June 08, 2019

Income inequality in India: Top 10% upper caste households own 60% wealth


By Shreehari Paliath | IndiaSpend | Last Updated at January 14 2019 08:50 IST

    

Representative image

Although India’s upper caste households earned nearly 47% more than the national average annual household income, the top 10% within these castes owned 60% of the wealth within the group in 2012, as per a recent paper by the World Inequality Database.

Further, the wealthiest 1% among them grew their wealth by nearly 16 percentage points to 29.4% over the decade to 2012, the paper, entitled ‘Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012’ and published in November 2018, said.

The vast inequality of income and wealth between and within castes highlighted in the paper are significant in the light of the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s new bill to entitle poorer sections among the forward castes to a 10% quota in government jobs and higher education institutions, which has been challenged in court.

Inequality between castes

Marginalised caste groups such as the scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs) and other backward castes (OBCs) earn much less than the national household income average of Rs 113,222, according to the paper. SC and ST households earn 21% and 34%, respectively, less than the national average. OBC households fare better but still earn 8% or Rs 9,123 less than the annual Indian average.

Among upper caste groups, Brahmins earn 48% above the national average and non-Brahmin forward castes, 45%, said the paper, ‘Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012’.

ALSO READ: BJP allies laud 10% quota for upper castes as 'masterstroke' ahead of polls

On January 9, 2019, the Indian parliament approved the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill to provide 10% reservation in government jobs and higher education institutions for economically weaker sections of the general category of citizens. These are families that do not belong to SC, ST or OBC categories, and earn less than Rs 800,000 annually, own less than 5 hectares of agricultural land and own residential properties smaller than 1,000 sq.ft.

PM #NarendraModi announced a cabinet decision today to amend the Constitution & provide 10% reservation for ‘economically backward’ upper castes in direct recruitment in govt services & admissions for higher #education. Follow thread for insights: #Reservation

— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) January 7, 2019


Eligibility will be based on: 1) income < Rs 800,000/yr (less than Rs 66,000/month), equivalent to the salary of an entry-level bureaucrat (IAS officer) or senior software engineer/ developer/ or programmer. #Reservation

— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) January 7, 2019


2) Agri land < 5 acre which includes small, marginal, medium & semi-medium holdings that collectively account for 89% of agricultural holdings. Large holdings that account for 10% of agri-land & which declined almost 11% between 2001-2010 not covered. #Reservation

— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) January 7, 2019


3) House < 1,000 sq ft or residential plot <100 yards (less than 900 sq ft) in municipal areas. This is larger than avg size of flats in new building projects across #Mumbai (<900 sq. ft.) & Pune (<1000 sq. ft) launched in 2016. https://t.co/ABdfr4qSF6#Reservation

— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) January 7, 2019


4) Or a residential plot < 209 yards (less than 1,800 sq ft) in non-notified (non-residential) areas. https://t.co/GkDH3IQMpg#Reservation

— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) January 7, 2019


The new 10% #reservation will be over and above the existing reservations & will not affect the quota for scheduled castes/scheduled tribes/other backward castes, according to news reports.

— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) January 7, 2019


The proposed bill, to be introduced tomorrow, will amend Articles 15 & 16 of the Constitution as the 10% reservation exceeds the #SupremeCourt limit of 50% on quotas. #Reservation

— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) January 7, 2019


Critics have already pointed out that the move announced towards the end of the winter session of Parliament means it would not be cleared soon. https://t.co/yp1v4o7CFwhttps://t.co/6Pg8MKrH6Vhttps://t.co/3nVGX11iIW#Reservation

— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) January 7, 2019


Based on the World Inequality Database, the paper combined data from wealth surveys, the National Sample Survey-All India Debt and Investment Survey (NSS-AIDIS), and millionaire lists. It used the censuses, the NSS-AIDIS and the Indian Human Development survey to explore the evolving relationship between class and caste in India.

“Economic ranking follows caste hierarchy, making caste a valid stratification in the society,” the paper noted. “It is important to keep in mind that the standard deviation is also very high in FC groups, i.e. not all are well off in that group. The clustering of social groups in (sic) not perfect.”

ALSO READ: 97% of all OBC-quota central govt jobs, benefits go to 25% of its castes

Within castes, the highest differences are among forward castes--and growing--and the least wealth differences are to be found among SCs.

“Caste and class are largely co-terminus with few exceptions and life-chances in India continue to be based on one's caste position,” A.R. Vasavi, a social anthropologist and independent researcher, told IndiaSpend. “From allocation of resources, to opportunities, to social capital the distribution pattern matches the skewed social structure; those higher in the ranking gain or get better allocations at the cost of denying the majority.”

India is one of the most unequal countries in the world with the top 10% controlling 55% of the total wealth, up from 31% in 1980, according to the 2018 World Inequality report, as IndiaSpend reportedon January 2, 2019.

The National Family Health Survey 2015-16 (NFHS-4) showed that 45.9% of ST population were in the lowest wealth bracket compared to 26.6% of SC population, 18.3% of OBCs, 9.7% of other castes and 25.3% of those whose caste is unknown, IndiaSpend reported on February 28, 2018.

Muslims have lower income than average, non-Hindu, non-Muslim groups have highest

Muslims, while faring better than the SC, ST and OBC population, reported an annual household income 7% less than the national average.

ALSO READ: Caste no yardstick for MP's farmers, 'kisan' identity matters more in polls

Others (non-Hindu, non-Muslim groups and those who do not fall under the SC, ST and OBC categories) were found to be the richest group, though they make for only 1.5% of the country’s population, the paper said. They earned an annual income of Rs 242,708, twice the annual household income average in India.

“Caste, kinship or family, either or all these can hamper economic progress if they impose restrictions,” Andre Beteille, professor emeritus, department of sociology at the University of Delhi, toldIndiaSpend.

Compared to population, wealth held by SC and ST was low

Though SCs constitute nearly 18-20% of India’s population, the wealth they held was 11 percentage points less than their population share in 2012. In the case of STs, it was nearly 2 percentage points less than the community’s population share (9%), the paper shows.

“OBC group owned 32% of total wealth in 2002 which increased only marginally in 2012 resulting in overall worsening of the gap relative to population share (-7.8% to -10.2%), due to considerable increase in their population share,” the paper notes.

The forward caste group share has shown an increase from 39% to 41% in their share in total wealth and improved the gap from by 4 percentage points to 18%.

Wealth inequalities within castes, sharpest among forward castes

As mentioned earlier, the forward castes showed the highest (47.6%) increase in wealth among the top 5% of the three caste groups during the decade ending 2012. By 2012, the group’s top 10% owned 60% of the total forward caste wealth.

In the same decade, among the STs, the top 1% augmented the wealth they held by 4.4 percentage points to 19.5% while the top 1% of SCs had increased their wealth by 2.5 percentage points to 14.4% between 1991 and 2012.

Among the OBCs and STs too, the top 10% had cornered most of the wealth. The top 10% of both groups held around 52% of wealth in 2012 and the top 10% of SCs’ share increased three percentage points to 46.7% in two decades till 2012.

“In 2002, a person from the ST group needed 23 times more wealth to reach to top decile [1/10th] from the threshold of second decile,” it noted. “Similarly for SC, OBC, FC and Muslim one required 22, 32, 45 and 57 times respectively to enter into the 10th decile.”

 

Share Of Wealth In Top Decile Among FC, SC, ST and OBC

 

Source: Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012 (November, 2018)

Note: Graph shows the wealth share in top 10%,5% and 1% within different caste groups.

While the exact magnitude of inequality within broad caste groups may vary across the country, a World Bank study on inequality between caste groups in rural Bihar suggests that inequality among sub-castes may be a key driver of economic inequality in India, Livemint reported on July 25, 2018.

Among SCs, for instance, Musahars are much worse off than Chamars and Dushadh (all three belong to castes traditionally engaged in tasks considered menial) in terms of both monthly consumption expenditure and educational attainment. Among OBCs, sub-castes such as Koeris fare badly compared with most Dalit sub-castes, Livemint noted. It did not offer any explanation for this.

“Bottom 50% of the population has lost 2-4 percentage points within all the caste categories. The major decline [has been in the] share in FC followed by ST, OBC and SC and Muslims,” the paper noted.

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(Paliath is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)

Republished with permission from India Spend. You can read the original article here

Serving major shot dead in Karachi


Our Correspondent

June 8, 2019

KARACHI: A serving major of the Pakistan Army was gunned down in a firing incident on the second day of Eidul Fitr in Karachi.

Police officials said that the incident took place near Dilpasand Sweets on the main MA Jinnah Road within the limits of Aram Bagh police station late on Thursday night.

 The deceased was shot once in the head and died at the spot. His body was taken to the Civil Hospital, Karachi, for autopsy where he was identified as 35-year-old Saqib Iqbal, son of Muhammad Iqbal.

 According to Aram Bagh SHO Sagheer Mugheri, the deceased was a serving major of Pakistan Army and used to live in the Malir Cantonment area. 

The officer said that the police have also found an empty shell of a pistol from the crime scene and sent it to the forensic division for ballistics cross-matching.

Reacting to information, a contingent of law enforcers including police and Rangers reached the site and inquired about the incident. 

The police investigators remained clueless about the nature of the incident. Initially, the police had said that apparently the incident occurred over offering resistance on robbery bid.

Meanwhile, SHO Mugheri when contacted later in the day termed the incident a ‘blind case’ and said nothing could be said about the nature of the incident as investigations were at preliminary levels and investigators were investigating the case from different angles. 

“We cannot say anything as our investigations are in initial phase. Even we cannot share any details with the media as it is a sensitive matter and different agencies are working on it,” he explained.

The officer further said that the police have also taken the victim’s motorcycle and a licensed pistol into custody, adding that the police have registered a case against unidentified persons on behalf of the vicitm’s brother while the police have also placed Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act in the FIR.

Inspector General of Police Sindh Dr Syed Kaleem Imam also took notice of the incident and sought a detailed report from the District South police chief SSP Pir Muhammad Shah and ordered him to arrest the suspects on immediate basis while utilising all the police resources.




https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/481319-eid-celebrated-with-enthusiasm-across-rawalpindi

Two women, two policemen: The Ishrat Jahan and Pragya Thakur cases are a study in contrast


By asking us to accept the fates of Jahan and Thakur, Hemant Karkare and DG Vanzara as normal, the BJP is appealing to the worst prejudices of Indians.

Kavita Krishnan

May 28, 2019 · 08:00 am

Let these contrasts sink in.

Ishrat Jahan, a college student from Mumbra, Maharashtra, was declared guilty of terrorism after she was killed in an alleged encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in 2004 – without her guilt or the innocence of the policemen who killed her ever being established in a court of law.

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Pragya Singh Thakur has been declared innocent and was the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for a parliamentary seat even though she is on trial for terrorism. She won with a comfortable margin.

Police officer Hemant Karkare built an evidence-based case against Thakur, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and others for their alleged role in the blasts in Malegaon, Maharashtra, in 2008. Karkare was killed during the terror attack in Mumbai that year and subsequently awarded the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peace-time gallantry award. Ten years later, he has been declared guilty of torturing Thakur in custody and being a political pawn of an “anti-Hindu” conspiracy by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government based on no evidence whatsoever.

Former police officer DG Vanzara has been shielded by the Gujarat government from facing trial for Ishrat Jahan’s abduction and murder – despite a vast amount of damning evidence against him. On May 2, a special CBI court dropped proceedings against him and his colleague NK Amin in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.

What does all this say about India’s justice system, its political system – and about Indians?

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Normalising injustice

By asking us to accept the fates of Jahan and Thakur, Karkare and Vanzara as normal, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is appealing to the worst prejudices of Indians.

It hopes that Indians will be willing to assume a dead Muslim teenager must be a terrorist if the police and government say so – and accuse those who demand that her killers be brought to book of being “anti national” and “sympathetic to terrorism”.

It hopes they will be willing to assume that a woman dressed in saffron could not be a terrorist, because surely terrorists are always Muslim?

It hopes Indians will be happy to believe that Karkare, a policeman who built a terror case against members of a Hindutva outfit must be a bad cop, while Vanzara, a policeman who killed Muslims must be a good cop.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as much at a rally in Wardha, Maharashtra, on April 1. No Hindu has been or could ever be a terrorist, he said.

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It seems he wants Indians to assume that Muslims, especially those killed by policemen, are terrorists and that no one should ask questions about their deaths. He wants Indians to think that it is sacrilege to suspect that a Hindutva ideologue can commit terror, or to even examine the evidence against such an ideologue.

The double standards of the BJP and its supporters are remarkable.

When people speak of the custodial torture of Muslim, Dalit, or Adivasi undertrials by the police, they are accused of being anti-national even when there is credible evidence of such torture. “How dare you suspect our brave policemen of torture or murder,” the BJP and their supporters ask angrily.

But these very people are more than willing to defame Hemant Karkare – a police officer who displayed extraordinary moral and physical courage, and who was killed in the line of duty – of custodial torture and of framing innocents.

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Are we Indians as prejudiced, as bigoted, as willing to stomach blatant communal and political double standards as the prime minister hopes we are?

Every Indian needs to look within and find an answer. They need to persuade themselves to look beyond the screen of prejudice, and look facts in the face.

Let us examine the facts one by one.

Supporters hold placards bearing portraits of Ishrat Jahan during a protest demanding justice in Ahmedabad on July 6, 2013. (Photo credit: Sam Panthaky/AFP)/

Is the case against Vanzara and others politically motivated?

On May 2, a special CBI court dropped proceedings against former Gujarat police officers DG Vanzara and NK Amin for their alleged role in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case after the Gujarat government did not give the CBI permission to prosecute them.

BJP representatives defended this, claiming that the case against Vanzara and Amin was a conspiracy by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government that was in power at the time.

Is there any evidence to back this claim?

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Jahan, along with her employer Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai from Kerala, and two alleged Pakistanis – Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana – were killed in a so-called encounter with the Gujarat police near Ahmedabad in June 2004. The police claimed that all four had links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba and were on a mission to kill Narendra Modi, then the state’s chief minister.

Guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission and upheld by the Supreme Court in PUCL vs State of Maharashtra in 2014 require an FIR to be filed for every death that occurs due to police firing, and a magisterial enquiry to be held.

The Supreme Court judgement said: “A Magisterial inquiry under Section 176 of the Code must invariably be held in all cases of death which occur in the course of police firing and a report thereof must be sent to Judicial Magistrate having jurisdiction under Section 190 of the Code.”

It was one such routine magisterial enquiry that questioned the police version of events in the Ishrat Jahan case.

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Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate SP Tamang, who examined the forensic evidence and post-mortem reports, concluded that the police version was an “absolutely false and concocted story”.

The magistrate found that the semi-digested food in the stomachs of Ishrat and the three other persons established that they were killed several hours before the time the police claimed the alleged encounter had taken place.

Tamang found that while the police claimed it had fired 70 bullets during the alleged encounter, no bullets were found on the scene. He also found that the entry points of the bullet wounds on the bodies were smaller than the exit points, suggesting that the bullets were fired at close range and not from a distance.

Further, of course, was the fact that none of the police officers involved in the alleged encounter suffered any injury though they claimed that the four so-called “terrorists” had fired at them and engaged in a prolonged gun battle.

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Based on Tamang’s report, the Gujarat High Court ordered an enquiry by a Special Investigation Team. This team, comprising Gujarat police officers, submitted its report in 2011, which said that it had found that the “purported encounter” was “not genuine”.

Fourteen Gujarat police officers subsequently questioned the credibility of this report and demanded a CBI enquiry. In December, 2011, the Gujarat High Court asked the CBI to investigate the case.

The CBI’s findings, presented before the court in 2013, also supported the conclusions of Tamang and the Special Investigation Team that the four people were killed in cold blood, and that the police had staged the scene to make it look like an “encounter”. It found not only material and forensic evidence but also witnesses to back this conclusion.

The CBI also pointed to the possibility that the killings had the prior approval of Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah and perhaps even Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

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Between 2013 and 2014, the CBI charged seven Gujarat police officers and four Intelligence Bureau officers with kidnapping, murder and conspiracy in connection with the case.

Former Indian Police Service officer DG Vanzara. (Photo credit: IANS).

So far, note that there is no room whatsoever for any claim that the case against the police was a plot by the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre.

In fact, after the deaths of Jahan and three others, the Union government itself had gone along with the Gujarat police version and insisted that the four of them had been Lashkar-e-Taiba-linked terrorists till the facts established by multiple enquiries emerged.

It was independent professionals – magistrate Tamang and the Special Investigation Team headed by Gujarat police officer Satish Verma – who first established that the deaths of Jahan and three others were custodial killings shoddily staged as an “encounter”.

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The CBI enquiry demanded by the accused Gujarat policemen confirmed these findings and backed them up with even more solid evidence.

The political meddling in the case began after the Modi government came to power at the Centre in 2014.

Prior to that, in 2013, while Modi was preparing to run for prime minister, Vanzara wrote a series of open letters from jail with veiled threats that he would expose Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah.

In these letters, Vanzara alleged that Modi was shielding Shah while allowing police officers like himself to take the rap for killings that, he implied, had their direct sanction.

In one letter, Vanzara warned that he felt he had “a moral justification to expose real culprits behind encounter cases by calling them Spade a Spade”.

Since the police officers had only been following instructions of the state government, Vanzara said, it was only fair that if the police officers were in jail, Modi and his ministers too, “instead of being in Gandhinagar, should be in Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai or in Sabarmati Central Prison at Ahmedabad”.

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Vanzara’s letter clearly warned Modi that it was “encounter killings” by Gujarat’s police officers that had given him the image of a “Brave Chief Minister”, based on which he was launching his bid to become prime minister.

He warned that Modi and Shah were “sailing in the same boat” as the accused Gujarat policemen and must “swim or sink together”. If Modi and Shah tried to “outsmart” the policemen, the barely veiled subtext of Vanzara’s letter implied, he would be forced to spill the beans. Protect the killer policemen, or else the policemen will expose you – was his clear message.

In May 2014, the CBI told the court that it did not have enough evidence to prosecute Amit Shah in connection with the case. The accused police officers subsequently got bail. Some of them have been reinstalled and promoted to positions of responsibility in the Gujarat police.

Was Ishrat Jahan a terrorist?

One excuse many have offered for shielding the Gujarat policemen from prosecution for killing Jahan and her companions is that they were Lashkar terrorists, and that Jahan had been trained as a suicide bomber.

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The simple rebuttal to that argument is this: Ishrat Jahan is dead, she is not on trial as a terrorist. Her killers have to be put on trial in which they must prove that Jahan was armed and tried to kill police personnel who then fired in self defence, killing her in the process.

Remember, Pragya Singh Thakur is charged with terror and yet is contesting a national election. Jahan never got to defend herself in a court of law. How can police officers be allowed to execute a 19-year-old woman in cold blood, and then label her a terrorist in death, without any questions being asked?

Moreover, Jahan was killed 45 days after she first met her employer Javed Sheikh with whom she was travelling when both of them were killed. For 35 of those days, there is a record of her having attended college classes in Mumbra, a suburb of Thane district near Mumbai. How could she have been trained “as a suicide bomber” if she was away from home for just 10 days?

Above all, the “Ishrat is a terrorist” red herring distracts from the main issue: that in a democracy, the police cannot be allowed to take lives except in self-defence.

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Godse as hero 

In his Wardha speech, Modi declared that no Hindu can ever be or has even been a terrorist, and that Congress and the United Progressive Alliance should be punished by Hindus for the insult of filing terror charges against Hindus.

This statement, which he has since repeated, is Modi’s most direct insult of the Indian Constitution, which says that the law must not distinguish between accused persons on the basis of their faith.

Anyone, whether Hindu or Muslim, if charged with terror must be proven guilty of terrorism in a court of law, and will have the right to defend themselves in court.

Modi’s Wardha speech implies that to charge a Hindu with terror (or rape, rioting, or violence of any kind) is an insult to Hindu civilisation.

No wonder then that Modi’s followers see Gandhiji’s assassin Godse as a hero, not a terrorist. It was his followers who also held rallies in support of the men accused of raping an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir last year. They also defend convicted rapists like Asaram and Ram Rahim, and garland members of lynch mobs who have killed Muslims.

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There also seems to have been an attempt to scuttle investigations into Hindutva terror cases since the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014.

In June 2015, Rohini Salian, special public prosecutor in the Malegaon blasts case, said that under Modi, the National Investigation Agency pressurised her to go soft on the accused in the case.

In 2016, statements of witnesses in the 2008 Malegaon case – recorded under Section 164 before a magistrate and therefore admissible as evidence –disappeared from court.

The funeral of Hemant Karkare in 2008. (Photo credit: Reuters).

Double standards

Another case of the BJP’s double standards is evident in its stand on the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad.

Thakur said that the squad, under Karkare, committed the “sin” of falsely framing organisations and individuals who follow Hindutva ideology under instructions from the Congress government at the time.

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But the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad under the present BJP-led state government has also arrested several Hindutva activists on charges of terrorism.

These include Vaibhav Raut of the Sanatan Sanstha from whose home they recovered a cache of arms and ammunition in 2018, and MD Murli whom they claim is a terrorist mastermind connected to the Sanatan Sanstha, and who is evading arrest.

Are the officers of the current Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad also deserving of “curses” for the “sin” of accusing Hindutva activists of terrorism?

Similarly, take the case of 2008 Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Purohit, the first serving Army officer to be arrested on terrorism charges. In 2012, in an interview to Outlook magazine, he claimed that he was a military intelligence officer spying on the terrorist outfits Abhinav Bharat and Sanatan Sanstha – both inspired by India’s first terrorist Nathuram Godse.

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If Modi indeed believes that Purohit, a Hindu, is an innocent man and is telling the truth, he would also have to admit that the Abhinav Bharat and Sanatan Sanstha are in fact Hindutva terrorist organisations. Why doesn’t he?

Pragya Singh Thakur with BJP national vice president Prabhat Jha after her candidature was announced for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, on April 17. (Photo credit: PTI).

Thakur has not been cleared by court

After receiving flak for fielding terror-accused Thakur in the elections, BJP leaders have been claiming that Thakur has been cleared by a court.

But Thakur is still facing charges in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blasts. She was granted bail on health grounds by the Bombay High Court in April 2017. (She is clearly healthy now, as seen in her ability to campaign, and must be sent back to jail.)

On April 24, a special National Investigation Agency court, while dismissing a petition seeking to bar Thakur, from contesting polls, took the investigating agency to task for its statements suggesting that Thakur was innocent and pointed out that the court had framed charges against her because it found prima facie evidence in the Anti-Terrorism Squad chargesheet even though the National Investigation Agency had taken over the investigations by then.

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Justice must be done

As the BJP and Modi manipulate the deep-seated Islamophobic prejudices of Indians to drive them to protect policemen accused of executing Muslims illegally and malign an honest policeman who was investigating Hindutva terror, Jahan’s mother, Shamima, has been trying to make sure her daughter gets justice.

Can we stand up for justice? Can we stand up for Jahan, a 19-year-old college student trying to support her impoverished family?

For this, none of us need to believe that Vanzara, Shah and others are guilty. We simply have to say loudly and firmly that all the accused must face trial and get every chance to defend themselves in court. They cannot be allowed to evade trial by declaring that Jahan, who is not alive to defend herself, is guilty and deserving of an extra-judicial execution.

Kavita Krishnan is secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association, and politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation.

June 07, 2019

Life term until death to Father Aind, five others, in Khunti gang rape case

The incident hit the national headlines on June 19, 2018, when five anti-human trafficking activists, engaged with an NGO supported by a Christian missionary, were abducted by motor-cycle borne armed men while they were performing street corner play

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Convicted accused of Kochang gang rape incident coming out from a court in Khunti (HTPhoto)

Updated: May 18, 2019 03:06 IST

By Bedanti Saran, Hindustan Times, Ranchi

A local court in Khunti on Friday awarded life term until death to Father Alphonse Aind, a member of a missionary institution, and five others held guilty in the infamous Kochang gang rape incident occurred last year in the district.

The incident hit the national headlines on June 19, 2018, when five anti-human trafficking activists, engaged with an NGO supported by a Christian missionary, were abducted by motor-cycle borne armed men while they were performing street corner play (Nukkad-Natak) at RC Mission School in Khunti’s Kochang block, about 90 kms from the state capital. They were taken to a nearby forested area where the abductors raped them, video-graphed the carnal act and forced the victims to drink urine.

The court of additional district and sessions judge Rajesh Kumar sentenced life imprisonment until death to Fr Aind and other five accused – Baji Samad alias Takla, Ajub Sandi Tirkey, Junas Mundu, John Jonas Tiru and Balram Samad – after holding them guilty under Section 376 D (gang rape) read with section 120 (B) (conspiracy) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The court also slapped Rs 2 lakh fine on each of the convicts that would be paid to the victims. It asked the district legal services authority to take steps for payment of the compensation to the victims as the guidelines of the Supreme Court.

Delivering a 204 page judgment, the court observed that the heinous crime was perpetrated not to satiate the sexual lust. Worst that it was done under a triangular pact to take revenge from the innocent women, who dared to venture in a Pathalgadi village (a village which declared its gram sabha supreme and rejected the authorities of democratic government) to spread awareness against the evil practice of human trafficking, the court said.

Categorical evidences against each of the accused, one of them was a member of a missionary institution, three were members of rebel outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) and two were Pathalgadi leaders, were presented that proved the nexus between them, the court said in its judgment.

The case relates to the FIR registered with the women police station in Khunti.

According to the police, Fr Aind of the RC Mission School, from where the women were abducted, was accused of hatching conspiracy and not reporting/informing the police about girls’ abduction and subsequent rape. It was alleged that when the miscreants raided the school premises and were abducting the girls, Fr. Aind had intervened and got the two nuns associated with the school released and asked the victims to go with them.

The police had submitted charge sheet in September last year and trial was commenced on October 24, the same year. The court recorded testimonies of as many as 19 prosecution witnesses and three defense witnesses during the trial.



https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/life-term-until-death-to-father-aind-five-others-in-khunti-gang-rape-case/story-YBCGnJlVdN86cLs9XdPkhK.html

Emperor Akbar begged Rajput woman to spare his life: Rajasthan BJP chief


Madan Lal Saini claimed that a Rajput woman, Kiran Devi, had seen through Akbar's "ill intentions" and pushed him to the ground before threatening the emperor with a dagger.

Written by Deep Mukherjee |Jaipur |Updated: June 6, 2019 6:01:36 pm

 

   

Saini claimed that Akbar used to go to a market meant exclusively for women to commit “misdeeds”. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Rajasthan BJP president Madan Lal Saini Thursday said that Mughal emperor Akbar’s behaviour towards women was ‘suspicious’ and ‘inappropriate’.

Saini claimed that Akbar used to go to a market meant exclusively for women to commit “misdeeds”.

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“Akbar had put up the Meena Bazaar. The world knows that only women used to carry out its functioning there and men did not have any permission to enter. It is recorded in history how Akbar used to go there under disguise to commit misdeeds,” Saini told reporters on occasion of Maharana Pratap Jayanti.

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Saini claimed that a Rajput woman, Kiran Devi, had seen through Akbar’s “ill intentions” and pushed him to the ground before threatening the emperor with a dagger.

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“Akbar had begged for his life and told her that the Badshah of Hindustan was at her feet. From that day, after Akbar’s pledge, Meena Bazaar was closed,” Saini claimed.

The state BJP president later told The Indian Express that there could be no comparison between Akbar and Maharana Pratap.

“The present Rajasthan government has spoken about comparing the greatness of Maharana Pratap with Akbar. I want to say this that in this country, Akbar was an invader while Maharana Pratap fought for 25 years to protect this country. If Akbar had been great, then he would have rebuilt the temples that his ancestors destroyed. There can be no comparison between Maharana Pratap and Akbar,” Saini said.

The Congress party slammed Saini for his comments, saying that the BJP has distorted history and misused the occasion of Maharana Pratap Jayanti.

“The auspicious occasion of Maharana Pratap Jayanti has been misused by the top BJP leader. He has presented history by distorting it and has expressed ideas which can lead to spreading of malice and enmity in the society,” said state Congress vice president Archana Sharma.

June 06, 2019

Why and How Pakistani Christian Girls Are Smuggled to China


Image Credit: Pixabay

Why and How Pakistani Christian Girls Are Smuggled to China

The dark side of the two countries’ “iron brotherhood”: human trafficking.

By Irfan Yar

May 24, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming of a better life away from hardship, hundreds of Pakistani Christian girls are allegedly being lured by the Chinese under the pretext of phony marriages, and then forced into prostitution in China. The Chinese nationals promise a luxurious life to the prospective brides and economic help to their families, but once the girls are in China, they face a life of forced prostitution and even torture.

Pakistan is overwhelmingly a Muslim country with Christians representing about 1.6 percent of the population. The majority of these Christians are descendants of the so-called low-caste Hindus – in order to escape the vicious caste system, they converted to Christianity. But in Pakistan, their life is not only full of hardship, but they are also targeted by the Jihadist groups. Their conversion and life in Pakistan is like going from the frying pan into the fire.

Poverty is the key factor enabling the smuggling of Christian girls to China. On average, the brides and their family are offered around $5,000 per marriage. Besides money, the potential Chinese husbands also convert to Christianity to further win the hearts of their targets.                                                                                                                                                                                              Late in April, Human Right Watch called on Pakistan and Chinato act against “bride trafficking.” Following the warning, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency cracked down on the bride smugglers, arresting dozens of Chinese and their agents who were involved in this business in Punjab province and elsewhere in Pakistan.

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The local matchmaking agents play a key role in convincing the families of the brides – as does national-level propaganda about the bilateral relationship. In some Christian localities, advertising posters are seen that read: “Long live Pak-China friendship! Attention honorable Christians. Proposals of deserving, poor and good families are urgently required for China. Chinese family will bear all expenses. Education is not a problem.”

According to a Pakistani special intelligence report, some Chinese workers who were part of a development project in Pakistan formed a gang and targeted Christian girls through their local brokers. They would receive photos of compatriots from China and show the images to the brides. The smugglers would assure the families that their would-be sons-in-law are not only wealthy but also Christians.

Well-established Chinese soft power in Pakistan is another reason that contributes to the smuggling of Pakistani women to China. As a part of Belt and Road Initiative China has been pouring $60 billion into Pakistan’s infrastructure through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The investment is seeing a growing number of Chinese migrating to Pakistan, where they are held in high esteem in Pakistani society — the Chinese are considered wealthy and “high-class” people. And that is why besides Christians, many Muslim women too are married off to Chinese men after their husbands embrace Islam.  But even “happy” marriages between Pakistani and Chinese cannot last long — the religious Christians and Muslims brides find it difficult to live in an officially atheist state where religious freedom is hardly tolerated.

Pakistan is not the only country where Chinese are involved in “bride smuggling.” In countries like North Korea, Vietnam, and Cambodia, Chinese traffickers were involved in similarpractices. This burning demand for women in China is partially due to the legacy of Beijing’s “one child policy” and a traditional preference for sons, which resulted in a disproportionate number of men.

Irfan Yar is a counterterrorism and foreign affairs analyst, and currently a research intern at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. He previously worked at the Observer Research Foundation and Carnegie India. He has published in The Epoch Times, The Hill Times, Toronto Sun, The Diplomat, Inside Policy, and elsewhere. He tweets @irfan_yar.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/05/why-and-how-pakistani-christian-girls-are-smuggled-to-china/

The impact of Munivahana Seva in removing caste discrimination – An incident near Nagarjuna Sagar

PGurus.com

The impact of Munivahana Seva in removing caste discrimination – An incident near Nagarjuna Sagar

Rangarajan had taken up 'Munivahana Seva' by carrying a Dalit devotee Aditya Parasari on his shoulders from the temple to 'Dhwaja Sthambam' of Ranganatha Swamy temple in Jiyaguda last year

By

 Team PGurus

 -

June 5, 2019

The impact of Munivahana Seva in removing caste discrimination an incident Near Nagarjuna Sagar

The prime objective of this gesture is to propagate equality. The ritual coincided with the 1,000th birth anniversary celebrations of Vaishavaite saint Ramanujacharya, who preached equality of human beings

This incident happened a few days back, in a small village in Andhra Pradesh. The details of the place are not important. What is important is the feeling among Hindus that all are equal.

The villagers had installed a new umbilical stone…Boddu Rayi, after which the Dalits of the village wanted to perform Abhishekam to the new installation…

The village elders and forward caste people objected to their participation in the rituals.

There was a severe argument brewing and a law and order situation was slowly emerging.

Some Dalit leaders proposed to file an Atrocities Act complaint.

At this time, one of the Kolattam artistsintervened. He is a Chilkur devotee. He showed the village elders the videos of Munivahana Utsavam of 2018 where the Chilkur Priest Sri Rangarajan Chilkur lifted a Dalit on his shoulders for temple entry. “If an archaka can lift a Dalit, can’t you people allow them to participate in this ritual?” asked the artist.

Commission member Tenzin Dorjee wrote in his report about the April 16 incident of carrying a Dalit devotee on the shoulders of the priest which he described as a rare incident.


There was a sense of shock and surprise with the elders repenting for their mistake…

The Boddu Rayi installation happened in a very festive atmosphere.

Relating the above story, Sri Rangarajan Chilkur said that he was happy that there has been a slow transformation in the rural areas but a lot more has to be done. The names of the village have been kept secret for obvious reasons.

Munivahana Seva

Rangarajan had taken up ‘Munivahana Seva‘ by carrying a Dalit devotee Aditya Parasari on his shoulders from the temple to ‘Dhwaja Sthambam‘ of Ranganatha Swamy temple in Jiyaguda last year.

The priest of  Chilkur Balaji temple C.S. Rangarajan has apparently performed “Muni Vahana Seva”, a 2,700-year-old ritual famous in Tamil Nadu, at Ranganatha Swamy temple in Jiyaguda on 17th April 2019.

Rangarajan carried a 25-year-old Dalit devotee, Aditya Parasri, on his shoulders from the entrance to the temple’s Dwaja sthambam in the midst of floral decorations, nadaswaram music and Vedic hymns and Annamayya’s famous chant “Brahmam Okkate Parabrahmam Okkate”.

A massive crowd had gathered to witness this significant event and the act was received with a huge round of applause.

Giving a back-story to what prompted him to do the Seva, Rangarajan said, “In January, I was part of a round-table conference (in Osmania University), which discussed how backward caste communities are denied entry into the temple.  Since ‘Sanathana Dharma’ has treated everybody equally before the god, I came forward to reinstate it by doing the Muni Vahana Seva,” adding, “The prime objective of this gesture is to propagate equality. The ritual coincided with the 1,000th birth anniversarycelebrations of Vaishavaite saint Ramanucharya, who preached equality of human beings. So we did the activity like an utsavam (festival).”

When asked how he picked up Aditya, he reveals, “I approached one of the Dalit associations to lookout for someone who is a thin devotee (since I am an old man). They referred to Aditya, who eats only once a day and follows all the Hindu customs.”

Aditya, a Brahmachari and a devotee of Goddess Devi, excitedly said that he was honoured to receive such a warm welcome. He also noted that this could be the beginning of breaking the barriers of social evils like untouchability and caste discrimination, etc., which is dividing the country [1].

“Being a Dalit, my family was oppressed and was humiliated when I was denied entry into Lord Hanuman temple in my native Mahbubnagar. This practice is still existent in several temples.  It is very sad that although our Constitution provides for the protection of the downtrodden sections, we are still being looked down upon,” he explains.

“So, I was determined to change things and approached my Guru (Siddheshwar Maharaj), took Deeksha and learnt all the sacred rituals, and eventually gained the right to enter the temple premises. But I hope this is just the beginning of the change,” he added.

‘Munivahana Seva’ taken up by Chilkur Balaji temple head priest C S Rangarajan has been praised by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its annual report. The organisation was formed by the government of the United States of America.

Rangarajan issued a press communication in which he said that the Commission started by the government of USA, in its annual report has mentioned the Munivahana Seva taken up by him.

The international Commission looks after religious freedom in the world explained Rangarajan.

The organisation keeps a check on whether all the religions have the freedom to follow their religion and also oversees whether there are any religious attacks on minorities.

The commission gives a report every year and this year’s annual report of 2018-19 has been released this month [2].

Commission member Tenzin Dorjee wrote in his report about the April 16 incident of carrying a Dalit devotee on the shoulders of the priest which he described as a rare incident.

Rangarajan expressed his pleasure for having an opportunity to perform Munivahana Seva.

References:

[1] Chilkur Balaji temple priest re-enacts 2,700-year-old ritual – April 17, 2018, Deccan Chronicle

[2] Munivahana Seva by Chilkur Balaji temple’s head priest wins US praise – May 29, 2019, The Hans India

The impact of Munivahana Seva in removing caste discrimination – An incident near Nagarjuna Sagar

PGurus.com

The impact of Munivahana Seva in removing caste discrimination – An incident near Nagarjuna Sagar

Rangarajan had taken up 'Munivahana Seva' by carrying a Dalit devotee Aditya Parasari on his shoulders from the temple to 'Dhwaja Sthambam' of Ranganatha Swamy temple in Jiyaguda last year

By

 Team PGurus

 -

June 5, 2019

The impact of Munivahana Seva in removing caste discrimination an incident Near Nagarjuna Sagar

The prime objective of this gesture is to propagate equality. The ritual coincided with the 1,000th birth anniversary celebrations of Vaishavaite saint Ramanujacharya, who preached equality of human beings

This incident happened a few days back, in a small village in Andhra Pradesh. The details of the place are not important. What is important is the feeling among Hindus that all are equal.

The villagers had installed a new umbilical stone…Boddu Rayi, after which the Dalits of the village wanted to perform Abhishekam to the new installation…

The village elders and forward caste people objected to their participation in the rituals.

There was a severe argument brewing and a law and order situation was slowly emerging.

Some Dalit leaders proposed to file an Atrocities Act complaint.

At this time, one of the Kolattam artistsintervened. He is a Chilkur devotee. He showed the village elders the videos of Munivahana Utsavam of 2018 where the Chilkur Priest Sri Rangarajan Chilkur lifted a Dalit on his shoulders for temple entry. “If an archaka can lift a Dalit, can’t you people allow them to participate in this ritual?” asked the artist.

Commission member Tenzin Dorjee wrote in his report about the April 16 incident of carrying a Dalit devotee on the shoulders of the priest which he described as a rare incident.


There was a sense of shock and surprise with the elders repenting for their mistake…

The Boddu Rayi installation happened in a very festive atmosphere.

Relating the above story, Sri Rangarajan Chilkur said that he was happy that there has been a slow transformation in the rural areas but a lot more has to be done. The names of the village have been kept secret for obvious reasons.

Munivahana Seva

Rangarajan had taken up ‘Munivahana Seva‘ by carrying a Dalit devotee Aditya Parasari on his shoulders from the temple to ‘Dhwaja Sthambam‘ of Ranganatha Swamy temple in Jiyaguda last year.

The priest of  Chilkur Balaji temple C.S. Rangarajan has apparently performed “Muni Vahana Seva”, a 2,700-year-old ritual famous in Tamil Nadu, at Ranganatha Swamy temple in Jiyaguda on 17th April 2019.

Rangarajan carried a 25-year-old Dalit devotee, Aditya Parasri, on his shoulders from the entrance to the temple’s Dwaja sthambam in the midst of floral decorations, nadaswaram music and Vedic hymns and Annamayya’s famous chant “Brahmam Okkate Parabrahmam Okkate”.

A massive crowd had gathered to witness this significant event and the act was received with a huge round of applause.

Giving a back-story to what prompted him to do the Seva, Rangarajan said, “In January, I was part of a round-table conference (in Osmania University), which discussed how backward caste communities are denied entry into the temple.  Since ‘Sanathana Dharma’ has treated everybody equally before the god, I came forward to reinstate it by doing the Muni Vahana Seva,” adding, “The prime objective of this gesture is to propagate equality. The ritual coincided with the 1,000th birth anniversarycelebrations of Vaishavaite saint Ramanucharya, who preached equality of human beings. So we did the activity like an utsavam (festival).”

When asked how he picked up Aditya, he reveals, “I approached one of the Dalit associations to lookout for someone who is a thin devotee (since I am an old man). They referred to Aditya, who eats only once a day and follows all the Hindu customs.”

Aditya, a Brahmachari and a devotee of Goddess Devi, excitedly said that he was honoured to receive such a warm welcome. He also noted that this could be the beginning of breaking the barriers of social evils like untouchability and caste discrimination, etc., which is dividing the country [1].

“Being a Dalit, my family was oppressed and was humiliated when I was denied entry into Lord Hanuman temple in my native Mahbubnagar. This practice is still existent in several temples.  It is very sad that although our Constitution provides for the protection of the downtrodden sections, we are still being looked down upon,” he explains.

“So, I was determined to change things and approached my Guru (Siddheshwar Maharaj), took Deeksha and learnt all the sacred rituals, and eventually gained the right to enter the temple premises. But I hope this is just the beginning of the change,” he added.

‘Munivahana Seva’ taken up by Chilkur Balaji temple head priest C S Rangarajan has been praised by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its annual report. The organisation was formed by the government of the United States of America.

Rangarajan issued a press communication in which he said that the Commission started by the government of USA, in its annual report has mentioned the Munivahana Seva taken up by him.

The international Commission looks after religious freedom in the world explained Rangarajan.

The organisation keeps a check on whether all the religions have the freedom to follow their religion and also oversees whether there are any religious attacks on minorities.

The commission gives a report every year and this year’s annual report of 2018-19 has been released this month [2].

Commission member Tenzin Dorjee wrote in his report about the April 16 incident of carrying a Dalit devotee on the shoulders of the priest which he described as a rare incident.

Rangarajan expressed his pleasure for having an opportunity to perform Munivahana Seva.

References:

[1] Chilkur Balaji temple priest re-enacts 2,700-year-old ritual – April 17, 2018, Deccan Chronicle

[2] Munivahana Seva by Chilkur Balaji temple’s head priest wins US praise – May 29, 2019, The Hans India

June 04, 2019

HOW TO RESIST DISINFORMATION




Jun 4, 2019

 

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How can public servants aid in the fight against disinformation? According to a recent resource compiled by CPD Faculty Fellow James Pamment and his team at Lund University for the UK government, cultivating a robust early warning system is key to identifying and responding to threats.

Their RESIST Disinformation Toolkit offers public servants and government workers insights and best practices on how to develop this system to protect society from the harms of malicious information. The RESIST model is divided into six steps that officials can follow to understand and counter disinformation:

Recognize disinformationEarly warningSituational insightImpact analysisStrategic communication Track outcomes

 

"Communications departments play a central role in recognizing and responding to disinformation," the report reads. "You will often be the first to see it. This toolkit helps you develop routines to make informed assessments of risk and to share your insights with other parts of your organization."

Access the full document, the RESIST Counter-Disinformation Toolkithere via the UK's Government Communications Service. 

https://www.uscpublicdiplomacy.org/story/how-resist-disinformation

COUNTERING DISINFORMATION: THE PUBLIC DIPLOMACY PROBLEM OF OUR TIME

Aug 13, 2018
by
James Pamment
PRINT AS PDF


As scholars and practitioners of public diplomacy, we are interested in how governments, groups and individuals work together to achieve common goals. We expect those goals to improve the human condition in some way, by for example bringing different cultures together, advocating for progressive public policies or providing platforms to share ideas. We tend to call activities that we approve of public diplomacy, and those that we don’t like propaganda. But the fact is that both PD and propaganda draw upon the same communicative resources and techniques, which means that they share not just a history, but also a present and a future.

An important distinction should be made, however. Propaganda usually involves deception, manipulation and coercion. Sources are hidden, facts are twisted, and the ability to make up one’s own mind—informed consent—is subverted. The same basic communicative techniques as those used in PD are augmented with a toolkit of dirty tricks and dark arts, such as forgery, threats and misappropriation. Many of these techniques exploit technologies that are relatively new or misunderstood; systems are “gamed” so as to create a marginal advantage. Social media has provided opportunities for exploitation due to poorly understood algorithms, indiscriminate revenue models and outdated regulation, but so has a traditional media under economic strain from the pressures of digitization.

Consequently, even something as simple as reading the news is a precarious pastime these days. Recent debates into fake news and election meddling suggest that we can’t trust half of what we read. That leaves democracy in a perilous position. In the PD field, we are used to talking about influence, but many have been caught unaware by the way that deliberate and sustained manipulation and deception have become key tools of influence for actors seeking to “game” the ways in which public opinion is formed. Put simply, the techniques we have developed over the past decade to develop PD and improve the human condition have been usurped by actors using those techniques for deceptive ends.

Public Diplomacy and Societal Resilience

For the past 18 months or so, I’ve been working together with a team at the Department of Strategic Communication at Lund University on the following question: What should communication professionals do to counteract deliberatively manipulative and deceptive influence strategies? In many respects, this is a question that cuts to the core of what public diplomacy is, should be and needs to be in the present information environment. For if there are actors out there willing to pervert PD techniques in order to undermine crucial societal functions such as elections, public diplomacy must become a tool of counteraction and reassertion. It remains the indispensable tool for engaging with publics.

There are hundreds of reports into disinformation, who does it and what policies governments should adopt in order to make it harder for adversaries. This is all important stuff, but we felt that those areas were quite well covered already. Our approach was deliberately agnostic with regard to the adversary. As communication experts, we wanted to focus on societal vulnerabilities, and particularly on those things that can be strengthened regardless of whether the adversary is a country, commercial entity or terrorist group. The focus is therefore squarely on ourselves, and what we can do to minimize the weaknesses that antagonists seek to exploit.

What should communication professionals do to counteract deliberatively manipulative and deceptive influence strategies?

From this perspective, we focused on how communication strategies can be used to solve a communication problem. That is to say, what communicators can do to respond to disinformation in an effective way. The number of reports into countering disinformation at the communication level is virtually zero. There is also relatively little work on public diplomacy that assumes such an approach, although work on strategic narratives is relevant. Our contribution, however, rests on the principle that a communicative problem can be resolved—at least in part—by communicative means. The result is an approach that foregrounds transparency, dialogue and mutual respect, packaged as a toolkit for countering disinformation.

Two Guides to Counter-Influence

I’m delighted to announce that two publications are now freely available to download thanks to the generous support of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).

The first publication is a handbook aimed at communication professionals working in the public sector, titled “Counter Influence Strategies for Communicators.” It provides a crash course in what information influence activities are, an overview of some of the main techniques that are used and a detailed discussion of how to prepare an organization to respond effectively to disinformation. The handbook was commissioned by MSB to help strengthen the resilience of the Swedish public sector in the run-up to the general election in September. It has been supplemented by training programs reaching several hundred civil servants so far.

The second publication is a comprehensive academic report into current thinking on counter-influence. It systematizes and distills best practices from hundreds of reports, academic texts, interviews with practitioners and our own experiences of training for counter-influence. It follows the same basic format as the handbook (understandidentifycounteract), but the report introduces the reader to the thinking behind best practices. As with the handbook, we will continue updating the report so that it can serve as a cutting-edge resource for the community for years to come.

In future iterations of this project, we will develop a systematic means of handling and sharing case studies of disinformation. The framework provided by these two publications can be used to break down disinformation techniques into their building blocks so that the community can learn both about adversaries' techniques and the effectiveness of any responses. By working in this manner, counter-influence can become the focal point of efforts to strengthen societal resilience against disinformation and propaganda.

These two publications are not the final word, but rather represent the beginning of a dialogue about how to reclaim the communicative high ground. Students, scholars and practitioners of public diplomacy will be important players in this vital task.

https://www.uscpublicdiplomacy.org/blog/countering-disinformation-public-diplomacy-problem-our-time

June 03, 2019

Silent women warriors of tribal India

Usha Turaga Revelli
Hans News Service

3 Jun 2019 10:38 PM

Thousands of tribal women workers across India work to bring education, livelihood and health and make a difference to their own communities, reaching 50,000 villages with 35,000 micro projects

A tribal welfare department official goes on tour to the Bastar region in Chattisgarh. At the end of the day, as his jeep loses its way in the twilight in the jungle, a tribal woman who is travelling with him, jumps out and tells the driver to switch off the headlights and follow her. She starts running along the kutcha pathways in the dark and the jeep follows her faint, racing figure until they are back to the road. For five whole kilometres! Advertise With Us This magic guide in the jungle is a member of the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and a worker, who runs an education project in the villages of Bastar. And she is as deft in managing large-scale projects as she is leading the way out of dark, dense forests.

She is one of the thousands of workers who are part of a mammoth development exercise across India, focusing on the tribal populations in various states, from Punjab to Arunachal Pradesh, from Bihar to Kerala. For the last 67 years. This week a hundred such tribal women leaders from across India met in Hyderabad for a national workshop and to share their stories.

On their work in education and livelihood training, self-help groups and viable agriculture, water conservation, prevention of trafficking of young tribal girls. On conflict resolution and rehabilitation. On hostels and health. And on tribal sports and revival of traditional arts and crafts. "Thirty years ago, I had studied in a Kalyan Ashram hostel and I still remember how our villagers used to run away when they saw a stranger. We were illiterate, had no potable drinking water, suffered from illnesses and had no access to any of the Government schemes. All that changed now," says Kimudu Acchamma, in charge of the Paderu centre in Visakhapatnam district.

With more than 200 hostels that offer shelter, schooling, health and sports training, Kalyan Ashrams boast of many successful former students in all fields including sports with sportspersons such as Limba Ram and Kavita Raut among notables. Apart from livelihood training and self-help groups of women, the VKS also takes active part in resource protection and support to farmer and fishermen communities. "In Purulia district of West Bengal, water is so scarce that it was difficult to have even one crop in a year. But we revived the tanks and helped each farmer dig a small tank in his land so that groundwater was charged, and they could grow fish there. And the farmers could actually go for two crops," explains Malati Soren from Purulia. "The tribal belt there was very backward. In fact, there was a village, which had just one boy who could read and write and he was in a hostel in the town. The entire village waited for him to come home for holidays so that he could sit and read all their letters from many months," recalls Beenapani Das, also from West Bengal. Conflict resolution has been one of the main areas of thrust of the Kalyan groups. "In Assam, in Bastar, Manipur and Arunachal, whenever there was a clash between two tribes, both sides were losers. We approached both the tribes and brokered. On many occasions, police called women members from our groups to come and cajole the warring tribes," says Madhavi Joshi, country head of the VKA women's groups. The peace efforts also worked in the Bastar region of Chattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra where left extremism became an impediment to the development of scheduled tribes. "In Gadchiroli, there were fierce encounters between Maoists and the security forces and tribes got caught in crossfire. We were the only one who were allowed to get in the middle, go to the remote areas and speak to the villagers," smiles Jasunda Darro who works in Gadchiroli villages. "Bastar had a mere 2% literacy among women. Tribal people, especially young people and women faced so much pressure from the extremist groups and they equally suffered due to lack of access to facilities in their own habitations," adds Madhavi Joshi. Apart from night schools, free coaching classes, reading rooms, VKA also runs Ekal Pathshalas, single-teacher schools that have young girls from the community, teaching primary school kids and dropouts, often depending on song and story to convey lessons to toddlers. Ekal school teachers sometimes walk kilometers to reach the schools assigned to them. Terrain is one of the most challenging factors of their work, but workers, such as Omem Bayor of Arunachal Pradesh climb up mountains to reach tribal villages near Tibet, China borders to reach the last tribal woman. Prevention of trafficking of young girls has been seen as a crucial intervention in some states such as the North east and West Bengal where the kids are sent off across the borders and are never seen again, the women SHGs have focused on bringing girl children to schools, preventing child marriages. Elsewhere in the bustling metro of Kolkata, Usha Agarwal builds bridges between urban denizens and the tribal areas, organizing Vana Yatras and offering marketing avenues for the tribal crafts. The venue for the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram national meet echoes with songs, in Santhali and Gond, in Marathi and Bengali, sung by women, each of whom is a driving force in her own community. "It is our effort to preserve our music and dance and we interact with old people and document legends, stories, songs and poems and teach them," says Donshinlu Golmei from Manipur. "We have discovered many lost gems and many tribal festivals," adds Nayana Gamit from Gujarat. The work that these women do is mostly voluntary, except for a few full-time workers who are often products of the hostels themselves. And unknown to the rest of the world, their energy courses through the veins of tribal India, revitalizing whole communities, bridging development gaps and ensuring their holistic development.

https://www.thehansindia.com/featured/womenia/silent-warriors-of-tribal-india-534776

https://www.thehansindia.com/featured/womenia/silent-warriors-of-tribal-india-534776

June 02, 2019

Jaishankar in cabinet, next, F-16 in IAF


Whether or not Narendra Modi delivers on any other election promises, one goal he will realize, with S. Jaiskankar, the former Foreign Secretary and virtually Washington’s Man in Delhi in the Union cabinet, is to, in fact, make India a full-fledged American “ally” — a label used by US President Donald Trump just yesterday. “Ally” is a loaded word but if India warrants this designation it is in no small part because of Jaishankar’s successful endeavours over the years, in connivance with soft-headed political leaders, to rob this country of its policy latitude and freedom of action, reduce it, in the process, to America’s subsidiary ally as apprehended in my last two books — ‘Why India is Not a great Power (Yet)’ [2015], and ‘Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambition’ [2018].

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar comes straight into the cabinet from his job with the Tata Group where he looked after its foreign interests, mostly trying to force the US defence major Lockheed Martin’s F-16/F-21 India project down the Indian Air Force’s throat.  That  Modi thinks highly of him there’s no doubt. That he was instrumental in nudging Modi into getting the Indian foreign policy to tilt far more towards the United States than the PM was originally inclined to do, is also not a secret in Delhi corridors nor that he has been assisted by a whole bunch of Indian-origin Washington thinktankers, like Ashley Tellis at Carnegie, who frequently visit Delhi and meet with the PM.

Indeed, Modi was so keen that Jaishankar keep pushing the American line from the outside, that he generously waived the “cooling off” period required of civil servants and senior military officials on their superannuation before taking up private sector jobs. There is delicious irony here. It was Jaishankar as FS who in 2015 or thereabouts warned the retired former naval chief,  Admiral Nirmal Verma, against taking up the job of lecturer at the US Naval Academy, Newport, Rhode Island, immediately after ending his stint as High Commissioner to Canada. The “cooling off” period is there to ensure national secrets are not compromised. Verma paid no heed and now performs duties that small time outside lecturers pull at the Academy!

When Jaishankar moved directly from MEA to Tatas (as he did from Tatas into the cabinet), he used his past connections to push the case with the PM for Tata-built F-16s for the Indian Air Force.  Lockheed Martin chose Tatas to license-manufacture the frightfully old, Museum-ready, F-16 combat aircraft, designed in the late 1960s, for IAF service in the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. And Ratan Tata, in turn, selected Jaishankar to get the F-16 contract through the Modi government. Now that he is the external affairs minister one can expect that among his first orders of business, will be to fast-forward the F-16/F-21 license production agreement for the Tatas to implement.

Jaishankar is being suitably pumped up for the task, hailed by the Indian media as the foreign policy brain trust for the PM and a strategic avatar of his venerable father, K. Subrahmanyam. News 18 called him “one of the mightiest brains on strategic affairs in the country” which, if true, will be entirely in the service of a foreign country. More such puff pieces can be expected in the media in the days to come, In any case, his being credited with the “mightiest [strategic] brains” is problematic considering, that like his father, he has not published a single book — very different from compiling op-ed articles into books as Subrahmanyam did, which is easy. But unlike his father, who had a deep intellect, was well read and had schooled himself in the arcana of nuclear deterrence while in service, the son in this regard is, well, not so much. 

Jaishankar’s progress has interested me from the time I first came in contact with him in Washington, where he was political counselor in the Indian embassy in the early- to mid- 1980s. Like all JNU leftist types, he was, I could see, smitten by America. Washington, in turn, marked him out as a person who would be useful and whose career needed to be suitably nursed and pushed with well placed tactical successes to help grow his reputation in Delhi as someone who could get things done vis a vis the American government. It helped  him climb the ladder in the Foreign office. This and the fact that his father– the old IAS hand with considerable influence in government — planned his career and managed his rise by importuning foreign ministers of the day to place him in select MEA and foreign posts.

Meanwhile, the American hand propelling Jaishankar’s career trajectory upwards didn’t hurt. A minor peak was reached when he was appointed Joint Secretary (Americas) during Manmohan Singh’s time. In this capacity he negotiated the one-sided and ruinous civilian nuclear cooperation treaty with the US courtesy which India, in effect, signed away its freedom to resume nuclear testing and become a thermonuclear military power of note. This was the sort of payoff Washington was looking for when it first identified him as a comer who would be useful in advancing US interests in Delhi — the “long view” strategic thing the US government, aided by its Delhi embassy, has always done. His record was buttressed during his time as ambassador to the US in which post he won Modi’s heart by mobilizing the BJP-leaning NRI crowd culminating in the intoxicating event for Modi — the massive Madison Garden do. The bigger payoff to the US came when he was ensconced as Foreign Secretary by Modi. Jaishankar doubled down on benefiting the US by pushing the PM to accept the “foundational accords” — LEMOA, CISMOA and the soon-to come BECA that a strategically limited visioned Modi was not averse to. Incidentally, MEA worked on these agreements  with  the initial negotiating drafts provided by Washington for each of these treaties. May be this was to ease MEA-GOI’s and Jaishankar’s work-load! In reality, these accords will result in the outsourcing of India’s strategic security without in any way shoring up India’s defences. It is a defeatist policy based on the mistaken belief that India cannot tackle China by itself, which is simply not the case.

Starting with Brajesh Mishra as Vajpayee’s NSA and ending with the Modi-Jaishankar duo, India’s slide into the US camp has been a guided affair. What’s new is that Modi felt his NSA, Ajit Doval, couldn’t hack it and cut him off from policies and decisions pertaining to foreign and military affairs, his role all but zeroed out with Jaishankar formally outranking him. This the PM arranged, perhaps, also with a view to taking down Doval a peg or two. It may be noted that Modi denied one of Doval’s sons a BJP ticket to contest the general elections from a hill state.

Jaishankar’s attraction to Modi owes much to the latter’s conviction that an “aspirational and assertive” India requires to canoodle with America to find its place in the world, when exactly the opposite is true and would fetch the country far greater leverage and improve its international standing as a strategically autonomous entity that’s not to be trifled with. Modi expects Jaishankar to leverage the country’s strengths except, given his track record, he will very likely leverage India right into Washington’s lap.

The PM is apparently also impressed by Jaishankar’s formulation of a China policy based on the principle that “differences” need not become “disputes”. This is fine but ignores the basic fact of China being a geopolitical, ideological, economic and military rival of India in Asia, and unless differences are indeed treated as disputes, China will walk away with the prize. I mean, all the renewed bhai-bhai stuff has got India what? Absolutely zilch, nothing, except demands to strengthen the status quo exclusively benefiting China!

With Jaishankar in place, the US-supportive policy “eco-system” in Delhi detailed in my latest book ‘Staggering Forward’ and led by the Delhi chapters of Carnegie and Brookings, will become even more active. This is a circle Jaishankar is connected with via immediate family links. His every move will be cheered by Indian media columnists and commentators from Delhi to Singapore, and this eco-system, generally, will continue oxygenating the thinking by retired and serving diplomats, senior civil servants and military officers, and provide them platforms to voice opinions about making Indo-US relations the central pillar of this country’s foreign policy. This entire caboodle constitute the Trojan Horse that is already at the centre of government, and helping root in the socio-political milieu a mindless hankering for all things American and this at a time when US’unreliability as partner is manifest.

In this context what happens to protecting and furthering India’s vital national interests, which are at huge variance to US interests in the Indo-Pacific and in the nuclear security, advanced technology and other realms? This is apparently nobody’s concern. National interests are, in fact, now orphaned as Modi-Jaishankar get into their stride. And contrary, realist and uncompromizing and uncomprizable nationalist views, however substantively argued, will get the short shrift.

But, hey, India and IAF will have the F-16/21 good enough, alas, only to play at war not actually to fight wars with!


https://bharatkarnad.com/2019/05/30/jaishankar-in-cabinet-next-f-16-in-iaf/