Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your tryst with IT Capital Bengaluru | Why Janlokpal is required

Bangalore or rather bengaluru…Mecca for all IT people. It stands for Information Technology and not Income Tax. I may sound na├»ve here but it is better to clarify rather than lives in ambiguity. If you are anyhow related to IT or if ever any drop of word IT fell on you then you might be aware of the IT capital of India and its contribution to the Indian Service Industry as a whole.

 

Bengaluru offers plenty of opportunities to the people who wanted to make their career in IT and I am not making an overstatement here that if you are willing to work in IT and has very little eligibility even then also, there is no reason to be unemployed in Bengaluru. I liked it…Period.

 

The real story begins when you arrived at Bengaluru Airport. Swanky, isn't it? Not after Delhi but after Kolkata, yes it is Jannat(Heaven). You step out of the airport and wanted to hire prepaid taxi but for middle class(please note I didn't use cattle class), the rates mentioned by taxi operators works as anesthesia. if the fare is not reimbursable by the company, one looks for the option to go by bus. But between you and bus is another set of creatures known as touts or private taxi drivers. They will take you for the ride if you are not knowledgeable enough to bargain with them. And if you are aware of the mechanism of their operations, then yes it could turned into a smooth ride also. Anyways hopping on the bus without asking fare is also fun. You will get to know the flavor of living expenses in non-metro(as classified by Government data, Bengaluru is not a metro city). I know similar bus ticket charges in other cities but they are generally for the city tour by bus and for whole day/half day and not from point A to point B. But I should not be so critic as Bus is really good and comfortable from inside. Anyways I came to a conclusion to one theory that "It is basic notion in India that air travelers are meant to buy everything above the normal market rates." Be it a water bottle or a simple samosa or ticket to the bus.

 

Ok now you are on the bus/taxi, and you don't know Kannada…ahhhaaaaa.

What..why are you getting angry.. I am not saying that communication in Hindi/English is a problem. You will still be able to manage it there as names of the places can be pronounced in any language as same. So Koramangala will be Koramangala in any of the language Hindi, English or Kanadda. Your ride won't start from here. 

 

You arrived at your friend's place if company is mean enough not to provide you any accommodation for your initial stay or landed up at the company appointed hotel/guest house feeling like lord of the company. You spent the day/night in the hotel enjoying the hospitality and get ready for the work next day. I am taking liberty and assume that your bad luck is not bad enough that you did not get the hotel accommodation. Next day in the morning, you get up early to be at best you and wear the new clothes which you bought for the first impression. You come out from the hotel and looks for auto. Gotcha…one auto stopped by you. The driver looks at his prey and you asked him "Koramangala". he refused..next auto comes.. he asked for 100 bucks and you are not sure of the distance so you asked him to ply by meter which is vehemently rejected by driver by citing age old reason that meter is out of order. You waited for another auto and after bargaining things got settled at 80 bucks. Now you are ready for next adventure. Auto ride in the potholes and narrow lanes…oops in Bengaluru collection of potholes and narrow lanes are known as roads.(Believe you me Karnataka Govt is so proud of this that even the road tax in this part of India is at premium…not believing try on-road prices of any vehicle in Bengaluru and any other city in India). Bad roads(where you find 10 potholes every 100 meters) or no roads(I don't classify the path with >20 potholes in 100 meters as a road), standstill traffic(You can spend entire 1 hour with your date on one traffic light and saves lots of money this way because by the time you reach to the restaurant, your GF wanted to go back..after all she needs to go home in time also) and  poorly design traffic flow(I am sure administration must have burnt mid night oil in putting every trick in place to keep traffic crawl). Anyways when you already arrived in wonderland, there are no much options left except to growl about it and cursing the pity situation you are in. Ok dot dot…

 

So now you are in the office. You are delighted that at least office is nice and swanky. Loving the place you enter in the office and find out that this is the place where you can find some solace from the chaos you faced since you arrived in IT Capital of India. Breather… During lunch someone told you that auto fare is normally 30 bucks from your place to office and you are cursing your colleague why he told you before lunch and not after finishing your lunch. At least you could have your lunch in peace. He also does some KT(knowledge transfer) of few kannada words and lines which can come handy when dealing with the most gruesome lot of species in Bengaluru. But at the same time another warning that you don't look like South Indian so better be prepared to shell out money at every possible place. You did not understand what he said, but nod in acceptance. In the evening same story with auto, so you took help of your colleague and he got the settlement on meter rate+10 Rs Jashti(More). You felt like you won a battle. But WAR abhi baki hai mere dost!

 

The whole week pass by eating at office canteen, trying different delicacies of south and craving for authentic north Indian food. Weekend is busy in finding the rented home for your family. And the rents for a livable house are good enough to let you feel the way peasants are feeling in Mr Pawar's state(Maharashtra). Whatever you earn you give to your landlord and loanlord(banks). And at the end of the day you buy the things again on emi and it's a never ending loop.

But what option do you have. You are an educated and sophisticated middle class(they bifurcated this class too-upper and lower) person who will die but won't leave the sophistication. So finally you zeroed on one house and then come *T&C applied. Advance 10 months' rent, 2 months notice and on vacating the house expenses for paint need to be paid. I didn't understand the concept of 10 months advance. Is it the security so that no one will steal the brick and mortar structure in the night? But anyways when you are in Rome, you have to live like a Roman only. Now there is an added condition: you can't park your car inside, for that you need to shell out 1000 bucks extra per month. Ohh gosh!!! I wonder why the agreement doesn't state that you can breathe only in the area for which you are paying rent. But extortion continues…

 

Finally, you surrender and finalize the house. Now you want to convert your house to home. You bought furniture at the cost double to what generally available at Delhi or other cities. Now you are in IT capital and you wanted to have internet connection. Gotcha… Maadi/dost you are in Bengaluru, where to get an internet connection is a challenge again. Most of the service providers denied the connection based on No feasibility and the one which is available in these areas are as good as working:not working ratio of  1:3. You checked for state owned company BSNL as they are providing the connection in the same building where you live. But still they will do feasibility check(1 month) and then no feasibility to feasibility conversion(1 week to eternity depending upon how much and how fast you pay convenience fee to linemen) and finally if you pay convenience fee(You are avoiding to use word bribe as you are supporting Anna) then you can expect in next 15 days that you will get it. You zeroed upon data card and local player.

Now since you are blessed with a wife and small kid too, so you need to setup the kitchen and for the first thing is Gas Cylinder. There was a time(Control Era) when for everything you wanted to buy, you need to obtain license and then wait for years. Bengaluru is one place which let you feel nostalgic about that era if you apply for gas cylinder. So you finally purchased cylinder from private players at double the cost.

In the morning you went for the walk as well as to buy milk and you pay 1 Rs extra on MRP because I don't know why except the fact that I am in Bengaluru where everyone is looking to extort every single penny from you.

 

You heard that weather is very good in Bengaluru, but nobody told that this is also very conducive for all sorts of viral infections and diseases. You realize the same when after 3 months you noticed that not a single day has passed in last 3 months when none of your 3 member family was sick or coughing/sneezing. But it is also possible that you are having weak immunity which nowhere else comes into picture but here it is showing  you the reality.

 

So welcome to Bangalore..oops Bengaluru where:

1.       Internet is not easily available- since it is IT capital

2.       Rents are high – because it is non-metro

3.       Basic amenities like gas/water not available – since you are supporter of Anna(Paying bribe might get you but not tried)

4.       Autos are fleecing you – pretty much same everywhere

5.       Roads – ha ha ha

6.       Cost of living – will beat burj dubai as it is higher than that as well etc. etc.

 

P.S.: This is not to offence anyone or to hurt anyone's feelings. But if it does then try to visualize and work towards solving the issues. That is why, we need to have JanLokpal.

 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Anti-corruption Anna movement

Some valid questions raised against the Anti-corruption Anna movement and their responses by me:

 

Q:When you mobilize people telling them that only street protests and blackmail do, then I am not sure whether I call that democratic?

 

A:When our elected MP says "if you are fed up with me don't come now, come after 5 years" and do not vote for me, but I will do whatever I like for 5 years as you elected me for 5 years. So if I was being looted everywhere I go and did not get respite then raising my concern in peaceful protest becomes undemocratic/castiest/maoist/religious. Why can't we have an annual appraisal system like in every job we have

 

2. What is Team Anna trying to prove here?

 

ANS:From my perspective they are as fed up with the system(SCAMS) as me or any common man of India. They wanted to have at least a check on the conduct of Govt Officials through an official channel itself. A simple question: Let's assume hypothetically that you lives below poverty line and need a ration card and more importantly ration every month at subsidized rate. But you need to pay BRIBES to have that. Since you don't have the money to pay for bribe, you won't get all these benefits. As we are from that privileged class where we can get our work done by paying bribes which we can afford, but where would a man with no or very very low income go? Who will listen to them? And believe me this happens.

 

3. Don't you think that "My Way or Highway" mantra is unconstitutional to say the least?

 

ANS: Yes. I agree. But what they are demanding is the discussion on the bill and transparency in the institution. Govt. has already labeled this movement as Religious/casteist/foreign hand/maoist as same to Team Anna. If any of this is true then by this time there would have been violent protests like we are seeing in Lybia/Syria or Egypt.

 

4. And what precedent is this going to set for the future for the democracy?

 

ANS:It is setting an example that in future every Politician is answerable to the public which elects him/her.

 

5. Will a Lokpal is going to end the corruption that has become institutionalized?

 

ANS:No not completely and I don't think anybody is saying that. But should NOT we start somewhere to eradicate it? This is the first baby step towards that direction.

 

6. It is entirely possible to oppose the UPA government's politics and policies, while recognizing that it is the legitimately constituted government of the country.

 

ANS: No it is not. Since we still do not have support of everyone, we cannot fully oppose the govt's dictatorial policies. We have road tax but no roads or bad roads, service tax but no services.. Just think about it for a moment, our PM hasn't won any election till date, is NOT a Lok Sabha member, he is a Rajya Sabha member which is called a back door entry into the parliament. Can't UPA find a single member from Lok Sabha (the famed elected representatives) , that they have to take a person from RS to lead the govt.

 

Eveybody think.......

 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

10 things to know about Anna Hazare and Jan Lok Pal Bill

1. Who is Anna Hazare?

An ex-army man. Fought 1965 Indo-Pak War

 

2. What's so special about him?

He built a village Ralegaon Siddhi in Ahamad Nagar district, Maharashtra

 

3. So what?

This village is a self-sustained model village. Energy is produced in the village itself from solar power, biofuel and wind mills.

In 1975, it used to be a poverty clad village. Now it is one of the richest village in India. It has become a model for self-sustained, eco-friendly & harmonic village. 

 

4. Ok,...?

This guy, Anna Hazare was awarded Padma Bhushan and is a known figure for his social activities.

 

5. Really, what is he fighting for?

He is supporting a cause, the amendment of a law to curb corruption in India.

 

6. How that can be possible?

He is advocating for a Bil, The Jan Lokpal Bill (The Citizen Ombudsman Bill), that will form an autonomous authority who will make politicians (ministers), beurocrats (IAS/IPS) accountable for their deeds.

 

8. It's an entirely new thing right..?

In 1972, the bill was proposed by then Law minister Mr. Shanti Bhushan. Since then it has been neglected by the politicians and some are trying to change the bill to suit thier theft (corruption).

 

7. Oh.. He is going on a hunger strike for that whole thing of passing a Bill ! How can that be possible in such a short span of time?

The first thing he is asking for is: the government should come forward and announce that the bill is going to be passed.

Next, they make a joint committee to DRAFT the JAN LOKPAL BILL. 50% goverment participation and 50% public participation. Because you cant trust the government entirely for making such a bill which does not suit them.

 

8. Fine, What will happen when this bill is passed?

A LokPal will be appointed at the centre. He will have an autonomous charge, say like the Election Commission of India. In each and every state, Lokayukta will be appointed. The job is to bring all alleged party to trial in case of corruptions within 1 year. Within 2 years, the guilty will be punished. Not like, Bofors scam or Bhopal Gas Tragedy case, that has been going for last 25 years without any result.

 

9. Is he alone? Who else is there in the fight with Anna Hazare?

Baba Ramdev, Ex. IPS Kiran Bedi, Social Activist Swami Agnivesh, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and many more.

Prominent personalities like Aamir Khan is supporting his cause.

 

10. Ok, got it. What can I do?

At least we can spread the message. How?

Putting status message, links, video, changing profile pics.

 

At least we can support Anna Hazare and the cause for uprooting corruption from India. 

At least we can hope that his Hunger Strike does not go in vain.

At least we can pray for his good health.

 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Lokpal Bill Debate Rages : From Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal

Comparison of Government’s Lokpal Bill with Civil Society’s Lokpal Bill

S No

Government’s proposal

Civil Society proposal

1.

Lokpal will not have any power to either initiate action suo motu in any case or even receive complaints of corruption from general public. The general public will make complaints to the speaker of Lok Sabha or chairperson of Rajya Sabha. Only those complaints forwarded by Speaker of Lok Sabha/ Chairperson of Rajya Sabha to Lokpal would be investigated by Lokpal. This not only severely restricts the functioning of Lokpal, it also provides a tool in the hands of the ruling party to have only those cases referred to Lokpal which pertain to political opponents (since speaker is always from the ruling party). It will also provide a tool in the hands of the ruling party to protect its own politicians.

Lokpal will have powers to initiate investigations suo moto in any case and also to directly entertain complaints from the public. It will not need reference or permission from anyone to initiate investigation into any case.

2

Lokpal has been proposed to be an advisory body. Lokpal, after enquiry in any case, will forward its report to the competent authority. The competent authority will have final powers to decide whether to take action on Lokpal’s report or not. In the case of cabinet ministers, the competent authority is Prime Minister. In the case of PM and MPs the competent authority is Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, as the case may be. In the coalition era when the government of the day depends upon the support of its political partners, it will be impossible for the PM to act against any of his cabinet ministers on the basis of Lokpal’s report. For instance, if there were such a Lokpal today and if Lokpal made a recommendation to the PM to prosecute A. Raja, obviously the PM will not have the political courage to initiate prosecution against A. Raja. Likewise, if Lokpal made a report against the PM or any MP of the ruling party, will the house ever pass a resolution to prosecute the PM or the ruling party MP? Obviously, they will never do that.

Lokpal is not an advisory body. It will have the powers to initiate prosecution against any one after completion of investigations in any case. It will also have powers to order disciplinary proceedings against any government servant.

3

The bill is legally unsound. Lokpal has not been given police powers. Therefore Lokpal cannot register an FIR. Therefore all the enquiries conducted by Lokpal will tantamount to “preliminary enquiries”. Even if the report of Lokpal is accepted, who will file the chargesheet in the court? Who will initiate prosecution? Who will appoint the prosecution lawyer? The entire bill is silent on that.

Lokpal would have police powers. It will be able to register FIR, proceed with criminal investigations and launch prosecution.

4

The bill does not say what will be the role of CBI after this bill. Can CBI and Lokpal investigate the same case or CBI will lose its powers to investigate politicians? If the latter is true, then this bill is meant to completely insulate politicians from any investigations whatsoever which are possible today through CBI.

That part of CBI, which deals with cases of corruption, will be merged into Lokpal so that there is just one effective and independent body to take action against corruption.

5

There is a strong punishment for “frivolous” complaints. If any complaint is found to be false and frivolous, Lokpal will have the power to send the complainant to jail through summary trial but if the complaint were found to be true, the Lokpal will not have the power to send the corrupt politicians to jail! So the bill appears to be meant to browbeat, threaten and discourage those fighting against corruption.

Deterrence has been provided against frivolous complaints in the form of financial penalties against the complainant, however, Lokayukta is empowered to prosecute the corrupt and take disciplinary action against them.

6

Lokpal will have jurisdiction only on MPs, ministers and PM. It will not have jurisdiction over officers. The officers and politicians do not indulge in corruption separately. In any case of corruption, there is always an involvement of both of them. So according to government’s proposal, every case would need to be investigated by both CVC and Lokpal. So now, in each case, CVC will look into the role of bureaucrats while Lokpal will look into the role of politicians. Obviously the case records will be with one agency and the way government functions it will not share its records with the other agency. It is also possible that in the same case the two agencies arrive at completely opposite conclusions. Therefore it appears to be a sure way of killing any case.

Lokpal will have jurisdiction over politicians, officials and judges. CVC and the entire vigilance machinery of government will be merged into Lokpal.

7

Lokpal will consist of three members, all of them being retired judges. There is no reason why the choice should be restricted to judiciary. By creating so many post retirement posts for judges, the government will make the retiring judges vulnerable to government influences just before retirement as is already happening in the case of retiring bureaucrats. The retiring judges, in the hope of getting post retirement employment would do the bidding of the government in their last few years.

Lokpal would have ten members and one Chairperson. Out of them four need to have legal background (they need not be judges). Others could be from any background.

8

The selection committee consists of Vice President, PM, Leaders of both houses, Leaders of opposition in both houses, Law Minister and Home minister. Barring Vice President, all of them are politicians whose corruption Lokpal is supposed to investigate. So there is a direct conflict of interest. Also selection committee is heavily loaded in favor of the ruling party. Effectively ruling party will make the final selections. And obviously ruling party will never appoint strong and effective Lokpal.

Selection committee consists of members from judicial background, Chief Election Commissioner, Comptroller and Auditor General of India and international awardees (like Nobel prize winners and Magsaysay awardees of Indian origin). A detailed transparent and participatory selection process has been prescribed.

9

Lokpal will not have powers to investigate any case against PM, which deals with foreign affairs, security and defence. This means that corruption in defence deals will be out of any scrutiny whatsoever. It will become impossible to investigate into any Bofors in future.

There is no such bar on Lokpal’s powers.

10

Whereas a time limit of six months to one year has been prescribed for Lokpal to enquire, however, subsequently, there is no time limit prescribed for completion of trial.

Investigations should be completed within one year. Trial should get over within the next one year.

11

It does not deal with corruption of Bureaucrats. Corrupt bureaucrats continue in their job without any actions against them.

Lokpal will have power to direct disciplinary action, including dismissal of a corrupt officer from job.

12

It does not talk of investigation of complaints against judges

Lokpal will have powers to initiate investigations on complaints of corruption against judges.

13

Speaker would decide which complaints shall be enquired into by Lokpal.

Lokpal will not be able to dismiss any complaint from public without hearing the complainant.

14

Our entire governance system suffers from inadequate public grievance redressal systems, which force people to pay bribes. Lokpal bill does not address this issue.

Lokpal will have the powers to orders redressal in a time bound manner. It will have powers to impose financial penalties on guilty officers, which would be paid to complainant as compensation.

15

Large number of people raising their voice against political corruption are being murdered. Lokpal does not have any powers to provide protection to them.

Lokpal will have powers to provide protection against physical and professional victimization of whistleblowers.

16

Nothing has been provided in law to recover ill gotten wealth. A corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money.

Loss caused to the government due to corruption will be recovered from all accused.

17

Under the present law, there is Small punishment for corruption- Punishment for corruption is minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years.

Enhanced punishment - The punishment would be minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.




Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Most Immediate>Invite>Discussion on Marginalisation of Parliamentary Institutions: Nominated MPs of the Rajya Sabha, Saturday, 5 March 2011, 6.00 pm, India International Centre, 40 Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi - 110 003

India International Centre &

Working Group on Alternative Strategies

 

Cordially invite you to a Discussion on 

Marginalisation of Parliamentary Institutions: 

Nominated MPs of the Rajya Sabha

 

Speakers:

Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, MP

Dr. B. L. Mungekar, MP,

Shri H. K. Dua, MP,

Ms Neerja Chaudhury, Columnist and Political Commentator

Shri Vijay Naik, Consulting Editor, Sakal Group

 

Moderator: Suhas Borker

 

on Saturday, 5 March 2011 at 6.00 pm

at India International Centre, (Conference Room II)

40, Max Mueller Marg,

New Delhi - 110 003

 

For any further information please contact:

24619431(IIC) or 9868182845(WGOAS)

info.wgras.in @gmail.com 

 

Bus Numbers: 047,052,440,521,522,526,580;

Bus Stops:  Get off at 'Lodhi Road Xing' or 'Max Mueller Marg'.

Bus Numbers: 326, 344, 970, 994;

Bus Stops: Get off at  'Mausam Bhawan' or 'Lodhi Garden'.

Bus Numbers: 026, 048, 056, 408, 719, 734;

Bus Stop: Get off at ' Lodhi Colony 18 Block'.

 

Nearest Metro Stations:

‘Jorbagh’ on Yellow Line

‘Khan Market’ on Violet Line

Wheelchair access is available.

Conference Room II is located on the 2nd Floor of the Main IIC Building.

If required please take the lift located in the Reception Area.

 

-----------------

In solidarity

Suhas Borker

Convener

Working Group on Alternative Strategies

[Vaikalpik Rananiti Karya Samuh]

Towards a secular, democratic, plural, inclusive,

participatory and equitable development paradigm

1992-2011: 19 Years

suhasborker.wgras.in@gmail.com

Post Box 3822 Andrews Gunj P.O. New Delhi 110 049

 

Invitation activist meeting on the Internet and freedom of expression, Delhi

Dear all,

The Centre for Internet and Society (India) and the Central American Institute for Studies of Social Democracy - DEMOS (Guatemala) have the pleasure to invite you to a day-long workshop on the role of the Internet in fostering freedom of expression and strengthening activism in India. The workshop will take place in the Deputy Chairman's Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, Delhi 110001, on 4 March 2011.

With the signficant role reported for new technologies in recent revolutions in Tunesia, Egypt, and elsewhere, activists in India, too, have taken a renewed interest in the potential of the Internet to support their struggles for social change and social justice. But what are some of the potential stumbleblocks activists in India might run into in their exploration of the Internet's potential? What are the legal restrictions and frameworks activists should be aware of when they use new technologies in their work? And what can we do to create an environment in which the online world unequivocally supports efforts for greater democratisation and social justice offline, rather than thwart them?

It is questions such as these that this workshop seeks to answer, through an exciting mix of panel discussions, unconference sessions, a film screening, and technical and legal clinics in its day-long program.  Our hope is that the workshop will help participants as well as organisers to get a stronger sense of the potential and challenges of online activism in the particular context of India, as well as to start building stronger networks among the activists interested in these issues in the country.

The workshop will take place in the presence of Mr. Frank La Rue, President of our partner organisation, the Central American Institute for Studies of Social Democracy, as well as UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Participation in the workshop is free; however, we would be grateful if you could confirm your attendance by emailing Anja Kovacs at anja@cis-india.org, ideally by 2 March.

A draft agenda of the workshop is available here: http://www.cis-india.org/events/fostering-freedom-of-expression

Hope we will be able to welcome you there!

Best wishes,

Anja Kovacs
Centre for Internet and Society


INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORGANISERS

The Centre for Internet and Society
The Centre for Internet and Society is located in Bangalore, India. It critically engages with concerns of digital pluralism and public accountability in the field of Internet and Society, with particular emphasis on South-South dialogues and exchange. Through multidisciplinary research, intervention, and collaboration, it seeks to explore, understand, and affect the shape and form of the internet, and its relationship with the political, cultural, and social milieu of our times.

DEMOS Institute
The Demos Institute, based in Guatemala, is a research centre that promotes democratic alternatives for Guatemala, under the human rights framework. Within DEMOS, there is a research team which supports the mandate of Frank La Rue, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, in the making of his annual reports before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

KINDLY ENDORSE People's Statement against the Clearance Granted to the POSCO Project

[Send your endorsements to vijayan@delhiforum.net ONLY. DON'T REPLY ALL.]

People’s Statement against the Clearance Granted to the POSCO Project

 

We the undersigned condemn the brazenly illegal and unjust clearance granted by the Environment Ministry to the POSCO project in Orissa.  The actions of this Ministry and the government of India with respect to this project show total disregard for the basic norms of law, democracy and environmental protection.  This project will destroy the livelihoods of more than 20,000 people and threaten the homes and lives of tens of thousands more.  In particular:

 

·  This project is repeatedly described as one of strategic importance.  Strategic importance for whom?  Studies have shown that the project will destroy at least twice as many livelihoods as the jobs it will create.  They have also shown that the tax revenues projected are the stuff of fantasy. Both the employment and tax projections come from studies paid for by POSCO.  This project will benefit no one except the company in question and enable huge amounts of smuggling through the proposed private port.  Is this what our government calls development?

·  The plant and port site is the home of more than 4,000 families, who cultivate betel vines and other cash crops on the land in question  and also depend on the forests of the area for forest produce and other livelihood activities.  This is a thriving agricultural economy in which even a tenth of an acre is enough to sustain entire families. There is a sizable community that is dependent on pisciculture and the proposed port will destroy the lives and livelihoods of the fisherfolks. All of this is to be destroyed permanently to make way for a company's super profits.

·  As established conclusively from government records by the Ministry's own POSCO Enquiry Committee, these people have rights to this land under the Forest Rights Act of 2006.  As such the forest land in question cannot be taken for the project except if their rights are finally recognised and their consent taken.  Three separate official bodies - two enquiry committees and the Ministry's own statutory Forest Advisory Committee  agreed that the Orissa government has not implemented the Act and lied about the eligibility of the people of the area.  All three also agreed that the forest clearance given to the project must be withdrawn.  Yet now the Ministry says the project can go ahead if the Orissa government gives it a categorical assurance that the people of the area are not eligible under the Act. Is this the manner in which the UPA government intends to implement its landmark legislation?   By telling officials caught lying that all they need to do is categorically repeat their lies?

·  In the words of the POSCO Enquiry Committee, the project risks potentially disastrous impacts not only on the immediate area but on the entire surrounding district, which have not even been assessed, leave alone planned for. This includes the potential catastrophe in case of a cyclone as well as the enormous water usage of the plant, which will harm agriculture in the entire surrounding area.  In the clearance we find these impacts dealt with in a completely farcical manner.  On water, the covering letter says the company should voluntarily sacrifice water in case of a shortage  but even this ludicrous condition is not mentioned in the clearance itself.  On most other aspects, the clearance requires the company to simply ensure that the possible impact will not happen.   Without assessing what that impact is, without deciding on whether it can in fact be dealt with or not, the Ministry has transferred its entire regulatory responsibility to the company.  If this is the kind of conditions that are going to be imposed, why do we have an environment clearance process at all?  Is this how the Ministry intends to fulfil its responsibilities?

·  The POSCO project is not confined to the plant and the port now cleared; the government has committed to providing POSCO with mammoth captive iron ore mines, the lease to which has been struck down by the Orissa High Court. This robbery of natural resources is guaranteed to generate massive profits for POSCO while destroying huge areas and displacing even more people including one of the most traditional tribal communities, the Paudi Bhunyan who have been inhabiting the Khandadhar mountains since time unknown.  If the plant and the port are allowed to come up without the mine, POSCO will resort to blackmail, threatening that its activities will not beviable” if it is not granted a mining lease and the requisite environmental and forest clearances instantly as per its desire.  Since the viability of corporate super profits is clearly more important to this government than either law or people's rights, we can imagine the consequences.

 

Therefore we condemn this decision and, in accordance with the findings of multiple enquiry committees, call for the immediate withdrawal of this clearance and a criminal investigation into the actions of officials involved and their brazen violations of law.  We join the people of the area in opposing this project and support their democratic struggle to ensure that it does not go ahead.

 

Ashok Agrawal, Lawyer, Supreme Court, Delhi

Ashok Choudhary, National Forum of Forest people and Forest Workers, India

Manoranjan Mohanty, Council for Social Development, New Delhi 

Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, India

Surya Shankar Dash, Independent Filmmaker, Bhubaneswar

Madhumita Dutta, Corporate Accountability Desk, The Other Media, Chennai

Nityanand Jayaraman, Independent Journalist, Chennai

Anil Tharayath Varghese, Programme for Social Action, New Delhi

Manju Gardia, Nawa Chhattisgarh Mahila Sangathan, Pithora, Chhattisgarh

Mamta Kujur, Adivasi Mahila Mahasangh, Jashpur, Chhattisgarh

Bipin Chandr Chaturvedi, Update Collective, New Delhi

Joe Athialy, Delhi Solidarity Group

Prafulla Samntara, President, Lok Shakti Abhijan & Convenor, NAPM India

Ranjana Padhi, Pune

Sanjiv Pandita, Director, Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) , Hong Kong

Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group, Bangalore

Vijayan MJ, Delhi Forum

Kanchi Kohli of Kalpavriksh, New Delhi

Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, New Delhi

-- 
==================
National Alliance of Peoples' Movements (NAPM)
C/O 6/6 (Basement), Jangpura B, New Delhi 110 014 
Mobile +91 9818 905316 | 011 2437 4535
email : madhuresh@napm-india.org | napmindia@napm-india.org 
Web : www.napm-india.org
 
Read NAPM's News magazine, Movement of India @ http://issuu.com/MovementOfIndia

 

Yoga Shibir at Kanyakumari from 5-19 May 2011

Yoga Shibir

at Vivekananda Kendra, Vivekanandapuram, Kanyakumari from 5-19 May 2011

 

Learn Yogasanas, Pranayam, Mediatation, Relaxation techniques, Suryanamaskar.

Practice Tratak, Jal Neti, Vaman Dhaouti 

 

Lecutres on Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnan Yoga, Indian Culture, Bhagavad Gita, Swami Vivekananda's life & Message

 

Visit to  Vivekananda Rock Memorial in India Ocean.

Sunrise from Bay of Bengal and Sunset in Arabian Sea

Visit to Kanyakumari temple and exhibitions

Trekking on Marutmalai mountain to see the "V" of India.

 

at Vivekanandapuram - amongst trees, peacocks, surrounded by three oceans : Bay of Bengal, India Ocean and Arabian Sea.

 

Camp duration : 5-19 May 2011

Medium: English and Hindi

Eligibility : Ladies and Gents above 18 years

Reporting before 6.00 pm on 4th May 2011

Concluding: 2.00 pm on 19th May 2011

Camp Donation: Rs.2000/- (including training, food and accommodation)

 

visit for details & enrolment:  http://www.vkendra.org/camps

 

 

·          

contact

 

Camp Incharge

Vivekananda Kendra

Vivekanandapuram, Kanyakumari-629 702 INDIA

Ph: 04652-247012, Fax: 04652-247177 

email: camps@vkendra.org        www.vkendra.org

 

 

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