16-03-2021 The Asian Independent

theasianindependent

Email your CV to info@theasianindependent.co.uk

• Journalist • Tele-Sales • Content • SEO • Admin

Vol : 05 : #63 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

BJP has no other work but to hatch

conspiracy to kill me: Mamata

Kolkata : A day after Union Home

Minister Amit Shah held a night-long

meeting with the state BJP leaders to

troubleshoot the candidate selection

jinx, West Bengal Chief Minister

Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday trained

her guns at the saffron camp for

allegedly hatching a conspiracy

against the state government in pollbound

Bengal.

"They (BJP) have no other work

but to hatch conspiracies against me in

order to kill me. They only know how

to manipulate the Election

Commission (EC) and tamper the voting

process," the wheelchair-bound

Chief Minister said while addressing a

public meeting in Bankura district.

"Will the Union Home Minister run

the country or hatch conspiracy and

harass the Trinamool Congress in

Bengal? He only plans for riots. They

are sending notices to our leaders

using Central agencies," she added.

Referring to the removal of the

security-in-charge by the EC,

Banerjee said the Central Bureau of

Investigation (CBI) had issued a summon

to the West Bengal Home

Secretary on Monday.

The Trinamool supremo further

said that there was poor turnout at

Amit Shah's rally in Jhargram on

Monday, as the people of the district

did not want to listen to a conspirator.

"Why should our mothers and

daughters turn up for the person who

only hatches conspiracies against

women? They think they will intimidate

me and choke my voice. But I

want to tell them that I shall always

remain vocal about my stand against

the BJP till the time I am alive," the

Chief Minister said. "Do they (BJP)

think they will win the elections if

they kill me? I want to ask is Amit

Shah running the EC and giving

instructions to it," Banerjee asked.

Delhi most polluted capital

city globally : Report

22 of the top

30 most

polluted cities

globally are

located in India.

New Delhi : Delhi has been ranked

as the most polluted capital city globally,

according to a report released on

Tuesday. The 'World Air Quality Report,

2020', prepared by Swiss organisation

IQAir, shows Bangladesh, China, India,

and Pakistan account for 49 of the 50 of

the most polluted cities worldwide.

In country rankings, Bangladesh has

the worst air, followed by Pakistan and

India. In the world capital city ranking,

Delhi fares the worst, followed by

Dhaka and Ulaanbaatar. Notably, India

showed an overall improvement in several

cities, with 63 per cent reporting

direct improvements over 2019 averages,

the report stated.

It added that the progress is only marginally

attributable to India's flagship

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

introduced in January 2019, which targets

PM2.5 reductions between 20-30

per cent in 122 selected cities by 2024

from a 2017 baseline. According to the

report, despite widespread air quality

improvements during 2019 and 2020, air

pollution in India is still dangerously

high. India continues to dominate annual

PM2.5 rankings by city - 22 of the top 30

most polluted cities globally are located

in India. Major sources of India's air pollution

include transportation, biomass

burning for cooking, electricity generation,

industry, construction, waste burning,

and episodic agricultural burning.

Transportation constitutes one of India's

leading PM2.5 emission sources,

responsible for emitting pollutants and

re-suspending road dust. Biomass cookstoves

are the main source of indoor pollution

nationally, particularly affecting

women and children, the report stated.

"Delhi, the world's second most populous

city, is located southeast of

India's agricultural breadbasket, where

open burning is common," it added. It

is estimated that as much as 20 to 40

per cent of Delhi's air pollution originates

from Punjab farm fires During

peak burning season, Delhi experienced

average PM2.5 levels in

November and in December, which

exceed the WHO's annual exposure

guideline by more than 14 times.

Two day bank strike

successful: AIBEA

Chennai : The two day nationwide banker's strike in protest against

privatisation of government banks was a total success, said the top leader

of a major union.

The two day strike began on Monday.

As per reports received by us from our unions in various states, the

strike has been successful. Overwhelming majority of the bank branches

remain closed and shutters are down, said C.H. Venkatachalam, General

Secretary, All India Employees' Association (AIBEA).

He said some branches headed by senior officers were open but no

banking transaction could be carried out as other staff were on strike.

The central government has decided to privatise two public sector

banks in addition to the IDBI Bank, and the United Forum of Bank

Unions (UFBU) had given the strike call in protest.

The UFBU, an umbrella body of nine unions in the banking sector,

had given the strike call.


2

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Antarctic temp to rise

by 2044: Study

New York : The temperature in the Antarctic peninsula will

increase by 0.5 to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2044 because of climate

change, finds a new study.

The projections also showed that precipitation -- a threat to

ice if it manifests as rain -- will likely increase on the peninsula

by about 5 per cent to 10 per cent over that same time period.

"We are concerned about these findings. We've been seeing

overall quite big changes on the peninsula, generally getting

warmer and ice shelves and glaciers discharging into the ocean,"

said lead author David Bromwich from The Ohio State

University. Since the 1950s, the peninsula, along with the rest of

the western part of Antarctica, has been one of the fastest-warming

regions on Earth.

And because it is covered in mountains -- the highest peak is

just over 10,600 feet -- standard climate models overlook some

of the nuances of how climate change affects the peninsula, the

researcher said.

"The issue for the Antarctic peninsula is that it's this narrow

but high mountain range, and these big models spanning the

whole continent don't take that into account. Our goal was to

provide more detail in those projections," he said.

For the study, published in the journal Climate Dynamics, the

team studied an analysis of historic and projected simulations

from 19 global climate models.

The analysis found that the greatest increases in temperature

-- about 2 degrees Celsius -- were likely to happen in the

Antarctic fall and winter, but warmer temperatures projected for

summer would cause the most trouble.

That could create a double threat to the ice on the peninsula,

the researchers said.

Warmer temperatures also mean that some precipitation that

might have previously fallen as snow will likely fall as rain,

Bromwich said.

Team AI :

Devinder Chander

Editor-in-chief

Columnists

V.B. Rawat

Farzana Suri

Arun Kumar

Rahul Kumar

Harminder K. Bhogal

Head Office

Samaj Media Enterprise Ltd

Suite 507, Hawthorns House

Halfords Lane, Smethwick,

Birmingham U.K.,B66 1BB

+44 7878 456 484

+44 121 565 4810

Email :

info@theasianindependent.co.uk

Advertisement

Enquiries

+44 7878 456 484

The Asian Independent is an

Intellectual Property of

Samaj Media Enterprise Ltd

Indian scientists find new material 'state' boosting quantum tech

New Delhi : Indian scientists

have discovered a new

"exotic and strange" state of

materials that alters their physical

properties in presence of an

electromagnetic field, leading

to better quantum technologies,

the Ministry of Science and

Technology said on Tuesday.

The scientists have shown

that in an external electromagnetic

field, geometric properties

of a crystalline solid with

lattices arranged in a onedimensional

periodic manner

can display phase transitions,

thereby altering its physical

properties.

"The 2016 Nobel Prize for

physics was awarded to the theoretical

discoveries of topological

phase transitions and topological

phases of matter, which

have played a significant role in

the modern understanding of

BJP's candidate selection goes awry,

supporters stage protests in Bengal

materials and their applications,"

the Ministry said.

Topology is concerned with

the properties of a geometric

object preserved under continuous

deformations, such as

stretching and twisting.

Understanding various phases

and phase transitions is of

Kolkata : Barely a few weeks ahead of

the crucial West Bengal assembly elections,

the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s

senior leadership is in a soup as the selection

of a few candidates in first four phases

went awfully wrong in some of the seats in

Bengal.

Saffron activists, armed with banners

and posters, staged protests outside the BJP

state headquarters on Tuesday demanding

changes in the candidate list declared by

the party's Central Election Committee

(CEC). Hundreds of protesters had gathered

outside the BJP election office in

Kolkata since this morning and pelted

stones while sloganeering against the

party's candidate selection process.

A group of BJP activists threw stones

targeting party's state committee member

from South 24-Parganas district Abhijit

Das.

A police officer sustained injuries in the

incident. It forced the Kolkata Police to

resort to mild baton charge to disperse the

crowd. At least eight people were detained

in connection with the stone-throwing incident,

sources said.

West Bengal BJP leader Samik

Bhattacharya, however, dubbed the incident

of protests outside the party office as

"some kind of conspiracy" by the opposition.

The situation went so out of control

that Union home minister Amit Shah and

BJP national president J.P. Nadda had to fly

back to Kolkata from Assam to hold long

sessions with state unit leaders throughout

last night (Monday). After the preliminary

discussion, Shah also called all the top

state BJP unit leaders to the national

Capital for an emergency meeting on

Tuesday night to troubleshoot the issue.

In a desperate attempt to topple the

Trinamool Congress-led state government

in Bengal, the BJP also fielded both its Lok

Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs such as

Locket Chatterjee, Babul Supriyo and

Swapan Dasgupta from various assembly

seats in Bengal.

Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP

Mahua Moitra also pointed fingers at BJP

Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta. She

tweeted, raising a few questions: "Haha -

central importance in the study

of matter. Generally, phase

transitions are studied by

assuming that the system is isolated,

with little or negligible

environmental interactions.

Dibyendu Roy, Associate

Professor, and his group from

the Raman Research Institute

(RRI), an autonomous institute

of the Central government's

Department of Science and

Technology, have been exploring

systems in contact with the

environment or the open quantum

systems and their physical

properties for a while.

They explored ways to control

the topological phase transitions

of matter in contact with

an environment by an external

periodic perturbation such as

laser light in their present work.

While studying the geometric

phase in systems in contact

with an environment and examining

the environment's consequence

on the band-structure

topology of the systems, they

discovered a new metallic state

of the materials coupled to an

environment. This work funded

by the Department of Science

and Technology, via the

* The Asian Independent and people associated with it are not responsible for any claims made by the advertisers and do not endorse in any products or services advertised. Please visit www.theasianindependent.com/tc for more information.

press mischief and fibs about "senior leaders"!

Get facts straight...Dasgupta can contest.

Nomination will not be cancelled due

to RS. But he will lose RS when he files as

BJP WB candidate. Either resign RS now

or be disqualified. No safety net".

Meanwhile, Dasgupta also resigned from

the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. "I have

resigned from the Rajya Sabha today to

commit myself totally to the fight for a better

Bengal. I hope to file my nomination as

BJP candidate for the Tarakeshwar

Assembly seat in the next few days," the

outgoing BJP RS member said.

According to sources in the BJP, the

party high command is reportedly planning

to field BJP West Bengal unit president

Dilip Ghosh and all India vice-president

Mukul Roy into the fray. "The next course

of the BJP's political action will be decided

after today's meeting in Delhi. We are

keeping a close watch on that," party

sources said. It was also learnt that Shah

wants to give complete organisational control

of Bengal to BJP's central leadership,

ahead of the high-voltage Bengal polls.

Ramanujan Fellowship, and the

Ministry of Electronics and

Information Technology, under

a grant for "Centre for

Excellence in Quantum

Technologies" has been published

in the journal 'Physical

Review B' recently. In our

everyday lives, several devices

and technologies exploit some

of the other aspects of quantum

physics, like LEDs, semiconductor

technology, and nanomaterials.

Usually, the environmental

interactions in such

quantum systems are either

neglected or are considered

very small.

Through this work, the RRI

team has shown that if such

effects are carefully taken into

account, one can drastically

alter the quantum system's

physical behaviour and lead to

better quantum technologies.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Jaipur : Believe it or not, the 120-yearold

Act in which prisoners from backward

castes were not allowed to work as cooks

in Rajasthan jails's till January 2021 has

finally been amended, said prison officials.

This Act, framed 120 years ago during

the British regime, discriminated between

prisoners on the basis of caste in delegating

tasks such as cooking and cleaning in jail.

Director-General (DG) Prisons,

Rajasthan Rajeev Dasot strongly pitched

for this change in January this year and

made sure he got the Act amended in

February this year.

Speaking to IANS, Dasot said, "Despite

India attaining Independence and new laws

being framed, the practice of discriminating

between prisoners on the basis of caste

continued under The Rajasthan Prisons

Rules, 1951 which were made under The

Prisons Act, 1894 (central Act no. 9 of

1894)."

This Act clearly mentioned that cooks in

the prison shall be Brahmins or high-caste

Hindu prisoners. Cleaning work was

entrusted to the so-called 'lower caste'

inmates.

Surprisingly, this discrimination continued

even after the country's independence

when newer laws were formed, Dasot said,

adding that the High court and some NGOs

pointed out this discrimination to him and

he immediately decided to propose for its

amendment.

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot also took it

very seriously and directed the concerned

authorities who helped amend the act within

20 days which is a record in itself, added

Dasot.

On February 12, this year, the state government

amended The Rajasthan Prison

Rules, 1951 and titled it the Rajasthan

Prisons (Amendment) Rules, 2021. The

order further notified for its immediate

enforcement, he added.

The new law clearly specified that no

inmate shall be selected for cooking on the

basis of caste or religion. Also the convicts

termed as menial servants under rule 13 of

section 1 were replaced as 'tradesmen' in

ASIA

More than 120-year-old Act

discriminating between prisoners,

amended in RAJASTHAN

the amended law. These include those

employed as cooks, barbers, water carriers,

sweepers etc.

Also, the amended law deleted the earlier

clause which mentioned that any member

of a criminal tribes subject to the discretion

of the government shall be termed

as habitual criminals.

CM Ashok Gehlot is all praise for this

initiative. Also the initiative drew appreciation

from deputy leader of opposition

Rajendra Rathore in the Assembly, Dasot

said.

'22% of consumer complaints

linked to e-commerce sector'

New Delhi : Twenty-two

taken by the Central

per cent of all complaints

Consumer Protection

received from the consumers

in the country are related to

the e-commerce platforms,

Leena Nandan, Secretary,

Department of Consumer

Affairs, said on Monday.

In an interaction with

reporters on the occasion of

Authority (CCPA), Nandan

said that 172 notices have

been issued since October

2020, 37 for misleading

advertisements and unfair

trade practices and 135 for

violation of declarations

under packaged commodity

World Consumer Rights

rules.

Day, Nandan informed that

on an average, 70,000 complaints

are registered with

She said after analysing

the complaints, the CCPA

has requested the Insurance

the National Consumer

Regulatory

and

Helpline (NCH) every

Development Authority

month. Out of this, 22 per

(IRDA) for early settlement

cent grievances are related to the e-commerce

sector, she added.

consumers. These initiatives have been Regulatory Authority of India (TRA) to

by the department, particularly for the rural of claims, besides asking the Telecom

Other sectors which generate significant undertaken through panchayats, common resolve issues related to portability, network,

broad-band service etc. The CCPA

number of grievances include banking (8.6 service centers, Krishi Vigyan Kendra and

per cent) and telecom (7.7 per cent). The post offices, among others. Informing has also asked the RBI for adhere to the

number of convergence companies on the about the eDaakhil portal of the department,

Nandan said that the government of The Secretary also informed that during

timelines of settlement of claims.

NCH platform has increased from 403 in

2017-18 to 647 now, with 98.5 per cent India through the NIC has launched the the Covid-19 pandemic, many instances of

grievance redressal in April-December portal, which simplifies the process of filing

complaints for the consumers. with regard to combating the disease.

misleading advertisements were noticed

2020, Nandan said.

"Our motto is to increase consumer outreach,

improve consumer grievance redres-

complaints from anywhere. So far, 17 requesting industry associations to give

The consumers can now file online An advisory was issued on January 21,

sal and to take proactive initiatives for consumer

protection to strengthen the con-

Redressal Commission (NCDRC) have Consumer Protection Act, 2019 regarding

states and the National Consumer Disputes wide publicity to the provisions of the

sumer movement in India," said the adopted the eDaakhil portal. As many as misleading advertisements, she added.

Secretary. She informed that various consumer

outreach initiatives have been taken so far. Briefing the media about the actions Consumer Protection Act on the

13,944 users have registered on the portal Nandan also released a booklet on

occasion.

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

3

J&K Police save 4 youth from

joining terrorist ranks

Srinagar : The Jammu

and Kashmir Police have

saved four youth from joining

terrorist ranks in

Ganderbal and Budgam

districts, officials said on

Tuesday.

The police said that

prompt action in Budgam

and Ganderbal prevented

four youth from joining terrorist

ranks. After proper counselling, the four youth were handed

over to their parents.

"In Budgam, the police received information that two teenagers

had left their homes and gone missing on March 14. Accordingly,

police teams were constituted which tracked both the youth in the

Tral area of Awantipora. Both the youth are in their early teenage,

and had got influenced on social media to join terrorist ranks.

They were instigated by Pakistan-based recruiting handlers

through social media handles. Both the youth were properly counselled

in the presence of their family members and were handed

over to their parents," the police said.

In Ganderbal district, the police saved two youth, residents of

Batwina and Kurhama areas in Ganderbal, who had left their home

to join terrorist ranks and had initially gone to Shopian in south

Kashmir. "When they reached the Karannagar-Batamaloo axis,

they were apprehended by the police," officials said.

"The duo revealed that they were motivated by Pakistan based

terror handlers to join terrorism and were asked to establish contact

with their ground cadre in Shopian district," they added.

The police said that their families have hailed the efforts of the

law enforcement agency for timely action.

Govt's infra scheme for Maoist-hit

states extended till March end

New Delhi :

Aimed at strengthening

the Special Forces

or intelligence branches

in Maoist-hit states,

the Centre has extended

the duration of its

ongoing Special

Infrastructure Scheme

(SIS) till March end.

The SIS including

construction of 250

Fortified Police

Stations (FPS) in Left

Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas is going on since 2017.

The scheme was initially approved for a period of three years from

2017-18 to 2019-20.

"Now, SIS scheme has been further extended up to March 31,

2021," Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said in

the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

In a written reply, the Minister said that the Scheme envisages

upgradation and strengthening of Special Forces (SFs) or Special

Intelligence Branches (SIBs) of states along with construction of

250 fortified police stations.

"Proposals of 10 states with respect to Special Forces or SIBs

for an amount of Rs 371 crore and projects of seven states worth

Rs 620 crore for construction of 250 FPS were sanctioned."

Though, the Minister clarified, the scheme is implemented on

reimbursement basis and an amount of Rs 152.67 crore has also

been released as advance to the states.

To combat the LWE menace, the government of India has formulated

National Policy and Action Plan in 2015, which consists

of a multi-pronged approach comprising security measures, development

initiatives and ensuring rights & entitlements of local

communities, the Minister said.

The MHA is supporting the state governments extensively by

way of deployment of Central Armed Police Forces Battalions,

provision of helicopters and UAVs and sanction of India Reserve

Battalions (IRBs) or Special India Reserve Battalions (SIRBs).

Funds are provided under Modernization of Police Force (MPF),

Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme and Special

Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) for modernization and training of

State Police. Apart from flagship infrastructure schemes of the

Central Government, several development initiatives have been

implemented for construction of roads, installation of mobile towers,

skill development, improving network of banks and post

offices, health and education facilities. Funds for development are

also provided to most LWE affected districts under Special Central

Assistance (SCA) scheme.

Resolute implementation of National Policy and Action Plan

has resulted in a consistent decline in the LWE violence and its

geographical spread.


4

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Violence against Chinese properties

spreading In MYANMAR

Kolkata : Violence by prodemocracy

protesters against

Chinese properties are mounting

in Myanmar and security forces

are opening indiscriminate fire to

check the attacks.

At least 38 protesters were

killed on Sunday after two

Chinese-financed factories were

set on fire and a host of other

Chinese properties attacked.

The Facebook page of the

Chinese embassy in Myanmar

has been bombarded with an unending

stream of vitriol blaming the

February 1 coup on "Chinese backing

and encouragement", specially after a

statement by the mission calling for

"punishment" of those attacking

Chinese properties.

Many posts in Burmese social

media even carried threats to "set fire"

to an oil and gas pipeline that connects

the China-financed port of

Kyaukphyu in Myanmar's Rakhine

state to China's Yunnan province .

Protesters have been carrying placards

saying "Myanmar military coup,

Made in China", reflecting huge

Burmese anger over Beijing's muted

response to the coup that has been

severely criticised by the West.

India has avoided direct criticism

of the takover but expressed "serious

concern" at the Myanmar situation

and called for "orderly democratic

transition".

Late on Sunday, the Chinese

embassy described the situation as

"very severe" after pro-democracy

protesters set ablaze two Chinesefinanced

garment factories in

Hlaingthaya suburb of Yangon.

"China urges Myanmar to take

futher effective measures to stop all

acts of violence, punish perpetrators

in accordance with law and ensure the

safety of life and property of Chinese

companies and personnel in

Myanmar," the embassy said in a

statement.

Myanmar security forces pounced

on the protesters setting fire to the

factories at Hlaingthaya and opened

indiscriminate fire.

The Assistance Association for

Political Prisoners (AAPP) claimed

that at least 22 protesters had died in

the Hlaingthaya firings.

Burmese mediapersons trying to

reach the suburbs after reports of

indiscriminate firing were blocked off

by security forces who told them that

Central team to review

public health measures

at KUMBH MELA

"martial law had been

declared" in Hlaingthaya

and an adjoining district

of Yangon.

But Burmese social

media carried at least two

videos of dead and

injured protesters been

carried away by their

comrades after the firings.

AAPP officials said at

least 16 other protestors

had died in indiscriminate firings in

several other cities like Mandalay and

Bago, making March 14 the bloodiest

day in Myanmar since the coup.

One policemen was also killed in

Bago, they said.

In both places, properties of

Chinese jade buyers and bulk

importers were attacked, independent

mediapersons said.

AAPP officials closely monitoring

the Myanmar situation say at least

126 protesters have been killed so far

since the country plunged into chaos

over fierce public resistance to the

military takeover.

Some 2,250 protesters have been

taken into custody and only 300 of

them, specially those injured, have

been released.

Licenses of four Burmese media

groups including the leading multilingual

online and TV platform Mizzima

have been cancelled as the junta tries

to muzzle the press.

PAKISTAN educational

institutions to shut again

Islamabad : Amid an ongoing third

wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in

Pakistan, educational institutions in

seven cities in Punjab province, as

well as Islamabad and Peshawar, have

been closed again for a period of two

weeks from Monday.

However, academic activities will

continue online during this period,

reports The Express Tribune.

Moreover, on-going and pre-scheduled

exams can be conducted as

planned with complete observance of

Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

The seven cities in Punjab province

are Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha,

Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and

Gujrat, where a major lockdown has

come into effect. This development

comes after Federal Minister Asad

Umar confirmed that the third wave of

Covid-19 has started in Pakistan and

attributed the rising number of cases to

the virus' UK strain.

New Delhi : A central team

will review the medical care

and public health arrangements

at the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar

starting April 1, the Union

Health Ministry informed on

Monday.

The team comprises officials

from the National Centre for

Disease Control (NCDC) and

will be led by its Director Surjit

Kumar Singh, the ministry

said. As informed by the

Centre, the team will focus on

the status of the implementation

of the standard operating

procedures (SOPs) for the

Kumbh Mela issued by the

Health Ministry with regard to

the preventive measures to contain

the spread of Covid-19

during the event. The central

team will also review the

implementation of its field

level recommendations given

to the state during its last visit a

month ago. "A high-level central

team led by Surjit Kumar

Singh and comprising senior

officials of the NCDC has been

deployed to Haridwar to review

medical care and public health

arrangements for the Kumbh

Mela," the ministry said. This

year, the Kumbh Mela will be

held for a shorter span as compared

to previous years due to

the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

As per the Uttarakhand

government ruling, the event

will be held for 30 days, from

April 1 to April 30. The last

Kumbh Mela was held in

Haridwar in 2010 between

January 14 and April 28.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

US state designates

Remembrance Day

for Covid deaths

Washington : Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has

declared March 14 as Remembrance Day for those who lost

their lives due to Covid-19 across the US state in the past year.

On March 14, 2020, Louisiana had registered its first death due

to the coronavirus, reports Xinhua news agency.

Since then, the Louisiana Department of Health has reported

a total of 9,861 deaths in the state.

"One year ago, we reported Louisiana’s first death due to

Covid-19. Over the last 365 days, we’ve lost 9,860 more of our

friends, neighbors, brothers, and sisters. As we move toward the

light at the end of what’s been a long tunnel, we will never forget

those we’ve lost," the Governor said in a statement on

Sunday. "We owe it to all of them to protect ourselves and each

other as best we can to continue to slow the spread of Covid and

prevent even more deaths as we work to end this pandemic," he

added. The first known case of Covid-19 in Louisiana was

reported on March 9, 2020.

Just days later on March 11, Edwards declared a public health

emergency in the southern state.

There has been a total of 437,393 confirmed coronavirus

cases in Louisiana.

NEWS

Beijing : China strongly opposes foreign

interference in its internal affairs, a

Chinese spokesperson said on Sunday in

response to the Group of Seven’s (G7)

statement on China’s decision to improve

Hong Kong’s electoral system.

It’s purely China’s internal affairs for the

National People’s Congress (NPC) to

amend and improve Hong Kong’s electoral

system, a decision that allows no irresponsible

remarks from any foreign country,

said the spokesperson for the Hong Kong

and Macao Affairs Office of the State

Council.

The G7 statement distorted facts and its

groundless comments have violated international

law and the basic norms of international

relations, and blatantly interfered

in China’s internal affairs, the Xinhua news

agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.

The NPC decision manifests the shared

aspiration of all Chinese, including Hong

Kong compatriots, and is expected to serve

as a fundamental solution to realising the

long-term peace and stability in Hong

Kong, the spokesperson noted.

The illegal activities that were once

rampant in Hong Kong to seek so-called

"Hong Kong independence," organise

riots, and instigate suicidal violence, were

directly related to the overt or covert supports

from some Western countries, the

spokesperson said, adding that it is an open

secret that a few Western countries have a

hidden political agenda behind their interference

in Hong Kong’s affairs under the

disguise of "freedom" and "democracy."

China is unswervingly determined to

oppose foreign forces meddling with Hong

Kong affairs and interfering in China’s

internal affairs, the spokesperson added.

"Any hegemonistic behaviour is doomed to

fail."

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

China opposes G7’s smears on decision to

improve Hong Kong’s electoral system

5

IT dept, 5 Indian banks targeted

in phishing scam: Report

New Delhi : Cyber criminals are

trying to lure Indian users into revealing

important personal information

with a new report on Monday warning

that suspicious messages asking users

to submit an application for the disbursement

of income tax refund have

been doing the rounds, with a link that

directs users to a webpage looking like

the income tax e-filing web page.

The targeted banks in the campaign

include the State Bank of India, ICICI,

HDFC, Axis Bank and Punjab

National Bank, revealed an investigation

by New Delhi-based think tank

CyberPeace Foundation along with

cybersecurity services firmAutobot

Infosec.

The suspicious links originate from

the US and France, said the report,

adding that the campaign is collecting

personal as well as banking information

from the user and getting into this

type of trap could cause a massive

financial loss for the users.

The shared link with the SMS has

no domain name and is not linked with

the Indian government. All IP addresses

associated with the campaign

belong to some third party dedicated

cloud hosting providers, said the

report.

The whole campaign uses plain http

protocol instead of the secure https.

This means anyone on the network or

internet can intercept the traffic and

get the confidential information in

plain text to misuse against the victim.

It asks users to download an

application from a third party

source instead of Google

Playstore.

The application asks to provide

administrator rights and

unnecessary access permissions

of the device.

On opening the link

http://204.44.124[.]160/ITR,

users are redirected to a landing

page that is mostly similar to the

government income tax e-filing

website. On clicking the green

’Proceed to the verification

steps’ button, users are asked to

submit personal information

such as full name, PAN, Aadhar

number, address, pincode, date

of birth, mobile number, email

address, gender, marital status

and banking information like

account number, IFSC code,

card number, expiry date, CVV/CVC

and card PIN.

Additionally, the bank name is

automatically detected from the IFSC

code entered in the form. After submission

of data, users are redirected to

a page where they are asked to confirm

the entered data.

Clicking on the green ’confirm’ button

directs users to a fake banking

login page almost similar to the official

one. It asks for the username and

password for online banking.

After these details are entered, for

the next step, users are asked to enter

a Hint question, Answer, Profile password

and CIF number.

Once submitted, a mobile verification

section with instructions provided

to download an android application

(.apk file) appears, to complete the

ITR verification.

Here, users are deliberately

instructed to grant all device permissions

to the particular application, the

investigation revealed. The application,

called Certificate.apk, starts

downloading upon clicking the green

’Download’ link. The overall layout

and functionalities of the web page

used in the campaign are similar to the

official e-filing site to lure laymen,

said the report.


6 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

1975 World Cup hockey title was best

thing of my life: Captain Ajit Pal

New Delhi : Sixteen days before

Ajit Pal Singh turned 28 in 1975, he

captained India to their maiden - and so

far the only -- World Cup hockey triumph.

On the 46th anniversary of that

momentous title win, achieved after

beating Pakistan 2-1 in a fast-paced

final at Siaran Langsung Dari Stadium,

Merdeka (Kuala Lumpur), 73-year-old

Singh on Monday recalled the final and

the celebrations that ensued.

Singh also vividly remembers the

reception and felicitations that the team

received in various cities on its return to

India. The team played 10 exhibition

matches at various places in the country

and were felicitated wherever they

went.

The MP Ganesh-led India had come

close to winning the World Cup in 1973

as well, but lost to the Netherlands 2-4

on penalties in the final. Singh was a

member of that team as well.

Singh spoke to IANS on the 46th

anniversary of India's historic World

Cup triumph.

Excerpts:

» Q: How do you remember March

15, 1975?

A: On this date the best thing of my life

happened -- history was made. I get

goosebumps recalling that day.

» Q: Do you remember distinctly

what you did that day since the

time you wake up in Kuala

Lumpur?

A: Definitely. Winning a World Cup

comes rarely in one's life. I distinctly

remember the match, the celebrations,

where all we went after the triumph,

how we returned to India etc.

» Q: At what stage during the World

Cup did you realise that the

Indian team was capable of winning

the title?

A: It was after we beat Germany 3-1 in

a Pool B league match. We had beaten

England 2-1 in the first league

game and drew 1-1 with Australia.

And after blanking Ghana 7-0, we

lost to Argentina 1-2. But in the last

group league match, against

Germany, we had to beat them to

qualify for the semi-finals, as

Australia was at six points and had

we lost we would not have qualified

for the semis.

» Q: How tough was the final against

Pakistan?

A: It was a fast-paced match. We were

in the field, playing, so we did not

realise that. However, those who

watched the game from the stands

told us that it was a pacy game. The

Pakistani team always had a strong

forward line, and that team too was

strong. We, however, defended very

well against their forwards.

» Q: How did you spend time between

winning the final and till the time

you went to sleep that day?

A: First, there was a celebration at the

stadium. Then we returned to our

team hotel. The atmosphere was different.

Strictly speaking, there was

no combined team celebration as

such. Players were free to go wherever

they wanted to; they went out

with their friends and things like

that. As you know, there were a lot

of Indians living in Malaysia. Many

of those Indians took the players to

their either homes or clubs as part of

the celebrations. One of my friends

took me to the rooftop of a hotel

where a few people were present.

We opened the champagne there. By

10.30 pm or 11 pm, I returned to my

Bank strike: Cheques worth

Rs 16,500 crore stuck

Chennai : The two-day

nationwide strike called by the

United Forum of Bank Union in

protest against privatisation of

the government banks began on

Monday.

The leader of a major union

claimed total success impacting

the clearance of two crore

cheques/instruments worth about

Rs 16,500 crore.

"On an average, about 2 crore

cheques/instruments worth about

Rs 16,500 crore are held up for

clearance. Government treasury

operations and all normal banking

transactions have been

affected," C.H. Venkatachalam,

General Secretary, All India

Bank Employees' Association

(AIBEA) said.

According to him, about 10

lakh bank employees struck

work signalling their negation of

the government's decision to privatise

its banks.

The Central government has

decided to privatise two public

sector banks in addition to IDBI

Bank, and the United Forum of

Bank Unions (UFBU) had given

the strike call in protest.

"As per reports reaching us

from various states, banking

operations have been affected

and paralysed in all centres,"

Venkatachalam said.

"Most of the Branches could

not be opened. Clearing of

cheques could happen since

branches are not accepting

cheques for clearance as branches

are closed," he said.

He said the strike would continue

on Tuesday to save the

banks from being taken over by

private vested interests.

"The strike to save the savings

of our people. The strike is

to ensure more loans to priority

and weaker sections,"

Venkatachalam added.

He said the banks are making

operational profits and they are

showing net loss owing to provisions

because the corporate borrowers

defaults. He said during

2019-20 the operating profits of

government banks were Rs

1,74,336 crore, provision for

doubtful debts Rs 2,00,352 crore

and the net loss stood at Rs

26,016 crore.

The UFBU, an umbrella body

hotel room. We were too tired after

the final match. The next day again

some people invited us, though I

don't remember the exact details

now.

From Kuala Lumpur to we went to

Singapore, where the Indian community,

particularly the Punjabi

community, organised a reception

for the Indian team. We also went

shopping there. Then we landed in

Chennai, the home city of then

Indian Hockey Federation president

M.A.M. Ramaswamy (1974-1980),

where there were celebrations in

marketplaces and road shows for a

couple of days. From Chennai, we

came to Delhi where receptions

were organised at several places,

including the airport. We also met

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and

other dignitaries, before the players

left for their destinations.

» Q: Did the Indian players get any

monetary reward for winning the

World Cup?

A: Winning a World Cup is not a small

achievement. We played 10 exhibition

matches at various places after

returning from Kuala Lumpur with

the World Cup. They gave some

amount of money to players. They

should have commercialised hockey,

like they did with cricket later.

They didn't move with the changing

times. One example is the introduction

of artificial turf for hockey in

1972. In India they installed the first

artificial turf about 10 years later. In

this interim period, we won the

World Cup. Why didn't they install

it after the 1975 World Cup triumph?

» Q: Indian hockey players still don't get

match fees.

A: I would rather say that, all said and

done, they are getting at least something

now. Until some years ago,

they wouldn't get anything. When

the team would come after winning

something, they would only get

shabashi (a pat on their backs) and

officials would say "Well done, and

now win the next tournament as

well". In my time - in the 1970s and

the 1980s - players would be satisfied

if they would land jobs by playing

well. Also, in the 1970s and the

1980s, hockey was the No.1 sport of

India and cricket was at No.2. But in

the 1980s, cricket went up and up

and hockey's popularity went down.

» Q: Are the members of the 1975 getting

together today to celebrate?

A: No, nothing as such. A few years

ago, I used to invite players at my

place for dinner etc.

Haryana assembly to condemn bodies

calling for boycott of politicians

Chandigarh : Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on

Monday brought a motion before the assembly, saying if any section

of the society or organisation announces a boycott of any political

leader, the House would condemn such a decision.

Khattar also proposed that if necessary, voting should be done on

the motion. Later, the motion was passed by a voice vote.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Independent members

supported the motion.

The Chief Minister said for the protection of democracy, both

the ruling and the opposition parties must share a collective responsibility.

The Leader of Opposition, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, clarified

that no Congress Legislator was inciting or urging any organisation

or section of society to boycott political leaders. However,

during the voting, the Congress members staged a walkout.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

7

France, Germany, Italy suspend

AstraZeneca VACCINE use

London : Germany, France and

Italy on Monday joined several

European nations in blocking the roll

out of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

after several cases of blood clotting

were reported in those who took the

jab.

Macron said the country was "suspending

the vaccine until new advice

was given by the European Medicines

Agency (EMA) on Tuesday afternoon".

Italy's medicines agency extended a

ban introduced on individual batches

by the vaccine, adding that the agency

was reviewing reports relating to the

jab.

About 17 million people in the EU

and the UK have received a dose of

the vaccine, with fewer than 40 cases

of blood clots reported as of last week,

Germany's Health Ministry of the vaccine throughout the country, according to AstraZeneca.

announced it would stop administering

also pending the EMA decision. The AstraZeneca vaccine was

the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine The Netherlands, the Irish authorised by the European

with immediate effect, the BBC

reported.

"The background to this decision

follows new reports of cases of cerebral

vein thrombosis connected with

an AstraZeneca vaccination," Health

Minister Jens Spahn was quoted as

saying.

Republic, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria

and Iceland have also temporarily

halted the AstraZeneca vaccine, while

the Democratic Republic of Congo

and Indonesia have postponed the

launch of their rollouts.

The World Health Organisation

(WHO) has, however, said there is no

Commission for use within the bloc on

January 29. Following recent concerns

raised around blood clots or thrombotic

events, AstraZeneca has reassured

on the safety of its Covid-19 vaccine.

"Safety is of paramount importance

and the company is continually monitoring

the safety of its vaccine," it

French President Emmanuel evidence that the incidents are caused said.

Court grants bail to 7 accused

in JNU sedition case

New Delhi : A Delhi Court on Monday granted bail to seven

accused in the 2016 Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sedition

case. The court granted bail to Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain

Gattoo, Muneeb Hussain Gattoo, Umar Gul, Rayeea Rassol,

Khalid Bashir Bhat and Basharat Ali on personal bond of Rs

25,000. Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban

Bhattacharya were already given bail by the court in the matter.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma directed for

charge sheet to be supplied to all the ten accused.

"We order for supply of charge sheet. Let the charge sheet be

supplied to all the accused persons today," Chief Metropolitan

Magistrate Pankaj Sharma said. The court slated the matter for

April 7 for scrutiny of documents. All the accused were produced

before the court. Last month, the court had taken cognizance of

a charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police in 2016 Jawaharlal Nehru

University (JNU) sedition case, in which Kanhaiya Kumar,

Umar Khalid and eight others are the accused.

On February 9, 2016, 'anti-national' slogans were allegedly

raised in the varsity during a programme called to protest against

the death sentence handed out to Afzal Guru, a convict in the

2002 Parliament attack.

On Monday, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma

took cognisance of the offences - 124A (sedition), 323 (voluntarily

causing hurt), 465 (forgery), 471 (using forged document),

143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 149 (member of

unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

"After careful perusal of the charge sheet and consideration

of the material, all the accused persons mentioned herein above

are summoned to face trial for the offence. Accused persons be

summoned for 15.03.2021," the judge stated in the order.

Cognisance was taken exactly one year after the Delhi government

granted sanction to the Delhi Police to prosecute the

accused, on February 27, 2020. The 1,200-page charge sheet

named these accused, and states that the Regional Forensic

Science Laboratory (RFSL) retrieved the SMS sent by Umar

Khalid to Kanhaiya Kumar to arrive at Sabarmati Dhaba, JNU,

as their permission (to hold the protest) had been cancelled by

the University administration.

The final pages of the charge sheet also confirm the presence

of Kashmiri students during the protest and that they were in

contact with Umar Khalid.

No Parliament should discuss laws passed

by other Parliaments: LS Speaker

New Delhi : Lok Sabha Speaker Om

Birla on Monday brought to the notice of

Duarte Pacheco, the President of Inter-

Parliamentary Union (IPU), the issue of

interference of Parliaments of other countries

in the laws passed in different countries.

"No Parliament should discuss the laws

passed by other Parliaments and issues of

other sovereign countries," Birla told

Pacheco.

Birla made the observation over

"unwarranted and tendentious" debate in

the UK Parliament that saw lawmakers

criticising the Indian government's handling

of the farmers' protest.

On March 9, India had summoned

British envoy Alex Ellis to lodge a protest

against the issue.

The debate was held on March 8 in

response to a public petition that garnered

more than 115,000 signatures, and witnessed

lawmakers from Labour,

Conservative, Liberal Democratic and

Scottish National Party calling on the Boris

Johnson government to raise their concerns

over the handling of the farmers' protest

and media freedom by the Indian government.

Pacheco called on Birla at the

Parliament House earlier in the day on his

seven-day visit to India. He reached India

on Sunday and will stay here till March 20

as the guest of the Parliament of India. He

was also present during the Rajya Sabha

proceedings on Monday and was welcomed

by the Chairman of the Upper

House, Venkiah Naidu.

Referring to the strong historical ties of

India with the IPU, Birla said that India has

organised the IPU conference in 1969 and

1993, while former presiding officers G.S.

Dhillon and Najma Heptulla had been IPU

presidents in the past.

On the role of the IPU, the Lok Sabha

Speaker said that it is inspiring the world

community on issues like climate change,

education, health, economy, terrorism and

sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Birla mentioned that both India and IPU

share the same global vision of strengthening

democracy, saying "our collective

vision is democratisation of governance at

the international level". Birla also appreciated

the Portugal government for its support

to the re-organisation of the UN

Security Council and India's permanent

membership in the council. Regarding the

challenges of Covid-19, the Speaker

emphasised that India has always played

the role of a responsible international partner.

"India has supplied Covid related treatment

materials to more than 154 countries

and it has deployed rapid response teams in

several nations to tackle

the pandemic. India, for

its capability in Covid

vaccines, has emerged as

the pharmacy of the

world."

Acknowledging the

positive role played by

the IPU in the field of

international cooperation,

the Speaker said that

the IPU is playing a vital

role for the Parliaments

and for voicing their concerns

at the international

level.

The IPU is an international

organisation of

national Parliaments. Its

primary purpose is to

promote democratic governance,

accountability

and cooperation among

its members and its initiatives

include advancing

gender parity among

legislatures, empowering

youth participation in politics and sustainable

development. It was established in

1889 as the Inter-Parliamentary Congress.

IPU membership was reserved for individual

parliamentarians, but it has since transformed

to include the legislatures of sovereign

states. The national Parliaments of

179 countries are members of the IPU,

while 13 regional parliamentary assemblies

are its associate members.


8 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

'No doubt there'll be further

COVID wave in UK'

London : The UK's chief national statistician

said he has "no doubt" that there

will be a further wave of Covid-19 infections

in the country in autumn.

Professor Ian Diamond, head of the

British Office for National Statistics

(ONS), also said on Sunday that there is a

lot of regional variation in terms of how

many people have antibodies, reports

Xinhua news agency. His comments came

after Chief Medical Officer for England

Professor Chris Whitty said there were still

risks to reopening society and Britain will

experience another surge of cases at some

point, potentially in late summer or

through the autumn and winter.

Diamond told the BBC on Sunday that

people need to understand how the data is

moving forward and look at the impact of

the "wonderful" vaccine rollout.

"But having said that, we need also to

recognise that this is a virus that isn't going

to go away. "And I have no doubt that in

the autumn there will be a further wave of

infections," he said. Asked if it is too early

to know how much of the fall in infections

across the UK is down to the vaccine rollout,

he said there are a number of moving

parts such as vaccines and restrictions.

Whitty had said earlier that he would

"strongly advise" against any move to

shorten the timetable for easing lockdown

restrictions. Speaking to Parliament's

Science and Technology Committee,

Whitty said that the measures pencilled in

for May 17, when indoor mixing of up to

six people could be allowed, involved "significant

risks". Modelling considered by

the government's Scientific Advisory

Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has suggested

that even under the most optimistic

set of assumptions, at least a further 30,000

Covid-19 deaths could occur.

On February 22, Prime Minister Boris

Johnson announced his long-anticipated

"roadmap" exiting the lockdown.

The reopening of schools on March 8 in

England was the first part of the four-step

plan, which Johnson said was designed to

be "cautious but irreversible".

Other parts of Britain, including Wales

and Scotland, have also unveiled plans to

ease the restrictions. Experts have warned

Britain is "still not out of the woods" amid

concerns over new variants and the risks of

the public breaching restriction rules.

Farmers launch T-shirts

in support of protest

New Delhi : Farmers

protesting at Ghazipur border

here on Monday launched T-

shirts in support of the protest

against the three farm laws.

The T-shirts carried the slogan

'Zinda hai to dilli aaja, sangharsho

mein shamil ho' (If you

are alive then come to Delhi,

participate in the struggle).

The farmers' leaders present

there said the T-shirts were

launched to motivate the thousands

of youth who will participate

in the protest on March

23.

Farmers staging the protest

at Ghazipur border were given

the T-shirts.

These T-shirts have been

manufactured by a private

company. As of now, 1,000

were manufactured and gradually

the numbers will be

increased. Ghazipur border

protest committee spokesperson

Jagtar Singh Bajwa told

IANS, "The slogan written on

the T-shirt is written by famous

poet Balli Singh Cheema. As of

now we had ordered 1,000 T-

shirts and in future we will get

one lakh T-shirts. These T-

shirts will be sent to different

protest sites."

GURUGRAM : SKM holds protest

against farm laws, rising fuel prices

Gurugram : The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Monday

held a peaceful protest at Gurugram railway station against the

Centre's new agri laws, labour laws, privatisation and increase in

prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas, on the 110th day of the

farmers' agitation.

The protesters, which included farmers, labourers and prominent

personalities from various social organisations, submitted a

memorandum to the Gurugram Tehsildar Darshan Singh

Kamboj, that was addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing the rally, SKM President, Chaudhary Santokh

Singh, alleged that the Centre is busy selling PSUs, while the

bourgeoisie is busy looting the country.

"The central government has abolished 44 Labour laws and

implemented four codes which will exploit the workers' class.

All these laws have been implemented by the government to benefit

the capitalists. Besides, the petrol and diesel prices are

increasing, along with the surge cooking gas price in the past two

months," Singh added.

The SKM President also added that the implementation of the

three "black" laws will lead to inflation.

Jharkhand CM apprises Assembly

on key policy decisions

Ranchi : Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said in the

state Assembly on Monday that

75 per cent private jobs will be

reserved for the local people in

the state.

"In the cabinet meeting on

March 12, many historic decisions

were taken on key policy

matters. The Budget session is

on and keeping in mind the parliamentary

decorum and tradition,

the government has decided

that it will not take any policy

decision outside the House.

Today, I apprise the House

regarding the decisions which

were taken in the Cabinet meeting," the Chief Minister said.

Soren said that in the Cabinet meeting, as many as 26 decisions

were taken, including a proposal to declare road accidents as

local universal disaster, in which the kin of the deceased will be

given Rs 1 lakh from the state disaster relief fund.

The Chief Minister said that as per a proposal of the labour

and recruitment department, the cabinet has given its approval to

the Mukhyamantri Protsahan Yojana for 2020-21 which is aimed

at providing unemployment allowance to the skilled and technically

educated youth worth Rs 5,000 per year. Under this

scheme, there would be 50 per cent reservation for widows and

disabled youth.

In another decision taken during the Cabinet meeting, 75 per

cent jobs will be reserved for the local people in private industries,

the CM informed.

British Airways to launch digital vaccine passports

London : British Airways

(BA) will introduce digital vaccine

passports in time for the

return of international travel in

May, when Britons are allowed

to travel for their holidays, a

media report said on Sunday.

The airline will ask those

who have had two doses of a

coronavirus vaccine to log their

vaccination details with their

BA app, said a media report.

The new BA decision was

announced at a time when the

Scottish Labour Party revealed

passengers are bypassing the

Scottish government's hotel

quarantine system by flying

from other airports in Britain,

the Xinhua news agency

reported. Holidays will not be

allowed until May 17 at the earliest,

the British government

has said, but before that, on

April 12, Britain will announce

how and when non-essential

travel into and out of the country

can resume. Sean Doyle,

who was appointed BA's chief

executive last October, called

on Britain to work with other

governments to allow vaccines

and health apps to open up travel,

after a year when minimal

flying has left many airlines on

life support.

"I think people who've been

vaccinated should be able to

travel without restriction.

Those who have not been vaccinated

should be able to travel

with a negative test result," he

said. On February 22, British

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

announced his long-anticipated

"roadmap" exiting the lockdown.

The Monday reopening

of schools in England was the

first part of the four-step plan,

which Johnson said was

designed to be "cautious but

irreversible". Other parts of

Britain, including Wales and

Scotland, have also unveiled

plans to ease the restrictions.

Experts have warned Britain

is "still not out of the woods"

amid concerns over new variants

and the risks of the public

breaching restriction rules.

To bring life back to normal,

countries such as Britain,

China, Germany, Russia and

the United States have been

racing against time to roll out

coronavirus vaccines.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 9

7 women held for running fake

airlines JOB cell in Delhi

New Delhi : The Delhi police have arrested

a gang of seven women for allegedly running

a fake airlines job placement agency in

west Delhi's Kirti Nagar.

The accused cheated the victims on the

pretext of providing lucrative jobs at airports

Haryana brings Bill to

make protesters liable

for property loss

Chandigarh : The Manohar Lal Khattar BJP-JJP government in

Haryana on Monday introduced a Bill on the lines of Uttar Pradesh

to make protesters pay for damage to the property despite serious

reservation of the main Opposition Congress over its timings

amidst farmers' protest.

The Bill, The Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property During

Disturbance to Public Order Bill, 2021, likely to be listed for debate

in the Assembly this week, is aimed to make the protesters and the

rioters pay for the damages caused to public and private property.

Congress members, led by two-time Chief Minister Bhupinder

Hooda, had reservations over the timing of bringing the Bill.

Hooda said it seemed that the government was trying to target

the farmers at this point in time by making it a law when they were

protesting against the three Central farm laws.

Khattar is following the Uttar Pradesh government that had

passed a law last year for the recovery of damages caused to public

and private property during political agitations, processions and

demonstrations.

Last week, Khattar informed the Assembly the state suffered a

loss of Rs 212 crore from November 26, 2020, to February 9 in the

ongoing farmers' protests against the three Central agriculture laws.

"The estimated loss till date can be between Rs 1,110 crore and

Rs 1,150 crore," he added.

and used to transfer the registration charge

online. A raid was conducted at Kirti Nagar

on Sunday by the police team. All the

accused women are in their early twenties

and have been identified as Sushmita,

Chhaya, Akansha, Pooja, Roshni, Rekha and

Jyoti. The women used to send bulk messages

to random victims across India such as

"job openings in various airlines is open and

interested candidates may call on their given

mobile number".

As gullible job seekers used to call the

accused women on their fake ID, SIM

mobile numbers, the latter used to assure

them that they could arrange a lucrative job

for them at airports near their home.

"The victims were first made to transfer

Rs 2,500 registration charge and then they

were made to transfer an additional amount

in the name of uniform charge, security

charge etc. till the time the victims got financially

exploited to their maximum capacity,"

said Urvija Goel, Deputy Commissioner of

Police, West Delhi. The data recovered was

examined in which each victim said they had

been cheated in the name of providing lucrative

jobs at airports and they were made to

transfer the money online. "One complaint

has also been received through e-mail in

which the complainant said he has been

cheated of Rs 32,000 in the name of providing

a job at an airport. The accused women

have confessed to have cheated more than

150 victims since September 1, 2020," the

police official added. All the accused women

have been booked under section 420 of the

IPC and 66D of the IT Act. Other victims are

being contacted by the Delhi police to

receive their complaints.

BSP to go solo in

2022 UP polls,

says Mayawati

Lucknow : Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati

has announced that her party will contest the 2022 Assembly elections

alone and will not enter into an alliance with any party.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Mayawati said

that her party would also contest the Panchayat elections on its

own. Mayawati mounted a scathing attack on the BJP governments

at the Centre and state and said that the BSP was supporting farmers'

agitation and the Centre should repeal the farm laws.

She alleged that the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh was

poor and people were being victimised on caste grounds.

Paying glowing tributes to her mentor, late Kanshi Ram, on his

birth anniversary, the BSP president said that it was only by following

his ideology that a change could be brought in the weaker

sections. She said that late Kanshi Ram had inspired her to continue

to struggle against oppression of the poor.

2-day bank strike stalls

transactions in K'taka

Bengaluru : Transactions were stalled as

around 1-lakh employees of 12 state-run

banks across Karnataka went on a two-day

strike in protest against the government's

move to merge or privatise their banks and

deny jobs for others in future, a trade union

leader said on Monday.

"Our call for a two-day strike in protest

against the government's moves evoked an

overwhelming response from about 1 lakh

employees across the state, stalling transactions

and other operations," United Forum of

Bank Union's (UFBU) Karnataka convenor

Srinivas Shroff told IANS.

UFBU, an umbrella body of nine bank

unions, has given the shutdown call.

As the bank strike began after two consecutive

holidays on second Saturday and

Sunday, thousands of customers and businesses

faced hardship, as the banks and their

5,000 branches remained shut through the

day.

Cash withdrawals and other transactions

by customers having debit/credit cards and

internet banking, however, were not affected,

as automatic teller machines (ATMs) are

functioning and online access was available.

"All our members, including officers participated

in sit-in demonstration and rallies

held in cities and towns across the state to

oppose the government move to merge more

public sector banks and privatise them," said

Shroff.

Customers could not deposit thousands of

cheques or get demand drafts as banks

remained shut through the day.

The government plans to privatise 2 staterun

banks besides IDBI Bank.

Merger of banks like Vijaya Bank and

Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda, Andhra

Bank and Corporation Bank with United

Bank of India and Syndicate Bank with

Canara Bank has reduced public sector banks

to 12 from 27 earlier.

"The government is bent upon merging

more banks to have only four strategic banks

such as State Bank of India, Punjab National

Bank, Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank and

privatise the remaining banks," Shroff asserted.

In Bengaluru, about 10,000 employees of

all banks and their branches staged a massive

demonstration at Mysore circle in the city

where the erstwhile State Bank of Mysore

was headquartered before its merger with

SBI. "Merger of state-run banks have led to

closure of several branches, rationalisation

of staff and relocation of many employees in

cities and towns across the state," noted

Shroff, who is also general secretary of the

All-India State Bank of India Officers

Association. Hundreds of employees of oldgeneration

banks like Karnataka Bank, Karur

Vysya Bank and Dhanalakhmi Bank also

joined the nationwide strike, disrupting customer

services offline. "Though we all will

lose two days' wages for going on strike, we

have no option but to protest by staying from

work, as conciliation talks with the government

failed last week," recalled Shroff.


10 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NIA RAIDS 11 locations

across India in terror probe

Batla House case: Court awards

death penalty to Ariz Khan

New Delhi : Tightening its noose

around the Islamic State (IS) operatives

in India, the National Investigation

Agency (NIA) on Monday carried out

searches at 11 locations in Kerala,

Karnataka and Delhi, including the

premises of Mohammed Ameen aka Abu

Yahya, whose group had identified several

people in Kerala and Karnataka for

"targeted killing".

An NIA spokesperson said that the

anti-terror probe agency carried out

searches at 11 locations, including eight

locations in Kerala spread over the districts

of Kannur, Mallapuram, Kollam

and Kasargod, two locations in

Bengaluru and one location in Delhi in a

case pertaining to terrorist activities of a

group led by Ameen, a resident of

Kerala. The official said that the group

has been running various IS propaganda

channels on different social media platforms

such as Telegram, Hoop and

Instagram for propagating the violent

Jihadi ideology of ISIS and radicalising

and recruiting new members for the IS

module. The NIA had registered a case

on March 5 this year against seven

known and other unknown accused persons

under several sections of the Indian

Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities

Prevention Act (UAPA).

The official said that the searches

were preceded by extensive verification

carried out jointly by the NIA, the

Special Cell of Delhi Police, and the

ATS of Kerala Police.

The official said, "The group of radicalised

individuals under the leadership

of Ameen owning allegiance to proscribed

terrorist organisation IS had

identified certain individuals in Kerala

and Karnataka for targeted killing."

They had also planned to undertake

'Hijrat' (religious migration) to Jammu

and Kashmir for engaging in terrorist

acts. The official said, "Ameen had travelled

to Jammu and Kashmir immediately

after his return to India from Bahrain

in March last year and had been camping

in Delhi for the last two months for

establishing connection with J&K based

operatives having allegiance to IS."

The official adde that the searches

were conducted at the premises of

Ameen and his associates, who were

members of various groups or channels

on encrypted chat platforms.

The official said that during the

searches, several digital devices including

laptops, mobiles, hard disks, pen

drives, multiple SIM cards of different

service providers and incriminating documents

were seized.

The official said that the exhibits are

being scrutinised and will be sent for

forensic examination.

New Delhi : Thirteen years after the

Batla House encounter, a Delhi Court

on Monday sentenced Ariz Khan, who

was convicted of the murder of inspector

Mohan Chand Sharma and other

offences, to death. Additional Sessions

Judge Sandeep Yadav called it a 'rarest

of rare case' while awarding the death

penalty. The prosecution had sought

death penalty for Khan in the case,

while the counsel for the convict

sought leniency on the ground of his

young age. On March 8, the court had

convicted Khan in the case, noting that

he murdered encounter specialist and

inspector Mohan Chand Sharma.

The Additional Sessions Judge had

said that Khan, along with his associates,

intentionally and voluntarily

caused the murder of Sharma by the

use of gun shot. Ariz Khan was convicted

under Sections 186 (obstructing

public servant in discharge of public

functions), 333 (voluntarily causes

grievous hurt), 353 (Assault or criminal

force to deter public servant) and

302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

He has also been held guilty under

Sections 307 (attempt to murder),

174(a) (non-appearance in response to

a proclamation) and 34 (criminal intention)

of the IPC and Section 27 (using

any prohibited weapons) of the Arms

Act. On September 19 in 2008, the

Special Cell of Delhi Police had carried

out an encounter at the Batla House in

Jamia Nagar, in which two suspected

Indian Mujahideen terrorists and

inspector Sharma were killeed.

Ariz Khan had fled from the spot

and was declared a proclaimed offender.

He was arrested on February 14,

2018. Ariz Khan is allegedly associated

with the terror outfit Indian

Mujahideen. The police claimed that he

was present at the Batla House during

the encounter and had managed to give

the police a slip.

In July 2013, a trial court had sentenced

Indian Mujahideen terrorist

Shahzad Ahmed to life imprisonment

in connection with the case.

Himalayan BODHISATTVAS at the

centre of upcoming Met exhibition

New Delhi : Bringing together a

group of paintings, sculptures, ritual

objects, and illustrated manuscripts

from the 11th-18th centuries, made

primarily for Nepal and Tibet's

monastic institutions, an upcoming

exhibition at New York-based museum

"The Met" will spotlight the

Himalayan Bodhisattva tradition.

The exhibition titled 'Bodhisattvas

of Wisdom, Compassion, and Power'

will run from March 27 this year to

October 16, 2022.

Within the Buddhist traditions of

the Himalayas, three bodhisattvas

emerge as personifications of

Buddhist ideals. Manjushri, who cuts

through ignorance and personifies

correct knowledge; Avalokiteshvara,

a compassionate protector of the

devout that helps reveal the true

nature of reality; and Vajrapani as the

embodiment of the energy of enlightenment,

said "The Met".

It added: "Focusing on dramatic

images, a worshipper could first

evoke the subtle knowledge that

Manjushri personifies, then with

Avalokiteshvara's aid, it is possible to

proceed in a way free from selfimposed

delusions, while Vajrapani's

transcendent power aids in destroying

jealousy and hatred that stand in

the way of enlightenment. Venerating

these three bodhisattvas together has

a long history, and they play an

essential role in the introduction of

Buddhism to Tibet."

Beautifully cast sculptures and

accessible paintings showing peaceful

manifestations of the bodhisattvas

intended for the public are juxtaposed

with complex tantric images of

the highest quality done in portable

media made for monastic elites.

This exhibition presents some of

the sublime representations of these

three bodhisattvas at the centre of

this great devotional tradition

embraced across the Himalayas.

715-C Parkfield Road

Wolverhampton, WV4 6EE

Tel. 1902 681 655

TM

Sky Digital Channel 0205

24 hour Entertainment

On Sky, On-Line, On Mobiles

Studio : 01902 457875

Reception : 01902 450533


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

11

Rare modern Indian art to make

auction debut in late March sale

New Delhi : Two monumental oil on

canvases by leading modernist V S

Gaitonde from 1970 and 1971, each

estimated to sell between Rs 12-16

crores, are set to go under the hammer at

an online AstaGuru auction on March

30-31.

According to a statement by the

2008-established auction house, both of

Gaitonde's works featuring in the

Modern Indian Art online auction come

from a highly significant period in the

artist's career when he was considered

to be in his most productive and experimental

phase, during which his work

style completely journeyed towards

abstraction. Gaitonde's paintings from

the 70's embody the principal technical

methodologies, as well as the ideologies

of Zen Buddhism he had adopted as an

artist over the last decade.

Gaitonde's work from 1970 takes on

a minimalistic approach featuring a

largely subtle overtone with abstracted

forms painted in deep blacks that appear

to float on the canvas and break the

monochromatic composition of the

painting. The second work truly showcases

Gaitonde's control over the medium

and his mastery on the canvas to

achieve a vivacious creation of earthy

overtones with bright patches of orange

that seek to break through its surface,

said AstaGuru.

The late March auction also includes

a fine selection of 30 eminent works in

the Modern Indian Art space from masterpieces

by stalwarts such as V S

Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar

Padamsee, Manjit Bawa, Jogen

Chowdhury, and Jagdish Swaminathan,

to never before auctioned creations by

K H Ara, M F Hussain, Krishen

Khanna, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Anjolie

Ela Menon, and many more artists.

According to AstaGuru, some of the

works on sale are making their auction

debut.

Tyeb Mehta's Untitled masterpiece

from 1981 will also be on sale at an estimate

of Rs 12-16 crores. The painting is

a significant work from the artist's oeuvre

and acts as a transitional piece and a

precursor to his later explorations with

the themes of the rickshaw puller which

became an important subject of his

work. Mehta's work took on a transformation

following his encounter with

minimalist art during his stay in New

York in 1968, when his approach

changed to well-structured minimal

fields of colour which were technically

executed, shared AstaGuru.

It added: Jogen Chowdhury's 'Story

of Woman', a mammoth work from

2013, is one his largest and most important

paintings till date. Estimated to sell

at Rs 3.5-4.5 crores, the work of monumental

proportions narrates a fable

which revolves around the sexual tension

which looms over the relationship

of a man and woman, with the woman

being the central protagonist. The scale

of the painting and subject matter is vast

to the extent that the artist had to work

on 5 panels which extends to 25 feet in

length in order to etch the essence of his

thought process and observations. The

theme of sexual tension between a man

and a woman has been a point of contemplation

for Jogen Chowdhury for an

extended period of time, however this

painting is an outcome of totalitarian

thematic distillation.

Making its auction debut, is an early

work by M. F. Hussain titled 'Blue

Ganges' from 1966 -- one of the few

rare compositions that the artist executed

on wood -- is estimated at Rs 1.5-1.8

crores, said AstaGuru. In this work, the

artist captures the mystics of the ghat

and the people partaking in the ritual of

bathing in the holy river. The dense sensation

of the ghats and its unique geological

terrain is effectively established.

Another painting in the sale is an

extremely rare work titled 'Aaj Ka

Insaan' by India's foremost modernists

K H Ara from the personal collection of

his daughter Ruxana Pathan. Ara who

was predominantly concerned with the

nude form and still-life genre deviates

towards an extremely ponderous

approach in the presented work. It is

estimated to sell between Rs 50-60

lakhs.

Another auction debut estimated at

Rs 40-50 lakhs, is of a beautifully

arresting, 'Untitled' painting of a female

protagonist from the limited oeuvre of

Hemendranath Mazumdar, who became

one of the few Indian artists of the early

20th century to gain monetary as well as

critical appreciation for this work. As

part of his formal training,

Hemendranath mastered the Western

Academic style of painting adapted to

an Indian subject matter as a whole, and

female portraits in particular. Bathing

women or those partially draped in wet

saris became the artist's most revisited

subject matter. He became a highly

revered painter in the Kolkata art scene

in the 1920's.

Two important and unique works by

eminent artist Krishen Khanna also feature

in the sale: 'Concerning A Drowned

Girl' and 'Minstrels in The Forest'.

Three distinctive artworks by Manjit

Bawa also feature in the exhibition.

According to Tushar Sethi, CEO,

AstaGuru, "a majority of the works in

this auction have been part of significant

collections for decades and it is an

absolute pleasure to be introducing

them into the auction market for the

very first time. With masterpieces from

renowned artists like Gaitonde, Tyeb

Mehta, and Hussain, to artworks from

the limited oeuvre of Hemendranath

Mazumdar, Rabindranath and

Gaganendranath Tagore, this catalogue

has been painstakingly crafted for seasoned

buyers looking to add unique

works to their collections."

The auction will take place online on

www.astaguru.com on March 30-31.

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

SATURDAY at

6 :00 pm

SUNDAY at

6 :00 pm

Ambedkarites News and Views

by

BUDDHIST INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Mob : 07411 251 804, 07847 307 059


12 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Kushwaha returns to

JDU, Nitish rewards

him with key post

‘West Midlands quality of life was getting

shorter, poorer and less safe even before

Covid struck’ reveals Liam Byrne

Patna : Prominent Kushwaha leader from Bihar -- RLSP's

Upendra Kushwaha,

(Samaj Weekly)- Quality of life for

whose party merged

people across the West Midlands was actually

getting shorter, poorer, and less safe –

with Nitish Kumar's

JDU, has been rewarded

with key post in the

even before Covid struck – Labour MP and

Shadow Mayor Liam Byrne reveals in a

Janata Dal United as its

damning file of “Thirty Failures” by the

national parliamentary

Conservative government and their West

board president.

Midlands Mayor. Byrne was stunned to

Sources have said

find the ‘healthy life expectancy’ of West

that Nitish Kumar created

the "national par-

Midlanders was already falling before the

Covid pandemic struck, even though it was

liamentary board president"

post just for

rising for the rest of the UK.

He said:

Kushwaha, to honour

“Our Tory Mayor seems to think that it’s

him on his return.

acceptable for us just to go back to business

as usual. These damning figures show

A large number of

members and supporters

of the former RLSP, were also given primary membership of

why that’s simply wrong and why it’s time

we had a Mayor determined to build back

the JDU on Sunday as the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party merged

stronger, fairer and greener.

with the ruling JDU at an event here.

“While healthy life expectancy was

Kushwaha, along with his supporters, were given membership

certificates in the presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

going up across the UK before Covid, in

our region it was actually going down”,

The absence of JDU national president R.C.P. Singh from the

explained Liam Byrne. “It seems a Tory

event was seen as striking. Kushwaha's body language was positive.

While addressing the gathering in Patna, he said that he

Mayor is bad for our health. And that’s

according to the Mayor’s own figures.

had contributed during formation of JDU and strengthened it till

“This single fact must make us question

2009. Kushwaha separated from JDU in 2009 and formed new

the government and their Mayor’s impact

party called Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP)

on the region.”

"Now, I return home again. People asked what terms and conditions

I joined JDU. I want to clear them that there is no term

The dossier goes out on to set out:

– The 13 ways residents in the region

and condition between me and JDU. I have only one goal to

are poorer – or have lost out on Covid

strengthen secularism and social justice in Bihar. I also want to

recovery funds

strengthen the hand of our CM Nitish Kumar," Kushwaha said.

– The 3 key ways residents are now less

Nitish Kumar was also excited during the event. He appreciated

the work of Upendra Kushwaha. "We have had a series of

safe

meetings in the past along with our state president Vashistha

Narayan Singh. I am really happy that Upendra Bhai is thinking

about strengthening JDU. It has been proven also as a large

number of his supporters have taken membership of JDU,"

Kumar said. "The merger of RLSP in JDU is not a small development.

It has a big meaning in the context of Bihar. We were

one unit in the past and we are one today as well. Now, we will

work together in the interest of Bihar and India," Kumar said. New Delhi : Some leading Indian

JDU lost political ground in the recently concluded Bihar Institutes of Technology (IITs) are taking the

assembly election 2020 and one of the reasons was its depleting initiative to provide clean water with the help

popularity including that of Nitish Kumar among backward of science and innovation in places where

castes and minority community. The party has faced serious clean drinking water was not available easily.

challenges in Seemanchal region.

Kushwaha during the election had an alliance with AIMIM This effort has been made with the

and BSP. Though Kushwaha's party was unable to win a single encouragement and vision of the Union

seat in the election but it's alliance partners especially AIMIM Ministry of Science and Technology.

had given a good show and won 5 seats. BSP also managed to In fact, the Centre for Technical

bag one seat. Moreover, these parties have cut sizable votes of Excellence at the Indian Institute of

parties like JDU, RJD and BJP. Nitish Kumar wants to regain his Technology (IIT), Kharagpur is focusing on

lost ground through Upendra Kushwaha. Kushwaha was elected water purification these days. The Centre has

first time in 2004 and his popularity among Kushwaha and

also worked towards providing a supply of

Kurmi communities made him an important leader of Bihar. He

safe drinking water in several states of the

was also union minister for state in the Narenra Modi government

from 2014 to 2017.

country.

The Water Purification Technical

The Art of Learning (Go Do)

– The 8 ways young people have been

failed

– The 5 ways the Mayor is not delivering

on the basics

Byrne went on:

“Across the dashboard the lights are

flashing red – and that was before we lost

out to the North West and East Midlands in

the Budget.

“Violent crime has doubled in just three

years, recorded crime has increased by

almost a fifth and drug offences by a third

– because nearly one in five of our police

officers has been lost in the last ten years.

We want safer streets.

“We are the youngest region in the UK,

but our young people have seen services

for them slashed by 80% in ten years.

Apprenticeships had fallen by 40%, before

Covid, so that’s over 24,000 young people

who are not getting a decent start to their

working lives.

“Our qualification rate is falling even

though the average for Britain is rising.

Today, our economy is the worst hit of any

region in the UK. We have 1 in 6 shops

closed. Nor do we get a fair share of government

investment.

“When the present Mayor took office,

he did so by emphasising his business credentials.

“But before Covid he led an economy

where exports fell by £2 billion from 2019

to 2020. Since Covid, we’ve suffered a

21% fall in economic output by the middle

of 2020, making us the worst hit region in

the country.

“His much-trumpeted Metro expansion

has seen just 1 ¼ miles of new track, when

a snail travels five times further than that in

a year. “‘I started this research to understand

the region I want to lead. What I have

found is a region that is yet to be led.

“For too long the Mayor’s has flattered

his figures by trading on the achievements

of Labour’s three great cities, Birmingham,

Coventry, Wolverhampton along with the

proud borough of Sandwell. Think what

the whole region could do if we had a

Labour Mayor to back them up and spread

the good work across the region.”

How IITs are helping people get clean

drinking water across the country

Excellence Centre at IIT Kharagpur has

developed a low-cost nano filtration technology

which has ensured access to safe drinking

water for 25,000 people at three different

locations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

This water is free of heavy metals, considered

hazardous for health.

IIT Guwahati has also undertaken similar

initiatives. In fact, children at a primary

school in North Guwahati, Assam, have benefited

from drinking the purified water from

which excessive iron and chemical oxygen

demand (COD) was removed. There was a

stink in the water, but now IIT Guwahati has

set up a water treatment plant in the school.

The plant has been developed on the basis

of chemical free electrocoagulation technology

in collaboration with DST and is capable

of reducing the amount of iron and arsenic

present in water, bringing the total dissolved

solvent and chemical oxygen demand (COD)

below the limits prescribed by BIS.

(Asian Independent)- Jermy

Harbor is one of the most successful

businessmen in England, who reveals

the secret of his business success by

writing somewhere in his book Go

Do: “I believe that when you stop

learning, you start moving towards

your end.

The significance of these words in

human life can be very well understood

if we read the above words spoken

by Jeremy Harbor closely. In fact,

what Jeremy said is one hundred percent

true. It is true that if human

thinking stops in one place, it

becomes stinking like stagnant water.

All scientific inventions refer to the

dynamics of human thinking.

Those human beings who put a

stop to the pursuit of further learning

and discovery, their life is by no

means inferior to hell. On the other

hand, those who are steadfast in their

tune and are constantly on the lookout

for further advancements, eventually

reach the destination of great achievements.

The next thing is that some people

make the mistake of considering the

achievement of educational qualification

as a great achievement whereas

the real achievement can be assessed

only after applying the educational

qualification in the practical field,

otherwise the educational qualification

is a piece of paper. The above

cannot be understood as more than the

name of someone written by an educational

institution. Jeremy also notes

in his book that the sense of success

that comes after the repeated failures

is in itself a great and satisfying feeling.

Jermy says there is danger in every

moment of life. There is danger in

both learning and crouching, but the

risk posed by accounting is detrimental

in very few cases. Secondly, if the

fear of dangers is removed, we will

not be able to do anything successfully.

Therefore, to do any work, one

must has to take a risk. He

also writes that a person

who has not experienced

failure in life, in fact such

a person can never experience

success properly in

life nor can he enjoy it.

This book by Jermy

Harbor itself is full of

many points of life and

commercial success and is

a must read.

Shingara Singh

Dhillon (Prof)

0044 7806945964


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

13

US remains largest arms

exporter: Think-tank

Stockholm : A Swedish think-tank has

revealed that in the period between 2016 to

2020, the US remained the largest arms

exporter, while international transfers levelled

off.

Between 2011-2015 and 2016-2020, the

US increased its global share of arms exports

from 32 per cent to 37 per cent, the

Stockholm International Peace Research

Institute said in a report issued on Monday.

In the past five years, the US supplied

major arms to more than 90 states, far more

than any other supplier, while 47 per cent of

the exported American arms went to the

Middle East, Xinhua news agency quoted the

report as saying.

Meanwhile over the past decade, international

transfers of major arms stayed at the

same level, as "substantial increase in transfers

by three of the top five arms exporters -

- the US, France and Germany -- were largely

offset by declining Russian and Chinese

arms exports", the report said.

Though it is the first time since 2001-

Tripoli : The International

Organization for Migration

(IOM) said that a total of 4,129

illegal migrants have been rescued

and returned to Libya so far

in 2021.

The rescued migrants comprised

293 women and 215 children,

Xinhua news agency quoted

the IOM as saying on

Monday. It added that 73

migrants died and 159 others

went missing on the Central

Mediterranean route so far this

year. A total of 11,891 illegal

migrants were rescued and

returned to Libya in 2020,

according to IOM estimates. At

2005 that international deliveries of arms did

not increase, arms transfers were still close

least 381 migrants died and 597

went missing on the Central

Mediterranean route during the

year. Due to the insecurity and

chaos in the North African

nation following the fall of its

leader Muammar Gaddafi in

2011, thousands of illegal immigrants,

mostly Africans, chose to

cross the Mediterranean from

Libya towards Europe.

Many illegal migrants were

either rescued at sea or arrested

by the authorities, and detained

inside overcrowded reception

centres in Libya, despite repeated

international calls to close

them.

to the highest level in the post-Cold War era,

it added.

S.African students continue protests

Johannesburg : South African students

have continued their protests for free and

quality education.

In a statement issued on Monday, the

South African Students Congress (SASCO)

said some students barricaded the road on

Jorisson street in Braamfontein,

Johannesburg, chanting slogans, Xinhua

news agency.

Police used water cannons to try and disperse

the crowd.

A small group of students at the

University of Johannesburg marched outside

the entrance to the Bunting Campus early in

the morning.

The crowd was soon dispersed.

SASCO has called for a national shutdown

of all institutions of higher learning on

Monday, demanding scrapping historic debt

and delivering on a promise of free tertiary

education. "The national shutdown continues

up until all our demands are met," said Sasco

General Secretary Buthanani Thobela,

"We say no to financial and academic

exclusion. We want an increase in student

funding."

According to local media, the student representative

council at the Tshwane

University of Technology (TUT) said it supported

the protest call but won't join as students

have yet to complete the 2020 academic

year.

Information and Public Relations

Department, Punjab *Registration of

private play schools and crèches

mandatory in Punjab: Aruna Chaudhary

ECCE council adopts regulatory guidelines of NCPCR

to further strengthen monitoring system*

Chandigarh NOKDRA (Harjinder Chhabra) Punjab has made

the registration for private play schools and creches running in the

state mandatory by adopting regulatory guidelines of National

Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). The decision

in this regard has been taken by Social Security, Women and Child

Development Minister Mrs. Aruna Chaudhary, while presiding over

a high level meeting of the State Early Childhood Care and Education

(ECCE) council. Mrs. Chaudhary informed, periodical monitoring

mechanism to check private play schools running across the state, is

the critical necessity so as to ensure the proper health and mental

development of our tiny-tots.

Blinken meets Japanese FM

Tokyo : US Secretary of State

Antony Blinken on Tuesday met

Japanese Foreign Minister

Toshimitsu Motegi here during

which they discussed the

"importance of a free, open and

inclusive Indo-Pacific region".

Blinken and Secretary of

Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in

Tokyo on Monday evening,

kicking-off a two-leg Asia, tour

that will also take them to South

Korea. In a series of tweets,

Blinken said: "Pleasure to meet

with my friend and Japanese

counterpart, Motegi today. We're

committed to deepening US-

Japan coordination on global

challenges and our shared vision

for a free and open Indo-Pacific

region." The Secretary of State

further said that he had a "great

discussion" with the Secretary of

Defense, Motegi and Japanese

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi

"on the importance of a free,

open and inclusive Indo-Pacific

anchored by universal values

and uninhibited by coercive

power".

"We're committed to cooperation

with Japan including as part

of the Quad and trilaterally with

South Korea," Blinken added.

Before the meeting with the

Japanese Ministers, Blinken held

a virtual discussion with the staff

members of the US Embassy in

Tokyo. "Their tireless work representing

the US in Japan and

promoting the interests and values

of the American people is an

invaluable asset to our country,"

he said in a statement.

4,129 illegal migrants rescued off Libyan coast in 2021


14 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Centre urged not to REDUCE

customs duty on UK imports

New Delhi : Amid reports of the UK

mounting pressure on the Indian government

for massive tariff concessions

on imports of Scotch whiskey in the free

trade agreement negotiations, the

Confederation of Indian Alcoholic

Beverage Companies (CIABC) has

strongly objected to any plans to slash

the Basic Customs Duty (BCD).

The CIABC has said that since the

imports are already dominating the

Indian market, any reduction in the

BCD will make matters worse and

squeeze Indian products totally out.

"The balance of trade in alcoholic

beverages is highly skewed in favour of

the UK and any reduction in BCD will

further worsen it," said CIABC Director

General Vinod Giri. The CIABC has

been part of various recent meetings

that the Ministry of Commerce has been

organising with various stakeholders

before the trade talks with the UK.

"India exports just Rs 5 crore worth

of alcoholic beverages annually to UK

against an import of Rs 1,300 crore.

Exports to the UK constitute only 0.2

per cent of India's total exports of alcoholic

beverages whereas imports from

UK are 24 per cent of India's total

import of alcoholic beverages," Giri

said. To support its argument, the

CIABC has said that in premium segment

of liquor (products costing above

Rs 1,000 per 750 ml in Delhi) fully

imported products and products imported

in bulk and just bottled in India

account for a whopping 98 per cent of

the sales while a miniscule 2 per cent

sale comprises genuine Indian products.

The CIABC has pointed out that

preferential treatment to imported

liquor by some state governments has

created undue hurdles in growth of high

quality Indian products.

"Earlier imported products did not

have direct competition in India, but

today there are several super premium

Indian products; including Indian premium

malt whisky brands such as

Amrut, Paul John, Rampur etc, which

are being exported to over 60 countries.

They are in a nascent phase and need

support from the Indian government in

order to build scale and be globally

competitive," said Giri.

"Already Indian products are at a disadvantage

even at current BCD level. In

many major Indian cities, imported

products have a price advantage vis-avis

comparable Indian products.

Reducing BCD will make Indian products

less competitive."

Giving reference of pricing and sales

in Delhi, the largest market for such premium

products in India, Giri said

imported premium scotch/whiskey like

Johnny Walker Black Label which costs

Rs 2,920 sold 26,736 cases of 9 litres

each in 2019-20, while the sale of

Indian scotch Amrut Amalgam which

costs Rs 3,640 stood at 922 cases. The

CIABC has suggested that if the government

needs to tweak the BCD to

facilitate the trade treaty between India

and the UK, it should reduce BCD gradually

to a sustainable level over a time

window which allows existing disparities

to dimmish.

The BCD should be reduced from

today's level of 150 per cent to 50% in

the next 10 years, it added.

The Indian liquor manufacturers

have also asked the government to prevent

predatory pricing and dumping

through a threshold import price (MEP)

so that products priced below which are

taxed at the same rate.

"For the first year the government

should fix the threshold import price at

$60 per case (of 9 litres at cif), which

can be reduced to $50 in next three

years, then $40 in five years and $35 in

10 years. This is needed because the

cost of production in India is at least 50-

75% more. The cost of capital in India is

12-14 per cent compared to 2-3 per cent

in the UK, evaporation losses are 3 to 4

times higher in India due to warmer climate

which increases cost of production

and cost of maturing," said Giri.

"Similarly, fixed fees and charges on

manufacturing like distillery license fee,

brand registration fee, label registration

fee, bottling fees, local cess etc in India

are among the highest in the world.

Excise duties and taxes on production of

alcohol are also very high in India (300-

400 per cent of company billing price)

and in many states, the governments fix

company's selling prices thus denying

them opportunity to pass on high taxes."

The CIABC DG also pointed out that

the Indian products face other intangible

cost disadvantages.

For instance, Indian laws allow local

products only in fixed few pack sizes,

and in alcoholic strength of 75 Proof

only.

Products imported from the UK

enjoy tremendous flexibility helping

them target consumers tastes, wallets

and occasions more effectively.

Similarly, Indian-made products are

subject to multiple regulatory agencies

such as FSSAI, States' Excise and Legal

Metrology which increases the cost of

compliance, while imports are exempt

from most such controls.

Giri further noted that restrictive

trade policies are also hampering

growth of Indian exports to the EU and

UK.

"While export of alcoholic beverages

from India stood at 7.3 million cases (9

litre each) in year 2019-20, the exports

to the entire EU (including UK) were

less than 30,000 cases which consisted

of Indian super premium malt whiskies.

Definition of products by the UK is

such that it does not permit Indian

Whisky and Indian Rum which are predominant

exports to the rest of the

world. This has made the Indo-UK

Exim heavily skewed against Indian

products."

The CIABC has asked the Indian

government to ask the UK government

for removal of non-tariff barriers to

allow easy export of Indian made alcoholic

beverages to the UK.

It has also demanded that the Indian

whiskies should be allowed to be sold in

the UK as whiskies irrespective of

whether they are made from malt, grain

spirits or molasses-based spirits.

"They should accept Indian recipes

as India accepts British recipes for

whiskey," said Giri. Similarly, the UK

should remove the EU restriction of

minimum three years maturation period

for whiskey as well as for rum as it has

been scientifically established that in

warm Indian conditions spirit ages 3-3.5

times faster than in the UK. Also, the

evaporation losses in India are much

higher and forcing 3 years maturity adds

significantly to cost of production, the

CIABC said.

US sees sharp drop in new Covid cases

Washington : The US has witnessed

the lowest single-day increase of Covid-

19 cases and deaths since last winter as

vaccination efforts were accelerating

across the nation.

A total of 40,428 new cases and 589

deaths were reported across the country

on Sunday, according to data issued on

Monday by the US Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention (CDC).

The daily increase of new cases

marked the lowest since October 6,

2020, while the new death count was the

lowest since November 15, 2020,

Xinhua news agency quoted the CDC as

saying.

Currently, the country averages

about 65,000 daily increase of cases and

1,200 deaths, the CDC data revealed.

Key Covid-19 indicators have continued

to drop since January.

Since the highest seven-day average

daily cases of 249,378 on January 11,

the seven-day average increase of new

cases decreased by 78.1 per cent,

according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, there has been an overall

decline of 56.6 per cent of the seven-day

average of new deaths since January 13,

CDC data show.

Hospital admissions of Covid-19

patients fell by 70.4 per cent from the

national seven-day average peak of

16,540 admissions on January 9 to

4,889 admissions over the week ending

March 9.

The average number of daily admissions

fell by 11 per cent compared to the

previous week, according to the CDC.

The sign of progress came as the

country has been ramping up Covid-19

vaccines rollout.

As of Monday, over 135 million vaccine

doses have been distributed across

the country, and more than 109 million

doses were administered, according to

the CDC.

More than 38 million Americans

have been fully vaccinated.

President Joe Biden announced last

week that he will direct all states, tribes,

and territories to make all adult

Americans eligible for Covid-19 vaccines

by May 1.

As of Tuesday morning, the US'

caseload and death toll stood at

29,492,616 and 535,596, respectively.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

15

RSS AND FREEDOM MOVEMENT:

Glossing Over the Non Participation

RSS the parent organization of ruling

BJP is quiet often being discussed

in the public domain. While it has

grown tremendously during last few

years, there are attempts by many ideologues

from its stable to prove that it

was a major player in the freedom

struggle. Rakesh Sinha, known as

RSS ideologue and currently BJP MP

in Rajya Sabha claims that the Civil

Disobedience movement was invigorated

due to participation of RSS

founder Hedgewar in that. There are

other claims which go farther. One

Saji Narayan, goes to state that RSS

was in the thick of freedom movement.

One also recalls that the onetime

RSS pracharak and Ex Prime

minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself

had claimed to have participated I in

the freedom movement.

The debate came to the fore once

again when Maharashtra Chief

Minster Uddhav Thackeray while

replying to the motion of Governor

said that RSS never participated in the

freedom movement and that merely

chanting Bharat mata ki jai does not

make you patriotic. In response to

Thackeray’s statement the RSS

groomed ex-Chief Minister of

Maharashtra Devendra Fadanvis went

to say that RSS founder (Dr/. K. B.

Hedgewar) was a freedom fighter.

The deeper analysis of the issue

reveals that Muslim and Hindu nationalists

(Hindu Mahasabha and RSS) did

not participate in the struggle for

India’s Independence. India’s struggle

against the British was led by

Mahatma Gandhi, it was all inclusive,

and it cut along linguistic and religious

boundaries and gave an overarching

Indian Identity to the majority of the

people. The communal streams

remained aloof from this as their major

agenda was Nationalism in the name

of their religion. Each of them believed

that they should cooperate with British

to oppose the ‘Other’ Nationalism.

Like Muslim Nationalism aimed to

have their way to oppose the Hindu

nationalism by cooperating with

British and vice versa.

As far as Hindu nationalists are

concerned there are stray exceptions

when they were part of National

movement. At most of the times they

either remained aloof from it or cooperated

with British. Savarkar in his

pre Andaman days did struggle

against British rule but once he apologized

to British to get released he

never participated in the anti British

movement, on the contrary he supported

British war efforts by recruiting

soldiers for British. That was at a

time when Subhash Bose formed

Azad Hind Fauz to fight against

British. Fadanvis is partly correct

when he says that RSS Fonder

Hedgewar was a freedom fighter.

Hedgewar did participate in the

1920’s Non Cooperation Movement

and was sentenced to jail for one year.

After the formation of RSS in 1925

there two occasions when he partly

aligned with the Indian national

movement. But at both these occasions

his differences with Indian

nationalism were apparent as he

flaunted his Hindu nationalism.

Shamsul Islam points out that “We

are told that Hedgewar joined the call

of the 1929 Lahore Congress that

called for a public unfurling of the

Tricolor on every January 26. RSS,

under the command of Hedgewar,

refused to follow it. Instead on 21

January, 1930, he ordered all the RSS

shakhas to worship “Rashtriya dhwaj

arthat bhagwa dhwaj, national flag i.e.

Hackers can get access to your

SMSes for just Rs 1,160

New Delhi : In what

could put smartphone

users at a new privacy

and security risk, textmessaging

management

services are now being

misused for as little as

Rs 1,160 (nearly $16) to

covertly redirect text

messages from users to

hackers, giving cybercriminals

access to twofactor

codes/login

SMSes.

The invisible cyber-attack on

companies providing SMS redirection

services is reportedly

being carried out in connivance

with workers at telecom companies,

reports Motherboard.

"The method of attack, which

has not been previously reported

or demonstrated in detail, has

implications for cybercrime,

where criminals often take over

target's phone numbers in order

to harass them, drain their bank

account, or otherwise tear

through their digital lives," the

report said late on Monday.

Using these services, attackers

are not only able to intercept

incoming text messages, but

they can reply as well.

"It's not hard to see the enormous

threat to safety and security

this kind of attack poses," US

Senator Ron Wyden said in a

statement.

There are several other methods

to exploit the SMS services

Ram Puniyani

saffron flag.” So the difference in the

approach is very obvious despite partly

showing support for celebrating

26th January as the day of complete

Independence. The national Call of

hoisting tricolor is replaced by hoisting

of Saffron flag, symbol of Hindu

nationalism for that.

It is also true that Dr. Hedgewar

joined the Civil Disobedience movement

in 1930. This incidence makes it

clear that as an organization RSS was

instructed to remain aloof from this

movement. Hedgewar made it clear

that he is joining the movement in his

individual capacity and for this he

handed over the post of

Sarsanghchalak (The Supreme Chief)

to his friend and colleague Dr

Paranjape till he was in jail. His biography

by CP Bhishikar points out that

Hedgewar gave the instruction that

““Sangh will not participate in the

and SIM swapping is

one of those. But with

SIM swapping, it's easy

to find out that you are

under attack as your

device will be completely

disconnected

from the cellular network.

However, with SMS

redirection, you could

notice the cyber-attack

much later and by that

time, hackers would be able to

break into your account and personal-financial

data. According

to The Verge, SMS should be

avoided for anything security

related, if possible, for two-factor

authentication.

"It is better to use an app like

Google Authenticator or Authy.

Some password managers even

have support for 2FA built in,

like 1Password or many of the

other free managers we recommend,"

the report mentioned.

New Delhi : When it

comes to online dating, 73

per cent of women prioritise

emotional attachment

in comparison to 55 per

cent of men, said a new

report.

Overall, the majority of

the users are looking for

emotional attachment than

physical connection

which means people are moving

beyond casual dating and

looking for an emotional connection,

said the report by dating

platform QuackQuack.

Meeting in person is the preferred

choice of people in the

21-30 age group as well as

above age 31 as they seek to

make real connections.

On the contrary, 46 per cent

of youngsters (below age 20)

[Salt] Satyagrah.” Again his motive

for joining the movement is stated by

Bhishikar, it was not to lend strength

to the national movement but, ““With

a freedom loving, self-sacrificing, and

reputed group of people [of the

Congress] inside with him there, he

would discuss the Sangh with them

and win them over for its work.”

The biggest movement against

British also saw RSS obeying the

British dictates. Golwalkar instructed

the Shakhas of RSS to continue with

their routine work and not to do anything

with will annoy the British. In

Guruji Samgra Darshan (Vol 4, page

39) Golwalkar points out “There was

some unrest in the mind due to the situation

developing in the country from

time to time. There was such unrest in

1942. Before that there was the movement

of 1930-31. At that time many

other people had gone to Doctorji

(Hedgewar). The delegation requested

Doctorji that this movement will give

independence and the Sangh should

not lag behind. At that time, when a

gentleman told Doctorji that he was

ready to go to jail, Doctorji said ‘definitely

go, but who will take care of

your family then?’ The gentleman

replied, ‘I have sufficiently arranged

resources not only to run the family

expenses for two years but also to pay

fines according to requirement’. Then

Doctorji told him, ‘If you have fully

arranged for the resources then come

out to work for Sangh for two years’.

After returning home, that gentleman

neither went to jail nor came out to

work for the Sangh.”

This again is related to RSS ideology

of Hindu nationalism. In Bunch

of thoughts Golwalkar denounces the

freedom struggle as “territorial

nationalism” which “…had deprived

would prefer virtual dating,

said the report. The majority of

people do not think a virtual

date is enough to decide on a

partner and would want to meet

their date in person.

"The dating behaviour of

millennials and Gen Z has

evolved, more so with the

advent of online dating and

also, pandemic. Longer chat

conversations, meeting over a

us of the positive and inspiring content

of our real Hindu Nationhood and

made many of the ‘freedom movements’

virtually anti-British movements”.

It was this ideological commitment

to building Hindu rashtr in

India that, apart from Hedgewar, who

went to jail as Congressman not as a

part of RSS. Which all through

remained aloof and there by opposed

to freedom movement which had the

goal of Indian Nationalism?

The instruction of British

Golwalkar instructed RSS to military

drill and uniform. On 29th April 1943

he issued a circular “We have to

remain the bounds of law and do our

work’. A year-and-a-half after the Quit

India movement was launched, the

Bombay government of the British

Raj noted in a memo, with considerable

satisfaction, that “the Sangh has

scrupulously kept itself within the law,

and in particular, has refrained from

taking part in the disturbances that

broke out in August 1942.” Vajpayee

story has another twist. In the context

of elections (1998) he issued a statement

saying that he had participated in

freedom movement. As matter was

investigated it came out that he was a

mere onlooker in one of the processions

in Bateshwar (His native village).

He was following the agitators

and as police did lathi charge etc., it

arrested the protestors. As per

Vajpayee he was also arrested.

Immediately he wrote to letter seeking

apology and disowning the protestors

while naming the leaders of the

protest. While the intent of RSS is

Hindu Rashtra, its current efforts to

somehow show that RSS was a part of

freedom struggle which was for Indian

Nationalism, are for electoral purpose

and far away from truth.

Online dating: More

women look for emotional

attachment than men

movie/series or

Netflix are some of

the common dating

trends," Ravi Mittal,

Founder of

QuackQuack, said in

a statement.

Further, the survey

also highlights what

people find most irritating

while talking to

someone on a dating app and

the majority of people agree to

"not getting a response from

the person you expected" as the

most irritating part. Also,

among online daters, 76 per

cent of men as compared to 57

per cent of women feel meeting

new people is the best way to

get over toxic relationships.

QuackQuack claims to have

over 12 million Indian users.


16 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Four Maoists killed in

gun battle in Bihar

Seizures of cash, other valuables

go up in TN as polls near

Chennai : With Assembly elections fast approaching,

seizures of cash and other valuables have increased in Tamil

Nadu, with the present value of the confiscated items standing at

over Rs 109 crore, as per Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata

Sahoo. Sahoo said cash amounting to Rs 43.76 crore, and gold,

liquor and sarees worth Rs 65.78 crore were seized from different

parts of Tamil Nadu since the Model Code of Conduct was

implemented on February 26 with the poll announcement.

Former minister and AIADMK leader Nattan R Viswanath is

in a controversy over allegations that he had given money to voters

in his constituency on Monday.

In Chennai, two people who are linked to a hawala network

were arrested after Rs 15 crore was seized from their procession.

Chennai city Deputy Police Commissioner, R. Nagarajan,

told IANS that the two were arrested by the police flying squad

and a huge amount of cash was found in their possession.

"On interrogating these people they revealed the source of

money and said it was for distributing to various people. We

have to check whether this money is for distribution to political

parties," he said.

State survelliance teams of the Enforcement Directorate and

the Election Commission have also seized cash and valuables

from cities like Madurai and Trichy which was meant for distribution

to some people linked to political parties.

M. Adisheshan, an official with the Income Tax department in

Madurai, told IANS: "Our intelligence teams are in the field and

if money or other valuables which are unaccounted are found,

we will seize them and produce before the court. There is a stringent

directive from the Election Commission to confiscate

money and other valuables which are found without proper

records."

Probe into defamatory

messages aimed at Punjab CM

Chandigarh : Punjab Police on Tuesday registered a case

against unknown people for allegedly spreading false and

defamatory WhatsApp and other social media messages aimed

at tarnishing the reputation of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh,

using a young woman's photograph picked up from her social

media accounts without her permission.

The case has been registered at the state cyber crime wing in

Mohali. A police spokesman said distribution of such malicious

and salacious content on social media, including news websites

and TV channels, is against the law, and advised people to

refrain from spreading these lies.

The complaint sought an investigation into the criminal and

political conspiracy unleashed by "certain unscrupulous and disgruntled

elements" to tarnish the reputation of the Chief

Minister through defamatory messages forwarded on WhatsApp

and shared on other platforms, using a young woman's photograph,

apparently taken from her social media accounts without

her permission.

Gaya (Bihar) : Four Maoists, including

a zonal commander and three sub-zonal

commanders, were killed in Bihar's Gaya

district on Tuesday in a gun battle with

security forces.

The gun battle began in the morning

when the 205 CoBRA unit of the Central

Reserve Police Force (CRPF) along with a

local unit of the paramilitary wing and state

police force carried out an operation in

Maunbar area under the Dumaria police

station in Gaya district.

It was one of the 13 operations being

conducted by the CRPF across various

Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) affected

states since Tuesday morning, a CRPF official

told IANS requesting anonymity.

Confirming the incident, Rajesh Kumar

Singh, Additional SP (Operation), said,

"While a search operation was underway,

the Maoists opened fire at the CRPF

CoBRA battalion. In retaliation, our force

also fired at them. The gun battle continued

till 4 pm. After that firing from their side

stopped," Singh said.

"When we searched the area, four

Maoists were found dead. We are cautiously

securing the place as the Maoists might

have placed landmines in the area. It is

Land-grabbing case:

Naidu to appear before

CID on March 23

Hyderabad : The Andhra Pradesh Crime

Investigation

Department (CID)

on Tuesday summoned

Nara

Chandrababu

Naidu, the Telugu

Desam Party

(TDP) Supremo

and former Chief

Minister, to

appear before it on March 23 for investigation into a

case of alleged land grabbing.

CID officer A. Lakshmi Narayana Rao served a

notice to Naidu at his Jubilee Hills residence in

Hyderabad naming him as the main accused for

allegedly grabbing land from Dalit farmers in the state

capital Amaravati.

"In exercise of the powers conferred under sub-section

(1) of Section 41 (A) of CrPc, I, A. Lakshmi

Narayana Rao, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP),

Cyber Cell, CID, being an investigating officer do

hereby issue the following notice," said Rao.

Naidu is scheduled to appear before the CID on

March 23. The DSP has also imposed a slew of conditions

on the TDP Supremo in the run-up to March 23,

such as refraining from interfering with the process of

investigation directly or indirectly and cooperating

with the probe. "To cooperate for investigation by

appearing before the undersigned as and when required

by producing the evidence, if any in your custody or

knowledge for effective and proper investigation and

for arriving at logical conclusions," Rao added.

Naidu has been warned not to get in touch with any

of the witnesses or any person acquainted with the facts

of the case to influence, intimidate or induce.

He has also been told not to tamper with or cause

disappearance of evidence in any manner whatsoever,

along with being ready to appear at the jurisdictional

Court whenever his presence is required.

"Any other condition which may be imposed by the

investigating officer or undersigned (Rao) as per the

fact situation, Rao said.

New Delhi : Parliament on

Tuesday passed The Medical

Termination of Pregnancy

(Amendment) Bill, 2020, which

increases the upper limit for abortions

from 20 to 24 weeks for certain

categories of women, and removes

limits in the case of substantial foetal

abnormalities, with the Rajya Sabha

approving the measure. The Lok

Sabha had passed the bill in March

last year. During the debate on the

bill, most opposition members,

including those from the Samajwadi

Party, the Shiv Sena, and the

Communist Party of India-Marxist

were of view that the bill should be

sent to select committee as it lacks

privacy clause. However, in his

reply, Health Minister Harsh

Vardhan said that nobody opposed

considered a successful operation as no

causality has been reported from our side,"

he added.

In a statement, the CRPF said that four

bodies, three AK-47 rifles and one Insas

rifle were recovered from the spot after the

operation ended at around 5.14 p.m.

Amresh Bhakta, zonal commander,

along with three sub-zonal commanders

identified as Shuvpoojan, Srikant Bhyuin

and Uday Paswan, were killed in the operation.

The troopers are yet to return to their

base camp. So far there is no report of any

injury sustained by the forces. Search operations

will be further intensified in the

region.

In a similar operation carried out last

month, security forces had gunned down a

senior Maoist commander in an exchange

of fire in the strife-torn Dantewada district

in Chhattisgarh.

BILL raising upper

limit for abortions

passed by Parliament

the bill and once enacted, it will

reduce the trauma and suffering of

women.

The amended act will regulate

conditions under which a pregnancy

may be aborted and increases the

time period within which the process

may be be carried out.

Presently, abortion requires mandatory

opinion of one doctor if it is done

within 12 weeks of conception and

two doctors if it is done between 12

and 20 weeks. The new act will allow

the abortion to be done on the advice

of one doctor up to 20 weeks, and in

case of upto 24 weeks, two doctors'

opinion will be sought. The Bill also

provide to set up state-level Medical

Boards to decide if a pregnancy to be

terminated beyond 24 weeks in cases

of foetal abnormalities.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

17

BEATEN, NOT BROKEN: Meet Shiv

Kumar and Nodeep Kaur, young labour

activists inspired by Bhagat Singh

Born to Dalit farm labourers, they grew up to be industrial workers. Even

police torture hasn’t dented their resolve to fight for workers’ rights.

By Vijayta Lalwani

In 2016, Shiv Kumar was asked

what he wanted to become when he

attended a career counselling session

at the Industry Training Institute,

Haryana, where he was learning how

to make and use precision tools.

“I told them I wanted to become a

baaghi,” said Kumar. A rebel.

The answer sparked laughter

among the university students who

were interviewing him. But Kumar

was serious.

“I have lived a life of struggle since

the beginning,” explained the 25-year

old labour activist. “The exploitation

is happening in the fields, in companies,

and in the village because we are

Dalit. There is exploitation everywhere

so there is an expectation to

fight.”

From the training institute in

Sonipat, Kumar went on to work in a

factory in the industrial town of

Kundli, where he founded the

Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan or

Workers’ Rights Association in 2018.

The sangathan mobilised factory

workers in the area to demand fair,

timely wages and better working conditions

– activism that went unnoticed

until Kumar’s path intersected with

the largest farmers’ protest in India in

three decades. Since November, lakhs

of farmers from Punjab, Haryana,

Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have

stormed the borders of the national

capital on their tractors and trolleys to

protest against the Narendra Modi

government’s three contentious farm

laws that were passed by the

Parliament in September last year.

Farmers fear that these laws would

leave them at the mercy of private corporations

and further undermine their

livelihoods.

In January, barely a few hundred

metres from the Delhi border village

of Singhu where protesting farmers

have set up camp, Kumar and his colleague

Nodeep Kaur staged a demonstration

outside a factory that had not

paid its workers their dues. The police

swooped down to arrest them in three

cases, charging them with extortion,

theft and attempt to murder.

While in police custody, the families

of the young activists alleged they

were subject to brutal physical assault

as well as casteist abuse. Kumar, who

has a visual disability in his right eye,

sustained multiple fractures, broken

toe nails and other injuries on his

hands and head, according to the medical

examination report submitted to

the Punjab and Haryana High Court on

February 23.

Kaur was granted bail on February

26. She walked out of jail that night

and addressed a press conference the

very next day at Singhu, asking for the

release of Kumar. On March 4, a judge

gave bail to Kumar. As they waited for

him to emerge from the Sonipat

District jail, his friends and family

thought it was best to take him to the

hospital to treat his injuries. But as

soon as Kumar walked out with a

limp, recalled Ankit Kumar of the

Chatra Ekta Manch, he started chanting

slogans like ‘Inquilab Zindabad’

and ‘Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad’.

“I do not know where he gets so

much courage from,” marvelled Ankit

Kumar.

A picture of Kumar and Kaur

clicked after his release from jail.

Photo: Rajveer Kaur

Surviving torture

Shiv Kumar and Nodeep Kaur, both

25 years old, are children of landless

Dalit agricultural labourers who grew

up to be industrial workers. The young

activists have come to be celebrated as

symbols of farmer-worker solidarity

that underpins the current movement,

particularly in Punjab, where large

farmers and landless farm-workers,

despite their history of antagonism,

stand united in their demand that the

government repeal the three “black

laws”.

On Thursday, the two activists sat

under a tent in Singhu, relaxed and

smiling, betraying no signs of the

physical and mental hardship they had

been through, other than the occasional

adjustment that Kumar made of his

right leg that had been fractured in

police custody. They said they had

been spontaneously drawn to the

farmers’ protest, because they understood

the farm laws would affect the

entire working-class.

On January 12, the Mazdoor

Adhikar Sangathan had staged a

protest outside a factory that had not

paid its workers their wages. A scuffle

broke out at the protest after which

Kaur was arrested on the same day and

taken to Karnal police station, she

said. After her arrest, the police tortured

her and sexually assaulted her,

she alleged.

“Someone was kicking me, someone

was pulling my hair,” she said.

“They beat me in a deserted area and

in Sonipat [police station] and they

just threw me in jail. I could not walk

and they gave me thin blankets in the

winter.”

The Haryana police have not

responded to the allegations. Kumar

said he was picked up by police officials

four days after Kaur’s arrest,

even though the police claim they

arrested him on January 23.

He said he was using the mobile

toilet at the Singhu protest site around

3 pm on January 16 when some men

covered his face with a cloth. He

shouted but the men held a gun to his

waist and threatened him to stay quiet.

They made him walk 600 metres away

from the protest site and into the

industrial area, he claimed, where they

made him sit in a car. Kumar did not

know who they were until they took

him to the Sonipat police station

where they stripped him naked and

assaulted him, he alleged.

“They beat me as if I was an animal,”

he said, alleging Haryana police

unleashed gruesome methods of torture

on him at least three times a day.

“They split my legs wide and kept

kicking my groins,” he said. “They

were putting their weight on it and

pressing it. I was laughing at what

they were doing. But I got angry when

they got a big metal rod and pressed it

on my body. The rod was at least 10

kgs and two men weighing at least 100

kgs were on me.”

Kumar alleged the police officials

hit him on the head with their shoes,

hit his nails with sticks and put his legs

in boiling water.

Blood clots and broken toenails on

Shiv Kumar’s feet after the alleged

police torture.

A medical examination in Sonipat

district jail confirmed Kumar’s

injuries. The doctors also said that

Kumar showed symptoms of posttraumatic

stress disorder. “They did

not let me sleep for three days to mentally

torture me,” he said. Nor did the

police let him meet his lawyer or contact

his family for weeks. He was

shown pictures of three strangers and

was asked to identify them, he

recalled. Kumar did not know them.

The police also asked him how his

association was funded. “We would

get Rs 10 from each worker to print

pamphlets,” he explained. “We just

have two rooms where workers come

to meet us. The rent is Rs 5,500.”

Kumar said the solidarity evolving

between farmers and workers seemed

to threaten the police. The violence

against him also had casteist overtones,

he said.

“Chamar hai tu, leader na ban. Jo

tera kaam hai, woh kar.” You are a

Chamar. Do not try to be a leader. Do

what you are meant to do, the police

officials allegedly told him.

“They would spit on my face,” he

said. “Everyone talks about democracy

but I did not see that in the jail.”

Kumar is angry about what happened

to him and Kaur. But his anger

was not directed at the police. “My

anger is more towards the corrupt system

and the gap between the rich and

poor,” he said. “The police are just a

part of the system.”

Shared resilience

Kumar and Kaur both share a childhood

of struggle.

Kaur grew up in Muktsar Sahib in

Punjab where her parents remain an

active part of the Punjab Khet

Mazdoor Union, a collective for farmers

and workers in the district. She

regularly accompanied her mother to

demonstrations against atrocities

against Dalit women within the district.

In 2019, she moved to Delhi and

contacted Kumar in October last year

after she left her job at a call centre in

Azadpur, North Delhi. She joined the

Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan shortly

after and began working for a factory

that made tempered glass in Kundli,

but left the job once the farmers’

protests began to mobilise workers

coming to Singhu.

“We were warned that working in

labour rights was like walking on the

edge of a sword,” said Kaur. “We can

be killed anytime. Our life is not very

long.” The association also used the

momentum of the farmers’ protests to

raise awareness about the Modi government’s

changes to the labour laws

in 2020. The Centre replaced 44 existing

labour laws with four labour codes

which workers fear will water down

labour rights, social security and other

protections for those in the informal

sector. While quarantining in the

Karnal district jail in January, she

organised the inmates to hold a hunger

strike as jail authorities had stopped

phone calls to families, she said.

“If we do not struggle then we will

die,” said Kaur. “We have seen since

our childhood that we do not get anything

without protesting. I have learnt

all this from my mother and my sister

Rajveer.”

See Page 25


18 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

How Big Tech Is Importing India’s

Caste Legacy to Silicon Valley

By Saritha Rai

On a sunny day in early 2017,

Sundar Pichai, Alphabet Inc.’s chief

executive officer, returned to his alma

mater, the Indian Institute of

Technology Kharagpur, in West

Bengal, to speak before 3,500 students.

Welcomed as the “rock star”

leader of the “world’s most innovative

company,” he reminisced about skipping

classes and meeting his college

girlfriend—now his wife. He also

pitched Google to the soon-to-begraduates

in attendance. How many

wanted to work there, the interviewer

asked. Hundreds of hands went up.

“Wow, maybe we should open a campus

in Kharagpur,” Pichai joked.

As far as feeder schools go, it doesn’t

get much better for Google than the

network of 23 ultracompetitive, government-funded

IITs. Every year hundreds

of their graduates join the

world’s biggest tech companies. In

2003, when the school system celebrated

its 50th anniversary, Bill Gates

delivered a keynote speech praising

grads who’d come to work at

Microsoft Corp. over the years, noting

that the company had, in turn, invested

more money in the IITs than in any

other institution outside the U.S. and

the U.K.

For all the IITs’ proficiency at training

and placing students, though, the

coders, programmers, product developers,

and engineers fanning out to

global tech bring with them the troubled

legacy of India’s caste system.

On campus, students are surrounded

by—and in some cases participate

in—a culture of discrimination, bullying,

and segregation that targets fellow

pupils from India’s Scheduled Castes,

also known as Dalits. The IITs officially

discourage such harassment, but

the prejudice against these students

remains quite open.

Caste in India speaks, as race does

in America, to centuries of social, cultural,

and economic divisions. Unlike

in the U.S., though, India has since

1950 had a national system of affirmative

action designed to undo the legacy

of bias. Among its provisions are

ones that help Dalits and other

oppressed groups get into and pay for

college. For nearly half a century, IIT

admissions have been subject to a

reservation system that’s still hotly

debated on the campuses. In recent

years, the schools have opposed

attempts to extend affirmative action

to faculty hires, arguing it would

dilute the quality of the applicant pool

and undermine their meritocratic

image.

The IITs are notoriously cutthroat,

starting with the admissions process.

Some 2.2 million people have registered

to take the 2021 entrance exam,

to vie for roughly 16,000 slots. About

15% of those are allotted to students

from the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and

another 7.5% to applicants from the

Scheduled Tribes (STs), indigenous

people who’ve faced marginalization

and whose status has also been formalized

by the constitution. To fill

those slots, universities sometimes

Graduates from the Indian Institutes of

Technology are highly sought after by employers.

They can also bring problems from home.

offer seats to students with test scores

below the cutoff point—though not as

far below as is commonly assumed.

Caste-based resentment at the IITs

can run high. In one video posted on

YouTube in 2018, a student poring

over a pile of books is labeled “GEN,”

for general pool, while the two students

sleeping nearby are identified as

“SC” and “ST.” In another post circulated

widely among IIT groups last

year, a student suggested Covid-19

should also give preferential treatment

to the marginalized groups. “My dear

Corona,” it said in Hindi. “In every

sphere SC/STs get first preference. So

if you can, please look into the same.”

Dalit IIT graduates who’ve managed

to land jobs in the U.S. say that

such attitudes can be found there, too.

Last year a Dalit graduate of IIT

Bombay filed suit in the U.S. against

Cisco Systems Inc. and two of his fellow

alums, saying he’d experienced

caste-based discrimination at their

hands while the three of them were

employed at the company. The accompanying

publicity prompted a wave of

complaints about caste discrimination

in American tech—allegations that

seemed to blindside the industry.

Amit Jatav, a Dalit from Karauli, in

the northwestern state of Rajasthan,

remembers catching “the IIT bug” in

high school, where he excelled in

chemistry, physics, and math. His

father, an elementary school teacher,

and his mother, a fieldworker, scraped

together money from relatives and

local lenders to send him for a year of

test prep. He took the entrance exam

in 2017 and got into IIT Delhi on his

first try.

Jatav’s classmates quickly identified

him as Dalit. He’d been educated

in Hindi-language schools, and his

English was poor. His clothes were

worn and shabby. He didn’t have a

smartphone. In an environment where

entrance exam scores are status symbols,

Jatav had placed relatively low,

marking him as a “quota” student. He

heard loud comments saying he was at

IIT only because of his “category”

instead of “earning it rightfully.” He

wasn’t invited to study groups, dinners,

or social events.

“I struggled with my studies, but

nobody helped,” says Jatav, now 21

and in his final year. “The attitude

was: He’s a Dalit, let him struggle.”

The caste system traces as far back

as ancient India. It comprises four core

strata, with the Dalits lying outside

and below. (The word “Dalit,” in classical

Sanskrit, means “broken.”) These

divisions still permeate life for many

Indians, dictating how they work and

worship, eat and marry, own land and

vote. More than 200 million of the

country’s 1.3 billion people are classified

as Dalits.

In the 1920s, Mahatma Gandhi

fought to eradicate practices separating

Dalits from others, such as preventing

them from entering Hindu

temples. After independence in 1947,

India’s first minister of law and justice,

Dalit campaigner B.R.

Ambedkar, wrote recompense into the

constitution he helped draft. The move

banned discrimination based on caste

and guaranteed the government’s ability

to secure representation and unlock

opportunity for people who’d lacked

both for centuries. India introduced an

affirmative action program in 1950;

within a few years it was reserving

seats in colleges for oppressed

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled

Tribes, a practice it extended to the

IITs in 1973. (An exception is made

for “the creamy layer,” the official

term for lower-caste people who’ve

managed to achieve high status and

economic security, who aren’t eligible

for the quota system.)

“Caste and class run parallel at the

IITs, which are a microcosm of Indian

society. For Dalits, life on the campus

is a daily reminder of who they are”

Despite this, coded and overt forms

of discrimination against Dalits persist,

with the education system serving

as a primary vector. At secondary

school in Rajasthan, Mahesh Kumar

recalls, he and his father swept the

classrooms as a condition of Kumar’s

scholarship; they were expected not to

make contact with the teachers’

belongings so as not to taint them.

When Kumar gained admission to IIT

(BHU) Varanasi in 2013, he tried to

obscure his caste status by dropping

his last name, but it didn’t help. At the

beginning of an IIT school year, senior

students often orchestrate a hazing ritual

known as kholna, calling on firstyear

students to give their name, their

hometown, and the rank they achieved

on the entrance exam. If a surname

isn’t a giveaway, an unusual rank on

the entrance exam will be.

Another Dalit, Akshit Sangomla,

says that in his first year at IIT Kanpur

he refused to reveal his rank. It got out

anyway, and soon seniors began stopping

him to grill him on his engineering

knowledge. Sangomla, who was

living away from home for the first

time, remembers being terrified by the

badgering. He also found himself, like

Jatav at IIT Delhi, left out of study

groups, dinners, and celebrations. His

confidence shot, he struggled academically,

falling into a vicious cycle that

led to his expulsion after five semesters.

“As a Dalit you’ll always be an

outsider,” says Sangomla, who now

works as a journalist at a magazine

based in New Delhi.

Only one IIT out of the dozen

Bloomberg Businessweek contacted

for this story—including Delhi,

Bombay, Kharagpur, (BHU) Varanasi,

Madras, and Kanpur—responded to

repeated requests for comment made

by email and phone over several

months. Many of the schools have

appointed liaison officers to look into

caste discrimination on campus; they

didn’t respond to requests for comment

either. A representative of one

school said on background that the

IITs didn’t want to get drawn into a

“controversial” topic. The only formal

response came from IIT Roorkee,

which said it hadn’t received any

caste-based discrimination complaints

in the past five years. “The reservation

policy has helped, without exacerbating

caste based discrimination,” a

spokesperson wrote.

In a 2016 survey of students at IIT

(BHU) Varanasi, World Bank economist

Priyanka Pandey and her brother,

activist Sandeep Pandey, found that

Dalits not only experience more discrimination

and negativity than others,

but their academic performance is also

lower, even after controlling for different

socioeconomic backgrounds.

Asked about the gap, a majority of

respondents attributed it to the “lower

ability” of lower-caste students.

“Caste and class run parallel at the

IITs, which are a microcosm of Indian

society,” says Sandeep, who holds a

Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from

the University of California at

Berkeley and has taught social justice

classes at IITs. “For Dalits, life on the

campus is a daily reminder of who

they are.”

A 2020 graduate of IIT Guwahati’s

design program, Agrata Patel, got into

the school through a separate but parallel

quota system for students from

“other backwards classes,” or OBCs—

historically oppressed groups that are

covered by the reservation system but

aren’t Scheduled Castes or Tribes.

Patel says that, though she faced special

pressure as someone from a

reserved category, it was easier for her

than for her Dalit friends and classmates.

“It’s a huge load on them.

People are always judging them,” she

says. “I felt for them, I still feel for

them. My grades were good—nobody

got a chance to point a finger at me.”

That track led her to her current job, at

an Australian tech company.

Dalits in the IIT system often have

a rougher path to employment. After

his first few semesters in Varanasi,

Kumar fell into a deep depression and

took time off from school.

See Page 25


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

19

‘Dalit women continue

to face atrocities for

claiming their rights’

By Ritwika Mitra

NEW DELHI: Dalit women continue to

face violence due to assertion to access the

basic resources of land, water, sanitation

facilities, education, and payment of wages,

according to a report ‘Dalit Women Rise to

Justice: Status Report 2021 by All India

Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM).

As a part of the report, the case analysed

81 case interventions. Dalit women’s assertion

of their right to self-dignity, legal

recourse, participation in local self-governance,

the assertion of the right to cultural

freedom, nexus and collusion of perpetrators

with state authorities, retaliation over

unsolved disputes, lack of awareness of basic

human rights, legal and fundamental rights,

and women-related policies, said the report.

The major forms of violence against Dalit

women included rape, gangrape, attempt to

rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, murder

(accompanied by rape, gangrape or kidnapping),

witch-hunting, mass attacks with

physical assault, loss of lives and property,

and social boycott, according to the observations

made in the report.

The AIDMAM’s legal intervention in 81

cases of atrocities on Dalit women and girls

showed there was a delay in registration of

FIRs, discouragement or refusal by police to

file complaints at the first instance, the procedure

being delayed by police in producing

the survivor before the judicial magistrate in

recording the statement, false counter cases

filed against victims of caste and genderbased

violence, survivors being denied by

the administration. The

report said that compensation

was paid to 31 survivors

of the 81 cases, ie.

40.26 per cent of the total

FIRs. This cumulative

amount of Rs 13.6 million

was paid by states

after the AIDMAM followed

up on the cases,

according to the report.

The report pointed out

in many cases there was

no effective implementation

of provisions of the

SC/ST (Prevention of

Atrocities) Act. The

National Crime Records

Bureau report had documented

an increasing

number of criminal cases

against Dalit women.

The AIDMAM pointed out in its report

the NCRB 2019 data showed 10 Dalit

women and girls are raped every day but 29

per cent of the accused are convicted for

their crimes.

The reports have come up with a slew of

recommendations which include holding

public campaigns to create awareness on the

provisions of the SC/ST (PoA) Act, states

taking up violence prevention measures by

mapping atrocity-prone areas, and setting up

protection cells.

Effective implementation of the SC/ST

(PoA) Act, and allocating adequate budget,

and ensuring utilisation of funds for rehabilitation

of survivors are the way forward, it

said.

Courtesy : TNIE

Krantijyoti Savitri Mai Phule Remembered

(Samaj Weekly)- Women and men from different walks of

life joined a meeting to remember Savitri Mai Phule on her

124th Parinirwan Diwas at the Prerna Kendra on the Deoria

Kushinagar border in Uttar Pradesh. They remembered her

contribution for the uplift of the women and men of different

sections of society and stressed the need to follow on the path

shown by her. The remembrance began with a Buddhist chant

by Ratnakar Bhante who said it should be our goal to spread

Buddhism all over the country as that is the only way to bring

equality and liberty in our society.

In his introductory remarks , the founder of Prerna Kendra

run by Social Development Foundation, Shri Vidya Bhushan

Rawat said that it is high time we understand the message of

Savitri Mai Phule in the current context. He emphasised the

need to spread scientific education and speak up against discrimination

against women. Our society needs to change a lot

because of the prevailing prejudices against women.

The coordinator of Prerna Kendra Ms Sangita Kushwaha

said that due to our continuous work in this region for over 15

years the marginalised communities are now getting to know

Savitri Mai and other legends. Mrs Namita Rawat recited the

poem written by Savitri Mai in which she says that ignorance

is our biggest enemy and we must overcome it.

We must educate all our children particularly the girls. She

also sang a song : Isliye rah Sangharsh kee hum chune, jindagi

aansuon me nahaai na ho’. Shri Nand Lal from Bihar felt

that it is time we take the message of Savitri Bai Phule everywhere

and work towards eradication of superstition from our

society. Many other speakers felt that Buddhism was the need

of the hour so that India really becomes a Prabuddha Bharat as

envisaged by Baba Saheb Ambedkar.

A year on, WHO still

struggling to TACKLE

COVID threat

New Delhi : The World

Health Organization (WHO),

that declared Covid-19 as a pandemic

exactly a year ago on

March 11, 2020 which has

caused more "mass trauma" than

the World War II, is still warning

people about the lasting consequences

as those who recovered

from the deadly attack are facing

several health issues amid surge

in caseloads in several regions

around the world including

India.

The overall number of global

Covid-19 cases has topped 117.9

million, while the deaths have

surged to more than 2.61 million,

according to the data by the

Johns Hopkins University on

Thursday.

The US is the worst-hit country

with the world's highest number

of cases and deaths at

29,150,068 and 529,102, respectively,

according to the CSSE.

India comes at the second spot in

terms of cases at 11,262,707 and

is currently witnessing a definite

surge in caseloads in

Maharashtra.

To recall, the WHO faced

severe criticisms for "mishandling

the crisis" and delaying the

Continue Page 20

announcement to declare it as a

pandemic. India was among 58

nations, including 27 European

Union members, who moved a

draft resolution in May last year,

demanding evaluation of the

WHO's response towards the

novel coronavirus pandemic.

The resolution demanded initiation

"at the earliest appropriate

moment to review experience

gained and lessons learned from

the WHO-coordinated international

health response to Covid-

19". "We are deeply concerned

by the morbidity and mortality

caused by Covid-19 pandemic,

the negative impacts on physical

and mental health and social

well-being, the negative impacts

on economy and society and the

consequent exacerbation of

inequalities within and between

countries," read the draft.

The WHO on January 23

declared a global health emergency,

but did not declare it as a

pandemic and waited for a week

for its director-general Tedros

Adhanom Ghebreyesus to return

from China. By that time, Covid-

19 cases increased 10 times and

the virus entered 18 countries.

See Page 24

Marking International Women’s Day and

Savitri Bai Phule’s Death Anniversary

that would have deleterious impacts on land, livelihoods and ecology.

While the climate crisis and its gendered impact is being spoken

about more these days, the past few years have also seen intense

struggles to safeguard the local environment from destructive projects

including large dams, mining, coal block allocations, thermal

and nuclear power plants, mega infrastructure etc. The state has often

tried to greenwash their acts of ecological injustice by introducing

technocratic and exclusionary solutions like windmill farms, solar

parks that grab the land of the marginalised people. Online public

hearings make the participation process even more inaccessible,

especially to women from marginalized backgrounds. While promising

to the world that our dependency on non-renewables will be minimized,

close to 40 forest blocks have been opened to commercial

mining last year, a decision severely opposed by adivasis, local communities

and unions in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra etc.

Women, people who identify as gender-nonconforming, genderqueer,

agender, trans* persons and all those continuously

marginalized on grounds of gender and sexuality have been part

of struggles and movements across issues, through local action,

cultural practice and advocacy, research and through constant

physical and emotional labour, even as often the space to emphasize

their specific forms of oppression needs to be fought for.

NAPM’s commitment is to center all these voices across struggles

and movements, and come together in solidarity with their

demands for justice, from the level of individual human rights, to

the community support, sustainable living and ecological justice.

We affirm our support to all struggles for social and environmental

justice that are braving state repression, corporate

excesses and dominant social forces.


20 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Marking International Women’s Day and

Savitri Bai Phule’s Death Anniversary

Day 3 of the Feminist Week of

Resistance and Reflections is dedicated

to social and ecological justice. It is also

the day we commemorate Savitribai

Phule’s 124th death anniversary, and

draw strength from her commitment to

social reform, including through her

pioneering work in education and her

emphasis on the struggle for women’s

rights. We also remember Annai

Maniammai, a revolutionary leader of

the Dravidian movement, fiery thinker,

anti-caste and social justice leader.

Even more than 7 decades post-independence,

Dalit, Bahujan, Vimukta,

Adivasi and minority women continue

to face caste-based sexual violence,

atrocities and backlash for every

demand for justice. The number of Dalit

and Adivasi women facing sexual violence

has only increased during the period

of the pandemic. While Hathras,

Kathua, Unnao are glaring examples,

the scale of gendered violence has been

soaring, but often unreported. Social

activists belonging to these communities

are persecuted by the state and dominant

castes, suffer violence in police

custody; redressal mechanisms against

injustice are notoriously slow, if they

work at all. The recent arrests of dalit

trade union activist Nodeep Kaur and

adivasi acitivist Hidme Markam in

Chhattisgarh speak to this reality.

Braving the caste dominance and state

repression, dalit and adivasi women

from Una to Bastar and elsewhere stand

before us as stellar symbols of resistance.

In the past decade, in particular, we

have also witnessed a steep erosion in

constitutional values and rights and a

steady rise in regressive views centred

around the Manusmriti. This has only

complicated further the struggles for

annihilation of caste and patriarchy, as

the Hindu Rashtra deems all women to

be controlled by a misogynistic and

paternalistic pattern of protection and

violence.

Women, trans* persons and other

people marginalized on grounds of gender

and sexuality face persecution and

severe forms of state violence. Many

persons within the transgender community

fought hard to retain the spirit of

the relatively progressive NALSA

judgement through the multiple iterations

leading up to the Transgender

Law, 2019 and Rules, 2020; but the

Modi Govt only made matters worse by

striking a blow to the right of gender

self-identification, infantilizing trans

people, denying reservations, compromising

on anti-discrimination and welfare

measures and bringing in a

National Council which many within

the community feel reflects the ideological

leanings of the Govt. Amidst all

this, the community self-organized during

the lockdown, despite minimal support

from the State and ensured trans*

people did not have to go hungry.

The criminalization of NT-DNT

communities and neglect of their socioeconomic

conditions continues as ever.

Lack of access to resources and constitutionally

guaranteed rights increasingly

places them as well as adivasi and

indigenous peoples in precarious conditions

of living. They continue to be discriminated

against and targeted by

Feminist Week of Resistance and Reflections (7th to 14th March)

Day 3 | 10th March: Struggles for Social and Ecological Justice:

Fighting Gendered Discrimination and Marginalization All Along

police.

Sex workers as well have been facing

criminalization and backlash and they

continue to unionize against many odds,

braving the pandemic losses. Their

demands for recognition as informal

workers are under attack from both state

and non-state actors. The State and vested

interests continue to deny their

agency as well as their contribution,

under the guise of ‘rescue and rehabilitation’

and in the process fail to prevent

actual instances of trafficking, which

sex workers themselves are keen to

address.

Thousands of sanitation workers,

almost entirely from the Valmiki community,

including women are forced to

work in precarious and often lethal conditions,

in violation of their fundamental

rights and protections as per the

Prohibition of Manual Scavenging Act,

1993. The institutional oppression of

students from marginalized backgrounds

has never stopped. It has in fact

increased with the brazen privatization

and centralization of education, and the

rise of the BJP-RSS 2014, affecting

especially students who are assertive or

politically articulate. This has been both

a cause of extreme concern and fierce

resistance. From Rohith Vemula to Dr.

Payal Tadvi to Dr. Anitha to Najeeb and

beyond, the institutional murders or disappearance

of each of these students has

given rise to a social justice movement,

led by leaders like Radhika Vemula,

Fathima Nafees, Abida Tadvi etc.

It is inspiring to witness a growing

movement of the nature-worshipping

adivasis in the country asking for implementation

of the Sarna Code and independent

recognition within the census,

rather than being clubbed as ‘Hindus’, a

demand supported by the CM,

Jharkhand as well. However, there

remains a huge concern about the wellknit

and decades old violent project of

the RSS to ‘Hinduize’ adivasis. Fighting

for their jal-jangal-zameen on the one

hand and leading self-rule movements

like Pathalgadi, adivasi women are also

at the forefront of asserting their

autonomous identity, beyond multiple

attempts to proselytize them.

There is also a multi-pronged attack

on and denial of reservations, as a matter

of constitutional right and justice. On

the one hand, the relentless privatization

across sectors and higher education has

meant reduced employment opportunities

as well as financial and institutional

support to SC, ST and OBC students.

The dubious ‘merit’ agenda is always

brought up to deny reservations to students

from historically oppressed backgrounds.

At a very different level, even

70 years after independence, dalits who

convert into Islam and Christianity are

denied reservations, due to the

‘Presidential Order of 1950’, thereby

arbitrarily erasing the societal caste discrimination

they face even post-conversion

and also imposing an unconstitutional

rider on their fundamental right to

profess and practice any religion of their

choice.

The institutionalization of hate, discrimination

and islamophobia is now

happening in the most brazen manner,

as we witness in the multiple ‘anti-conversion’

ordinances as well in the selective

criminalization of muslim men in

the Triple Talaq law. Between 2014 and

2021, numerous muslims and at places

Christians and adivasis were attacked,

many brutally lynched for cow-related

incidents or in the garb of ‘hurting

Hindu sentiments’. Consensual relationships,

both inter-caste and inter-religious

continue to face severe threats

from the right-wing and regressive

forces, and in each such instance,

women and gender non-conforming

persons face particular vulnerabilities.

While the situation on the social

front presents a grim picture, the reality

on the ecological side is not promising

either, what with the State playing second

fiddle to mega corporates who are

eyeing natural resources and cheap

labour and pushing for tweaking environmental

legislations with an intent to

further weaken state regulation. It is

pertinent to note here that ecological

injustice is deeply interlinked with

social justice and it is the women at the

frontlines, from working class,

oppressed, indigenous, forest, coastal

and other marginalised communities

that face most of the adverse consequences.

‘Development’ planning and financial

allocations only address these gaps

in name, catering in fact to corporate

interests, at the cost of the marginalized

and of environmental sustainability. The

past many years present before us a pattern

where both for the social and ecological

sectors, budgetary allocations

have been abysmal and deliberately fail

to account for the needs of the marginalized

millions as well as safeguard the

environment.

Regressive legislative changes (such

as Draft EIA 2020) seek to further dilute

the already watered down enviro-legal

frameworks, at the behest of corporate

interests. The impunity guaranteed to

state agencies and all those who clamp

down on the working class, marginalized

community people’s dissent and

protests are geared towards further

social injustice.

In 2020, we have also seen industrial

accidents, oil blowouts, massive coal

block allocations in the central Indian

forested states and attempts to further

weaken the NGT. On one hand, public

participation is minimized when it

comes to “development” projects that

grab their land, natural resources and

erase their culture; on the other hand is

the constant silencing of the activists

that raise their voice against this injustice.

Not only the people who are directly

affected by these issues, the state has

gone after other activists who stand in

solidarity too. The takedown of websites

that mobilised voices to withdraw

the draft EIA Notification 2020, the

arrest and demonizing of young environmental

activists, many women, only

goes to show that if people raise their

voice in an intersectional way, the state

will not tolerate it.

At many other places, women and

GNC people have been at the forefront

of these struggles and have also borne

the brunt of state excesses. From Bhopal

to Thoothukudi to Singhu – Tikri, we

salute all women for their heroic struggles

to hold corporates accountable,

even at great cost to their lives and safety.

We also acknowledge the foresight

that thousands of women farmers are

bringing into the ongoing movement

resisting agri-businesses

See Page 19


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

21

How Upper-Caste Women Continue To Dominate

The WOMEN’S MOVEMENT IN INDIA

Women’s movements in India have had a contested and debated history of women’s struggles articulating their

politics from different positions in a hierarchical caste society. The political spectrum of feminist articulation in

Indian society can be seen, ranging from Durga Vahini‘s likes, the women’s front of the RSS, to the autonomous

women’s groups who felt disillusioned with the patriarchy with their communist male counters parts.

By Guest Writer

Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi, Nomadic

and Muslim women have also broken

away from the Women’s movement in

India, which upper caste women have

historically dominated.

Historically, women have stepped

out of organised politics to highlight the

rampant patriarchy and male dominance

within organised politics. Similarly,

Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi, Nomadic and

Muslim women have also broken away

from the women’s movement in India,

which upper caste women have historically

dominated. They have rarely discussed

brahmanical patriarchy’s contours

while also further subjugating the

voices of doubly andtriply oppressed

women.

Historicising Women’s Movement

in India

The history of colonial India is constrained

to the nationalist discourse, so

much so that almost all political discourse

during colonialism could be

understood and articulated by discussing

the nationalist struggle against

British colonialism. Various historical

accounts have the nationalist struggle as

the central subject of the discourse.

Nationalist historiographies have subsumed

various political struggles and

reserved their positions as a dominant

discourse on understanding the assertion

of resistance in the early nineteenth

and twentieth centuries.

However, in the process of assimilation,

this discourse has refrained from

articulating the discourse of the Bahujan

masses who organised and participated

in various political struggles against

colonialism and the dominant forces of

what we now know as India. While noting

the same, Sharmila Rege writes,

“Nationalist political discourse excluded

the radical pro-democratisation and

anti-hierarchical struggles of the lower

caste masses and refrained from encapsulating

and aligning with anti-colonial

nationalism.”

Feminist historiographies made radical

breakthrough by bringing out the

hidden histories of women’s articulation

of experiences of gender and patriarchy

from under the garb of paternalistic and

patriarchal ‘social reforms’. These historiographies

have rejected the

reformist movements of the White and

its Indian ally, the Savarna man.

The Brahmo Samaj and the Arya

Samaj‘s reformist movements and their

likes, along with the legislative pronouncements

like the abolishment of

Sati by the colonial rule, were projected

as an active engagement to liberate the

‘Indian woman’. Lata Mani argues that

both groups were redefining tradition

and, therefore, “Indianness”. Women

were “neither the subjects nor the

objects” of this discourse, but merely

the “site” on which the debates were

conducted.

Rassundari Devi’s autobiography

brought out the abject conditions of the

arduous labour that engulfed the

women’s life. “I was so immersed in a

sea of housework that I was not conscious

of what I was going through day

and night. After some time, the desire to

learn how to read properly grew very

strong in me. I was angry with myself

for wanting to read books. Girls did not

read… People used to despise women

of learning… In fact, older women used

to show a great deal of displeasure if

they saw a piece of paper in a woman’s

hands. But somehow, I could not accept

this.”, writes Rassundari Devi.

Feminist historians claim that this

was one of the first autobiographies

written by women and is seen as a pioneering

text for feminist struggles in

India. However, these histories speak

about the conditions of the women of

upper-caste households and women’s

laborious lives constrained to the

domestic realms in upper-caste realities.

“While these democratising movements

are seen as heralding ‘class rights for

women’ as ‘against and over’ simply

familial or caste- related identities; the

histories of the non-brahman democratic

movements, ever so crucial to the

emancipatory discourse on caste and

gender come to be overlooked“, writes

Sharmila Rege pointing out the same.

Upper caste and upper class women

were engaged in constant domestic

labour. However, traditional patriarchalism

was not true of lower caste women

who had to engage in labouring domestic

work along with the labour they produced

outside their homes in the fields

and villages.

Gail Omvedt in the book Caste,

class, and women’s liberation in India,

writes,”Indian peasants, with little property

to pass on and little chance of

attaining any status recognition, were

not so concerned with patrilineal blood

purity or caste standards; their women

of necessity played a greater economic

role and with this attained greater independence;

and the bhakti movements

which found their basis in the lower

castes and peasantry gave women, as

well as untouchables and Shudras,

greater religious roles.”

Writings by Mukta Salve and Tarabai

Shinde of the Satyashodhak tradition

highlighted the graded patriarchies in a

caste society and discussed male violence

in the contexts of caste.

During early colonialism in the

1800s, the Satyashodhak movement led

by Jyotiba Phule and Savitrimai Phule

rarely appeared in the historical texts of

feminist struggles. Phule, an anti-caste

leader, believed that Brahmanism and

violent Hinduism enslaved women,

Bahujan and Dalits. He saw imparting

knowledge in historically excluded

communities as a radical liberatory

assertion against Brahmanism. With this

view, he went on to open a school for

women, Dalits and Bahujans who were

denied the right to get an education as

inscribed in the Hindu scriptures. He

also worked with women enforced into

widowhood.

Mukta Salve, a student of Savitribai

and Jyotiba Phule, Image Source:

Forwardpress

Women’s writings from the

Satyashodhak tradition did not enter the

history of women’s movements.

Writings by Mukta Salve and Tarabai

Shinde of the Satyashodhak tradition

highlighted the graded patriarchies in a

caste society and discussed male violence

in the contexts of caste.

The subaltern school of thought has

also written on the women’s question

and rendering her from participation in

the political realm for nationalist struggle

into the domestic realm. Partha

Chatterjee, a leading historian in later

colonial studies, has discussed the patriarchal

alignments of the later colonial

period where the women’s participation

in the political struggle were seen in

binary oppositions of the public and the

private. Chatterjee argues that the

women’s question that had gained

precedence in the 19th century lost its

momentum in the 20th century as the

Nationalist movement came to the forefront

and did not see the women’s issues

challenge to the colonial State.

Rege argues that this blanket presumption

failed to see women’s en

masse participation in the Mahad struggle

led by Ambedkar and his followers.

While discussing the resolution of the

women’s question, Chatterjee overlooked

the contributions of the struggles

led by Bahujan women during the 20th

century. “The early decades of the 20th

century saw protests by ‘muralis’

against caste-based prostitution in the

campaigns launched by Shivram Janoba

Kamble. The 1930s saw the organisation

of independent meetings and conferences

by Dalit women in the

Ambedkarite movement.” . Independent

Dalit women’s conferences and

Parishads also came to be organised

during this time.

See Page 24


22 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

IBG CHIEF JOINS THE ADVISORY

BOARD OF QS IGAUGE IN INDIA

The chief executive of India

Business Group, Amarjit Singh, has

accepted an invite to join the international

advisory board of the global education

experts, QS IGAUGE - India's

first nationwide education rating system.

QS IGAUGE is a subsidiary of UK

based QS Quacquarelli Symonds. It is a

world leader in rankings, ratings, and

analytics services. QS plays a key role

in providing insights to the global higher

education sector. QS's mission is to

enable motivated people anywhere in

the world to fulfil their potential

through educational achievement, international

mobility, and career development.

QS IGAUGE is a private sector initiative

to rateuniversities, colleges, and

schools in India to promote international

excellence.It brings together the global

expertise, experience of QS, along

with deep local knowledge of luminaries

from Indian education.

Singh, a lawyer, and recognised

thought-leader on India-UK business,

said he was delighted to be invited to

join the advisory board.

"QS IGAUGE is the epitome of setting

high standards in education, and it

is an honour to be invited to join its

advisory board.Indians are passionate

about education, and we are taught from

the moment we can walk that education

is all-important.What QS IGAUGE

does is to showcase the best of the best

when it comes to education around the

world, and if I can play a small role in

advising institutions, I am truly humbled.",

said Singh.

Last July,India unveiled its new

national educational policy. For the first

time, the government will allow the top

100 universities in the world to open

campuses in India.

"This is really an inspirational

move," said the IBG CEO. He also

added "India and the UK already have

established links through a centuries old

common and shared history, common

and shared culture and common

laws.But here is the thing. The worldwide

pandemic has limited global

movement, and that will continue for

some years to come. It is abig opportunity

for anyone who is willing to grasp

it.

Singh also added, "What the Indian

government has said to the world is this;

come and set up campuses here and you

will have the benefit of accessing the

finest brains in the world.For UK universities,

this is an opportunity to maximise

links. They can teach in India, and

the world class universities will offer

exchange programmes between Indian

and British students."

Currently, 18 UK universities are

ranked in the top 100 of QS World

University Rankings, among them is the

University of Southampton where Singh

is its special adviser for India.

"We are delighted that Amarjit has

accepted our invitation to join our board

of advisers," said Dr Ashwin Fernandes,

CEO, and Director of QS IGAUGE. He

further elaborated, "What he brings is

an expertise in law and international

relations. He has been mentoring various

global organisations on a range of

issues including business strategy, market

research, international business

development and contractual matters.

"Not only that, Amarjit, has been

offering business advisory services and

unrivalled expertise in introducing and

partnering British and Indian businesses.

I know he will be an asset to us. As

an organisation contributing to the

knowledge space in India, we have

ambitious plans to engage with higher

education institutions and students with

some key initiatives in collaboration

with Amarjit. I am really excited to have

him as part of the QS IGAUGE

Advisory board".

Singh'sappointment comes just four

weeks (6 February 2021) after the UK

government published its international

education strategy to promote global

educational links. Launched by the education

and international trade secretaries,

the strategy states, "Tens of thousands

of students will be able to undertake

study and work placements across

the world through the new Turing

scheme.

The scheme will be backed by over

£100 million, providing funding for

around 35,000 students in universities,

colleges and schools to go on placements

overseas, starting in September

2021, and we expect to see similar numbers

of students coming to the UK in

return."

The IBG chief executive believes the

British government's strategy will be a

game changer in India-UK educational

relations. He said that "What this strategy

tells us is that the UK is open for

education. What India's new education

policy tells us is that India is open for

education. This is a true win-win."

"Working with QS IGAUGE can

only create opportunities and strengthen

existing partnerships by providing that

stamp of quality which mark out the

best schools, colleges and universities

in the world.", concluded Singh.

Will Harjeet Singh’s dream of making ‘Sarbans

Kaur’ one of the best robots in the world come true?

At a time when our mother

tongue Punjabi is struggling to

survive in the age of globalization,

it is heartening, encouraging

and reassuring news that the

first Punjabi speaking and understanding

turbaned robot ‘Sarbans

Kaur’ ‘Developed by a young

teacher.

Let’s talk about Harjit Singh

who is working as a computer

teacher in Government High

School Rohjari in the district of

Jalandhar. Harjit Singh first

came into the limelight when he

developed a programming language

called ‘Sarbans’ in

Punjabi. Just last year, he made

history by creating the first

Punjabi robot to speak and

understand Punjabi. It is to be

mentioned here that at that time

only the head of this robot was

made but now after four months

of day and night hard work the

torso of ‘Sarbans Kaur’ has also

been made.

Some of the Key features of

robot:

# The first turbaned Sikh

robot.

# The first robot that can

speak and understand Punjabi

and Gurbani.

# Can play an important role

in teaching.

# Can be used as a guide in

religious places.

# Can prove useful for the

promotion and dissemination of

the Punjabi language.

# Its database can be updated

as time demands.

# Can be equipped with general

knowledge, social knowledge,

accounting, history, entertainment.

Most of the everyday household

items used in this robot

such as copy covers, cardboard,

electric wires, toys and plugs etc.

But still so far this robot has cost

around one and a half lakh. This

robot is voiced by his wife Mrs.

Jaspreet Kaur. Harjit Singh

belongs to well educated family.

His father S. Amrik Singh who

has retired from the Excise

Department as a Gazetted

Officer and Mother Smt.

Gurbachan Kaur as a Center

Head Teacher from the

Government School. Harjit

Singh passionately points out

that the prayers of the parents

have also contributed a lot in this

work. According to Harjit Singh,

he want to equip this robot with

a better, more effective and artificial

intelligence. Its voice

needs further improvement. A

huge investment is needed to

make ‘Sarbans Kaur’ walkable.

For all this, he need the support

of an organization or a government

so that they can continue

their efforts to make this first turbaned

Punjabi robot one of the

best robots in the world.

Governments or intellectuals

often say that the new generation

is fleeing abroad and there is a

dearth of skilled professional

students in Punjab. So if this is to

be stopped then the government

and other institutions have to

encourage the youth like Harjit

Singh who love Punjabism

immensely so that they can work

harder for the promotion and

spread of the Punjabi language.

Hopefully ‘Sarbans Kaur’ will

get all the support!

Jagjit Singh Ganeshpur

M-9465576022

Russia always stood by India

It is quite surprising that some

of the scribes working for Indian

mainstream media do not understand

properly the relations

between India and Russia. No

doubt, India needs Afghanistan

support in the region to establish

trade connectivity. Similarly,

India needs Iran for the development

of Chabahar airport. Russia

as a trusted and strategic partner

of India always stood by India in

promoting the interests of India

in that region. The argument

being given by Indian media outlets

that Russia kept India out of

Afghanistan is absolutely baseless

and lacks in deep understanding.

It is unfortunate that

some scribes having political

connections with American lobbyists

in India unknowingly try

to create a confusion in the

minds of the international community.

Russia is a reliable

friend of India and always

looked forward to its geopolitical

development in a stable and

sustainable peaceful manner.

Dialogue between Russia and

India has always been very close

and forward-looking on all global

and regional issues, including

the situation in Afghanistan. It

has been intensively maintained

in bilateral and multilateral formats,

including the SCO

Afghanistan Contact Group,

Moscow consultations, etc. Due

to the complexity of the Afghan

settlement, moving towards a

relevant regional consensus and

coordination with other partners,

including the US, is critical.

Russia proceeds from the importance

of the implementation of

the US-Taliban agreement

signed in Doha in February 2020

and approved by a UN Security

Council resolution. Russia

always stated that India plays

very important role in

Afghanistan, and

its eventual

deeper involvement

in dedicated

dialogue formats

is natural.

It should be

very clear to the

global community

that Russia

genuinely

believe that

political stability

in Afghanistan is

good for all the

global nations of

the world. The

players in Afghanistan are mentally,

politically controlled by the

US administration. Now, all eyes

are set on US President Joe

Biden and his new team how the

political quagmire of

Afghanistan can be resolved

while satisfying all the parties

involved in it. There is no doubt

if the new President Joe Biden

and his team finally decide to

bring back the forces of the US

army from the soil of

Afghanistan, as everyone knows,

Taliban shall regain political

power which, of course, is neither

in the interests of Russia

nor India. Russia believes that

only peace can bring prosperity

in the region. Russia was and

will stand by India to achieve

this desirable goal.

-Dr. Rahul Kumar

Senior correspondent, the

Asian independent, UK-


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

23

Chardi Kala Magazine- An Initiative

of the Sikh Education Forum

Covid Context

The beginning of the year

2020 was marked with an

unprecedented and unwanted

guest, COVID-19: It challenged

the government, overwhelmed

the NHS, and perplexed the public.

COVID-19not only altered

our lifestyle and workplaces but

also our language and modes of

interaction. The language was

first to adopt the new normal:

social distancing, furlough, quarantine

all these were new additions

to our vocabulary, With a

swift move of 'lock down', the

government undoubtedly was

questioned and scrutinized by

people and some conspiracy theorists;

however, the lockdown

immediately affected the lives

and families. The social, religious,

educational and entertainment

spaces were ordered to be

closed for an undetermined timeit

appeared as if life has come to

a halt. Professionals, students,

elders were trapped in their

homes. With restrictions on

meetings imposed by the administration,

the families no longer

remained'a call away'. Rather,

those living next to each other

were restricted from mingling.

Parenting became even difficult

for the professionals whose

office and their kids' school both

came home with a parliamentary

announcement.

Impact on the Punjabi

Community

With Gurdwaras and other

faith organisations closing for

the public, the elders, straight

way, went out of touch with their

peer groups as well as their daily

routine. This aggravated the

already present situation of loneliness,

mental health, and wellbeing,

specifically amongst the

elderly members of the community

and those staying alone.

Even the close-knit families living

together faced challenges, though

different in nature, such as economic

hardship, social isolation, overburdened

workloads, domestic violence

etc. Every part of the society was

impinged on: women, men, elders,

young, kids, it felt that not a soul

remained unflustered.

The need for authentic information

In addition, to these sudden

changes to lifestyle and social spaces,

another predicament of the situation

was a changed mode of information

and communication: information was

only available via television or the

internet. However, there was no way

of getting unified, authentic, lucid and

comprehensive information that was

easily accessible.Rathera web of

information was floating all over the

social media: Some myths, some

truths, some advice, and some apprehensions.

This information exchange

processemerged as more confusing

than clear- specifically,we found that

the elders became more confused with

the misinformation.

The situation was even more

intense for the elders living alone with

little or no understanding of the

English languageor accessibility to

modern technology such as Zoom

orSkype. As a consequence, the elderly

and vulnerable members of society

were left at the mercy of social

media platforms where they were fed

with a mixture of facts, advice, myths,

and hoaxes. For them, with a little

alteration, if I may, to Shakespearean

style, it became a question of "to

believe or not to believe".

The role of the National Lottery

Community Fund

Sikh Education Forum (SEF)a

local organisation based in the West

Midlands focused on educating and

assisting the community, realised the

need of providing authentic and clear

information to the members of the

community. With this in mind, SEF

started speaking with local Gurdwara

committees and other organisations

and groups as well as individual

members of the community and found

that there was a strong demand for

published information that can be

relied on. Also, it was seen that these

members felt isolated and alienated: a

majority of them thought they were

alone in this distress. The forum thus

decided to design a publication that

can provide all-in-one-room information

about medical advice, governmental

directions, new terminologies,and

the stories of other members

of the coping mechanism in the community.

SEF made an application to

the National Lottery Community

Fundto publish a magazine aimed at

the over 50s. The NLCF approved the

application to fund Chardi Kala

Magazine project over 6 months. The

project started in December 2020 and

is due to finish in May 2021.

About Chardi Kala Magazine

The focus of the magazine is to

make the members feel more positive

about themselves and be in 'Chardi

Kala', meaning an 'optimistic mindset'

which is an important part of Sikh

way of life. The magazine will dedicate

a part to medical advice by WHO

and NHS; the second part will provide

the information on governmental

directions and instructions, including

detailed information on tier system;

and the third part will be dedicated to

the experiences of the members of the

community: their life in lockdown,

experience in or with COVID situation,

and their wellness.Volunteers

within SEF have been instrumental in

enabling community members with

no or very limited technical skills to

be able to use Zoom and other such

platforms to be able to share their

experiences. SEF runs a variety of

regular online activities and workshops

on spiritual, social and emotional

wellness. The activities include

breathing and gentle exercises, music

therapy, coping with stress, loneliness,

and mental health wellbeingto

encourage local members to share

their experiences. We have been able

to access stories of the individuals

from SEF's online platforms.

Marketing and publicity

Since December 2021

SEF has proactively

engaged the community

by presenting and

announcing the project

to the members of the

community through variety

of ways. Marketing

flyer(s) and COVID

awareness posters were

sent to over 100 members

of the forum

through WhatsApp and

emails. The project team

continuously arrange

meetings with the community

members through

zoom, WhatsApp and

telephone calls, the

members are updated on

the progress as well as

encouraged to participate

in the formulation of the

magazine. To increase

the engagement, the

Forum had organised an

all-ladies meeting on

Zoom, where a platform

was provided for each

one of the participants to

share their stories with

each other. A similar

meeting was organised

with male members of

the community as well.

These meetings are

extremely invaluable as

they offers a safe space

for participants to vent

their feelings and

socialise as well as play

an active part in the key

project deliverables.

Most of the sessions are

mixed but we also organise

separate sessions for

men and women where

they can feel at ease discussing

issues sensitive

to them.

The feedback is

always very positive, with 100% participants

reporting that they have

learnt newer skills, feel less lonely,

and are engaged but most importantly

they feel that they are listened to. We

have been encouraging participants to

write for the Chardi Kala Magazine,

to date, we have received vital information

from stories of coping to

recipes and other vital tips.

Participants are encouraged to write

in either English or Punjabi.

We would love to hear from you,

please send your experiences of coping

during the Lockdown for publishing

in the Chardi Kala Magazine. For

further information please contact us

on 07891479255 or email Kiranpreet

Kaur on kpkaur629@gmail.com

This article is written by

Kiranpreet Kaur who is staff member

of the Chardi Kala Project, Kiranpreet

is also a PhD student at the University

of Birmingham studying:

African and Someone Else:

Identity, Gaze and Positionality in

African Travel Writing


24 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Japan mulls Tokyo's

exit from emergency

Tokyo :

Japanese Prime

Minister

Yoshihide Suga

said it was too

early to determine

if the

Covid-19 state

of emergency in

place for the

Tokyo region

could be lifted

on March 21 as

planned,

although according

to a senior

administration

official, an exit

"looked likely".

Addressing an

upper house

budget committee session on

Monday, Suga said that a final

decision will be made after

consulting with experts,

although informed sources

have said there could be an

early exit from the emergency

period for the greater Tokyo

area, with a possible announcement

on Thursday, reports

Xinhua news agency.

This, according to the

sources, is down to declining

infections and an improvement

in the situation of hospitals in

the capital and its surrounding

prefectures that were previously

overburdened, but now have

more beds available to treat

patients.

The Health Ministry is

expected to assess the situation

on Wednesday, the sources

said, with Suga likely to

announce the decision on the

state of emergency deadline for

the Tokyo region possibly as

soon as Thursday. Suga will

also hold discussions with his

cabinet on whether the

COVID-19 situation in the

greater Tokyo area has

improved enough to lift the

emergency period,.

The Prime Minister himself

has said there has been a

decline in new cases recently,

while according to Shigeru

Omi, head of the government's

Covid-19 subcommittee,

extending the state of emergency

would not be a "real

solution". Tokyo on Monday

reported 175 new Covid-19

cases, bringing the capital's

tally to 115,584. The local government

and health officials

said the seven-day average of

daily cases stood at

287.6, which is 113.5

per cent of the average

for the previous week.

The seven-day average

remained high of

late and above the metropolitan

government's

aim to keep the figure

below 70 per cent of

the previous week.

Under the current

state of emergency,

restaurants and bars

must close by 8 p.m.

and people are being

urged to avoid leaving

home unnecessarily,

particularly in the

evenings.

Businesses are

requested to promote remote

working, while attendees at

large-scale events have been

capped at 5,000 people. The

Japanese leader declared a

month-long state of emergency

for the greater Tokyo area on

January 7, before expanding

the emergency measure to a

total of 11 prefectures. It was

then extended for another

month for the majority of prefectures

to March 7 and then by

two more weeks to March 21

for Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa

and Chiba prefectures.

Continue Page 19

A year on, WHO still struggling

to tackle Covid threat

According to Health Policy Watch, till as late as February, the

WHO did not support countries for imposing travel restrictions to

China. "When countries began evacuating their citizens from Wuhan,

the Covid-19 epicentre, the WHO said it did not favour this step".

The WHO finally declared it a pandemic on March 11.

In a tweet on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom

Ghebreyesus said, "COVID19 has turned our Earth globe europeafrica

upside down & shown why strong health systems are so critical."

As many countries put the worst of the pandemic behind them,

in India, Covid-19 cases are once again on the rise in Maharashtra and

state Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Thursday that "lockdown

is required in some places" to curb the virus spread. On

Wednesday, Maharashtra touched 13,659 fresh cases -- the highest

since 13,395 cases were recorded on October 8, 2020. The state has

touched a progressive total of 22,52,057 cases till date and 52,610

deaths -- both highest in India -- and the count is increasing afresh

since the past two weeks.

On the other hand, Brazil has overtaken the US as the country with

the most daily Covid-19 cases and deaths in the world amid the

spread of an aggressive strain.

Brazil's daily Covid-19 death toll surged to 2,286 on Wednesday,

its highest yet during the pandemic. The US death toll on Tuesday was

1,947. Brazil is now home to hundreds of new Covid-19 variants and

is reporting nearly 70,000 cases a day. More than 29 million cases

have been reported in the US.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing

on Wednesday that while trends are starting to head in the right direction,

"the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths still remain

too high and are somber reminders that we must remain vigilant as

we work to scale up our vaccination efforts across this country".

Despite several vaccines now available globally, the Covid-19

threat still looms.

Continue Page 21

How Upper-Caste Women Continue To

Dominate The Women’s Movement in India

Stree-Purush Tulna, A

Marathi book by Tarabai

Shinde,Image Source:

Akshardhara

New Women’s Movement

A wave of feminist movement

came to be materialised in India

in the 80s. The women’s front of

the Left parties were discontent

and disillusioned with the Left

ideologues’ masculinities. The

Leftists had a tendency to subsume

the women’s question into

the category of class and refused

to ask questions about the unique

subjugated experiences of

women within the working-class

struggle.

Dalit feminists critiqued the

non-Dalit feminist position on

sex-work and bar dancing which

finds its deep linkages with

castes’ history, sexuality and

labour. They highlighted how

they were lamented by the non-

Dalit feminists about choosing

between feminism and community.

They disassociated from the

Left movement and came to

form autonomous women’s front

with gender as the focus of their

political struggle. However,

Dalit Bahujan women have not

found a place in these

autonomous movements as they

felt alienated and dominated by

the upper caste discourse of

experiences and claim to womanhood.

This is referred to as the

Savarnaisation of womanhood

that the entire experience of

womanhood came to be imagined

from the Savarna perspective

of upper-caste women.

Dalit feminists were highly

discontent with the autonomous

women’s groups dominated by

Savarna women as they rarely

extended solidarities with Dalit

feminists’ groups in specific

cases of caste-based sexual violence.

This is particularly true of

the complete silence of the

women’s groups in the

Khairlanji massacre. They also

critiqued the non-Dalit feminist

position on sex-work and bar

dancing which finds its deep

linkages with castes’ history,

sexuality and labour. They highlighted

how they were lamented

by the non-Dalit feminists about

choosing between feminism and

community.

These positions of the non-

Dalit feminists were alienating for

the Dalit Bahujan women within

the feminist struggles. Savarna

feminists deem these differences

and political articulation as a

‘deep cleavage’ in the feminist

struggle; however, I disagree and

contend that these articulations

have pointed to the Brahmanism

and domination of the privileged

within the movement.

These articulations also posited

an epistemological challenge

to the feminist struggle. The politics

of difference gain precedence

over the unification of the

women’s movement in India.

Different women articulated

their claim to womanhood from

their social-economic positions,

which threatened the imagined

‘women’s movement’ as a singular

political struggle.

This trend is also reflected

even in the most recent times.

LOSHA, List of Sexual

Harassers in Academia was

made public by a Dalit woman

scholar, Raya Sarkar. The extensive

list made public through

social media listed the names of

the academics who were accused

of sexual harassment. The list

witnessed a massive backlash

from the feminists by Nivedita

Menon, Kavita Krishnan and

other ‘veteran’ feminists from

Delhi. They deemed the list as

harmful and dangerous to the

efforts of feminists who have

worked with women on the

issues of sexual violence and

discussed the grave need to follow

the ‘due process’.

However, it is to be noted that

these women have repeatedly

criticised the due process as

becoming a tool to further subjugate

and harass the victims of

sexual violence by the State’s

forces. Many criticised the list as

a shield for the senior academics

named in the list, which would

ultimately question and challenge

their positions in academics.

This was also a clear portrayal

of the brahmanical

alliance of the academics. This

was also a very patriarchal sight

as women came ahead to protect

and shield the ‘men’ of their

communities while most men

still continue to maintain their

power in the status quo.

The LOSHA also promulgated

the much-celebrated #MeToo

movement in India but rarely has

it acknowledged the Dalit-

Bahujan women’s mental, emotional

and physical labour put in

LOSHA. In fact, the #MeToo

wave claims to have its genesis

in the #Metoo movement in

Hollywood dominated by White

women. It is to be noted that the

#MeToo movement was started

by a Black woman Tarana

Burke, who painstakingly started

the movement to form a community

support system of women

who were survivors of racial

sexual violence within the Black

community.

More recently, many Dalit-

Bahujan and Muslim women

came out with the statement criticising

Savarna women’s dominance

in the ‘Pinjra Tod’ movement

of Delhi. Pinjra Tod struggle

is seen as a ‘mass-based’

movement against hostel curfews,

regulation and policing of

women’s bodies in the

Universities in Delhi. Their

statement highlighted that they

felt completely isolated and

alienated within the movement

and experienced this deeply in

the meetings.

Pinjra Tod Movement,

Delhi, Image Source:

Newsclick

The Dalit Bahujan and

Muslim women were rarely

given any leadership. They

would only be invited to speak

or write statements on issues

related to caste and communalism

while strictly confining them

to their caste identity. This is

also a brahmanical control and

regulation of the women’s body.

They also highlighted how the

issues of reservations in hostels

or addressing issues of caste violence

were always ignored in the

meetings. The movement’s

organising core committee was

also dominated by upper-caste

women and rarely saw any Dalit-

Bahujan women leaders and

organisers.

All this is to say that the

movements cannot be seen as

unified struggles. There are various

power hierarchies and layers

within the so-called category of

woman. Instead, it is to be noted

that a singular category of

women is violent and hegemonic.

It has to understand through

the different layers of power

assumed by the women with

their intersectionality with caste,

gender, sexuality, and race.

The claim to womanhood by

cis-Savarna women is violent

and exclusive. It has historically

excluded the different and

diverse experiences of womanhood

and deemed these differences

as fragmenting. But it is

critical to note that the unity of

the women’s movement is an

imagined idea. The Savarna feminists

imagine it to strive to unify

differences and maintain their

political power in political struggles

centred around gender. It is

the reification of the historical

injustice done to the doublytriply

oppressed identities who

struggle for social justice.

However, it is essential to struggle

against heteronormative

Brahmanism, which can be possible

by forming solidarities

based upon the politics of difference

and different experience of

womanhood in Brahmanical

Heteronormative Patriarchy.

Courtesy : FII


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021

25

Continue Page 18

How Big Tech Is Importing India’s

Caste Legacy to Silicon Valley

Overwhelmed by debt, he considered

bidding for a sewer-cleaning contract

that paid 4,000 rupees ($55) a

month. The social hierarchy that considers

Dalits “impure” consigns them

to poorly paid, “unclean” jobs such as

scavenging, cleaning sewers, and disposing

of dead animals. Kumar even

considered selling a kidney.

Then came a stroke of good fortune.

A local paper reported that an IIT student

was considering sewer cleaning

and organ donation, prompting an outpouring

of donations. Kumar returned

to Varanasi and graduated in 2019. He

now works as an assistant manager with

a government-owned mining company

in the eastern city of Durgapur. There’s

no reliable data on IIT student placement

rates or professional salaries, but

anecdotal evidence suggests the grind is

worth it for many. In December, when

students traditionally begin receiving

job offers, news outlets relay how

quickly they’re coming in, and schools

boast of how many graduates will make

10 million rupees or more.

In a 2017 paper, French researchers

Odile Henry and Mathieu Ferry found

that not all IIT graduates are greeted by

such an enthusiastic job market.

Lower-caste students were barely half

as likely to get jobs as general-pool

students with similar majors and academic

performance; they were also

paid less. The researchers attributed the

difference primarily to a divide

between Dalit and non-Dalit students

in soft skills and social capital. In the

lucrative private sector, recruiters look

beyond grades for candidates who

demonstrate curiosity, leadership,

poise, or a competitive spirit—qualities

that might show up in, say, extracurricular

activities, a glowing recommendation

from a teacher, or simply a student’s

confidence in an interview. “If

one of the criticisms of the quota policy

is its lack of meritocracy, since it

encourages students whose educational

outcomes are lower,” the authors

wrote, “we note here that it is reserved

groups that suffer unequal treatment

for equal academic success.” Last year,

allegations of caste bias got a public

airing some 8,300 miles away from the

IIT campuses. On behalf of the Indian

Cisco Systems employee who alleged

he’d been discriminated against based

on his caste, California’s Department

of Fair Employment and Housing

brought a suit in San Jose against the

company and two other Indian employees.

All three were graduates of IIT

Bombay.

American law protects workers

from disparate treatment based on a

handful of characteristics, including

race, sex, religion, and disability status.

This was the first time, though,

that anyone had argued those protections

should extend to Dalits. The

complaint said that the unnamed

employee had faced discrimination by

two upper-caste managers since 2015

and that he’d reported one to human

resources for outing him as a Dalit and

informing colleagues he’d enrolled in

the IIT through affirmative action. The

employee said the discrimination had

continued under the second manager.

Cisco denied the charges. “We have

zero tolerance for discrimination and

take all complaints of unfair treatment

very seriously,” a spokesperson says.

“In this case, we thoroughly and fully

investigated the employee’s concerns

and found that he was treated fairly,

highly compensated, and afforded

opportunities to work on coveted projects.”

In its response to the suit, Cisco

made an additional argument: Because

caste isn’t a protected category under

U.S. civil rights laws, the allegations

are immaterial and should be stricken.

The court recently denied Cisco’s petition

to move the case to arbitration,

and the company has filed an appeal.

Advocacy groups in the U.S. have

weighed in on both sides. The Hindu

American Foundation filed a declaration

in support of Cisco, saying that

though it vehemently opposes “all

forms of prejudice and discrimination,”

the state’s case “blatantly violates

the rights of Hindu Americans.”

Meanwhile, the Ambedkar

International Center, a Dalit advocacy

group, filed a brief in support of the

state, encouraging the court to

acknowledge caste discrimination and

set a precedent prohibiting it.

“American civil rights law has little

experience with the Indian caste system,

but it is very familiar with the

idea of caste: the notion that some

people are born to low stations in life

in which they are forced to remain,”

the motion reads.

The case inspired a flood of tech

workers to tell their own stories. A

U.S.-based Dalit advocacy group,

Equality Labs, told the Washington

Post in October that more than 250

tech workers had come forward in the

wake of the Cisco suit to report incidents

of caste-based harassment.

Thirty Dalit engineers, all women,

also shared a joint statement with the

Post that said they’d experienced caste

bias in the U.S. tech sector.

For years the industry has been criticized

for doing too little to rectify a

culture seen as hostile to women, Black

people, and Latinos. In response, companies

have held town halls, instituted

anti-harassment training, and made

very public promises to do better. On

caste, though, executives have largely

pleaded ignorance. Microsoft is a rare

exception: The company, whose CEO,

Satya Nadella, is Indian-American,

says that it’s received a few complaints

of caste bias and that it has more work

to do. Google, for its part, says it will

investigate any discrimination claims

based on caste; it wouldn’t say whether

it had received any, and Pichai didn’t

respond to Businessweek’s requests for

comment. Another Indian-American

executive, Shantanu Narayen, has been

CEO at Adobe Inc. since 2007. The

company employs hundreds of Indian

expats, including more than 100 who

graduated from an IIT. In an interview

with Bloomberg TV last year, Narayen,

a graduate of an engineering school

(though not an IIT) in his native

Hyderabad, rejected the idea that any

of Adobe’s Indian workers might show

bias based on caste. What the company

“has always stood for and our founders

instituted as the way of creating this

company is equality for all,” he said.

“We have not had any of those issues.”

It would be naive for U.S. companies

to assume that Indian hires leave their

prejudices on the subcontinent, says

Sarit K. Das, a professor of mechanical

engineering at IIT Madras who until

February was director of IIT Ropar.

“Graduates carry this to Amazon or

Google or wherever, and the feeling

toward the other person is that you didn’t

make it like me, you are inferior,”

he says. Ram Kumar, a Dalit alum of

IIT Delhi, has worked in the tech

industry for more than two decades,

with stints at Cisco, Dell, and other

companies. When he arrived in Silicon

Valley in the early 2000s, he found

“another mini-India arranged by clusters

of Indian hierarchy,” he says.

Whereas dominant-caste Indians might

see expat communities as sources of

professional networking and support,

Kumar avoids them. “People will try to

segregate you once they find out your

caste,” he says. As a matter of selfpreservation,

“I’ve avoided good

opportunities when I see that the CEO

or CTO is Indian.”

relates to How Big Tech Is

Importing India’s Caste Legacy to

Silicon Valley

IIT Bombay’s campus in Mumbai.

Back in India, Dalit students, faculty,

and allies have been pushing back

against discrimination. When IIT

Bombay tried in 2018 to establish a

separate dining hall for meat eaters—a

proxy for lower-caste students, since

many in the upper castes are vegetarian—student

groups protested and got

the move quashed, along with a rule at

another dining hall that required meat

eaters to use separate plates and cutlery.

Opposition ended a similar effort

at IIT Madras to force nonvegetarian

students to use separate entrances,

exits, and hand-washing stations.

Professors are also speaking out.

Although the IITs are government

institutions, reservation requirements

don’t apply to faculty positions. More

than 90% of the 6,000 faculty the system

employs are from the dominant

castes, a lopsidedness that reflects the

populations of the schools’ Ph.D. programs,

which aren’t subject to quotas

either. Earlier this year, government

data showed that 15 of the 31 departments

at IIT Delhi and 16 of 26 at IIT

Bombay admitted zero students from

the Scheduled Castes to their doctoral

programs last year. “I have chaired

hundreds of faculty selection committees,

and the discrimination against

Dalits is never overt. It’s always about

the attitude toward the candidates, the

questions asked, and the judgment,”

says Das. “We follow the rules in the

letter but not in spirit.” In 2018,

Subrahmanyam Saderla, a Ph.D. graduate

of IIT Kanpur, was selected as an

assistant professor in the school’s

aerospace engineering department,

becoming one of about 150 Dalit faculty

in the IIT system. He’d applied

for the position through a special drive

to recruit Scheduled Caste & Tribe

faculty. In a later hearing before the

National Commission for Scheduled

Castes, Saderla said that, once he was

on staff, senior faculty members called

him “unsuitable and mentally unfit,”

undermined him with junior colleagues

and students, and suggested

his appointment was a curse on the

institute. The Commission directed the

school to bring the matter to the

police; the police complaint named

four professors, all of whom denied

the accusations against them.

Within months, Saderla was anonymously

accused of plagiarizing his

work on unmanned aircraft systems, a

charge that could have led to his dismissal

and the revocation of his doctorate.

“They are OK if you are a clerk

in the office or a junior technician,” he

says. “But even if you are good

enough, you can’t be a faculty member.”

He thought he’d escaped the

caste system, only to find that he

couldn’t. Hundreds of global scholars,

academics, and activists came out in

solidarity with Saderla, signing a

statement condemning the alleged discrimination

and institutional harassment.

Saderla was absolved of the plagiarism

charge, and after a year-and-ahalf-long

court battle, his colleagues

were exonerated of the caste-discrimination

charges. He’s appealing the latter

decision to India’s Supreme Court.

“If you are born with this tag,” he

says, “it stays with you until you die.”

With cases such as this and the

Cisco suit, civil-rights advocates see

evidence of progress toward addressing

the legacy of caste bias. “The critical

mass of students who have come

in through reservations has made it

more difficult to marginalize them,”

says Ajantha Subramanian, chair of

Harvard’s anthropology department

and the author of a book on caste discrimination

at the IITs. “They are a

force to contend with.” —With

Kartikay Mehrotra, Ian King, Nico

Grant, and Dina Bass

Courtesy : Bloomberg

Continue Page 17

Beaten, not broken: Meet Shiv Kumar

and Nodeep Kaur, young labour activists

inspired by Bhagat Singh

Shiv Kumar grew up in Devru village

in Sonipat, Haryana. His father

worked as an agricultural labourer. His

mother was diagnosed with a mental

disability 23 years ago. Kumar has

two elder sisters and two younger siblings.

As the middle child, he had

started working to support his family

while he was in school.

In 2014, he read the seminal essay

Why I Am an Atheist written in 1931

by the young revolutionary leader

Bhagat Singh. The essay resonated

with Kumar.

“I did not have much faith in god at

the time. There was not much to

believe,” said Kumar. “My mother has

been ill for 23 years. If there is a god,

then why has he not cured her? If there

is a god then why is there so much discrimination?

Why is one poor while

the other rich? Some are eating to their

fullest but others are sleeping hungry.”

His first brush with activism took

place in 2015 after he was arrested by

Sonipat police for protesting along

with others outside a private school

that had denied admission to children

from low-income families in violation

of the Right to Education Act. Kumar

was in his final year of school at the

time. His family did not support his

activism.

“My family wanted me to study and

get a good job but I acted differently

from what they thought,” he said,

adding that his family is fully supportive

of his work now.

After studying at the Industrial

Training Centre from 2016 to 2017

where he learnt the use of dies and

moulds, he moved to Kundli in search

of work. His first job in a factory

earned him Rs 8,000. He subsequently

moved on to other industrial jobs but

was exploited as a worker, he said.

Workers like him are paid less than

the minimum wage, he pointed out.

Accidents at the workplace do not

entitle employees to a fair compensation,

and being late to work meant getting

paid only half the wages. “I got to

see all this and I felt that there is a

need for a union,” he said. In three

years, the Mazdoor Adhikar

Sangathan has grown into a 300-worker

strong union.

A life of resistance

Another young activist who was

arrested for her advocacy of the farmers’

cause is a 22-year old climate

campaigner from Bengaluru, Disha

Ravi. She was arrested from her home

in Bengaluru by Delhi Police in a case

pertaining to a Google document

tweeted out by Swedish activist Greta

Thunberg. The police alleged the

“toolkit” had been allegedly drafted

alongside Sikh separatist groups.

Ravi’s case received wide attention.

Her arrest made headlines immediately.

After she was granted bail on

February 23, she stayed away from the

limelight until she released a statement

on Saturday.

“This is the difference in class,”

said Kaur. “The upper-class people

feel that if they speak again then they

will be targeted. But we will be

attacked even if we remain quiet.”

Both Kaur and Kumar, who celebrated

their birthdays in jail in

February, have been flooded with

interview requests since they were

granted bail.

Kaur is aware that much of the

media attention on her was sparked by

a tweet from Meena Harris, the niece

of US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Kumar said the only reason their

arrests made news was because they

had taken place in the backdrop of the

ongoing farmers’ protests.

“During the lockdown, when the

workers did not get their rations and

were hungry, the media did not cover

it,” said Kumar, who staged road

blockades in Kundli during the lockdown

demanding rations for migrant

workers. “When they were being

thrown out of their rooms, if someone’s

finger or hand got cut, the media

did not cover it.”

Since the alleged torture, Kumar

said he was unable to get proper sleep

and Kaur added that she needed rest.

But they could not afford to do so –

they are currently unemployed and

need to find work to sustain the daily

expenses of their activism. “Not even

one per cent of the work has been

done,” she said.

Speaking about the causes that she

would like to take up in the future, she

said: “Children are being made to

work and I have seen that women do

not get equal wages as men.”

Both Kaur and Kumar said they

were prepared for the consequences

activism could have on their lives, and

said they would continue to support

the farmers’ protests till the laws were

repealed.

“I have to fight this fight,” said

Kumar. “No compromise with my life

and no backing out. I have to move

forward.”

Courtesy : Scroll.in


26 16-03-2021 to 31-03-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Rangers official killed,

10 hurt in Karachi blast

Karachi : A Pakistan

Rangers official was killed and

10 others were injured in an

explosion in Karachi's Orangi

Town, police said.

West Senior Superintendent

of Police (SSP) Suhai Aziz said

that the attack was apparently

directed at the Rangers personnel

who were passing through

the area in a vehicle when the

bomb - fitted in a parked

motorcycle - went off, the

Dawn reported.

As a result, three Rangers

personnel and seven other people

were injured, she added.

They were shifted to different

hospitals in the city. One

Rangers official succumbed to

his injuries, the SSP said.

CTD DIG Omar Shahid

Hamid said the banned Baloch

Liberation Army (BLA) had

claimed responsibility for the

attack through their social

media account.

A team of the bomb disposal

squad was called to the area.

Investigators were trying to

obtain CCTV footage from the

site of the blast as the police's

Counter-Terrorism Department

launched an investigation.

inquiry into the attack was

"essential".

He also directed that medical

aid be provided to the

injured persons.

"We realise (the Rangers')

sacrifices for restoration of

Mominabad SHO Gul Sindh Inspector General of peace in Karachi," he said.

Mohammed Awan also confirmed

that the bomb was planted

in a parked motorcycle in

Orangi Town-5. One official of

the Karachi Traffic Police and a

constable of the Anti-Vehicle

Police Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar

took notice of the "terror attack

on Rangers mobile" on a main

road and sought a detailed

report from the West SSP, a

police spokesperson said.

In December of last year,

four people, including two

paramilitary soldiers, were

wounded in a cracker attack on

a moving Rangers mobile near

the Sheikh Zayed Islamic

Lifting Cell who were passing Sindh Governor Imran Centre on University Road.

through the area when the

explosion took place were also

among the injured, he added.

Ismail termed the blast a "matter

of great concern". In a

tweet, he said an immediate

An outlawed militant organisation

had claimed responsibility

for the attack.

Bahrain Prince arrives in

Nepal to summit Everest

Imran Khan govt incapable of

running country, says Pak SC

Islamabad/New Delhi :

Pakistan's Supreme Court has

expressed its displeasure with

the Imran Khan government,

saying it was incapable of running

the country or taking decisions.

Hearing the local bodies

case, a two-judge bench, headed

by Justice Qazi Faez Isa and

comprising Justice Sardar

Tariq, expressing annoyance

over the issuance of an ordinance

on delimitation of constituencies

by the Punjab government,

referred the matter to

the Chief Justice, the Express

Tribune, Pakistan, reported.

During the hearing, the apex

court was informed that the

decision regarding the census

had not been taken by the

Council of Common Interests

(CCI). "Why hasn't the Council

of Common Interests met in

two months," Justice Isa asked,

expressing his anger, the report

said.

"Is it not a priority of the

government to release the census

results," he asked.

According to the judge, the

government and its allies rule

in three provinces, and yet not a

single decision had been taken

by the CCI. "The government is

incapable either of running the

country or taking decisions," he

added. He also took exception

to the postponement of the CCI

meeting despite the court order,

terming it an insult to the constitutional

institution.

to the court, there were no

war conditions that could prevent

the CCI from holding its

meeting. Justice Isa pointed out

that nowadays meeting could

take place via a video link. He

mentioned that four years have

passed since the census was

conducted in 2017, the report

said. Additional Attorney

General Amir Rehman

informed the court that the

meeting of the CCI would be

held on March 24, adding that

it was a sensitive matter and

therefore the government wanted

to take decision with consensus.

At this, Justice Isa

asked why the report of the CCI

has been kept secret. He

observed that if good deeds are

kept secret, it would raise

doubts in the minds of the people.

He further observed that

the people should know "what

are the provinces doing, and

what is the federation doing",

as per the report. The judge

expressed his displeasure over

the promulgation of an ordinance

for fresh delimitation by

the Punjab Governor.

According to the Election

Commission, the ordinance has

created complications, he said.

Simply put, he added, the

Punjab government does not

want local elections to be held.

Kathmandu : A mountaineering

expedition team

consisting of Bahrain's

Prince Sheikh Mohamed

Hamad Mohamed Al Khalifa

arrived in Nepal to summit

Mt Everest this spring season.

Five months after

climbing the 8,163m high Mt

Manaslu in October 2020, a

16-member team consisting

of Al Khalifa and other

mountaineers arrived in

Nepal on Monday evening,

according to Mingma

Sherpa, chairperson of Seven

Summit Treks, the company

organising the expedition.

"The expedition team

comprising 13 Bahraini

nationals and three British

nationals will make (an)

attempt to summit Mt

Everest this spring," Sherpa

told Xinhua news agency.

"A chartered flight carrying

the mountaineering team

consisting of Bahraini Royal

family members landed at

Tribhuvan International

Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu

6.45 p.m.," a duty officer at

TIA told Xinhua. Deo

Chandra Lal Karna,

spokesperson at the TIA,

also confirmed the arrival of

the team.

After landing at the airport,

the team had moved to

a hotel where they will spend

seven days in hotel quarantine

as per the Nepal government's

rule, according to

Sherpa. The mostly same

expedition team had climbed

Mt Manaslu and Mt

Lobuche, both in Nepal, as

part of the preparation to

summit Everest. According

to Sherpa, his company has

already initiated the process

for obtaining climbing permits

from the Department of

Tourism.

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines