Showing posts from September, 2013

Heard the one about the Saudi cleric who said driving damages ovaries?

The wild claim made by Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan is so absurd, all we can do is make a joke of it and hope it goes away If you want to stop a child doing something, sometimes you have to lie to them. Don't want them to stand on the seats on a train? Eventually you will tell them that the train guard will throw them off if they don't stop. It was an evil genius parent who first told their child that the music playing from the ice-cream van means they are out of ice-cream. Now it seems that Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan has tried to apply this logic to the women of Saudi Arabia. The ruling elite have run out of reasons to stop women from driving cars in the kingdom and so have resorted to the "kiddie lie"; driving harms women's ovaries. He used his best authoritative parental voice, claimed that there was medical evidence of this and then walked away whistling hoping no one would realise how ridiculous it sounded. Women not being able to drive in S

Christophe Jaffrelot - Gujarat's law unto itself // Modi's oratory

Justice V.M. Sahai... declared that the "pranks of the chief minister demonstrate destruction of our democracy and the questionable conduct of stonewalling the appointment of Justice Mehta as lokayukta threatened the rule of law".   If the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill becomes law, it will reduce the lokayukta's independence and create inequalities among states With the Lokpal bill meeting the fate of the women's reservation bill, the lokayukta remains, in many states of the Indian Union, the only ombudsman in charge of fighting corruption among the politicians and the functionaries. But this most useful institution remains fragile, as its trajectory in Gujarat testifies. The Gujarat Lokayukta Act introduced it in the state in 1986 (15 years after Maharashtra, which played a pioneering role in that domain). According to this act, the lokayukta is appointed by the governor after consulting the chief justice of the state high court. The first lokayukta of Gujara

Koodankulam Police Inspector & Valliyoor DSP engage in vendetta & vindictive behavior against anti-nuclear activists

From   S. P. Udayakumar,  M. Pushparayan,  M. P. Jesuraj,  R. S. Mugilan,  V. Rajalingam c/o Parish Priest; Idinthakarai 627 104 Tirunelveli District To   The Director General of Police Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai Mylapore; Chennai 600 004 Sub: Requesting you to take action against Koodankulam Police Inspector and Valliyoor DSP for their personal vendetta against us and vindictive behavior . Dear Sir  Greetings! We write to complain formally against Mr. I. Rajapal, Inspector of Koodankulam police station, and Mr. Stanley Jones, Valliyoor Deputy Superintendent of Police, who have been harassing us for a long time with personal enmity, vendetta and hidden agenda. These two officers have been instrumental and personally involved in filing some 340 criminal cases against us and a total of some 2,27,000 peaceful and nonviolent anti-Koodankulam nuclear power project protestors. On March 21, 2012 at around 9 pm , when Mr. R. S. Mugilan

Lalu Prasad convicted in fodder scam case, taken to jail // What about Gujarat’s Babu Bokariya? // The Lalu-Congress Alliance Is Over

In a body blow to RJD before next year's Lok Sabha polls, its President Lalu Prasad was on Monday convicted by a special CBI court here in the fodder scam corruption case that disqualifies him from Parliament and renders him ineligible for contesting elections for at least six years.  Another 44 accused, including former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, six politicians and four IAS officers, were also convicted by court of Pravas Kumar Singh for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury. Quick Edit: After Lalu's conviction, Cong explores option The court fixed October three for pronouncement of sentence against Yadav, Mishra and others. The RJD chief was taken to the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi after being convicted by the court. The RJD chief faces immediate disqualification as Lok Sabha member under a recent Supreme Court order that an MP or MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two

Gujarat headed for legal showdown with Dalit panel

Narendra Modi's Gujarat appears to be getting embroiled in a legal tangle with a Congress-led panel over fake encounters.  The National Commission for SCs has sent notices to the chief secretaries and DGPs of Gujarat and Rajasthan as also the CBI director asking them to depose on September 30 on a complaint that senior BJP leaders were trying to derail the probe into the infamous Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case. It has Modi-aide   Amit Shah   as a key accused. The complaint stems from a sensational sting operation that featured senior BJP leaders allegedly conspiring to leave the Prajapati family defenceless -- by seeking affidavit from the deceased's mother to allow two alleged BJP contacts to take decisions on her behalf.  NCSC chairman PL Punia told TOI, "It is a serious case of trying to rob the legal safeguard of a backward caste person. We have taken the case seriously and will seek details from the officials." While the encounter case is sub-judice

Sanjaya Baru: The inheritor as insurgent // Santosh Desai: The leader who isn’t

The voters of Andhra Pradesh had been so loyal to the Indian National Congress from the very first general election that even when large parts of the country threw the Congress out after the Emergency was lifted in 1977, the Telugu people stood by Indira Gandhi. She wielded so much power that she could overlook the claim of every senior party leader and appoint the diminutive T. Anjaiah as chief minister. So beholden was Anjaiah to the Delhi durbar that he spent more time in Delhi than Hyderabad. He was loyalist par excellence. Then one day Rajiv Gandhi landed at Hyderabad's Begumpet airport, wagged his finger at Anjaiah, admonished him for some reason on the tarmac, in full view of the state's council of ministers and the media, got into his plane and flew away to Delhi. Poor Anjaiah was reduced to tears. The media captured that unfortunate moment.  That photograph, of Rajiv admonishing Anjaiah and Anjaiah's pathetic expression, was splashed across every newspaper in

Sudanese women: you can beat us but you cannot break us

Amira Osman is awaiting trial for refusing to cover her hair. She is one of thousands of Sudanese women who are being arrested under Sudan's criminal code, sentenced, and publicly lashed. For 25 years now, women in Sudan have been flogged publicly. The current Sudanese regime’s ideology was clear from day one; terrorizing women - which amounts to paralysing a whole nation. Like all dogma in political Islam, the regime sat and agreed that the road to secure their position was through controlling women’s bodies, minds, existence and interaction in public. " I am a Muslim woman but I will not cover my head, a piece of cloth should not determine my spirituality " - Amira Osman While the anger is accumulating in Sudan and peaceful demonstrators are being injured and killed by the Sudanese regime forces, this comes as a natural result of years of injustices.  Sudan has been exposed to the brutality of the dogmatic ideology of political Islam, and the people have been st

Biswajit Roy - Dilemmas of Democracy and Its Friends: Appraisal of an Appraisal

How to resolve the dilemmas of the democrats when they are torn between their commitments to a popular regime and democratic principles? What are the pitfalls and advantages of continued moral and political obligations to a government that has born out of an anti-hegemony mass awakening but is fast becoming autocratic itself? How to assess a maverick mass leader turned populist leader when h/she is pro-poor and anti-elite but also an epitome of intolerance, arrogance and paranoia? How far the 'good' economic policies make the 'bad' political practices tolerable? How long we should allow ourselves to remain in a catch-22 situation? To be precise--- how long the fear of return of the CPM's regimented rule and logic of TINA factors should continue to dictate the quandary of the conscientious friends of Bengali avatar of Joan of Ark when she has begun behaving like Caligula? In the larger context of contemporary politics, are we destined to be the Sisyphus of lat

Javed Anand - Justice, not apology

The middle class seems to think saying sorry is enough to move on from gross violations. ... this say-sorry option is only for state actors accused of complicity in, or sponsorship of, mass crimes such as the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi (1984) or of Muslims in Gujarat (2002). No one ever suggested, for example, that those accused of the gruesome gangrape and murder of a young woman in Delhi in December 2012 be offered the say-sorry route . Until now, the democratic world had known only two ways of dealing with mass crimes, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It now appears that sections of the media and intelligentsia in India have discovered a third way. The first is founded on the principle of justice: trial of the accused and punishment to the guilty; even the worst perpetrators are entitled to a fair trial. Some refer to this as the "Nuremberg method" — recall the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials of top Nazis. At the end of Apartheid in 1994,

Muslim groups oppose ban on child marriage

NB - This is a disgraceful stand taken by a handful of political organistions & ulema. They cannot & must not be alotted the status of being representatives of Indian Muslims. Their approach contributes to the communalised climate in the country; & their decisions speak to the interests of Muslim men only. They take no account of the plight of children & make special claims to violate the fundamental rights of young citizens - all in the name of minority rights. Child marriage is unlawful in many countries with Islamic constitutions. The Muslim clergy must realise that they too have an obligation to defend the basic features of the democratic constitution - Dilip Muslim organisations, including the Indian Union Muslim League, have joined hands to oppose the law banning child marriage on the ground that the Child Marriage (Prevention) Act is against the provisions of the Muslim personal law. At a meeting of Muslim organisations convened by the Samastha Kerala Jam-I

Syrian Nonviolence Movement

 SUAD NOFAL stands before the jihadist-occupied municipal building of Raqqa, Syria, with her protest sign.  Suad Nofal has stood there every afternoon at five o'clock, ever since the jihadist abductions of Father Paolo and activist Firas al-Haj Saleh.  Silent and powerful, Suad Nofal protests there daily against Raqqa's tyrants (the Replacement Tyrants, replacing the regime), the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" Suad marches each day from  her home to the headquarters carrying a protest sign through the streets to make this stand in the name of civilian resistance, and the activist group Free Women of Raqqa.  Yesterday her sister Rimal found a note at home, scrawled by her sister, that said, "Forgive me." Rimal, who has herself suffered imprisonment and torture at the hands of the "jihadists' Sharia Court," ran to Da'esh headquarters to save her sister, whom she found ringed by armed Da'esh fighters trying to tear the protest poster f

PAVAN K. VARMA : When art masks politics - Sardar Patel, Modi and the RSS

Pavan K. Varma in  The Times of India, September 28, 2013 When art masks politics Narendra Modi is a good orator, and his first public speech, after being declared BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, at Rewari in Haryana on September, 15, provided ample evidence of this.  I was intrigued though by his fulsome tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.  Modi announced that he is building in Gujarat a statue of Patel, made from iron pieces contributed by every village in India, which would be the tallest in the world, twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.  I was intrigued because Sardar Patel was the man who banned the RSS, the institution which Modi joined at the tender age of fifteen, and which, on his own admission, has played an exceptionally valuable role in moulding his life and thought processes.  Patel was the Home Minister of India when, on February 2, 1948, the Government banned the RSS, in pursuance to its ‘determination to root out the forces of hate and violence tha