at Muzaffarnagar to take stock of the situation. The National Human Rights Commission is still notable for his absence, largely perhaps because it tends to confuse its mandate with that of the National Commission for Minorities. Indeed, barring the compulsion of the Centre to provide sinecures for loyalists, there seems no legitimate reason for the continued existence of these bodies.

The National Commission for Women should have rushed to the spot once the print and electronic media reported that the violence was triggered by repeated and routine harassment of Jat girls from Malakpur village as they passed by of the minority-dominated Kawal village to catch a bus to the Inter-College. The sexual harassment of women, particularly minor girls, which could result in crime and/or put an end to their studies on account of their families or communities being unable to provide physical security, should be a primary concern of the NCW. Yet, even the State Commission for Women has not visited the aggrieved family and village.

Mamata Sharma will doubtless indulge in homilies before returning to Delhi. The question is whether the State Government or District administration will provide security to school-going girls. This aspect of the Indian reality, which inhibits realisation of the goal of total literacy, has been highlighted by the Muzaffarnagar tragedy, and deserves to be recognised.

Meanwhile, it would be instructive to examine the cases where the NCW has been proactive in discharging its duty. There is the 2009 Mangalore pub attack, where an hitherto unknown organisation helped in maligning the Hindu community. The Commission rushed to Guwahati in 2012 when public sentiment was inflamed by the rape of a minor girl; it distinguished itself by revealing the name of the victim in its press conference. It took a considerable public outcry to compel the Commission to apologise.

On the issue of acid attacks on girls and women, a Scheme for Relief and Rehabilitation of Offences (by acids) on Women and Children was supposedly prepared by the NCW in consultation with women’s groups a decade ago. But Mamata Sharma claims ignorance in the matter though it figured in NCW Annual Reports until 2008-09. Then, it was subsumed in a new scheme for relief and rehabilitation of rape victims, but acid victims are not mentioned and are thus left out of the new scheme.

The alleged rapes of Bhatta Parsaul in 2011 are the most impressive instance of NCW activism. After Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi claimed there had been police atrocities against villagers in Greater Noida and “women too were raped,” the NCW demanded an urgent CBI probe into the incidents. The then chairperson said villagers in Bhatta and Parsaul in Greater Noida told an NCW fact-finding team about the alleged atrocities, including molestation of the women and burning some men alive in Bhatta village.

The Uttar Pradesh Government stoutly denied the allegations, especially on rape. The National Human Rights Commission found no evidence to support Rahul Gandhi’s allegations, and after initially failing to substantiate the same, the NCW finally claimed evidence of seven rapes in its final report in September 2011. The evidence, interestingly, was affidavits submitted by the victims to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes!

The National Human Rights Commission is equally choosy regarding the recipients of its affection. But the most serious instance of dereliction of duty pertains to the Gujarat riots of 2002 which, as is well known, were a reaction to the Godhra train atrocity.

Here the NHRC became complicit in the games of some high profile individuals and NGOs to defame the Gujarat judiciary and administration, and get the riot cases transferred out of the State.

This was exposed way back in 2007 when Zahira Sheikh, the ‘expert witness’ relied upon to damage the Gujarat judiciary and Chief Minister Narendra Modi, turned hostile and told the Supreme Court that the documents upon which the NHRC recommended shifting the trial outside Gujarat were not signed by her. Indeed, they were found to be blank (where the signature should be). Thus, the pages and pages of allegations prepared by Teesta Setalvad and her NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace, were unsigned typed papers!

Legally, this made the complaint void — worse than an anonymous allegation. Zahira Sheikh contemptuously called the document Teesta’s “pamphlet-baazi”.

But the NHRC accepted the document as valid, and passed it on to the Supreme Court with a plea to order retrial in the Best Bakery case and take the trial out of Gujarat. The Supreme Court Registry failed to authenticate the document; and thus the cases were transferred to Mumbai. To this date, the Supreme Court is acting on the basis of this unsigned document.

It is notable that though Zahira Sheikh claimed she had been intimidated to give a certain testimony in the Best Bakery case in Vadodara, neither the NHRC nor the Supreme Court asked the State Government to ensure her security in Mumbai. She was left at the mercy of Teesta Setalvad and her NGO. Even in late 2004, when Zahira Sheikh fell out with her mentor and accused Setalvad of virtually imprisoning her (Zahira) and forcing her to sign documents she could not read (in English), and pressurising her to give a certain type of testimony after recognising persons from photographs, no police protection was offered to Zahira. Her whereabouts are presently unknown.

Zahira Sheikh had demanded the right to cross-examine then NHRC chairman AS Anand, saying she visited the Commission with Setalvad and made an oral submission which was recorded by the Chairman and two members. Zahira alleged her oral testimony differed from the record NHRC placed before the Supreme Court. NHRC needs to come clean on this episode if it is to enjoy public esteem in future.

To conclude on a personal note, on November 23, 2008, KPS Gill, Kanchan Gupta and this writer were part of a citizen’s initiative to the NHRC, to demand an enquiry into allegations of illegal detention and torture of Sadhvi Pragya by the Mumbai ATS. Thereafter, some of us went to the NCW to urge it to take up the matter. Needless to add, neither Commission has found the time or the compassion to do so.