Saturday, August 23, 2014

RBI Governor on Crony Capitalism

Dear  friends,
We have a FB site of our old school where we put in our views.
Recently I had written the following comments of the RBI Governors statement on Crony Capitalism.
It created quite a to and for comments, which is worth reading by all AAP members.

Is there any such thing as a FREE LUNCH?
Except for saints, will anyone help you without strings attached.
Will capitalists give you money if it is not going to benefit them?
The RBI governor gives you the answer.

Sujay Sahu On which free lunch did AAP contest the elections? Will AAP be paying back the money that they burned?

Sanjay Kumar Singh Why did the people give AAP money if they did not expect any thing in return? Is AAP going to return all the "donations"they took so that they will not have to do the donors any flavors. "Crony Capitalism" doesn't apply to AAP while collecting all the crores for the last election. Or does a different yard stick apply to AAP when it does the same things the other parties do. I think AAP will distance itself from any thing that has capitalism in it, maybe what AAP does can be called "Crony-Communism" after all your principles are more left then the left , in fact they are even more left than DIDI. Maybe that is why APP get left out.

Radheshyam Sharma People gave money to AAP so that AAP would give them a clean government and AAP will when it comes to power in Delhi. The Ambanis and Adanis gave money to the BJP so that the BJP would tweak the rules so that their profits would increase manifold. The AAP works for the common man and the BJP works only for the rich. The common man does not expect the money back, it is a contribution to improve the nation. BJP is already paying back to the Ambanis by restricting the power of Anti Corruption Bureau in Delhi so that it does not file criminal charges against Mukesh Ambani.

Suhasini Sharma Why do you always speak in favour of AAP? Have you personally experienced something or are they just your views??

Sujay Sahu He is just married to AAP so he has no option.

Radheshyam Sharma I am now 66 years of age.
Although I am not a student of political science, I have been observing without joining politics since I was in college in 1966.
I was against Indira Gandhi's nationalisation of banks and abolition of Privy Purses for the Princes and had sent my views to Indira Gandhi herself. I believe, an agreement is an agreement and it should not be violated.
She had sent a reply which did not satisfy me.
I was against Indira's Emergency and when the Congress lost in 1977 I went first thing in the morning to my brother-in-law's place to give him sweets, for he was a die hard supporter of Indira Gandhi.
I had high hopes of the Janata Dal but in just one year, Chandrasekhar, Charan Singh and the others showed they were no different from the Congress.
With Atal leading the BJP, I started supporting the BJP as there was no third choice.
I continued supporting the BJP until they started producing people like Bangaru Laxman and Yedyurappa. The final nail was the picture of Sushma Swaraj standing behind the seated Reddy brothers and blessing them.
Fortunately, at that time Anna's movement started.
Their aim was to root out corruption and I became a contributing member of IAC. After two rounds of fast and the government refusing to pass the Lok Pal Bill, Arvind Kejriwal rightly realized that the corrupt politicians would not cut the branches they were sitting on.
IAC sent out SMS to all IAC members requesting their views whether to form a political party.
I was one of the millions of YES voters.
The overwhelming view was to form a political party.
Anna who initially agreed to send out the SMS, but back tracked for some reason and so Arvind formed AAP.
Here is a party which is doing what it preaches. All the candidates selected by AAP in the last Lok Sabha elections were great persons with none having any criminal charges against them.
On the other hand, all the other parties foisted people with criminal records.
Except for 4 AAP candidates from Punjab, all others lost.
It must have been a combination of any or all of the following causes.
1) The main reason was the mess created by the Congress in the last 10 years, made the people just want a change like Mamata Banerjee seeping away the CPM in Bengal.
2) Modi had done a good job in promoting Gujarat through an advertisement Blitzkrieg led by Amitabh Bacchan and so people decided to give him a chance.
3) Limitless source of unaccounted money so that people were bombarded by his voice and image, wherever one went and whatever media one viewed or listened.
4) Using money and muscle power to brow-beat the opposition and even sending them to hospital.
5) AAP's own lack of resources as it depended on the common man and accepted only white money.
What is my interest in AAP?
At my age, my interest is that India should have an honest government.
India is presently the butt of all jokes in the western countries for their corrupt and criminal politicians.
India stands 94th in the world Corruption Perception Index. Oh! yes, we could thump our backs and say look, Pakistan stands 127th.
Why can't we find ourselves in this list of the least corrupt?
Rank Country Score
1 Denmark 91
1 New Zealand 91
3 Finland 89
3 Sweden 89
5 Norway 86
5 Singapore 86
7 Switzerland 85
8 Netherlands 83
9 Australia 81
9 Canada 81.
People say that Modi himself is not corrupt.
People also felt the Manmohan Singh was not corrupt but see what a mess he has made of the economy. You yourself may not be corrupt but when you turn a blind eye and allow it to flourish, you will be accused of corruption.
Modi has a minister in his cabinet who is accused of rape. He has health minister who instead of taking action on the corrupt, is taking action on the person who is fighting corruption in AIIMS. What idea does it give you?
On the other hand, Arvind Kejriwal is not only honest himself but does not tolerate corruption by any member.
That is the difference.
There may be some errors in the selection process and some corrupt person may gain entry into AAP but they will be weeded out.
As long as Arvind is there, we can be sure that AAP will be an honest party.
In his intention to give India an honest government he may have made some errors in judgement as he did not gauge the mamoth strength of the opposition which controls the media too.
I have not only contributed by donating money but also my time to AAP in the hope that some time in the future we will get an honest government when people see through the Modi "Acche Din" syndrome

Suhasini Sharma Every coin has two sides... Just flip over the coin... You will come to know why Anna Hazare Wasn't ready to join politics, the reason behind Arvind Kejriwal entering into politics and then leaving the post og CM of Delhi such disgracefully

Sanjay Kumar Singh Right, very wrll said. Some people think that all coins are like the Sholay coin. How blissfully ignorant they are .. Well to each his own except that they should not constantly deride others on their choices because it is different or inconvenient for tem.

Suhasini Sharma Haan right.. I will not say that Radheshyam Sharma galat keh rahe hai... bas wo wahi dkh rahe hai jo AAP sabko dikhane ki koshish kr rhi h... Itni badi post ko itne irresponsible tarike se chodna proves that Arvind Kejriwal never deserved anything better.

Umesh Singhania So the war has stared Again....Keep Going Guys.....All the Best.....

Suhasini Sharma No war.. just presenting views respectfully on a worthy topic

Umesh Singhania Yes yes....U r right......War in the sense War Using Words.....

Radheshyam Sharma Anna Hazare did not want to form a political party as he did not want to dirty himself.
Arvind said to change the system, if we have to dirty ourselves, so be it.
Anna thought he could get the Lok Ppal bill passed .
How wrong he was?
The Jokepal bill was finally passed by the same BJP government after Arvind won the Delhi elections. Anna also went along in the got up dharna (to retrieve some prestige) at Ralegaon which was completely organised by the BJP with V K Singh and Kiran Bedi in the lead.
You won't get any AAP news on the regular news channels unless the news is detrimental to AAP for as I said earlier, the complete media has been bought over by the Ambani & Adanis so that only BJP is put in good light. If you want to know AAP news, you will have to visit our FB or Net site. But why bother when it is much easier to flick a switch and view the trash purveyed by the paid media.
Arvind resigned as he could not get the Lokpal bill passed and wanted to go back to the electorate to give him a fresh mandate.
He agrees that he was wrong in resigning WITHOUT ASKING THE PEOPLE'S OPINION AS HE HAD DONE BEFORE ASSUMING OFFICE.Note the emphasis is on the part given in capital letters. We still believe we were right in resigning. We do not believe in sticking to our chairs like leaches without performing.
The Bhagoda title was given by the BJP and paid media.
As it is, they would have criticised him for whatever he did.
If he had not resigned they would have said that he was sticking to his chair like a leach.
The Congress and BJP have neither formed a government nor held a re-election.
The BJP has been trying to cause defections from the Congress and AAP to form a government but have failed so far.
Finally, the Supreme Court has had to pull up the Central Government for not holding elections nor forming a government and given them time up to 9th September.
Why is the BJP scared of holding elections in Delhi in spite of winning all the Lok Sabha seats from Delhi?
It is because Modi has not been able to keep his promise of "Acche Din ayenge". Instead he is just encouraging more corruption as we have seen by the removal of the CVO of AIIMs for enquiring into corruption of BJP people associated with AIIMS.
This is what Hooda did when he transferred Ashok Khemka for enquiring into Robert Vadra's dealings.
That time the BJP was very vociferous.
Why is the BJP voice silent now?
As you said, two sides of the coin - but the sides we have been saying are the Congress and the BJP, both equally corrupt.
The Congress had an excuse as they had to depend on their allies like the DMK who were deeply involved in the scams. A.Raja, Dayanidhi Raja were from the DMK.
But the BJP has no such excuse. It has got once in a life time opportunity to rid the country of corruption.
But Modi is just not interested.
He only gives lip service against corruption, rape, blah! blah! blah! for the gullible people. He even has a minister accused of rape in his cabinet and the finance minister calls the Delhi rape a minor affair.

Suhasini Sharma I give up... _/\_... itna to mujhe pata hi nahi

Radheshyam Sharma That is the tragedy with the new generation.
They listen only to the news purveyed by the media which is totally adulterated.
You should get an alternate view which you will never get from them for the media are all owned by corporate entities who are interested in just prolonging the hold of the existing parties.
If you want to get a view of the opposite party, just go to AAP Facebook site
All those who oppose me in FB are probably in their 30s and 40s and are enamored by the BJP.
They little realize that once I too was enamored by them and supported the BJP. But their miscellaneous corrupt acts have opened my eyes that there is no difference between the BJP and Congress.
The AAP is like a breath of fresh air which will remove all the foul air hovering over India.
No, I am not married to AAP but I believe in Arvind Kejriwal and the change he promises in India are also what I want.
Yes, he is in the minority now but his thoughts are what all Indians want and HE WILL SUCCEED.
As they say you can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
Modi has already said, for 4 years, "Acche din" will come only for the Ambanis and Adanis. In the 5th year, when the elections will come, he will think of the Aam Aadmi.
For 66 years the Congress and BJP have been fooling Indians.
It is now time to change that.

After Shunting Out Vigilance Official, Health Minister Vows to End Corruption - Ha! Ha! Ha!

Days after the government shunted out an anti-corruption official from the country's premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences or AIIMs, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today vowed to end corruption in the nation's central hospitals. 

He also defended the decision to transfer vigilance officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who had unearthed a string of corruption cases at AIIMS.

Mr Chaturvedi was shifted because his post of Chief Vigilance Officer was "opposed" by the Central Vigilance Commission or CVC, said the minister.

"The re-profiling of Mr Sanjeev Chaturvedi, the Deputy Secretary posted at AIIMS with the powers of a Chief Vigilance Officer, has generated a storm in some quarters. To the Minister what was moot was the anomaly in the very posting of a CVO without the sanction of the Central Vigilance Commission and preserving the sanctity of the institution," Mr Vardhan said in a statement. (Central Vigilance Commission Rejected Chaturvedi's Name Twice: Harsh Vardhan)

But there is no record of rejection or opposition by the CVC, sources in the health ministry told NDTV. 

Mr Vardhan has himself acknowledged Mr Chaturvedi as the CVO when he acted on a case forwarded to him from the vigilance department in June this year.

In his statement, the minister claimed, "There are many aspects to corruption in hospitals which as a medico I know exist".

"I had stated on my first day in office that I will impose 500 percent transparency and adopt zero tolerance for corruption", said Mr Vardhan, adding that all systems in India's central hospitals have been placed under critical review to end "systemic and symptomatic" corruption. 

The results of his efforts to end corruption, said Mr Vardhan, "would soon be in the public domain".

AIIMS Anti-Corruption Officer Shunted by Government, Doctors Question Decision

The anti-corruption officer at AIIMS, Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who was shunted out by the government for doing his job has got support from his colleagues at the renowned institute. 

A memorandum, signed by doctors at the premier hospital states that the officer proved to be "too hot to handle" for the health minister and was thus shown the door. It also says there is more to the government decision than meets the eye and that the real danger is the "manner of removal". 

Speaking to NDTV, Dr Chandrashekhar Yadav, Professor at the Orthopedic department, said, "I do not feel his selection was wrong. I've seen during his tenure, patient care has gone up. He's removed so many dishonest (officials) and corrected anomalies in AIIMS. I've never seen this in my 17 years here."

The Health Minister has given two reasons for Mr Chaturvedi's removal as Chief Vigilance Officer (CVC) saying he wasn't eligible for the post and that prior approval was not taken from the CVC before his appointment.

But when we checked the rulebook we found that a deputy secretary rank officer, a position Sanjiv Chaturvedi holds, is eligible for the post of Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) and that AIIMS is not among the 100 organisations that need prior clearance for appointing a CVO.

But the government seems to be sticking to its stand. In a tweet, Dr Harsh Vardhan defended his decision. "Sanjeev Chaturvedi twice rejected by CVC.His continuation as CVO irregular and indefensible.CVC's unattended concerns addressed at last," he wrote on the micro blogging site.

Even though the government is relying on technicalities for his removal, the move has much larger implications. It would jeopardise all the graft and corruption cases that he initiated in his two years at AIIMS and they could end up becoming null and void.

That includes cases against those who went on unexplained, illegal foreign trips on tax payers' money and the officer who got his pet dog operated on at the AIIMS cancer centre.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why The CVO of AIIMS Sanjiv Chaturvedi was shunted by the BJP

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demands the immediate resignation of union health minister Dr Harshvardhan failing which the Prime Minister should sack him for his illegal action of having approved the shunting out of whistleblower officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi from the post of Chief Vigilance Officer of AIIMS.
It is shameful that the health minister is defending his shocking action to save his skin, but either he is ill-informed or is deliberately trying to mislead the nation for his blatant compromise with corruption.
AS the CVO of AIIMS, Chaturvedi had recommended CBI probes in scams involving top officials of AIIMS and the AAP is making public nine of these important cases.
Dr Harshvardhan’s action flies directly in the face of Prime Minister’s recent statement that he will not allow anyone to indulge in corruption and loot. There are enough indications of involvement of more ministers in the AIIMS issue and the AAP will reveal more details in coming days.
What is further damning is that the NDA government has even surpassed the record of the previous UPA government in the harassment of this honest officer.
In the previous UPA regime, after being transferred 12 times in five years by the Congress state government of Haryana, which also implicated him in half a dozen false cases and even suspended him, the Prime Minister’s Office had intervened to get him a central deputation and the President had quashed his suspension orders.
Now, when Chaturvedi’s tenure was fixed till June 2016, on which basis has he been divested of the CVO’s responsibility ?
The AAP is making public the letter written by the health ministry on May 23 to AIIMS, in which the ministry has mentioned that BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP JP Nadda had objected to Chaturvedi’s appointment, but this objection was overruled since the appointment was as per the rules .
On what basis has Dr Harshvardhan forced the health ministry to do a u-turn and reverse its stand within three months ?
Why Mr Nadda wanted Chaturvedi out from the CVO’s post was because on his recommendation, the CBI had registered a case of corruption against Mr Vineet Chaudhary, a Himachal Pradesh cadre IAS officer, when he was posted as Deputy Director at AIIMS. (Details attached with this press release along with other cases probed by Chaturvedi as CVO).
The NDA government’s latest action is the third suspect decision of its direct compromise with corruption.
Earlier, on July 23, the union home ministry issued a completely unjustified notification to restrict the powers of Delhi’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), in a desperate bid to prevent it from probing the Rs 54,000 crore natural gas pricing scam involving two former ministers of the UPA government.
This was followed by the union petroleum ministry’s affidavit in the Delhi High Court, where it refused to back the ONGC stand that the Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) was stealing gas from its fields in the KG D6 basin off Andhra Pradesh coast.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why we need Arvind Kejriwal explained

Four years ago on Independence Day, another fight for freedom started with the launch of; a unique crowd sourced corruption reports platform. As we celebrate our fourth anniversary, we bring you highlights of India’s retail corruption scenario from our data.
The total money paid as bribe since the last four years, as reported by users of from 716 cities.
Rs 225.73 crores
The total bribe reports posted on since August 15, 2010.
19927 Bribes reported
The users have reported of having paid the highest number of bribes to this department. Interestingly, the most number of honest officials are also from this department.
Most Bribes paid to Police Department
The highest number of corruption reports have been received from Bangalore, followed by Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and New Delhi.
Most Bribes Paid in Bangalore
The number of people who boldly said NO to corruption and are leading towards a corruption-free India.
No of Bribe fighter 2483
The good guys, who did their job without asking for a bribe and are renewing people’s faith in the system.
No of Honest officials  850

The above is from the site”I Paid a Bribe”.
Although it is a random survey, it explains why there is so much corruption.
The percentage of honest officers is just 4.26.
The percentage willing to fight corruption - 12.46.
Do you still doubt that we need Arvind Kejriwal

Why is the BJP silent on Ranjit Singh?

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday August 20, filed a petition before the Election Commission of India seeking immediate disqualification of Mr Ranjit Singh, BJP MLA from Gokalpur (reserved) assembly constituency from the Delhi assembly.
The AAP petition states that Mr Singh contested the December 2013 assembly elections from a constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) on a fake certificate procured from Uttar Pradesh (Please find attached a copy of the petition).
A Delhi court had last week directed the Police to lodge an FIR against Mr Singh under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code for having committed the offences of forgery and cheating, after a probe report was submitted in the court.
The AAP has filed the disqualification petition, since it is of the clear view that such an individual can no longer remain a member of the assembly.
Relevant provisions of the Representation of the People Act show that a clear case of disqualification is made out against Mr Singh.
According to the AAP, it is not only a clear and proven case of concealment of facts before the election authorities, but this MLA has also cheated the people of his constituency by having misled them about his origin.
The issue also raises serious questions about the kind of politics in which the BJP is indulging.
What is the BJP stand on the issue ? Will it take action against its MLA who has breached all levels of political decency and has committed a fraud on the weaker sections of the society ?

The last query is will the BJP take action on Ranjit Singh.
There is just no question of taking action.
When a leader has lied on his marital status and another leader on her educational qualification and a third is retained in spite of have murder charges and also made President of the organisation, how can you expect the party to take action. 
As Modi said just yesterday, "Sab Chalta Hai"

# Mumbai Shakti Mills Gang rape - Living through the nightmare

By Sonia Khan | Grist Media

That Hashtag Was My Colleague

Doubting doctors, corrupt cops, jeering lawyers and, of course, mercenary reporters. A middle class woman gang raped in the heart of Mumbai makes for a perfect storm of anxiety and righteousness. But what if the rape survivor is also a journalist? A year after the Shakti Mills gang rape, a colleague of the survivor writes of their reluctant ringside view of the circus of such cases, and the stark lesson that the system will not spare you even if you’re part of the system

As #MumbaiGangrape started trending on Twitter on the night of Thursday, August 22, 2013, we were living out a nightmare that we never thought would be ours.

Around 7.30pm, Sandhya*, an editor at the publication we work at, asks me to speak to our two photo interns, Deepak and Megha, who are shooting a photo-essay on the city’s abandoned spaces. They’ve already shot a vacant bungalow and deserted cars, and their next subject is the Shakti Mills compound by the Mahalaxmi Railway Station. The interns have just rung up Neha, their immediate senior. Sandhya doesn’t have any details, but can make out that one of them is hurt, because Neha is rushing with them to a hospital.
A little anxious, I try both their numbers but cannot get through. If she’s fractured a bone, it’s going to be so frustrating, I think. I ring Deepak the intern again. This time he answers, but before I can ask if everything is alright, he tells me he can’t speak and hands the phone to Abha, another colleague who ran into them on the way to the hospital. Abha cannot speak either, because she is sobbing.
My heart slows down. I just want to hear one of them saying Megha has broken a bone, but there’s only howling at the other end. I hear myself repeat, with a calm I’m not feeling: Stop crying and tell me what happened. We’ll deal with it. Is she ok?
No, she says eventually. Megha was raped.
* * *
Outside the railway station, the two young photojournalists are waiting at a signal. Why is she crying, a traffic policeman asks Deepak. She fell down while coming up the steps and hurt her knee, he answers.They take a taxi to Jaslok Hospital and pick up Neha on the way.Deepak sits in the front seat with his head in his hands. In the back, Megha is cowering in a corner, crying. On the way to the hospital, she narrates to Neha what will be forever etched in our memory.
They had wound up the assignment, and were leaving the mill compound. Near a busy exit that leads to Famous Studios, they were confronted by five men, two of whom had shown them the way in. They said they were railway officials and that the interns were trespassing on government property. They began to get aggressive, accusing Deepak of being the culprit in a recent murder at the mill, and told the two they’d have to meet their boss further inside the compound, who’d settle the matter.
Megha and Deepak protested their innocence, tried to reason with the men, and eventually, sensing that the situation was turning dangerous, offered them their expensive camera kits and phones to ransom their way out. One of the men pulled a broken beer bottle out of his pocket. They asked the interns to remove their belts, and used them to tie up Deepak. They forced him to the ground, and one of the men stood watch over him.
The other four pushed Megha further inside the mill, to a bare complex which looked in a state of either interrupted construction or partial dismantling: a wrecked ceiling and a rubble floor bridged by chipped pillars. Here, the five took turns to assault her.
Afterwards, they took photos of her with their phones, threatening to come after her if she told the police. They led her out to Deepak, untied him, and escorted them to the train, repeating their warnings. Then, they left in the opposite direction, towards Lower Parel station.
* * *
At work, after the conversation, I avoid eye contact with alarmed colleagues who’ve heard me on the phone. I say something vague about the interns being okay, that everyone should continue working and that I’ll be back in a couple of hours. No one believes me, but no one attempts to ask me any questions. Sandhya, the editor, and I are out of office within seconds. I can barely put one foot in front of the other, but she has the presence of mind to suggest that we draw some money before going to the hospital. Inside an ATM, I am shaking so much that I have trouble withdrawing my card. The taxi ride cannot have taken more than 20 minutes but it feels like the longest one of my life. My hair is standing on end. It’s August in Bombay but my teeth are chattering with cold.
In a vacant way, I wonder if Megha and Deepak will look like the assault victims from Law & Order, with broken bones, bloody faces, and black eyes. I don’t know then that this is a gang-rape but I know it is all going to blow up. I want to shriek, but I am unable to.
How are we ever going recover from something like this? You can cope, other things may occupy your brain, but can you ever go back to zero? I hear nothing except static in my head. Later, I realize that I have been mumbling over and over again: This changes everything.
Inside the casualty ward I look for our colleagues, and wonder why everyone looks so unperturbed. I push aside the bedside curtains of two other patients before I find Megha – looking more fragile than ever – lying on a bed, an intravenous drip threaded to her arm. Although she is quietly crying, I am relieved just to see her. I can’t find one useful thing to say to her, so I kneel beside the bed, grip her free hand, and pat her hair. The silence in our cubicle is filled up by a loud monologue from the next one: the patient’s wife is complaining about her husband’s prolonged hernia problem.
The last time I was in a hospital was to see a friend who had just delivered a baby. Now, I am trying to sift through the confusion and remember what we are supposed to do next. What if the hospital refuses to treat her? Do we have to inform the police or is that the hospital’s responsibility? Can we inform them without consulting her family? After what seems like hours, a woman doctor flicks aside the curtain and asks me who I am. (Weeks later, Megha will tell me that this doctor asked her whether she’d given the five men her consent, while also conducting a conversation on the phone.) A nurse comes in with a medico-legal case form, and gently begins asking us clueless questions and wants us to tell her what has happened. Megha asks her several times to be cleaned up; the nurse tells her to calm down but is stuttering with nervousness herself.
Megha’s terrified mother arrives, and I desperately compose and dispose of ways to tell her what’s happened. There’s no privacy inside the ward so I clutch her hand, and along with Faiza, another senior colleague, lead her out into the hospital compound. (Instinctively, I scan the area for cameras and busybodies: a nervous tic that will stand our team in good stead over the next few days.) Her mother only wants someone to say the words, and deny what she thinks she knows. I hold her arms to steady her – or to steady myself – and say, You need to be brave. Then I tell her.
Inside a doctor’s office, Deepak sits immobile on a cushioned bench, his eyes unfocused. Except for large red welts on his arms where the men had bound him, he looks unhurt physically. My colleagues Neha, Sandhya, and Abha surround him, showing their concern by asking if he’s hungry, if he needs water or coffee. The cops will be here soon and Manish, the head of the publication, asks Deepak to recount the sequence of events. It is not even 9pm, but he’s already been over this many, many times in the hospital.
Through the glass doors that will become our stakeout point for the next couple of hours, we watch a posse of policemen walk in. They’ve clearly been informed about the nature of the assault, but there isn’t a single woman officer in the team. Everyone is ordered out of the doctor’s office, and Deepak is soon spirited off to the scene of the crime to help the cops gather evidence.
Megha’s initial medical examination is completed, and I’m back inside the private ward, where our lives are getting rearranged. Her statement is being recorded and mercifully, a woman officer is now present, even if two male officers are the ones taking notes and asking questions in soft tones. Behind me and within earshot of everyone, another officer with a kind face engages in intermittent chatter with the nurses. Ye bahut bura hua par wahan jaane ki zarurat kya thi? Wo bhi akele? Ladkiyon ko lagta hai wo kahin bhi ja sakti hain? (What happened was awful, but why did they have to go there? And all alone? Do girls think they can go just about anywhere?)
I hold my breath for about half an hour, before I hiss at them to shut up.
Around this time, I begin to get calls and texts from identified and unidentified numbers. Friends who had heard about the rape want to ensure that I wasn’t the one hurt. Former colleagues offer help liaising with the police. Some journalists I’ve met in the field ask if I’ll speak to their channel/ publication’s crime reporters. That’s when we know that DNA’s website has an initial report of the incident, and even though they’ve left out the name of our publication, they’ve described it in such specific terms that it’s narrowed down the pool to one.
I receive a one-line SMS from a friend, advising me to delete Deepak and Megha’s pictures from their social media profiles. In the most absurd moment of that night, I have to interrupt Megha’s statement to get her Facebook and Twitter passwords. It annoys the officers, but I can already see tomorrow’s reports. A survivor of a sexual crime is protected under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, which makes any disclosure of her identity a criminal offence. But who knows what editor might decide to run her picture with a pixelated face or a black band over her eyes?
Megha’s statement has finally been written. It has been read back to her. Her clothes have been gathered and sealed as evidence. I walk out into the waiting area at midnight, where other colleagues are also deflecting calls, while keeping count of the VIPs who are beginning to visit Megha. Someone pats my head, and for the first time that night I truly unravel. Don’t cry here, says someone else, the cameras can see you through the glass doors. In the darkness, the flash of nearly three dozen video and still cameras twinkle like fairy lights.
It is 4am by the time I am back in my flat. I take everything I am wearing – clothes, flip-flops, jewellery – and throw it all into the dustbin. I take off clean utensils from the rack and wash them all over again. Then, afraid to sleep, I sit in a catatonic state on the floor until morning – when I can call my family, who live in another city, and confirm that it wasn’t me.
Around the same time, the police take Deepak from the crime scene, which is teeming with cameras, to the NM Joshi police station. It isn’t much better outside the station, but at least there’s an inside, and there’s an exit at the back that journalists haven’t discovered yet. Deepak is going through stacks of photo albums of history-sheeters from the Dhobi Talao, Lower Parel, and Mahalaxmi slum settlement areas.
Early morning on Friday August 23, Deepak is back at the crime scene with the officers, who now cordon off the area to keep journalists from trampling all over potential evidence. Around 9am, Deepak exits the mill with Akhil, our colleague from another department, to wait for the cops at the police van parked in the lane. This is the first time they’ve ever interacted. He asks Akhil for a cigarette and the two light up. Within moments, two men with raised cameras are loping in their direction, followed by a swarm of 30 others. There’s barely time to leap into the van before the photographers descend, stuffing their lenses through the vehicle’s window and door grills. Deepak, sitting on a raised bench, buries his head in his hands. Under different circumstances, he’d probably have been outside the van with his peers, who are now taking low-angle shots of him. Akhil is powerless to stop them. Finally, he puts a towel over Deepak’s head, as they do when accused criminals are led out of a courtroom. For the next 10 minutes, they can only hear the camera shutters going off. One photographer yells to a colleague, Woh dekh, cigarette le, cigarette le! (Look at that! Take a picture of the cigarette).
Meanwhile, the rest of us come in to work in a haze of incomprehension. On my desk, a cup of coffee from last evening sits next to an uncapped pen – as if I’d left to take a stroll around the office; as if the last 14 hours hadn’t happened. We gather around the TV, waiting for the press conference that the police commissioner is due to address. There are grave faces all around; occasionally, someone will break down. But those of us who were at the hospital are too exhausted to cry. We hear that an India TV reporter reached the security gates at the office, but was thrown out when our co-worker recognized him. Every few minutes, someone’s phone buzzes with a call, or a text message appended with a sheepish, “When is a good time to call?” Never, I say to myself. But we can’t afford to miss a call from the cops, so everyone installs the TrueCaller app on their phones.
Neha, the photographer, is fending off calls in her gentle but firm way from a senior editor at DNA, whom she knows from before. Now he calls her to say that he couldn’t sleep all night because he has a daughter the same age as our hurt colleagues. Then, he casually attempts to get some details about them. Two days from now, the pretence will drop: his probing will take on a slightly threatening edge when he hints at his proximity to a local right-wing MLA, insinuates that Neha was responsible for endangering the interns’ safety, and finally, ominously regrets over SMS that, “Sumtimes pals cause more damage unwittingly”. “Friends” and former colleagues in different news organizations will subject all of us to similar tactics.
There’s a spot of comfort by noon – Deepak has identified the first suspect out of a line-up, and is looking a little chipper. But by late afternoon, the first of what we’ve been fearing hits us. Deepak’s uncle and aunt are calling him frantically. Lemon News has just flashed his face.
Saturday, I wake up to an email from a friend and former colleague, who sends us love and strength. I write back: “When there are no more convicts to be rounded up, no more hospital formalities, the bruises go away, the papers begin talking about other things, and there’s nothing left to do with our hands, we’ll only have ourselves to be with. What will we do then?” I should have opened the papers before sending that email. When I eventually do, I know I won’t have to worry about having nothing to do for a long time.
I can barely believe what the Times of India has done. Their coverage of the incident includes medical details – the extent of injuries to Megha’s private parts – attributed to a “hospital source”. Their reporters have turned up at her building and asked questions of her unaware neighbors and the building’s guards. They’ve even quoted a religious leader from her community.
I go to work. At the office, one colleague is making pre-emptive calls to all news channels on his radar, requesting them to cover the incident with caution. Another is frantically trying to reach the editors of Afternoon Despatch & Courier and Free Press Journal, tabloids that identified our publication in their reports. The latter even named our Editor. In print, the damage is done; the least that they can do is to remove the details from their website.
In the afternoon, we congregate at Faiza’s home, where we learn that MiD-Day’s 15-page coverage of the assault includes an easily recognizable, full-body picture of Deepak from the mill the day before. It accompanies a tacky article and a caption pointing out the irony of the “message of peace” on his T-shirt. It’s clear that MiD-Day’s Editor hasn’t paused to think that the pictures might endanger our colleague or reveal his identity. People on Twitter are pointing this out. The Editor’s defence: “We have blurred his face completely. The message on the tee is telling. Also, friends know, no? They were all there at Jaslok?” This wasn’t even true. His family and friends wouldn’t find out until much later. It takes several emails from journalists in other publications before the pictures are pulled offMiD-Day’s website.
At the hospital, the security staff is now alert, and there is a secret entry and three checks on the way to Megha’s room on the 16th floor. Despite that, the head nurse catches four people trying to go up. They tell the nurse that they are “PhD medical students”. Hospital security forces them to open their bags: all four are carrying cameras.
Soon afterward, a DNA reporter slips inside the hospital on the pretext of using the restroom. The ground-floor women’s restroom is next to the staircase: The elevators are all heavily guarded, but the staircase is unsupervised. The reporter climbs 16 flights and reaches the intern’s room. Eight policepersons are stationed at the door. She tells them she is Megha’s friend. When they probe further, she says, “I am her cousin and we are from the same field. I just want to know how she is doing.” The cops pass her on to hospital security. The CCTV cameras have recorded her and another journalist lurking around the hospital premises all day, talking to other patients. They had finally snuck in pretending to accompany another patient’s family.
Waiting for permission to meet Megha, Faiza and I take a walk down Marine Drive. She tells me aboutthe 2005 Marine Drive case, when a teenager was raped by a police constable. Faiza, who has lived all her life in Mumbai, speaks about the shock that everyone around her had then felt, treating it like an assault on the city, and not on the body and psyche of one person. Now, we both confront the reality that people around us are discussing our case with the same pity and horror.
As we are talking, an SMS from an editor at a national news magazine lands in Faiza’s phone: is Megha in a position to write a “first-person account” for her magazine? It’s only been 46 hours since the incident, and this is her second request. This time, Faiza asks her if she is serious. The editor launches into a simultaneously confused, berating and pious explanation about how her “organization’s resources would be rolled out” for our hurt colleague. We decide there’s no point reasoning with her, but it doesn’t take away the question – what do they want to know?
* * *
The cops are working non-stop. There’s too much media attention, and too much heat to nab the assaulters – not just because the assault was brutal, or because it took place in daylight in India’s most cosmopolitan city, but because the survivor was an upper-class young woman. By Sunday, August 25, four of the five accused have been arrested.
Mumbai Mirror has printed front-page pictures of the accused, dealing a blow to the case on two counts. First, it violates the first principle of criminal procedure, that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty, and interferes with due process of the law. Second, the Press Council of India’s Norms of Journalistic Conduct (2010) suggest that suspects’ “pictures should not be shown” to avoid a bias during identification parades, and thereby compromise the prosecution of the accused.
The same day, MiD-Day carries a report with pictures of the main accused and three of his family members. The accompanying report, ironically, blames the cops for callousness. The Press Council also advises against identifying the family members of convicts to “eschew suggestive guilt.” Mumbai Mirror and The Indian Express are the only newspapers that refrain from naming the juvenile accused in the case. Express goes a step further and withholds the name of his grandmother, who has been quoted and pictured everywhere else, sometimes with the address of the shanty in which she lives.
By Monday, August 26, all five of the accused are in custody. In the following days, the calls and text messages begin to abate. Newspapers that have already violated Megha’s privacy print an appeal from her family to respect her privacy. She leaves the hospital. Every evening after work, we alternate between visiting her and Deepak. We distract ourselves with a little bit of fake cheer, with talk of future assignments, with an occasional game of Taboo. Now that there is time to breathe, our grief slowly starts becoming real.
I am taking the train to work on Monday, September 2, when a colleague sends me Times of Indiacolumnist Bachi Karkaria’s defence of the paper’s“saturation coverage” of the assault. The editorial, headlined “Don’t make her lose her face”, says the survivor must reveal her identity “and help cast aside the veil of misplaced disgrace.” Karkaria concedes that TOI might have revealed her identity to “an inner circle” but says that, “The purdah of anonymity is the accessory of disgrace.” It’s also the law. I am less upset with Karkaria’s go-girl posturing than with the realization that she is only articulating the same brief that’s been given to TOI reporters, and those from other publications. In print and television newsrooms, journalists are required not just to report personal tragedies, but to hunt for exclusives, and look for "human angles" by hounding relatives and friends of those affected. Crossing the line is not only encouraged, it is mandatory.
* * *
On Thursday, September 3, Neha and I are called in to the police station for questioning. The officers – almost always deferential, but chatty – tell us that earlier in the day, a 19-year-old girl had approached them, claiming that she had been assaulted by the same men in the Shakti Mills compound, less than a month before Megha was assaulted. The details of both the cases are distressingly similar: the male companion of the young woman was tied and beaten up while the accused assaulted her. The young woman, who we are told worked as a telephone operator, now sits with a bowed head outside the questioning room, looking lost and even more vulnerable than our young colleagues, accompanied only by her mother and brother. There are no cameras surrounding her, no one is asking her to write first-person accounts. We do not know it then, but her destiny is closely linked with that of Megha.
The following day, on Friday, September 4, both Megha and Deepak are called in for a Test Identification Parade (TIP), where they have to pick out the accused from a line-up of similar-looking men. They are both nervous, but putting on a brave face. The police make Megha wear a burqa to avoid the cameras outside, but inside the room where the suspects will be called in by turn, she is required to take it off. A tehsildar and two more personnel bear witness to the process.
Here is the routine of the identification parade that Megha is told to follow. There are separate line-ups of seven men, and the survivor has to pick the accused by touching him on the arm. She then has to go to a corner of the room, and announce loudly what the suspect did to her.
And this is what Megha does on September 4, in a room full of men that include her attackers, without any women officers present to aid her. She touches the men on the arm to identify them, and then says, Isne mera balatkaar kiya (He sexually assaulted me). She repeats this four times over.
In the following days, Neha, Deepak and I visit the police station several times over to testify, or help iron out small details. In the days prior, we’ve befriended a tiny cat that prefers to snooze in a nook on the tyre of a stationary police van, and a puppy that lives inside it. The officers tell us that the chargesheet will be filed soon; the trial will be in a fast-track court, just like the December 16 Delhi gang-rape. On Friday, September 13, as if on cue, the verdict for the Delhi case is the death penalty for the four surviving adult convicts. Six days after that, the 600-page chargesheet in our case is filed.
I learn about the chargesheet when Faiza calls: she has found out that the police is handing out the document to anyone from the media, without redacting Megha’s identity and personal details. Every neurotic precaution we have taken over the past weeks seems to turn to dust.
Still, there’s some relief. It’s only been a month since the incident, but Megha and Deepak are back at work, looking just like their cheery, bobblehead selves again. My struggles, and those of my colleagues, however, remain private. I cope with insomnia. When I do manage to get some sleep, I wake up every time with the feeling that someone is at my window. To counter the sleeplessness and to mute my thoughts, I try to tire myself out. I go for a run with my headphones plugged in, the way I have for a few months, but now I spend as much time looking over my shoulder as looking in front. I shut out all my friends. At work, my colleagues and I know that none of us will ever be whole again, but we pretend we are – for some part, we believe it too.
It is afternoon, three days later, when my phone lights up with a news alert. I am in the middle of an interview, so I am about to mute it but the hashtag catches my eye. It is a tweet by DNA, announcing that one of the accused, Siraj-ur-Rehman, has escaped from the Thane jail where he was in custody. Within seconds, NDTV sends out the same alert. Sitting in a coffee-shop several kilometers away from work, I blanch, apologise to the interviewee, and run out into the sun. I feel the terror of August 22 wash over me again. Frantic, I call colleagues to find out where Megha is, and beg them not to let her go home. Plans are made and unmade at work. Forty-five minutes later, we learn that there was a clerical error, and that the accused was in the jail the whole time. The media had not bothered to verify these details. My legs give way and I sit on the pavement and exhale.
* * * 
The trial begins in the middle of October. I am at work when I receive court summons to appear on the morning of Tuesday the 15th, the same day as Megha’s mother and Neha. I am glad that things are moving, but I am on edge all of the previous day. The accused will be in the courtroom, and I have no idea how we will react. By the time I make my way up the creaky wooden steps of Esplanade Court, I have a terrible, sluggish sense of foreboding. The static in my brain has returned.
At the entrance to the courtroom, two officers in civvies try to temporarily board up a part of the door’s glass pane with an old file that will not hold. I have no idea what an in-camera trial looks like. Since the whole point is privacy I presume it will be inside the judge’s chamber with maybe four other people. I am shocked when I see the size of the room, the four defence lawyers, and the number of clerks and admin staff inside. A few reporters are lounging about too, trying to make eye contact and smiling our way until they’re asked to leave.
The accused are brought in: barefoot and cuffed, which prevents them from keeping their hands folded in supplication to the judge. All but one look petrified, and I try not to stare. I clutch the wooden bench I am sitting on and ask myself if I am feeling anger, pity, or frustration. But I can only make out a sense of bereavement. The shock of how this happened to us, or how it happened at all, refuses to wear off.
The intern’s mother will be questioned first and Neha and I will appear only after lunch. I spend the morning in the courtroom’s small covered balcony, squinting out at the cricket games going on in Azad Maidan through the tiny dust-lined windows.
When it is our turn, we go in aware that the defence lawyers will lob questions designed to embarrass and throw us, but we are not ready for the lies and mocking assertions: Your colleagues were having an affair and had gone to the mill for privacy. What sort of an editor allows a male and a female intern to go to an abandoned area? You only want to implicate innocent men for the loss of her honor. She was not assaulted.
We are not prepared for how little this life-altering event will mean to other people. The defence lawyers banter among themselves. One of the accused, now relaxed, yawns; the others look like it’s all happening to someone else. At one point, one of the lawyers badgers Neha about whether she noticed semen stains on Megha’s underclothes, hoping that because she is a woman, talk of semen will embarrass her. He stops when the judge objects, but he laughs with the other lawyers. Two of the accused also laugh.
* * *
Three days later, it is time for Megha’s deposition. We’re afraid she’ll not only have to face the accused again, she will be asked by the clerk to give out her personal details in their presence: her address, where she works, her phone number, her mother’s phone number, how she gets to work, what time she leaves from work.
The first defence lawyer stretches the questioning for well over two hours, pressing her for details about her assaulters’ eyes, ears, and nose. Another tries to insinuate that she’s signed a fake statement, because it was obvious that she doesn’t know Hindi or Marathi. There is a yelling contest between the defence and the prosecution. They ask her to identify a pornography clip that the accused had shown her during the assault, at which point, she begins to feel faint and has to be escorted to a hospital. While this is happening, a photographer takes a picture of her, but is detained before he can slip away.
The lawyers press her on more irrelevant details the following day. Do you know the difference between the colours grey and pink? Why didn’t you volunteer to give the court your appointment letter? Do you know how to use the Internet? When did you last have your period? For how long did each of the accused assault you? One lawyer wants to bring in a doctor to find out if it is possible for the assault to have lasted as long as she says it did. The intern screams into the mike to say that she wasn’t clocking the minutes. The defence guys laugh again.
Their closing statements are: We put it to you that you were not assaulted. The blood on your clothes is because you were menstruating. You’re doing all this to become a famous photojournalist.
* * *
Despite the nightmare in court, we’re all in a steadier place a few days later. Megha visits me on a Sunday evening, and over tea, we go over the aftermath of the attack.
I tell her that in the past, I have seen reporters at AIIMS, Delhi, confront sexual assault victims, women who were from impoverished backgrounds, women who didn’t know their rights, women who were so afraid that they caved in to the demands that they tell journalists their stories.
That evening we wonder why we expected the media to behave with propriety with us, to accord us the luxury of time and distance when they’ve proceeded heedlessly with so many others?
I also tell her that even though it wasn’t my body that withstood the assault, it’s taking me so long to shake off the instinct to cover myself up. Before she turns to leave, she shrugs and says, I am not going to change the way I dress, or the way I am. It isn’t much, and we both know that there will be no straight path away from what happened. We will go back and forth. We will circle around.
But for the first time in weeks, I smile.
*All names have been changed to protect privacy.
Editor’s Note: On April 4, 2014, three adult offenders found guilty in both the cases at Shakti Mills were sentenced to death under Section 376E of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, the first conviction of its kind since the amendment. This report was written and published with the permission of the survivor.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Seriously? SMS Campaign Asks Us to Surrender LPG Subsidy

This has been posted by Mr. I P Bakpai on NDTV.
(Ishwari Bajpai is Senior Advisor at NDTV; he has been a journalist for 30 years, and has covered the elections since 1984.)
If you haven't got it as yet, you are very likely to get an sms from your gas company inviting you to join this group -  "Over 2,500 citizens have joined nation-building by giving up LPG subsidy". This voluntary surrender of the subsidy is the latest effort by the Government and the oil companies to reduce the whopping LPG subsidy of Rs. 46,000 crores. The hope is that playing on our sentiments of "nationalism" will bring out the best in us.  The oil companies' target is to get 1 crore of the 15 crore LPG users in the country to voluntarily give up the subsidy.
Having failed in their efforts to restrict the subsidy first to 6, then 9 and currently 12 cylinders a year per user,  oil companies realize that governments facing elections don't have much stomach for upsetting voters. The other option of reducing the subsidy amount on each cylinder has also met a similar fate. Today, the subsidy per cylinder is higher than what the consumer pays. In Delhi, the cylinder costs Rs.414 and the subsidy is Rs.470. In 2003, the cost of the same cylinder was Rs.241 and the subsidy was less than half. 
The likelihood of this sms campaign in persuading one crore users to opt out of the subsidy system is highly unlikely. 3.5 crore Indians pay taxes. That's it. We aren't a people that are going to race forward to surrender a subsidy. And a month after the sms campaign was launched, 2,500 people have obliged.  he conversion rate is very low.
Part of the reason for the low conversion is that there is an assumption by the oil companies that the consumers understand the context of the sms. Yes, most consumers know that LPG is subsidized. But do they know they are paying less than half the real value? Probably not. Do they know that the impact on their budget is going to be Rs. 600 a month if they opt out? Unlikely. Very few are going to click on the sms link to the oil companies' website to hear the truth about the subsidy.
Without telling the middle class and above that they really don't need a Rs. 470 dole from the government, how can oil companies hope for success?
If this is how the Finance Minister thinks he is going to reduce the oil subsidy from Rs85,500 crores last year to Rs. 63,5000 crores this year, he had better think again. May be, and just may be, if Narendra Modi had made an emotional call on Independence Day to nation to do this, the impact may have been greater....your country needs you to give up the gas subsidy!
But, since he chose not to, or perhaps no one suggested it to him, here are a number of steps the oil companies can take to push those who don't deserve the subsidy to exit this magic circle:

  1. All government servants including those in the armed forces and railways, PSU employees earning more than Rs. 30,000 a month ( an arbitrary number but close to making one a tax payer or class 1 and 2 employee) must within 30 days show proof that they have informed the oil company supplying their household with LPG that they are opting out.
  2. All income tax payers must report their household LPG consumer number in the return. This is then passed onto the oil companies who delete these people from the subsided list.
  3. In  a city like Delhi, where house tax rates are determined by "class of colony" no delivery of LPG at subsidized rates to Class A and B (maybe C as well).
  4. In other cities and towns, where this does not exist, it is not that difficult to know which are the more well-to-do areas and tell the consumers who live there that they will not get subsidized LPG.
  5. Work with the local motor vehicle authority and eliminate the 21 million car owners from the subsidy list.
  6. The delivery boy should check whether a house has an air conditioner. If it does, it does not need a gas subsidy. (This should be verified by another person.)
Obviously there will be a lot of overlap between these lists, but the government is more likely to get to the 1 cr number and save about Rs. 6000 crore from this than text messages.  
And finally, the government cannot duck doing something about  the level of subsidy, which has gone from just above Rs.100 per cylinder in 2003 to Rs.470 today. No policy that does not reduce this by at least half in the next year is going to have significant impact on the subsidy amount of Rs. 46,000 crores. The model used to reduce the diesel subsidy, which is now down to about a rupee, by raising the price month on month by 0.50p may be the way to go. Of course, for LPG it would need to be closer to Rs. 20 to have the desired effect in a year. 

If the government is serious of wanting the people to surrender their LPG connections, it should first ask all MPs and MLAs to give up all the perks they are getting from the government. Instead, the BJP government is thinking of increasing the slalries of all MPs.
What an irony?