Saturday, October 10, 2015

Why are you hiding contracts with social media giants, HC asks Centre

TNN | Oct 8, 2015, 01.46 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Days after PM Narendra Modi's return from the Facebook headquarters in the US, a contract between the Indian government and the social media giant has come under the scanner of the Delhi high court. 

A bench of Justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva on Wednesday pulled up the Centre for "hiding the contracts" from the court. "Why are you not filing the contract? Why are you hiding them from us? What is the hesitation? It's been five months since our May 7, 2015 direction," the HC said giving the Centre time till October 28 to place contracts with Google and WhatsApp apart from Facebook. 

On May 7, the Centre had sought time to place before the court the "exact nature of the contracts which have been entered into by the government/government departments with the social media sites on the internet". It failed to place the contract and sought more time on July 30. 

During the latest hearing, the HC indicated that it has a "lot to say on the contracts", while the Centre maintained that these are "standard contracts" with the sites and "not tailor-made". The HC's observations came while hearing a PIL filed by former BJP member K N Govindacharya, who has raised questions on the use of social media by government departments. 

Lawyer Virag Gupta, appearing for Govindacharya, told the court that the "Centre has become the biggest marketing agent for social media sites" and is "transferring/surrendering" all intellectual property rights (IPRs) of the data being uploaded on these sites. 

Earlier, the court had observed that it appeared that when anything was uploaded on social media sites, the websites got a licence to the IPRs of the content without paying any royalty and had asked the Centre whether it was aware of this. The court had also observed that when the government gives royalty-free licence to Facebook without anything in return, "it was akin to (giving) state largesse". 

Is this the beginning of scams?

Friday, October 9, 2015


A three-judge bench of Kolkata District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum passed a historic judgment holding the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata and two of their doctors, Dr. Asoke Sengupta (Surgeon) and Dr. Srijita Ghosh Sen (Radiologist) guilty for causing mental agony and harassment to a patient through unethical and negligent therapy. This case was fought by PBT on behalf of the hapless victim from a remote village in West Bengal as PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, personally appeared before the court (during his last trip to India) and argued the case against the powerful Apollo Gleneagles Hospital. The Consumer Court made numerous scathing observations in regard to the incompetent and unethical doctors as well as the unfair trade practice that the Apollo hospital has been involved only to cheat the innocent patients (see the judgment below).
The victim in this case did not die or suffered any permanent injuries but he suffered endless mental as well as physical harassment due to the greed by the Apollo doctors. The Kolkata doctors recommended needless investigations (CT and X-ray) but did not bother to explain that the patient was not affected with any serious illness. Fearing for life, the victim rushed to Mumbai Tata Cancer Center where he was clearly told that he had nothing to be worried. Since there was no real physical injury suffered by the victim, the court granted a compensation of Rs. 40,000/- (Forty thousands) for pain and suffering including Rs. 10,000/- as “litigation cost” to be paid, jointly and severally, by the Apollo Hospital and the two guilty doctors. In addition, the court has also directed that if the hospital and two doctors fail to pay the compensation within 1 month from the date of the Judgment, i.e. 30th September, 2015, they will have to pay additional “penal damages” at the rate of Rs. 200/- each day.
After holding the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital and two doctors guilty, the court also made numerous scathing and remarkable observations underscoring the greed and lack of compassion by the hospital/doctors some of which are reproduced below:
(page 15) “…….we are convinced that the entire part of examination and opinion of the Dr. Asok Sengupta is against ethics of medical science and it is not proper type of prescription, such a prescription is not even written by the Quack doctors……this is the position of the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, their doctors who are there only for collecting money, squeezing money by different methods but treatment is ‘zero’ and that is the fundamental medical trade to deceive the patient …..”
(page 16) “But truth is that the doctors who are operating such machine for CT Scan, MRI etc. are not practically aware about the machine or about its operation. Everything is done by the technicians.”
(page 17) “Two doctors, one FRCS and another MRCP talked with each other along with report of Apollo Gleneagles Hospital report, CT chest report but both of them only talked and gossiped but no result is noted that is the conduct of the OPs and such a practice on the part of the OPs is no doubt unethical and against medical philosophy and for their negligent and deficient manner of treatment and diagnosis complainant suffered mental suffering, physical suffering, family suffering and financial suffering.”

[National Election Watch news] Press Release: Phase II Bihar 2015 Assemby Elections: 31% or 142 out of 456 Candidates declared criminal cases.

·         Candidates with Criminal Cases: Out of all the 456 candidates, 142 (31%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
·         Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: 110 (24%) candidates have declared serious criminal cases including cases related to murder, attempt to murder, communal disharmony, kidnapping, crimes against women etc.
·         Candidates with cases related to murder11 candidates have declared cases related to murder (Indian Penal Code Section-302)Ramendra Ram of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) from Chenari (SC)constituency has declared 2 charges related to murder while rest of the candidates face one charge each. 2candidates of Garib Janata (Secular)1 of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation (CPI (ML)(L)), 1 candidate fielded by Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, 1 by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and 5 Independent candidates have declared cases related to murder in their affidavits.
·         Candidates with cases related to Attempt to Murder: 36 candidates have declared cases ofattempt to murder (IPC Section-307)Munna Ram, a CPI (ML)(L) candidate from Mohania constituency faces 4 charges related to attempt to murderRamendra Ram of the BSP from Chenari (SC) constituency and Prabhat Kumar Ranjan of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) from Ghosi constituency have declared 3 charges related to attempt to murder. While CPI (ML)(L) fielded 4 candidates facing charges related to attempt to murderBSP fielded 3. 12 Independent candidates have each declared charges related to attempt to murder.
·         Candidates with cases related to Crimes against Women: 6 candidates have declared cases related to crimes against women. 1 candidate fielded by BSP1 by RJD, 1 by Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha and 1 Independent candidate have each declared offence related to assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (IPC Section-354).
·         Candidates with cases related to causing Communal Disharmony: 2 candidates have declared cases relating to causing communal disharmony. Pradeep Kumar Joshi of Rashtra Sewa Dal fromDheri constituency has declared charges related to deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs (IPC Section-295A) and 1case related to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (IPC Section-153A). Vikas Singh, an Independent candidate from Bhabua constituency has declared 1 charge related topromoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (IPC Section-153A) and charge related to injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class (IPC Section-295).
·         Candidates with cases related to Robbery and Dacoity: candidates have declared cases related to robbery and dacoity. Naresh Kumar Bharti, an Independent candidate from Bodh Gaya (SC)constituency has declared 2 charges related to dacoity (IPC Section-395) and  charge each related tomaking preparation to commit dacoity (IPC Section-399) and assembling for purpose of committing dacoity (IPC Section - 402). Satyendra Sah of Samajwadi Party (SP) from Sasaram constituency has declared charge each related to dacoity (IPC Section-395) and robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt (IPC Section-397).
·         Candidates with cases related to Kidnapping: candidates have declared cases related toKidnapping. 3 candidates have declared offence related to kidnapping for ransom etc. (IPC Section-364A).
·         Party wise Candidates with Criminal Cases: 11 (69%) out of 16 candidates from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)4 (31%) out of 13 candidates from Communist Party of India (CPI)15 (47%) out of 32 candidates from BSP(69%) out of 13 candidates fielded by Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)), 6 (32%) out of 19 candidates from SP, 9 (69%) out of 13 candidates of RJD, 4 (67%) out of 6 candidates fielded by Indian National Congress (INC), 1 (7%) out of 14 candidates of Shiv Sena (SHS) along with 9 (47%) out of 19 candidates of the CPI(ML) (L) and 34 (23%) out of 146 Independent candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
·         Party wise Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases 6 (38%) out of 16 candidates from BJP2 (15%) out of 13 candidates from CPI11 (34%) out of 32 candidates from BSP(38%) out of 13 candidates fielded by JD(U), 5 (26%) out of 19 candidates from SP, 9 (69%) out of 13 candidates of RJD, 1 (17%) out of 6 candidates fielded by INC, 1 (7%) out of 14 candidates of SHS along with 9 (47%) out of 19 candidates of the CPI(ML) (L) and 31 (21%) out of 146 Independent candidates have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
·         Red Alert Constituencies*: 23 constituencies in the second phase of Bihar assembly elections have 3 or more candidates with declared criminal cases. Aurangabad constituency with candidates has the highest number of candidates who have self-declared criminal cases against themselves.
*Red Alert Constituencies are those which have 3 or more candidates with criminal cases contesting elections.

Noted inteelectuals ans winners of Sahitya Akademi Awards resign in protest of Modi's SILENCE!

Nayantara Sahgal protests Dadri lynching, returns Akademi award

Noted writer Nayantara Sahgal has returned the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in protest against what she called the “vanishing space” for diversity. 

The niece of the former Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, also said people were being “killed for not agreeing with the ruling ideology.” 

Referring to the recent killings of rationalists and writers M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare and of Dadri resident Mohammad Akhlaq, who was lynched on suspicion of consuming beef, Ms. Sahgal, speaking to The Hindu from her home in Dehradun, said: “…in this rising tide of hatred, India is being unmade, being destroyed.”
The last straw
Ms. Sahgal said she was concerned at the environment in the country and it seemed to be getting “worse and worse” in the past 15 months. “I guess the death of this poor man in Dadri [Mohammad Akhlaq] was the final…the last straw,” she said. 

She criticised the government’s inaction and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence. “In all these cases, justice drags its feet. The Prime Minister remains silent on this reign of terror. We must assume he dare not alienate evil-doers who support his ideology,” she said in a written statement. 

Denying that her decision stems from her political beliefs, Ms. Sahgal said: “I am not against any political party. India is a democracy, and in democracies every party has a right to be in power, but what we are seeing in India today is fascism. There is a vanishing space for diversity to the extent people are being killed for not agreeing with the ruling ideology.” 

Ms. Sahgal was a member of the Sahitya Akademi’s Advisory Board for English but she resigned during the Emergency. 

She also famously criticised her cousin, Indira Gandhi, for actions during the Emergency in 1975.


After Nayantara Sahgal, poet Ashok Vajpeyi returns Sahitya Akademi award

A day after writer Nayantara Sahgal returned her Sahitya Akademi award against what she described “unmaking of India, poet Ashok Vajpeyi also handed back the prestigious literary honour to the government, criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not speaking up against the recent spree of violence. 

Mr. Vajpeyi said that “it’s high time that writers take a stand” to mark their protest against the recent murders of writers and minorities. “We have an eloquent Prime Minister, who addresses lakhs of people, but here writers are being murdered, innocent people are being murdered, his Ministers make controversial statements...Still he is quiet. Why doesn’t he shut them up?” Mr. Vajpeyi told a private news channel.
After seeing Ms. Sahgal, the 88-year-old niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr. Vajpeyi said he decided to give up the award and express his solidarity with her. 

"Why doesn't he tell the nation and the writing and creating community that the pluralism of this community will be defended at every cost? Although the government makes announcements that this would not be tolerated, that would not be tolerated ...but tolerance is there. How is it that all this has erupted now?"
Earlier, Uday Prakash, another famous literary figure in Hindi language, had returned the award. 

Urdu writer joins protest, to return prize

After writer Nayantara Sahgal and poet Ashok Vajpeyi, Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas announced that he would be returning the Maharashtra State Urdu Sahitya Academy Award, which he won in 2011 for his third novel Khuda Ke Saaye Mein Aankh Micholi (Hide-and Seek in the Shadow of God). 

Mr. Abbas’ action is in protest against the ‘growing intolerance of Hindu right-wing groups against minorities.’ 

Speaking to The Hindu, he said, “Ever since the Dadri lynching, the Urdu writing community has been quite unhappy. I am going to the Academy office on Saturday to return the award and already there are 2-3 Urdu writers who want to join the protest. It is high time we stood up to the injustice surround-ing us…” 

Mr. Abbas is no stranger to controversy. His first Urdu novel, Nakhlistan ki Talash, published in 2004 had created a stir in literary circles and he was forced to resign from his post as a lecturer in a Mumbai college. The novel is the story of a young educated Muslim, who finds himself alienated in the post-1992 Mumbai riots situation, which leads him to join a terrorist organisation.
An FIR was lodged against Mr. Abbas for spreading ‘obscenity’ through this novel and he was arrested on July 28, 2005 and charged under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for the printing of ‘grossly indecent or scurrilous text’ which carries a jail term of up to two years. The case is still pending. 

“Writers feel a sense of desperation and exasperation in the face of threat to freedom of speech and the aesthetics of communication. This [return of award] is a symbolic gesture as this is the only way the literary community can react and express solidarity for one another,” says Sukrita Paul Kumar, poet, author and critic. 

Mr. Abbas took to his Facebook account on Wednesday to announce his move to return the award, and in an open letter to fellow writers, said: “The social and political scenario of our beloved country is worsening with every passing day. Right-wing forces have polarised [the] nation in the name of religion, caste and ethnicity for political gains. Dissent is systematically crushed and rational thinkers and writers are threatened and brutally killed in broad daylight. The central and state governments don’t show any eagerness to arrest and punish murderers of (rationalists) Narendra Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare and Prof MM Kalburgi. The state is seemingly hesitant and hiding behind various excuses from banning organisations, which had reportedly played clandestine roles in heinous crimes.” 

Mr. Abbas urged other Urdu writers to join him in his protest. “It is high time, as Ashok Vajpeyi said. We cannot remain voiceless. Hence, I request senior Urdu writers, poets and critics including Nida Fazli, Salam Bin Razzak, Abdus Samad, Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Munawwar Rana, to register [their] protest against the murder and killing of creative writers by returning Sahitya Academy awards. This might be a small step but in such volatile times, it is inescapable. It is our duty to raise our voice against fascism, right-wing intolerant forces and lawlessness… promoted as a strategy to divide the country on the lines of religion, sentiments of segments and dogmatic cultural doctrines.” 

Asked for his reaction, Delhi-based poet, Nomaan Shauq said: “This is a great and pertinent gesture and I feel all the great Urdu writers and those who have won awards and accolades must follow suit. Someone should ask this question, as to why the more popular writers who go on public forums and discuss freedom of expression remain silent when the time comes to act. It is a question of the composite culture of India.” 

Alluding to recent events, Mr. Abbas’ open letter also said: “I demand that the state punish forces which had killed Narendra Dabholkar and Comrade Pansare. I demand the Central government to book those responsible for instigating the mob which killed Mr. Akhlaq in Dadri. I urge senior Urdu writers to take a stand as this is high time and our secular democracy is under attack.”

Here is the full text of Sashi Deshpande's statement on her resignation:
Dr Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari,
Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi
Cc: Professor Chandrashekhar Kambar, Vice-President Sahitya Akademi, Dr K. Sreenivasarao, Secretary Sahitya Akademi
Dear Sir, 

When I heard in November 2012 from the Sahitya Akademi that I had been nominated to the General Council of the Akademi in the individual category of writers, I felt honoured. I have always respected the Sahitya Akademi’s role as the single institution in India that brings together all the Indian languages under one umbrella, at the same time giving each language its rightful place and dignity. 

Today, I am deeply distressed by the silence of the Akademi on the murder of Professor M. M. Kalburgi. Professor Kalburgi was a noted scholar, and a good and honest human being; he was also a Sahitya Akademi awardee and a member of its General Council until recently. 

If the Akademi, the premier literary organisation in the country, cannot stand up against such an act of violence against a writer, if the Akademi remains silent about this attack on one of its own, what hope do we have of fighting the growing intolerance in our country? A few tame condolence meetings here and there for a member of our community cannot serve the purpose. 

Sadly, it has become increasingly important to reaffirm that difference of opinion cannot be ended with a bullet; that discussion and debate are the only way a civilised society resolves issues. It has also become clear that writers, who are supposed to be the conscience-keepers of society, are no longer considered intellectual leaders; their voices no longer matter. Perhaps this is the right time for writers to reclaim their voices. But we need a community of voices, and this is where the Akademi could serve its purpose and play an important role. It could initiate and provide space for discussion and debate in public life. It could stand up for the rights of writers to speak and write without fear; this is a truth all political parties in a democracy are supposed to believe in. Silence is a form of abetment, and the Sahitya Akademi, which should speak for the large community of Indian writers, must stand up and protest the murder of Professor Kalburgi and all such acts of violent intolerance.

In view of the Akademi’s failure to stand up for its community of writers and scholars, I am, out of a sense of strong disappointment, offering my resignation from the General Council of the Sahitya Akademi. I do this with regret, and with the hope that the Akademi will go beyond organising programmes, and giving prizes, to being involved with crucial issues that affect Indian writers’ freedom to speak and write.

Shashi Deshpande 

October 9, 2015

Hand-chopping by Saudi employers deeply disturbing: MEA

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has ordered the MEA to enquire into the condition of the domestic worker whose hand was chopped off by her Saudi employers as punishment for trying to escape their brutal employment. In tweets on Friday, the EAM called the incident "unacceptable". 

Calling the chopping of the domestic worker's hand by her Saudi employers "a brutal incident that is deeply disturbing" the government said it would pursue the matter with Saudi Foreign Ministry in Riyadh. According to a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, the Embassy in Riyadh has asked for "severe punishment" for the employer. Ms. Kasthuri Munirathinam. "Mission officials have met the Chief as well as the Investigating Officer of the Police Station and have requested that Mrs. Munirathinam’s statement be recorded without further delay, an independent probe be undertaken on the incident and a case of attempted murder lodged against the sponsor. The sponsor should be also directed to pay for her on-going treatment," the MEA spokesperson said. 

The Hindu had reported on Wednesday that the family members of Kasturi have petitioned to the Vellore Collector R. Nanthagopal to take urgent steps to rescue her. 
This is the second such high profile case of abuse of employees that has led to a strain in Saudi-Indian ties. Last month the MEA summoned the Saudi Ambassador and made him withdraw the first secretary of the Saudi, when it was revealed he had repeatedly raped and brutally abused two Nepali domestic workers held captive in his home in Gurgaon. The case had led to huge uproar, and the government had faced street protests as well as appeals from the Nepali government over the issue. 

In its statement about Ms. Munirathinam’s condition in hospital, whose family in Vellore are expected to appeal to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha today, the MEA said, “The Ministry in Delhi and our Mission in Riyadh are monitoring the status of Mrs. Munirathinam closely and are in touch with her family to extend all necessary support to overcome this difficult phase. At the same time we continue to pursue the matter at all levels with Saudi officials to ensure speedy justice for her". 

The MEA is extremely disturbed at the hand chopping incident but they find nothing wrong with the murder of a man based on rumours of stocking beef.
When you point a finder towards anyone, you must remember that three fingers point towards yourself.
What right does Modi have in pulling up the Saudis when he cannot pull up his own ministers who make inflammatory statements.

Ghulam Ali agrees to perform in Delhi

Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra met renowned Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali on Friday and the singer has agreed to perform in the capital in December.

Mr. Mishra had invited the singer to perform in Delhi on Thursday after a concert in which he was expected to perform in Mumbai was cancelled following threats from the Shiv Sena. In a tweet, Mr. Mishra had said “Sad that Ghulam Ali is not being allowed in Mumbai, I invite him to come to Delhi and do the concert. Music has no boundaries”. 

On Friday, Mr. Mishra and Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Kalkaji Avtar Singh met the 75-year-old singer in Kalkaji. According to sources in Delhi government, Mr. Ali has accepted the government’s invite and has agreed to perform in Delhi in December. 

The singer, who has a vast fan following in India, was scheduled to perform in concerts in Mumbai and Pune this week as a tribute to late ghazal singer Jagjit Singh on his death anniversary. The show in Mumbai, however, was cancelled after the Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt the concert. 

I just hope the BJP does not disturb the function on the pretext that beef was being served at the place.

Demand for re-poll in all civic bodies grows louder

KOLKATA: Save Democracy Forum, a civil society platform has demanded re-poll of the entire municipal election. Forum's chairperson, retired judge Ashok Ganguly said that votes have been looted and they are demanding a re-poll of the entire municipal election.

Former speaker of the West Bengal State Legislative Assembly Hasim Abdul Halim questioned the powers of the interim election commissioner arguing that he is there to carry out office work. "A caretaker election commissioner does not have any power to conduct election or announce counting dates. The state government could have employed a full-fledged election commissioner instead of making interim arrangements," he said.

Taking a cue from his arguments, advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said, "the interim appointment is to ensure that the officiating election commissioner signs on the dotted lines of the state government. This is definitely not ethical to conduct poll process and the whole attempt is to make the polling process infructuous," he said.

"People from outside were present in large numbers during the poll and have looted the votes. Former election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhyay took some measures and drew flak from the ruling party as a result. He was virtually gheraoed for hours and state ministers and political leaders resorted to pressure tactics. He has resigned after that," he said. when asked about the powers of the interim election commissioner, he said that it is up to the governor to delegate powers to him.