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  1. SIKH FEDERATION (UK) TWO-DAY EUROPEAN LOBBY FOCUSING ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN INDIA PROVES HUGE SUCCESS 26 January 2013 A Sikh Federation (UK) team returned this week from a two-day lobby in Brussels. Two meetings took place with the European Commission and UK representatives had separate meetings with 10 different UK MEPs. One of the meetings with the European Commission was with staff working for Siim Kallas, the Vice-President and European Commissioner for Transport to discuss respect for the Sikh turban and airport security (this has been reported separately). At the other meeting the Sikh Federation (UK) led a 14-member European-wide delegation of Sikhs to meet with five key staff working for Baroness Catherine Ashton, the Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. These staff work for the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic service set up in December 2010. This meeting was the third such meeting with the European Commission organised by the Sikh Federation (UK) in recent years to discuss EU relations with India, the death penalty and human rights abuses in India with those responsible for human rights and day-to-day dealings with India on behalf of the EU. There was a frank exchange of views on a wide-range of issues and the meeting was appreciated by both sides given the quickly developing situation in India. Using the example of mass protests by the younger generation in Punjab in support of Balwant Singh Rajaona and more recently against the treatment of women a view was expressed that the events of the last 12 months have shown India is far more unstable than many had previously been prepared to accept. It was pointed out that in recent weeks the world media has drawn attention to the criminalisation of politics in India, a failing judicial system that allows the rich and powerful to escape justice for serious crimes and problems such as drug addiction in Punjab that the Indian State is deliberately allowing or worse still promoting. The fact that one third of the members of the Indian Parliament have either been convicted or arrested and charged with serious criminal offences, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, robbery and extortion was not lost on those the Sikh delegation were meeting. Staff at the European Commission working for Baroness Catherine Ashton were clearly far more receptive to the idea that there are systemic failings in the workings of the Indian State and unless there is radical reform issues like the treatment of women, minorities and the huge gap between the rich and poor could result in the break-up of India. Given the importance of EU trade with India, in the present economic climate, it was suggested the EU may need to look at the distinct possibility of a different scenario that could include the existence of a separate Sikh homeland. In the meetings that took place with the European Commission and UK MEPs the following specific human rights issues were discussed: on-going death row cases of Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajaona who have been in prison for 18 and 17 years respectively false arrest and torture in September 2012 of opposition leaders Kulbir Singh Barapind, an elected member of the SGPC and Daljit Singh Bittu who have both chosen the path of political engagement 10-year imprisonment of 93-year old Dr Assa Singh and 11 others, many in their 60s and 70s, in November 2012 for the Ludhiana bank robbery some 25 years ago using circumstantial evidence under the infamous TADA legislation, widely condemned by Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Council and supposedly abolished in 1995 In addition, whilst reference was made to the lack of justice following the genocide of Sikhs in June and November 1984 and the visit of Kamal Nath to EU countries certain cases were highlighted where Sikhs have been killed in the last two years. The significance of the Sikh media in raising awareness within the Sikh Diaspora, in particular the 1 million Sikhs in Europe and the 1 million Sikhs in Canada and the USA was not lost on officials and politicians listening. The five cases highlighted were: Illegal police detention, torture and beating to death of Shaminder Singh Shera in January 2011 arrest, torture and mysterious death in police custody of Sohanjit Singh under mysterious circumstances in March 2011 apprehension, torture by police and killing of Veer Singh in January 2012 death due to serious burns of Kulwant Singh in Central Amritsar Jail in February 2012, he had previously been admitted to hospital with life threatening injuries as a result of police torture 18-year-old Jaspal Singh was killed by police bullets in an unprovoked firing during a peaceful protest in March 2012 Various separate meetings took place with UK MEPs that explored with each one depending on their specific roles how they could assist the Sikh community in exposing the human rights abuses highlighted. This included two party groupings who can speak in debates to raise issues, members of various delegations, including the India delegation and South Asia delegation and members of sub committees such as the one for human rights. Some agreed to raise parliamentary questions and others said they could use their various positions to raise matters on behalf of Sikhs. MEPs that held meetings in alphabetical order were: Stuart Agnew, Phil Bennion, Derek Clark, Roger Helmer, Jean Lambert, Linda McAvan, Edward McMillan-Scott, Bill Newton Dunn, Peter Skinner and Charles Tannock.
  2. SIKHS WIN AND EXERCISE RIGHT TO WEAR THE KIRPAN WHEN ENTERING THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN BRUSSELS TO MEET MEPs 24 January 2013 The Sikh Federation (UK) started to organise the mass lobbying of MEPs by visiting them at the European Parliament in Brussels around eight years ago. Around 250 Sikhs from across Europe attended the first ever lobby and after initially agreeing to allow Amritdhari Sikhs to wear the Kirpan when entering the main European Parliament building this decision was reversed on the morning of the first lobby. UK MEPs informed Sikhs taking part in the lobby this restriction was as a direct result of pressure on the Secretary General responsible for administration from the Indian Ambassador based in the European Parliament by suggesting a ban on the Kirpan was appropriate. The Indian authorities did not want Sikhs lobbying about human rights abuses in India e.g. the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, or issues related to the Sikh identity and were prepared to go to extreme lengths to try and stop Sikhs lobbying by asking for the Kirpan to be banned. Given the opposition from India the Sikh Federation (UK) encouraged Sikhs to take a stand by organising an annual lobby at the European Parliament in Brussels. Initially the Sikh Federation (UK) organised venues adjacent to the Parliament building so MEPs were encouraged to meet Sikhs from across Europe. However, in addition smaller groups of Sikhs, including Amritdharis wearing the Kirpan, successfully entered the European Parliament following pressure from MEPs setting a precedent that this was possible. UK MEPs continued to exert pressure and this resulted in a large conference room holding around 300 being made available each year in the Eastman Building of the European Parliament complex where Sikhs were allowed to wear the Kirpan. However, very few MEPs other than those from the UK were prepared to leave the main European Parliament building to speak in the inconveniently located Eastman Building. The issue remained that large numbers of Amritdhari Sikhs could not freely enter the main European Parliament building to meet MEPs for pre-arranged meetings so Sikhs have been protesting each year. One year Sikh men, women and children protested with MEPs by holding a peaceful sit down protest blocking two of the three entrances to the main European Parliament building. This attracted considerable media attention and highlighted the issue and created pressure for change. In recent years the Sikh Federation (UK) has not been arranging large lobbies, but instead sending Sikhs to speak at events or meet MEPs as necessary. This was also in part as Sikhs in many mainland European countries have been unable to establish the sorts of links Sikhs have had with UK MEPs. However, in the last 12 months the Sikh Federation (UK) has been establishing its own network across Europe and setting up sister organisations to get Sikhs more active in engaging with politicians. The two-day lobby organised by the Sikh Federation (UK) at the start of this week was therefore the first test of the working of this set up. The Sikh Federation (UK) appealed to its contacts in Italy, Germany, France, Belgium etc. to keep numbers to around five representatives from each country. This was deliberate as the Federation wanted a much more focused lobby with around a dozen meetings over the two days and to test whether Sikhs could exercise the right to enter the European Parliament (and European Commission) in relatively large numbers while wearing their Kirpans. The Sikh Federation (UK) is delighted to announce that Sikhs having taken a robust stand on the wearing of the Kirpan when entering the European Parliament and European Commission buildings have in effect had the restriction on the Kirpan removed for pre-arranged meetings when it is known who will be in attendance. Behind the scenes work involving MEPs, especially in the last 12 months with those responsible for security, meant that all turban wearing Sikhs Amritdhari or not were fully respected and had all security waived when entering the European Parliament and at the two European Commission meetings.
  3. Can Sikhs on this forum who live in EU countries (other than the UK) email sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk Emails need to be sent to all MEPs in your country in the next 24 hours regarding the lobby on 21 and 22 January in Brussels. You also need to arrange for 5 to 10 Sikhs from each EU country to represent your country over the two days. All from your delegation will need to be signed in by MEPs from your country, so you need 2 or 3 MEPs to have agreed to do this. One MEP can sign in a maximum of 9 people a day. Standard email to send to each of your MEPs is available by emailing sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk. A link to emails for all MEPs in below, click on your country and get email addresses for each MEP. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/search.html
  4. SadhSangat Jee Please take out the time and effort to support, share abd take benefit from recently Launched GurmatParchar.com. Articles with news, indepth vichar, current affairs as well as a daily Gurbani Vichar on the Hukumnamas from Harmandir Sahib as well as Hazur Sahib will be brought to you. Gurmukho please feel free to submit any articles/writeups or whatever you may wish to feature on the website along with suggestions and feedback you may wish to give us. You can use the contact us page on the site or otherwise please do not feel reluctant to email us on admin@gurmatparch.com. We will try to help and support you in any way we can. Thanks What is GurmatParchar.com? Vaheguru Jee Kaa Khalsa Vaheguru Jee Kee Fatheh With the blessings of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee Maharaj we have been able to launch GurmatParchar.com. We will try to have this updated reguarly in the seva of the sangat to deliver clean, truthful news and veechar in the light of Gurmat. Khalsa Jee, the time we live in is so terrifying that we must all focus on Naam Simran and Gurbani as much as we can. From all sides, inside and out the Panth is being attacked; GurmatParchar.com is simply acting like a warning cone before a hazard on a road. At the end of the day it is your own judgement and destiny in the hands of Akal Purakh Vaheguru which decides the way you will go. We pray for Sarbat Da Bhala and this is our way of contributing towards it. At times it could seem that we too are biased and that the articles are aimed at individuals and jathebandis; we are here to deliver the truth - not make friends. We respect every Gursikh that respects Gursikhi completely. This is the sad reality of this day and age that the heroes become villains and the villains become heroes however our endeveaour is only to bring out the complete truth to the sangat, if someone gets offended in the process then we are sorry. There is no time for talk of idyllic sunrises when a terrifyingly long night awaits us; in the same way now is not the time to paint a pretty picture to gain some cheap support. We work as if Guru Jee is our only judge and we seek only their blessings and happiness and that of the Sangat. Jaam(i) Guroo Hoye(i) Val(i) Dhaneh(i) Kiyaa Gaarv Dijaye(i). Jaam(i) Guroo Hoye(i) Val(i) Lakh Bahey(i) Kiyaa Kijaye(i). Jaam(i) Guroo Hoye(i) Val(i) Giaan Ar(u) Dhiyaan Anan Par(i). Jaam(i) Guroo Hoye(i) Val(i) Sabadh(i) Saakhee Su Sacheh Ghar(i). Jo Guroo Guroo Aihinis Japai Dhaas Bhat(i) Benath(i) Kahai. Jo Guroo Naam(i) Ridh Meh(i) Dharey So Janam Maranh Duh The Rahey.3.7. Hopefully we will be able to bring to you news articles on current events, Gurmat Insights and support those brothers and sisters that are doing something for the panth. If you have any suggestions or wish to advertise with us then please feel free to contact us. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee Kirpa Karan GurmatParchar.Com Please benti to SikhSangat Sevadars can you keep this post as a sticky please
  5. Failures of governance spawned the rape crisis The Japan Times By RAMESH THAKUR CANBERRA The shock waves from the pack-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi continue to reverberate in India and around the world. The pathology of rape is not rooted in local culture. A nation does not rise in collective revulsion at normal but rather at unacceptable behavior. The explanation for the rape epidemic lies in accumulating failures of governance. Successive governments have responded to crises with patchwork solutions, postponing structural reforms to tomorrow. That tomorrow has arrived with a vengeance and the government is at a loss on what to do. There are four reasons for the extraordinary outpouring of anger: This attack was particularly horrific and savage. It was perpetrated on the streets of the nation's capital in a bus that drove through several police checkpoints. The victim was representative of the new aspirational India. And she proved remarkably fearless in fighting her attackers, and tenacious in clinging to life and hope that evoked admiration for her courage. The problem of rape, especially against the poor, outcast and tribal women, is not recent and there have been enough high-profile cases that a government with a social conscience would have acted decisively by now. Public policy failings have produced the world's biggest pool of poor, sick, starving and illiterate people. Institutional failures of governance mean their suffering is aggravated. When the core problem is lack of implementation, new legislation is not the solution. India suffers from too many laws that are confusing, provide perverse incentives for police and judicial corruption, and foster and embed a disrespect for the principle of the rule of law. India needs fewer laws that are easier to understand, simpler to interpret, habitually obeyed and routinely enforced when challenged. Many are demanding mandatory death sentences. India lacks the courage of conviction either to abolish the death penalty on principle, or implement it firmly in practice. Afzal Guru from Kashmir, convicted of the terrorist attack on parliament in 2001, with legal avenues exhausted in the Supreme Court eight years ago, is yet to be hanged because the Congress government fears an electoral backlash from Muslim voters. A person was convicted and sentenced to death in 2002 for the rape-murder of a five-year old girl in 2001. In May last year, India's woman president commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment. A new feudal system is being created as the political process is captured by a narrow and self-perpetuating ruling class that is increasingly inbred, criminal and out of touch with the changing nation. Patrick French's analysis shows that of the 545 federal members of Parliament (MPs), 156 had hereditary connections. Of women MPs, 70 percent were in family seats. Every MP under 30, and 65 percent of the 66 MPs in their 30s, had a family connection. Of Congress Party MPs in their 30s, 86 percent inherited a family seat. The president's son, of the notorious "dented and painted" crowd of women protesters quote, is an inheritor MP. With the inheritor MPs being 10 years younger on average than others, this group will have a decade's advantage in Indian political life. If the trend continues, almost all MPs will be hereditary. Around one fourth of MPs face criminal charges. They can only be debarred on conviction. Because court cases can be indefinitely delayed, in practice being implicated in serious crimes is no bar to being an MP for life. Courts are clogged. In Maharashtra the worst on this count only 240,000 of the 3.1 million cases of people in prison or awaiting trial were settled last year. At current caseload settlement rates, India's 15,000 judges (another 3,000 posts are unfilled) will require over 300 years just to clear the backlog of 30 million pending cases. Against India's recommended norm of 50 judges per million population, it has just 10. Public officials operate with colonial structures and mind-sets, lording it over subjects instead of serving citizens. India's bureaucrats are rated the most inefficient in Asia. The police are corrupt, distrusted and feared by those who need the most protection against powerful predators. Ruchika Girhotra, a 14-year old girl, was sexually molested by a senior police officer in 1990. He rose to be the state's top cop while she and her family were harassed and victimized for pursuing the case. She killed herself in 1993. Only in 2009 did justice finally catch up with the police officer, and even then with a risible six-month sentence that saw him smirking as he left court on bail pending an appeal. What is especially dispiriting about this is just how many individuals and institutions that could and should have protected her just went with the flow. India is a laboratory for demonstrating the law of perverse consequences. Legislative quotas for women will be another means of feathering the family nest by packing parliaments with the "bibi, beti and bahu" brigade (wives, daughters and daughters-in-law). What's required is exactly the opposite: opening the doors of political office to the talented young people of the new dynamic India who aspire to public office for serving a higher social purpose. Creating special courts for speedy trials of rape cases with toughened conditions for defendants will impose even further delays in the administration of criminal justice in general. Powerful Congress Party politicians who incited the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 that killed up to 3,000 are yet to face their day in court. Until they do, Sikhs will not reach emotional closure on those traumatic events. Some victims will get swifter justice under fast-tracked procedures in special courts. Some people will threaten to or file false cases as a convenient tool of extortion against political opponents, social rivals, wealthy neighbors, rejected suitors, property disputants, etc. And the police and judges will have yet another weapon to extract bribes from all sides. Instant justice is usually the hallmark of kangaroo courts. India must build an efficient criminal justice system for everyone concerned, not subvert due process to appease the mob. The glib call to name a tough new law after the victim will import American custom that is alien and offensive to the British legal tradition. It would be better to set up a memorial sculpture to the unknown rape victim along the route of that bus of infinite sadness. Professor Ramesh Thakur is director of the Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Australian National University. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20130112rt.html
  6. Rapes occur in 'India' not 'Bharat': RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat Edited by Prasad Sanyal | Updated: January 04, 2013 11:41 IST Silchar: Rapes are rare in "Bharat" (rural India) but occur frequently in "India", said Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the right-wing RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The organisation is the ideological mentor of the main opposition party, the BJP. At a meet in Silchar in Assam, Mr Bhagwat said: "Such crimes hardly take place in 'Bharat' but occur frequently in 'India'." He explained why. "You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes. They are prevalent in some urban belts. The Indian ethos and attitude towards women should be revisited in the context of ancient Indian values," he said. Mr Bhagwat's comments come at a time when the death of a young medical student, who was gang-raped in Delhi, has impelled introspection on attitudes towards women in a country where a rape is reported nearly every 20 minutes. Nationwide protests, led largely by students, demanding more safety for women and new tough anti-rape laws have been matched by inexplicably misogynistic comments by an array of politicians. After Mr Bhagwat's comments fomented fury online and criticism among activists, a spokesperson for the RSS said his remarks were being misinterpreted. "Mohan Bhagwat has condemned the act, said it is necessary to hang the culprits. Indian culture has the tradition of respecting women. If we go away from that tradition, such heinous acts happen," said Ram Madhav. But in Madhya Pradesh, a minister in the BJP government, demonstrated the proclivity among politicians to blame women for the crimes against them. "We are forgetting our traditions and crossing our limits. I also agree with Bhagwatji's remarks," said the minister, Kailash Vijayvargiya. Last month, Botsa Satyanarayana, head of the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh, made a shocking statement on the medical student's gang-rape. "They (women) should also think that they should not go in a private bus at night. We say we got freedom at midnight but doesn't mean we can roam around freely at midnight," he said. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/rapes-occur-in-india-not-bharat-rss-chief-mohan-bhagwat-313159
  7. Why India is not safe for solo women Georgia Arlott recounts her gap year travels around India, during which sexual harrassment was a constant problem. By Georgia Arlott 10:18AM GMT 07 Jan 2013 It was in the second month of my gap year in India that I learned to get aggressive. It certainly didnt come naturally. Like most happy teenagers, my three friends and I left our all-girls school full of optimism and eager to please. But from the very first day in the vivid, colourful and thrilling country of India, wandering hands were a constant problem for all of us. Giddily piling into rickshaws, I was the first to discover that sitting in the front seat means that many drivers will look for the radio between your thighs. Hands were slipped underneath our trousers while we watched a fireworks display. Holi, the festival of colour in which people throw paint at each other was a free-for-all for Indian men intent on daubing the front of our shirts with coloured powders. The list goes on. For most British women, sexual assault - casual or otherwise - is a blessed rarity, but the problems that exist in India have been sharply brought into focus by the appalling recent case in Delhi. When we visited, around three years ago, we were prepared for the poverty; wed read the guidebooks back to front to learn the scams and the tricks that thieves employ to steal cameras and iPods. We werent warned that travelling without a man in India is an invitation for unwanted advances. At the start, we simply did not know how to react. If truth be told, whenever we were placed in uncomfortable positions, we simply felt deeply embarrassed. We would push the offending limbs away with a nervous laugh and make as quick an escape as possible. After a month, however, we learned this is not always an adequate solution. In Tamil Nadu, we decided to go swimming at a popular beach. We knew women were fully clothed in the water, and dutifully presented ourselves, as usual, in t-shirts and full-length trousers. The beach was crowded with young men in swimming trunks soaking up the sun and chatting. A few older Indian ladies waded in the shallows in saris. We were greeted with the stares that all Westerners come to ignore, and we did just that. As we swam into open water, we became aware we had been followed in by at least ten young men. Before we knew what had hit us, hands were everywhere. We screamed, and they darted nimbly away. A friend caught one of the boys and dealt him a sharp smack across the face as we beat a hasty retreat back to the beach. I can honestly say the experience counts among the most frightening ten minutes of my life. In Pondicherry, we encountered an American exchange student from Kentucky. We bonded with her over horror stories of unprovoked remarks and sexual aggression. She was living in Bangalore and introduced us to a group of her male Indian friends. They were middle class, westernised, on our wavelength, and after a few days hanging out with them, we accepted the groups invitation to travel back with them to Bangalore. I have since felt very guilty about accepting their hospitality, because despite their invitation to stay, the men were worried sick for us. We stayed at the house of one of our new friends. Each morning, when he went to work, he would simply lock us into his flat until he came home. Initially we were outraged. He insisted that white women were a curiosity and it was not safe for us to sleep in an unlocked house in the mornings. His suspicions were confirmed. Every single night that we stayed there, the Indian police would arrive asking for bribes. They claimed that we must be prostitutes, and only extortionate amounts would guarantee they would not press charges against our friends. It didnt matter that everyone knew they were lying, and so every night our friends paid up. We would spend the evenings out in karaoke bars, or American cafes, but when we got home it would be the same story each time. When they dropped us off at the airport for our flight to Calcutta, our friends offered us this advice: When a man touches you, do what Indian women do: hit them, hard! It is advice we followed from then on, as embarrassment gave way to anger. India simply is not safe for unaccompanied women. We were told as much very often by older, educated Indian men. With a disbelieving shake of the head, they offered to pay for taxis to help us cross a city that they would not allow their daughters out alone in. Occasionally, a male guide or driver would be with us on our city excursions. If one of us were separated and preyed upon, the chaperones would always shout the same things: Would you do this to your sister? Would you do this to your mother? The question would be greeted with the same response by the offender: raised hands and a step backwards. There is a disconnect in India. Women in general are the frequent targets of men who would never dream of letting their own sisters out in the same streets. Many will not have stopped to consider whether it is their actions and the actions of their friends that mean many women are prisoners in their own homes. The cause of foreign women is not helped by the mental link established between white females and the pornography freely enjoyed in internet cafes around the country. But as we have recently seen, Indian women are exposed to some of the most shocking crimes of all. My friends in Bangalore have been consistently posting their outrage at the treatment of women on Facebook over the last few days. They bemoan the lack of respect in their society, and their outrage at government inaction. These men would never dream of touching a woman without her consent, but the reality is that many Indian men dream of just that. The horror story of the poor young woman on a Delhi bus has elicited one reaction among most Indian men: What if that were my sister? What if that were my wife? That thought has provoked rioting in the streets, outrage and a determination that things must change. Amid all the politics, it is important to think of the women not only in India but around the world who instantly thought: What if that were me?. I reasoned that, at any time in India, it very easily could have been. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/9784991/Delhi-gang-rape-why-India-is-not-safe-for-solo-women.html
  8. India, beware of China's Himalayan moves! Last updated on: January 4, 2013 10:40 IST There's ample proof of Chinese irredentism. China is preparing for a future large-scale conventional wars (informationised and mechanised included) on 'multiple fronts' against India. Prakash Katoch, a veteran Lieutenant General of the Indian Army, explains. The Himalayan plunder by China began silently in 1950's by transcending boundaries of Tibet and steamrolling occupation of Aksai Chin (38,000 square kilometers) that was part of Ladakh region of J&K acceded by Maharaja Gulab Singh to India post Partition. China's National Highway 219, re-paved recently, runs now through Aksai Chin connecting Tibet with the Xinjiang region. This Chinese move was not a mere territory grab but part of a larger integrated politico-military strategy that looked far into future considering long term requirements of resources, particularly energy, that would increase in gargantuan proportions, plus the security of the long supply lines. China appreciated long back that gas and oil pipelines could be planned in all directions and feasibility of tapping energy in the west / CAR incorporating energy based Eurasian Security Architecture existed. However, for ultimate energy security, it was necessary to get to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean by land. The latter was no easy task; it implied patience bordering banality and a long gestation period, plus the Himalayan Massif in the south. In Pakistan, perpetually in search of its identity, China found an easy ally. Zhou-en-Lai visiting Pakistan in early 1960s advised Ayub Khan to raise a militia to fight in the backyard of enemy India, offered arms, technologies and a grateful Pakistan ceded Shaksgam Valley (about 6,000 square kilometers of Indian Territory) to China. This was followed by China supplying nuclear technology and ring magnets to Pakistan and the 'Higher than the Mountains, Deeper than the Ocean' relationship took off. Simultaneously, China went for maximum economic and military cooperation with the military junta in Burma (now Myanmar) developing North-South waterways by making their waters navigable by large vessels, plus road construction and other development projects. China resolved her borders with all countries less India and Bhutan, which was by design. In certain areas Chinese claim lines kept extending progressively as the years went by -- from 1959 claim line to more demanding one in 1963 and subsequently extending further in 1969, 1975 so forth and so on. China had experienced the success of Mao's guerilla army over the years. It was this, which led Zhu to advise Ayub to raise a militia (today'sjihadis) to fight in India's backyard. Then came the massive US assistance to Pakistan in creating Taliban for ousting the Soviets from Afghanistan. China watched these developments keenly including the speed with which the Taliban captured Kabul assisted by Pakistani Army regulars disguised as Taliban. In time, China developed links with the Taliban which came in handy in the later years. Concurrent to US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, China was already providing training to Taliban in Xinjiang region. In more recent years, China has reportedly been supplying arms to the Taliban and even military advisors for fighting the NATO-led ISAF. The fact that the roots of Nepal's Maoist insurgency lay in Beijing is no secret and these were not limited to ideological support, as in case of similar insurgencies elsewhere and the global ideological spread spearheaded by China's Ministry of Foreign Liaison. China has provided support to Pakistan's anti-India jihad including at the UN. China gave sanctuary to UFA insurgents when routed from Bhutan by RBA. More recently, Chinese national were caught with fake Indian documents on mission to contact insurgents in India's northeast. Since last year, Chinese assault rifles and communication equipment are being pumped into India through the Kachen rebels in Myanmar; to insurgents in Manipur and Indian Maoists. During a recent international seminar, a PLA colonel stated that such activities by Chinese nationals would necessarily be without the knowledge of Chinese government, PLA and Chinese intelligence agencies. This is difficult to believe, but if true implies that anti-India non-state actors are being allowed to operate in China. A rapidly radicalising Pakistan also launched an institutionalized jihad to kill maximum 'Shia' in her own territory, particularly Gilgit-Baltistan. In the Pakistani calculus, subcontracting itself to China was one solution to stabilise the region that would also nip any Indian designs westwards. China naturally grabbed the opportunity, initiating strategic footprints in Pakistan/POK. Reportedly, Pakistan is to lease out Gilgit-Pakistan region to China for 50 years. One Pakistani analyst predicts Baluchistan becoming a Chinese-administered province by 2030. Pakistani analysts also say that China wants to establish permanent bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. PoK will become the geostrategic pivot of China-Pakistan for forays into Afghanistan and Central Asia. The push to make India withdraw from the Saltoro Range in Siachen area is part of the same plunder of the Himalayas, egged on by the US which in its bid to prop up Kayani appears intransigent of India's strategic disadvantage in the instant case. The similarities of the military's stranglehold in China and Pakistan are striking; the PLA chief reports to the CCP and not to Chinese government and PLA generals are members of the Politburo. The Military/ISI hold in Pakistan requires no elaboration. Nepalese Maoists apart, today Chinese are even manning three-star hotels in Kathmandu besides numerous development projects in Nepal. PLA soldiers in uniform have been sighted in northern Nepal by foreign journalists. Further east, China has been claiming the Doklam plateau and the road built between Zuri and Phuteogang Ridge that overlooks the disputed Charithang Valley. Doklam plateau if occupied by China will turn the flanks of Indian defences in Sikkim and endanger the Siliguri Corridor -- the latter becomes an even more serious concern if terrorism gets a surge again in Bangladesh anytime in future with a pro-China-Pakistan regime. Ironically, India has not even objected to Chinese activities in the PoK. China hitherto was laying claims only to Tawang, but has suddenly staked its claim to entire Arunachal Pradesh, that too having got Tibet on a plate. What more proof is needed of Chinese irredentism? This is perhaps the ultimate objective in Operation 'Himalayan Plunder' for gaining control of the Himalayas right from PoK all the way to Arunachal. Further, plans to reach the Indian Ocean will be put in place thereafter. China is preparing for a future large-scale conventional wars (informationised and mechanised included) on 'multiple fronts' against India. Let us not be led astray that China's development of a globally deployable military force will only be focused on South China Sea for the next couple of years. http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-india-beware-of-china-s-himalayan-moves/20130104.htm
  9. Assam Congress Leader arrested on rape charges Even though there was a country-wide protest against the gang-rape and murder of a paramedical student in Delhi, a woman was allegedly raped by a prominent Congress leader in Assam. Bikramsingh Brahma was arrested after the womans husband lodged an FIR at a police station. The incident took place at Shantipur in Chirang district of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) in the wee hours of Thursday. In the FIR, the husband alleged that the woman was raped by Brahma. The accused confessed to his crime, Chirang district superintendent of police Kumar Sanjeev Krishna told DNA. He added: The accused is in our custody. Law will take its own course. Brahma, a Congress coordinator in BTAD and chairman of the partys Baksa district SC cell, was caught red handed when the woman, mother of two children, raised an alarm. The locals claimed that Brahma had forced his way into the house at 2am of Thursday to commit the crime. However, the victims husband said the accused was a family acquaintance. We came to know him about three months back. He came to our house last (Wednesday) evening, the husband told journalists. Earlier when the news about the alleged rape spread, angry locals, mostly women, bashed up the accused. They also damaged his vehicle. The incident has jolted the ruling Congress in the state as it prepares for the upcoming panchayat polls. The Chirang district Congress said Brahma was a victim of a political conspiracy. He is a victim of a political conspiracy. The members of the house where he went are all supporters of Bodoland Peoples Front, the district Congress claimed. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_assam-congress-leader-held-for-raping-woman-thrashed-by-mob_1785201
  10. All political parties responsible for India's sorry state of affairs: VK Singh PTI / Thursday, January 3, 2013 19:38 IST Gandhian Anna Hazare would try to unite people who are craving for re-establishment of democracy in the country at his rally at Patna on January 30, retired Army chief VK Singh said today. The forthcoming rally of Anna Hazare at historic Gandhi maidan here is aimed at uniting people who desire to change the system pervaded by corruption and self-seeking politicians, Singh told reporters. Charging members of Parliament of violating constitution, he stressed on change in present system fraught by corruption and self-seekers. Asked if he holds the present regime responsible for the ills in system, the retired army chief said all the political parties were responsible for the sorry state of affairs. Asked if politicians would be invited to the January 30 rally, Singh said this was a social movement and no politician would be involved in it. In reply to a question on difference arising after some anti-corruption activists led by Arvind Kejriwal formed a party, Singh said this question should be posed to those who are doing so. "For me everybody is equal," he added. Asked to react on the tragic incident of gang-rape of a girl in a moving bus in Delhi and need for change in laws, he said anger of people against the horrific incident was justified. He said laws against rape should be stringent to create fear among perpetrators of such heinous acts. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_all-political-parties-responsible-for-india-s-sorry-state-of-affairs-vk-singh_1785172
  11. India may suspend lawmakers facing sex assault charges CBS News AP/ January 2, 2013, 10:43 PM NEW DELHI Indian lawmakers facing sexual assault charges could be suspended from office if the country's top court rules in favor of a petition submitted after a gang-rape and murder that shocked the country. Six state lawmakers are facing rape prosecutions and two national parliamentarians are facing charges of crimes against women that fall short of rape, said Jagdeep S. Chhokar, an official with the Association for Democratic Reforms, which tracks political candidate's criminal records. The petition will be heard Thursday, the same day police plan to formally charge six suspects in the attack on a 23-year-old university student in New Delhi two weeks ago. The rape triggered outrage and sparked demands for stronger laws, tougher police action against sexual assault suspect and a sustained campaign to change society's views on women. As part of that campaign, Chief Justice Altamas Kabir agreed to hear a petition from retired government administrator Promilla Shanker asking the Supreme Court to suspend all national and state lawmakers who are facing prosecution for crimes against women. She also asked the court to force the national government to fast-track thousands of rape cases languishing in India's notoriously sluggish court system. In the past five years, political parties across India nominated 260 candidates awaiting trial on charges of crimes against women, Chhokar said. Parties ran six candidates for the national parliamentary elections facing such charges, he said. "We need to decriminalize politics and surely a serious effort has to be made to stop people who have serious charges of sexual assault against them from contesting elections," said Zoya Hasan, a political analyst. On Wednesday morning, several thousand women held a silent march to Gandhi's memorial in the capital in memory of the victim, holding placards demanding "Respect" and "Justice." Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit joined the women for a prayer session for the victim. The Gandhi memorial is a common protest site. On Tuesday, the government set up a task force to monitor women's safety in New Delhi and to review whether police were properly protecting women. Two task forces already are examining the handling of the rape case and possible changes in rape laws. The rape of the unidentified woman on a bus in the capital has horrified many and brought unprecedented attention to the daily suffering of women here, who face everything from catcalls and groping to rapes. Six men arrested in the case were to be formally charged Thursday with kidnapping, rape and murder, said Rajan Bhagat, the New Delhi police spokesman. Police have said they would push for the death penalty. Another suspect underwent medical testing to determine his age since juveniles cannot be charged with murder in India. The Bar Association of lawyers last week decided against defending the six suspects because of the nature of the crime, although the court is expected to appoint attorneys to defend them. Media reports say 30 witnesses have been gathered, and the charges have been detailed in a document running more than 1,000 pages. Police also have detained the owner of the bus used in the crime on accusation he used false documents to obtain permits to run the private bus service. The family of the victim who died Saturday at a hospital in Singapore is struggling to come to grips with the tragedy. "She was a very, very, very cheerful little girl and she was peace loving and she was never embroiled in any controversies like this. I don't know why this happened to her," her uncle, Suresh Singh, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The family of the victim, whose name was not revealed, called for stronger rape laws to prevent such attacks from happening again and demanded swift and harsh justice for woman's assailants, Singh said. "If the government can't punish them, give the rapists to the people. The people will settle the scores with them," he said. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57561749/india-may-suspend-lawmakers-facing-sex-assault-charges/
  12. India rejects claims it exported fake medicine to Africa Delhi denial follows claims a third of anti-malarial drugs in Uganda and Tanzania could be counterfeit or substandard Jason Burke in Delhi guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 2 January 2013 14.42 GMT India has denied claims that it has exported large quantities of counterfeit medication to Africa, after the Guardian published a front-page exposé on the phenomenon. "No fake medicines have been sent from India to the continent of Africa," a spokesman for the ministry of external affairs in Delhi said. The article cited experts and NGO reports as saying that up to a third of anti-malarial drugs in Uganda and Tanzania might be fake or substandard, and the majority of them were manufactured in China and India. The drugs look identical to real ones, and can only be distinguished with lab testing. Aside from malaria drugs, analysis of antibiotics and contraceptives has also identified fakes. "Some pills contain no active ingredients, some are partial strength and some the wrong formulation entirely," said the article. The fake medications have led to deaths, prolonged illness and increased drug resistance in parts of east Africa, the article said. The Indian official said allegations of the nature of those mentioned in the Guardian had "surfaced previously" and "had been thoroughly investigated both in Africa and in India and found to be baseless". "As the Guardian report acknowledges, India has stepped up oversight on this subject [and] ... continues to interact extensively with countries in Africa to provide quality medicines at affordable prices," the spokesman said. "The government of India is committed to continue this co-operation in the strong belief that this is an ideal means of enhancing south-south co-operation and engagement." Chinese officials also denied the charges made in the report. Counterfeit drugs are a long-running issue in China. According to official statements, Chinese police seized £113m of fake pharmaceuticals in July alone and £19m worth in November. Many ingredients were found to be harmful or toxic. The Indian health ministry launched a huge campaign last month to check the quality of medication manufactured across the country. India is home to more than 10,000 drug manufacturers.
  13. In the wake of the Delhi bus rape, what is the future for India? The gang rape and murder of a young woman last month has sparked furious protests in India and given voice to an emerging political class. It has also highlighted the urban sprawl and violence that lie behind the country's booming economy Jason Burke The Guardian, Thursday 3 January 2013 Mahipalpur is not a place you will find on many tourist guides to India. Once a village, now a cluster of cheap hotels, roadside restaurants and bus stops around a major road junction on the outskirts of Delhi, it is a place many pass by but few seek out. The huge, new billion-dollar international airport terminal lies a mile or so away, across construction sites, wasteland and rubbish tips, obscured now by a thick winter fog, a mixture of smoke from wood fires and pollution. Concrete pillars of a recently constructed metro link, which worked for a few months but has been out of commission for many more, loom. Tens of thousands of people pass Mahipalpur every day. Few stop. It was here, in the dirt beside a ramp leading to the flyover carrying an eight-lane highway, at 10.20pm on 16 December, that a bus briefly stopped and a semi-conscious woman and her male companion were dumped, naked and badly injured, on the ground. This being India, a crowd quickly gathered. Passing cars slowed. After 40 minutes, someone called the police, who fetched sheets from one of the nearby hotels to cover the couple and took them to hospital. Arrive at almost any of the new airports being built across India outside its major cities, and head to the heritage sites or the better, long-established hotels, and you will pass through a Mahipalpur. These are the grey zones around India's rapidly expanding urban centres. Little happens here that makes it into the local newspapers, let alone the western press. Yet India's myriad Mahipalpurs may hold the key to the country's future. In the three weeks since the gang rape and murder of the as-yet-unnamed 23-year-old woman by six men on a moving bus in south Delhi, there has been a great deal of comment in the western media about the nature of modern India. Many appear surprised to have suddenly discovered something that appears to contradict the "booming India" story. When Boris Johnson visited India last year, he described two sights on his journey into Delhi from the airport that, for him, encapsulated the country. One was a Jaguar car, symbol of India's economic success, overseas clout and potential as a market. The second was an elephant being washed by its mahout, representing traditional, exotic India, unchanged and, happily, unchangeable. This week it is difficult to imagine anyone being quite so blithely inattentive to the complex realities of this vast and varied nation. One of the first stories I covered on my return to India three years ago was the violence between Maoist guerrillas, Communist party thugs and various other factions in the desperately poor district of West Midnapore, in the vast state of West Bengal. This appeared to be old India at its worst, a combination of grinding poverty and brutal killings. I interviewed a woman whose husband had just been executed by Maoist guerillas who accused him of being a spy for the police. Nearby, other villagers complained of militia, run by the local government, who burned homes down and raped, apparently at will. Although the catalyst for the wave of violence in West Midnapore was imminent state elections, the killings had started years earlier, when a major steel project was announced in the area. Such a project would have created jobs, wealth and much opportunity for whoever controlled the area to indulge in immensely profitable racketeering. It was rooted not in the lack of change but in the coming of change. A few months later, I reported a particularly egregious "honour killing", one of the hundreds, if not thousands, that take place each year in India. The male teenage relatives of a young woman had killed her and her supposed lover with an unlicensed "country" pistol before fleeing. They lived not in a remote village but in the north-west of Delhi. All of those involved in the murders lived nonetheless on frontiers: between Wazirpur, their working-class neighbourhood, and Ashok Vihar, the adjacent upmarket suburb; between the increasingly cosmopolitan Indian capital and its deeply conservative hinterland; between the crushing poverty of their parents' childhoods and the relative wealth of their own. In 2011, an investigation into a hitman who bragged of killing a hundred or more people took me to a small village an hour from Delhi, to Ghaziabad, a rough and violent town that is now part of the Indian capital's urban sprawl, and to Gurgaon, another satellite city just a 10-minute drive from Mahipalpur. Jaggu Pehelwan had grown up in the village, was part of a gang based in Ghaziabad and found most of his targets and clients in Gurgaon, among businessman and criminals based among the call centres, multinational corporations, five-star hotels and luxury malls. It was the opportunity, the wealth, the corruption and the chaos of new India that had made Pehlawan, who otherwise would have been a small-time thug in his village, what he was. Pehlewan existed in a world of Mahipalpurs cheap hotels, cheap restaurants, parties fuelled by locally made foreign liquor and escorts. He had taken holidays to Goa and Kashmir, the two classic middle-class Indian destinations, and had bought a big four-wheel drive, a classic Indian middle-class acquisition that he drove, for fun, on the new expressways near his village homes. One of these leads to Noida and the new Formula One circuit, a $400m project. Beyond the half-built apartment blocks around the track are the villages of farmers who had once tilled the ground beneath the Tarmac. Many have received huge sums as compensation for their land. Others have not. This too has generated tension. All these places Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Noida, even Mahipalpur will grow in the coming years. This urban sprawl will not just be limited to Delhi and its environs, where around 17 million people already live. Most experts say that further urbanisation is necessary for India's economic growth to continue; the new middle classes will want apartments and parks and roads and schools. There is a huge youth bulge pushing through. Some 290 million people were living in cities in India in 2001, a figure that rose to 340 million in 2008 and is set to reach 590 million, around 40% of the population, by 2030. By that year, business consultant McKinsey and Co predicts, there will be 68 Indian cities of more than a million people, 13 with more than 4 million and six megacities with populations of 10 million or more. More than 30 million people will live in Mumbai and 26 million in Delhi. By then the dominant feature of modern India may well not be the rural village or the picturesque forts and saris of the tourist brochures but the nondescript, semi-finished, ragged-edged, semi-urban, semi-rural world that is simultaneously neither and both of them. The six suspected rapists certainly inhabited this "inbetween" world. All grew up in poor, socially conservative rural communities in some of the most backward, violent parts of the country and frequently returned to their villages. Ram Singh, the 35-year-old bus driver who is alleged to be the ringleader, and his younger brother Mukesh, came from Karauli in Rajasthan. The district may be only a few hours drive from the Taj Mahal but honour killings, banditry and violence between castes, the tenacious millennia-old social hierarchy, are endemic there. Another of the suspects came from southern Bihar, as poor and lawless a spot as anywhere in India. A fourth was from Basti, a small town near the border with Nepal, a bad place in a state, Uttar Pradesh (UP), that has socio-economic indicators worse than many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Bihar and UP, along with the more prosperous Haryana and Punjab, are states in which the killing of female foetuses and girls is common practice. But all were living in Delhi, in an unregistered semi-legal squatters' "colony" or "camp" in the south of the city that itself is a halfway house between village and urban life. In Ravi Dass colony, named after a 15th-century saint, children return from classes in fashion design or medicine at local colleges to mothers cooking on open wood-fired clay stoves. It too is a zone of transition, barely policed, where, as they would do in a village, neighbours enforce order and the authorities are rarely seen. "We are good people," one inhabitant said this weekend. There was little "eve-teasing" as sexual harrassment is often euphemistically called in India because fathers would unite to ensure anyone troubling their daughters stopped. But beyond the colony, there were no such constraints. Out on the streets of Delhi, there were no neighbours, no angry fathers a few yards away, and, as with most Indian cities, only rare, inefficient and often corrupt police. The victim too lived on the fringes of Delhi: in Dwarka, a sprawl of flats and construction sites developed in phases since the mid-1960s to the south-west of the city. It too is a place of constant change as it expands into the semi-rural hinterland. Her father, from a small provincial town, had got a job as a loader at Delhi airport. His daughter's recent qualification as a physiotherapist meant her family was thus well on the way to fulfilling its aspirations of respectability, relative economic comfort and broader opportunity for the next generation. On the evening of the assault, she and her friend were returning from a cinema in Saket, one of two multiplexes at a well-known and extremely popular modern shopping mall. The moment they climbed into the unlicensed private bus driven by their attackers the good and the bad elements of India's ongoing transformation collided. In India this week the protests are now beginning to die away and the media coverage is diminishing. The charge sheet against the six accused 1,000 pages long will be entered formally in court tomorrow. Police have said they will seek a death sentence. Some legislation will be passed. There will be fast-track courts set up, harsher penalties for rape introduced and a few other measures. The issue will not be forgotten but the rapes that currently appear on the front of local newspapers will slide inexorably towards less-prominent pages. The deeper question is which part of India's transition wins in the long run; is Mahipalpur a zone of chaos and lawlessness where the badly injured are dumped, or something better? If there is hope it is because, beyond the scale of violence to women in India and a myriad other social problems, something else has been revealed: a vast gulf between many in this huge country and the people who rule them, at least at a national level. And importantly, recent weeks have seen the mobilisation of a new political force. For decades, politics in India has involved deference, hierarchy and handouts, or archaic ideologies unchanged since the cold war. It is likely that elderly men dependent on hundreds of thousands of carefully marshalled votes in conservative rural areas will hold on to power for some time to come. But the largely unplanned, spontaneous protests, and the media attention they have commanded, have demonstrated something new: the existence of large numbers of young, educated, urban potential voters who will no longer tolerate a largely unaccountable, unresponsive political elite and bureaucracy incapable of performing the most fundamental tasks. As the cities grow so, one can reasonably hope that such voices will grow more numerous. Brinda Karat, a Communist member of parliament, said last week that "a turning point had been reached" now that young women had "sensed and seen" the power that they could have when united. This may be premature but yesterday protesters at the dwindling demonstrations across Delhi were adamant that change would indeed come. Ayesha Bhatt, a 22-year-old student who had travelled to Delhi from the city of Moradabad, five hours to the north, to light a candle at the site where the victims of the attack mounted the bus, said it was "impossible to imagine that the country will sit back and say chalta hai [all is going to be fine]." "We are not a chalta hai generation," she said. But down at Mahipalpur in the winter fog, snarling, honking traffic crawled past the roadside wasteland where the victim and her friend had been dumped. Commuters queued for crowded, unlicenced buses. A beggar tapped on the window of a stationary Mercedes. A plane roared overhead. Two women argued over a spilled basket of bruised and blackened bananas. A weak string of streetlights flickered into life, sent a brief wavering light into the gloom and then went out. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/02/delhi-bus-rape-future-india
  14. Why was India Gate sealed for protests, asks Delhi High Court Press Trust of India | Updated: January 02, 2013 19:13 IST New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today reserved its verdict on a plea against imposition of prohibitory orders in and around India Gate during the recent anti-rape protests, saying the legal provision of section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) may lose its sanctity if invoked without proper procedures. "There are rights to movement and speech and expression, it (section 144 of the CrPC) cannot be used just like that...otherwise it would lead to loss of the sanctity," a bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain said. The court's observations came during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), filed by Delhi-based advocate Anand K Mishra, who alleged that the prohibitory order was invoked in an "arbitrary" manner and without following the procedures enshrined under the CrPC. Appearing for the Delhi Police, Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra, however, opposed the plea saying the guidelines for the imposition of prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC (which deals with power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger) cannot be framed as all cases are "distinguishable" and contain different facts. A senior lawyer, appearing for advocate Mishra, said "The whole Capital was traumatised over the gang rape and thousands of girl students and others, who do not feel safe, came to join the social movement. It was not a political movement. The section (144) cannot be used to curtail the constitutional rights." He also cited various Supreme Court judgements including the verdict on the Ramlila Maidan incident involving Baba Ramdev and his supporters and sought framing of guidelines on the issue. "As far as this notification (on invoking Section 144 in and around India Gate) is concerned, if that is not in place now then what is the purpose of the petition," Justice Murugesan said. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/why-was-india-gate-sealed-for-protests-asks-delhi-high-court-312510
  15. Drug epidemic grips India's Punjab state The Independent Simon Denyer, The Washington Post Wednesday, 2 January 2013 A boy just 12 years old was offering opium and hashish on a scrubby patch of land outside this village on a recent day. His cellphone rang incessantly as he proudly related that he earned hundreds of dollars a month dealing drugs and playing cards. Soon, a young man who called himself Sonny approached, hood pulled down over his head. He, too, was dealing in broad daylight to finance his heroin habit, and he had a special offer: good quality heroin for $45 a gram. It does not take long to be offered drugs in Maqboolpura, a village outside the northern Indian city of Amritsar, not far from the Pakistani border. So many men here have died from drug use that this village is nicknamed "the place of widows." The village offers a window into a drug epidemic that United Nations and government officials say is gripping young men in the state of Punjab. The trend, they say, is driven by unemployment and frustrated economic expectations, as well as the ready availability of smuggled Afghan heroin and other pain-relieving drugs known as opioids that are manufactured in India and often sold openly in pharmacies. India's only Sikh-majority state, Punjab prospered from the Green Revolution and the introduction of high-yield crops in the 1970s. But it failed to build on that boom to attract industrial investment. In the past two decades, population growth has caused landholdings to shrink and economic growth has stagnated. "It's a very big problem, and our youth is being engulfed in it," said Ranvinder Singh Sandhu, a sociologist who has published research on the epidemic of drug use but said his findings have been ignored by authorities. "Punjabis are very aspirational people, and when their aspirations are not fulfilled, then they are depressed." Drug use has long been a problem in India's remote, insurgency-plagued northeast, as well as in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. But the spread of drugs in Punjab, whose economy is the ninth-largest of India's 28 states, is a recent development that does not bode well for the nation as a whole, especially if the sharp economic slowdown of the past two years continues and youth unemployment rises. Punjab has a reputation for partying and heavy drinking. It also has a history of drug use. For years, landowners gave raw opium to migrant farm laborers to encourage them to work harder. But it was the rise over the past two decades of the Golden Crescent on India's western border which became the world's main poppy-growing and heroin-producing region that turned Punjab into a major transit route for the drug. Afghan heroin was smuggled into Pakistan, transported to the port in Mumbai and shipped to the West. But some of the heroin was cut to a lower quality and sold here cheaply. Attempts in the past decade to tighten the Pakistani border for security reasons drove up the price of heroin and pushed people toward over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that produce a similar euphoric high, experts say. What little data exist suggest that pharmaceutical drugs opioid painkillers and sedatives are commonly used here. But physicians at drug rehabilitation centers said a recent rise in cross-border smuggling is causing a surge in the use of Afghan heroin. Increasingly, they said, drugs are being injected rather than ingested or smoked, leading to a surge in HIV/AIDS infections. In the late 1980s, India began erecting a fence along its border with Pakistan that is now so brightly lit that it is clearly visible from space. But smugglers slip across where the fence is weak or interrupted by rivers, said H.S. Dhillon, director of intelligence for the Punjab police. Often, packets of heroin are simply hurled across the fence, Dhillon said. In October, more than 240 pounds of heroin was found packed in cement bags on a train arriving from Pakistan. Drug seizures have risen three-fold in Punjab in the past two years, and the state accounts for more than half the heroin seized in India, officials said. India's home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, told Parliament last month that he had complained to his visiting Pakistani counterpart about a "disturbing increase in attempts to push drugs across the Punjab border" and expressed concern that the trade in fake currency may have the patronage of what he called "influential elements/groups in Pakistan," an oblique reference to the various Pakistani militant organizations. But there is little attempt to control India's production of pharmaceutical drugs or regulate their distribution without prescriptions, experts say. The deputy chief minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal, said his government had set up a full-fledged anti-drug force and several rehabilitation centers. But researchers say there is little coordination or consensus on how to tackle the problem. Blaming Pakistan does not help, said Kunal Kishore of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. "The bulk of the injectable pharmaceuticals are being produced illicitly in India," he said, "so it is much more complex than finger-pointing." There is also widespread agreement that local politicians and police are taking a cut of the profits. Election officials seized more than 100 pounds of heroin that they said party workers intended to distribute to voters before January's state elections. Giving out alcohol to bribe potential constituents is relatively common in India, but the plan to distribute heroin was unique to Punjab, officials said. In 2009, a former police narcotics chief from the state capital, Chandigarh, was arrested in Mumbai and charged with selling drugs. At one rehabilitation center in Punjab, a former drug dealer said he had regularly paid police thousands of dollars to be allowed to operate freely. Another said heroin use was so open in prison that he had started his habit there. "It's basically the police who are smuggling half the drugs in the state," said one man, who would not give his name to avoid social stigma and trouble with the police. "If they confiscate 100 packets, police show 50 to the press and let the other 50 back into the market." The human cost was all too evident in Maqboolpura, where 23-year-old Deepak Kaur sat with her three young children in their small brick house. Her husband, a farm laborer, died of a heart attack in 2010 after ingesting painkillers and alcohol. Her brother-in-law died of an overdose, leaving two children. A father-in-law who is over 70 is the family's main breadwinner. "I have no plans for life after my father-in-law is dead," Kaur said. "Only God knows how we are going to live." - - - Washington Post special correspondent Suhasini Raj contributed to this report. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/drug-epidemic-grips-indias-punjab-state-8434968.html#
  16. INDIA: THE WORST COUNTRY TO BE FEMALE RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013, 3:01 AM A YOUNG WOMAN is savagely gang-raped and beaten one December evening on a moving bus in New Delhi. Hordes of protesters gather in India's capital and demand that the six perpetrators be hanged or at least castrated. India's electronic media offer continuous coverage of the sort once reserved for important cricket matches. The woman, a medical student, suffers infections in her lungs and abdomen and an injury to the brain, and is flown to a hospital in Singapore, where she later dies. Delhi's police chief puts forth the incredible opinion that men in his city are no safer than women because they routinely suffer at the hands of pickpockets. Meanwhile, Abhijit Mukherjee, a minor politician who happens to be the son of India's president, derides the protesters as "highly dented and painted" women pretending to be students. It's an Indianism for an old car with extensive bodywork - women, in other words, provoke sexual violence by insufficiently demure clothes and conduct. How is this happening in India? Until July, the president of India was a woman. The current leader of the country's governing Congress Party is a woman, as is the speaker of the lower house of parliament and three chief ministers (the equivalent of a governor in the U.S.). Women have a vigorous presence in the urban Indian workplace, and, unlike their sisters in nearby Afghanistan, they are a familiar sight on the roads, driving cars and scooters. But make no mistake: India's woman problem runs deep. Indeed, the Delhi gang rape and its fallout highlight India's inherent and disturbing contradictions. In June, a survey of the world's 20 biggest economies by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters, ranked India as the worst country to be female, citing widespread child marriage, murders for insufficient dowry and domestic slavery - worse even than Saudi Arabia, where women won the vote only in 2011, are treated as legal minors whatever their age and are still banned from driving. The contradictions are particularly pronounced when it comes to sex. In the land of the Kama Sutra, the nearly 2000-year-old Sanskrit manual on erotic pleasure, sex is on display everywhere from Bollywood films and TV advertisements to seedy roadside graffiti for performance-enhancing pills and potions. Google Trends, which monitors web searches from around the world, shows that India is one of seven countries that most frequently typed in the word "sex." Yet sex remains a taboo topic for most Indians. A powerful conservative morality limits acknowledgement to innuendo and suggestive word pictures created by Hindi film songs. A 2011 poll by India Today, the country's leading news magazine, found a quarter of respondents offering no objection to sex before marriage, so long as it was not happening in their family. This makes for a debilitating sexual repressiveness, which women's organizations believe accounts for the high rate of sexual violence. A 2011 survey of gender equality by the Washington-headquartered International Centre for Research on Women revealed that one in four Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives and one in five has forced his partner to have sex with him, far higher rates than the five other countries surveyed. More than 65 percent of Indian men surveyed believe that women sometimes deserved to be beaten, and that to keep the family together, women should tolerate violence. This has obvious implications for rape. According to India's National Crime Records Bureau, registered rape cases increased by almost 900 percent over the last 40 years, to 24,206 incidents in 2011 (just over a quarter of the cases resulted in convictions). In comparison, murder cases increased by just 250 percent over six decades. The Indians who argue that they elected a woman as head of government back in the 1960s (something that the United States has yet to do), and that modern Indian women are free to work, need to accept that they live in an intensely patriarchal society. This reflexive conservatism runs deep, despite the changes wrought by the Internet, mobile telephony and the commercial forces of the 21st century. Just listen to India's elected politicians: In October, a rash of nearly 20 rapes in the small north Indian state of Haryana led the female chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, to blame the increasing interaction between men and women. "It's like an open market with open options," she complained. Another Haryana politician suggested, along the lines of the Republican Party's Todd "legitimate rape" Akin, that he didn't know what the fuss was about because 90 percent of rapes are consensual. Meanwhile, a council of village elders advocated lowering the marriageable age for women from 18 to 15 or 16 to decrease rape. It was left to four U.N. agencies to respond with a letter to government officials stating that "child marriage is not a solution to protecting girls from sexual crimes including rape" and that 40 percent of the world's child marriages already happen in India. Against such long odds, Delhi's protests of the moment may do little to make it safer to be a woman in India. That would require a sexual revolution. And that may be a long time coming. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lall, the former editor of The Sunday Times of India, is now a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20130102_INDIA__THE_WORST_COUNTRY_TO_BE_FEMALE.html
  17. Switzerland best place to be born, India 66th IANS / Wednesday, January 2, 2013 18:27 IST Switzerland is the best place to be born in 2013, according to a list of nations with the best quality of life. India occupies a lowly 66th spot while Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh are at numbers 63, 75 and 77. People born in Switzerland will tend to be the happiest and have the best quality of life in terms of wealth, health and trust in public institutions, the Daily Mail cited the study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of The Economist, as saying. Nigeria is the worst country for a baby to enter the world in 2013. It came 80th on the list. Switzerland, with a population of around eight million, topped the chart, jumping from 13th place in a similar exercise in 1988. Scandinavian countries Norway, Sweden and Denmark all make the top five in the "quality-of-life" index. The EIU attempted to measure which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in years to come. It used 11 statistically significant indicators, including geography, demography, social and cultural characteristics, public policy, the state of the world economy and future income per head. One of the most important factors was being rich but other factors included crime, trust in public institutions and health of family life. Australia came second, Singapore sixth, the Netherlands eighth, Canada ninth and Hong Kong came 10th on the list, the report said. The US comes in at 16, tied with Germany. Crisis-ridden European countries, including Greece, Portugal and Spain, lag behind despite a favourable climate. The largest European economies - Germany, France and Britain - also do not do well, the report said. China comes at 49 while Russia is at 72. The 1988 study, while also carried out by the EIU, was "not entirely serious", the daily said. It then included a factor for "cultural poverty" and another to measure how boring a country was. Switzerland score badly on both. http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report_switzerland-best-place-to-be-born-india-66th_1784767
  18. India bans journalistic activities on tourist visa Economic Times 2 Jan, 2013, 06.42PM IST, PTI NEW DELHI: India has banned journalistic activities by foreigners visiting the country on tourist visa. The order has been issued by the Home Ministry after noticing that foreigners coming on tourist visa are involved in coverage of events and other journalistic activities. "Tourist visa is not the appropriate visa for journalistic activities by the foreigners. Tourist visa is issued to foreigners who do not have residence or occupation in India and whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives etc. "No other activity is permissible on tourist visa," a Home Ministry official said today. The action came after the government found that Roger Bilham, a geophysicist at the University of Colorado, had been visiting India since 1967 multiple times on tourist visa and was engaged in journalistic activities. Bilham had written 81 articles on Indian tectonics and on Indian nuclear projects and some scientists have alleged that Bilham's views were "scare-mongering". Bilham, was detained at Indira Gandhi International airport here in May, 2012, and denied entry to India. The Home Ministry has requested Ministry of External Affairs to convey the directive to all Indian Missions/Posts abroad. All state governments and authorities concerned in the country have also been requested to ensure strict compliance of the order, the official said.
  19. Indian Govt rejected United Nations stiff gender law Published: Tuesday, Jan 1, 2013, 9:30 IST While the country continues to clamour for tougher gender laws and protests over the death of the 23-year-old girl who was gang-raped in Delhi, the Indian government, while participating in the universal period review (UPR) meeting of the United Nations, rejected 23 women-related recommendations. The UPR, which comes under the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), is a unique process held every four years to review the human rights records of all UN member states. The process which began in May, ended in October 2012. Ranging from the enactment of reforms to the establishment of plans to eliminate violence and empower women, the UPR had made a total of 45 such wmen-related recommendations. Miloon Kothari, a former UN special rapporteur and convener of working group on human rights in India and the UN, said that while India adopted passive and diluted recommendations, it shied away from committing on specific recommendations. On the issue of violence against women, an inter-ministerial delegation led by Goolam E Vahanvati, attorney general of India, rejected recommendations related to the enactment of reforms to address sexual violence, including honour crimes, child marriages, female feticide and to remedy limitations in the definition of rape and medico-forensic procedures. It also rejected the implementation of a national human rights plan to cover access to education and health, including aspects of sexual and reproductive health. The government even rejected the UN push to consider expediting the process to pass the women reservation bill. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_govt-rejected-united-nations-stiff-gender-law_1784077
  20. Every woman in India is likely to have experienced some sexual harassment The Independent Ravitha Kao Monday 31 December 2012 You learn to not make eye contact with men, to avoid crowds, and to shield yourself with scarves and bags There is no simple explanation of what it is like to be a woman in India today. It depends on where you live, whether you are rich or poor, and on your caste. But every Indian woman has one thing in common: they have almost certainly experienced some kind of sexual harassment. If you are an Indian woman in a public space, you are forever on edge, looking out for men standing too close, wondering if that grope on a crowded bus was accidental. At an early age, you learn to not make eye contact with men, to avoid crowds, and to shield yourself with scarves and bags. Today, India is sunk in unprecedented national sorrow over the death of a 23-year-old woman who was gang-raped on a Delhi bus on 16 December. Despite being tear-gassed and beaten, thousands of young Indians have taken to the streets to call for justice, social networks are awash with rage, and there has been much soul-searching over how and why such a crime could happen. I am one of the privileged women in India, but even in Bangalore where I live, which is regarded as relatively safe for women certainly compared to Delhi I face leering stares and comments at least weekly. It becomes so routine I hardly notice. I remember my parents telling me to ignore the gropers. Most Indian women will have received similar advice, and continue to live by it. My parents were simply being realistic; Indias record of punishing sexual harassers is abysmal. Now I have a 13-year-old daughter, and as I think about what advice I should give her, I realise that although life for women in India is changing rapidly in some respects, in others it is as though time stands still. This generation is the first to encourage women to go out to work, to travel at night, and wear Western clothes. The rape victim in Delhi was a medical student who came from a lower middle-class family, which could barely afford her education. Only a decade ago, she might never have left home. But, as traditional values are dissolving, modern values are not widely accepted. Many Indian men are outraged at the idea of women having the same freedoms they have. The Delhi rapists taunted the girl because she was with a male friend. Only prostitutes go out with men at night, one is reported to have said. The government has vowed to increase protection for women, but that is pointless in a country like India, where police are already too few, and if approached, are still likely to ignore women who complain of sexual harassment or assault. In Delhi this year, 635 cases of rape were reported, but there was only one conviction. Last week, even as India grieved for the Delhi victim, a girl committed suicide because police were pressuring her to marry her rapist. It is hard to blame Indian culture, because in a country this diverse, there is not one culture. But, by and large, families coddle boys and excuse bad behaviour, while girls are told to be careful. Scrutiny has turned to Bollywood films, most of which objectify women and often show the hero harassing an unwilling heroine, who eventually yields to his charms. But politicians also mirror the problem. In 2012, politicians blamed everything from late marriages to fast food for attacks on women. According to the Election Commission, every one of Indias leading political parties has fielded candidates accused of sexual crimes against women in the past five years, and two members of Indias parliament are facing rape charges. Will the tragic case of this dead woman change anything? Its hard to see real change in a climate such as this, and generations of oppression cannot be undone easily. As a feminist, I balk at the idea of restricting my daughters movements, telling her what to wear, and especially telling her to ignore groping and leering. But at the same time, I know it will take years before all of India can accept girls like her, and I worry I am endangering her with my thinking. I am going to teach her that if she is ever harassed or molested, it will be the fault of the perpetrators, not hers. I will teach her how to be aware of her surroundings and steps to take care of herself. When I look at the fierce rage of young women braving tear gas, or the quieter wave of women fighting for education, I see women who are encouraging change. It will take us a long time, but we will achieve it. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/every-woman-in-india-is-likely-to-have-experienced-some-sexual-harassment-8434248.html
  21. Chinese daily blasts Indian system over rapes IANS Posted on Jan 01, 2013 at 05:33am IST Beijing: India's "inefficient and unequal democracy" cannot provide answers to social evils and that is why angry citizens are taking to the streets, an influential Chinese newspaper has said. "The Indian democratic system seemingly can't solve these problems but provides legitimacy for them," the Global Times said in a commentary after the death of a 23-year-old who had been gang-raped and tortured in Delhi. "India's democracy is now manipulated by a small number of elite and interest groups. This easily ignites massive grass-roots protests like the current ones and the anti-corruption rallies in August." The Indian democratic system seemingly can't solve these problems but provides legitimacy for them, the Global Times said. The street protests in New Delhi offered a lesson to China, said the Global Times write-up by Lin Xu. "Six decades ago, China and India maintained a similar development level, but there has been a widening gap after China explored reform and opening-up," it said. "Analysts hold that India is about a decade behind China in economic development and three decades behind in social development." But the Times noted that as the world's biggest democratic country, India was seen in the West as having great potential due to its superior system. "But an inefficient and unequal democracy is unlikely to be able to mobilize this potential. "The Indian government is criticized for having reacted slowly and India's law enforcement system is considered sloppy. "Rape cases in India have a conviction rate of as low as 26 percent even when they reach court. Moreover, the traditional social culture that devalues women should be condemned. "Democracy should ensure effective public participation in national politics and supervision of the government. Efficient democracy means more than electoral politics," it said. Global Times, which represents hardline thinking in China, went on to say that the abuse of women in India was shocking. It quoted statistics to say that 572 rapes were recorded in New Delhi in 2011, and rape cases went up seven times in the past 40 years. "Over the past few weeks, violence against women in India received prominent attention worldwide, most of which dwelt on the root causes of the problem." http://ibnlive.in.com/news/chinese-daily-blasts-indian-system-over-rapes/313286-3.html
  22. Strengthen legal regime against rape in India: UN 1 January 2013 Press Trust of India UNHQ, 1 JAN: Expressing deep sadness at the death of 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay asked the Indian government to strengthen the country's legal regime to get rid of the terrible scourge. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said rape is a national problem in India, affecting women of all classes and castes and requires national solutions. Ms Pillay expressed deep sadness over the death of Delhi rape victim and said she joined Indians in all walks of life in condemning the attack on the student, expressing confidence that India could emerge reformed in the wake of this terrible crime. India has shown through its social reform movements of the past that it can rid itself of a scourge like rape, she said. She called for an urgent and rational debate aimed at ending violence against women in India. What is needed is a new public consciousness and more effective and sensitive enforcement of the law in the interests of women, she said. Now is the time to strengthen India's legal regime against rape. I encourage the Indian Government to consult widely with civil society and to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women to visit the country to assist in this process, she added. Let us hope that 2013 will be the year the tide is turned on violence against women in India and all women can walk free without fear, she said. Six men have been charged with both the rape and murder of the young girl and could face the death penalty if convicted. Ms Pillay cautioned against the use of death penalty, which she noted was among the demands being made by India's citizens to punish the accused. She called for urgent and rational debate on comprehensive measures to address such crimes. The young physiotherapy student was gangraped in a moving bus in national capital New Delhi by six men who also assaulted her and her male friend with an iron rod before dumping them on the road. The girl suffered multi-organ failure and battled for life for almost two weeks. She was taken to a hospital in Singapore for advanced treatment but died on 29 December. The public is demanding a transformation in systems that discriminate against women to a culture that respects the dignity of women in law and practice, Ms Pillay said. The UN official highlighted that the attack was the latest in a series of rape cases, a fact reflected in statistics showing that reported rapes increased by 25 per cent from 2006 to 2011. Ms Pillay also pointed out that attacks are occurring against women of all social classes. Ms Pillay noted that an alarming level of sexual violence has been reported in Haryana. This is a national problem, affecting women of all classes and castes, and will require national solutions, Ms Pillay said. She also expressed serious concern about the number of rape incidents of children and called for accelerated actions to address this. Ms Pillay also welcomed the Indian government's announcement that it would establish a Commission of Inquiry into public safety of women in New Delhi and a judicial panel to review India's legislative framework on violence against women. Ms Pillay said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stood ready to support the Indian Government and the people of India during this difficult period. I am particularly heartened by the ground swell of energy of the young women and men on the streets of India and their resolve to turn the tide, she added. In its focus on India, the OHCHR-supported Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recommended in February 2007 that the country should widen the definition of rape in its Penal Code to reflect the realities of sexual abuse experienced by women and to remove the exception for marital rape from the definition of rape. The Committee also recommended the Indian government consult widely with women's groups in its process of reform of laws and procedures relating to rape and sexual abuse. Made up of 23 independent experts on women's rights from around the world, CEDAW monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which the UN General Assembly adopted in 1979, and is often described as a bill of rights for women. http://www.thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=437367&catid=36
  23. I just had a thought after discovering many unseen pics of Sikh history and other Sikh texts which have been forgotten (just about) online, that there must have been Sikhs who stored Lala Jagat Narain's garbage and other anti-Sikh media reports in Indian newspapers somewhere. Pictures, videos, newspaper cuttings etc if someone has such material then can you please let me know? I will be very happy to receive such material to spread on social media etc. Especially any material related to controversial actions of Punjab Police etc.
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