Animists, Non-Christians, Pagan: Indians’ Religions

One may know about traditional faiths like Hinduism and Islam but India is also house to hundreds of ‘animists’, ‘non-Christians’ and those who follow ‘nature religion’.

The Census 2011 figures on religious communities, which were bracketed under ‘others’, released recently also showed that the country is also home to 33,304 atheists, which included 15,707 women. The number of women among minor religions was almost close to 50 per cent or more.

Animists, who believe in the spiritual essence of animals, plants, and inanimate objects, number 4,130 in the country and Sikkim account for 3,300 of them. Of the total, 271 animists live in urban areas.

West Bengal has 507 people who believe in animism, which is basically a belief system of tribal communities developed prior to development of organized religion, while Nagaland has 251 such people. Nine people have described animism as their religion in Assam while four in Maharashtra have also said so.

When it comes to those who follow ‘nature religion’, numbering 5,635 of which 179 live in urban areas, Odisha (2,881), Madhya Pradesh (1,226) and Chhattisgarh (1,128) have the largest chunk among them. Karnataka has one person in its urban areas who believe in ‘nature religion’.

A nature religion is described as a religious movement that believes natural world as an embodiment of divinity, sacredness or spiritual power.

According to the Census, 1,538 people have described their religion as ‘non-Christian’, which could include Jehova Witnesses and others.

Among atheists, Maharashtra, which has a strong rationalist movement, has the highest number at 9,652 followed by Meghalaya 9,089, Kerala 4,896 and Uttar Pradesh 2,425.

Tamil Nadu, where Dravidian parties conquered the imagination of people and espoused atheism, however, has only 1,297 followers.

The number of people who declared their religion as ‘pagan’ is 2,088, out of which 52 live in urban areas.

Religious Communities/Number

Adi Bassi – 86,877

Animist 4,130

Bahai –  4,572

Jews – 4,429

Parsis – 57,264

Pagan – 2,088

Gond – 10,26,344

Nature Religion – 5,635

Traditional Religion – 1,239

Atheists – 33,304

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on July 29, 2016)

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Ensure washrooms for women, overtime wages: Kerala to textile shops

After an NHRC rap over inhuman treatment meted out to women employees in textile shops, Kerala government has warned such establishments against not providing overtime wages and facilities like washrooms.

Amid complaints that employees are supposed to work continuously, with just a 20-minute lunch break, and not allowed to sit during duty or relieve themselves, the state government has unequivocally said that employees are entitled to a period of rest of one hour after continouos four hours of work.

They also said employees are bound to provide for rest rooms with adequate facilities to sit and rest and also have access to urinals and latrines.

The state government’s response came after the NHRC took note of a complaint about women workers in textile shops not even allowed using washrooms during work hours. DH had on July 2 reported about NHRC’s notice to Kerala government in which had stood up for their “right to sit and right to pee” during work hours that extend more than ten hours.

In its response to a notice from National Human Rights Commission on July one, state’s Labour Commissioner has said that the state is taking strict measures against those employers who violate or fail to provide facilities for workers in textile shops.

This year so far, the Labour Department has conducted 1,814 inspections in textile shops that culminated in the launching of 250 prosecutions and 63 claim petitions. Also, it has conducted a special drive on June 18.

“Many textile shops have not even set up toilets for the workers in the work space in Kerala.  Even at the shops, where toilets have been provided, permission is required from the manager to use it during working hours,” the NHRC had quoted from the complaint.

The state government informed the NHRC that necessary steps are being taken against violations such as “not giving overtime wages, not providing rest rooms with adequate urinal and latrine facilities, creches etc”.

“Notices were issued to employers for rectifying the defects, failing which punitive steps as per law will be initiated against such defaulters,” the response said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on July 29, 2016)

‘Govt should demolish all dry latrines’

Thirty years ago, Bezwada Wilson complained to local authorities about dry latrines but they ignored him. He was undettered and shot off a letter to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi threatening legal action. It had its effect and dry latrines in his locality were converted into water-seal latrines and scavengers transferred to non-scavenging jobs.

Born in to a Dalit family who had been engaged in manual scavenging for generations, he was the first one to spared the labour to pursue higher education. The going was tough as he was treated as an outcast in school. He was angry but channelled it to a crusade to eradicate manual scavenging. He launched Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) in 1993. I had a quick chat with Wilson soon after his name was announced as the winner of Magsaysay award.

Bezwada

What does this award mean to you?

This is recognition for all those women who are courageously fighting against the 5,000-year-old inhuman practice of manual scavenging. This award is for those who fight against the idea of slavery as livelihood. I am just an instrument in their fight. The fight is to ensure that their lives are respected. I hope this award will help in the fight for liberation of all engaged in manual scavenging due to their caste.

How do you think this award will help you?

Many still think manual scavenging is a thing of past and this award will be an eye opener for them. Now the voice of these people will be heard louder. Now, we have Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. It should remain as just a scheme

Do you think Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will help manual scavengers?

The problem is that eradication of manual scavenging is described as one of the aims but unfortunately we do not see in the programme. It is in paper but not in practice.

What do you want the government to do?

The government should immediately demolish all dry latrines. The main reason for continuation of manual scavenging is due to the presence of dry latrines. Only people born into a particular Dalit sub-caste engage in manual scavenging and they are forced to remain doing so throughout their lives. The government should ensure the dignity of all its citizens.

BEZWADA WILSON wins Ramon Magsaysay Award: Read Citation

BEZWADA WILSON

(An edited version of the interview appeared in Deccan Herald on July 28, 2016)

SSB, CISF have max vacancies

Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) together account for more than half of the posts that are lying in six paramilitary forces.

While there are 68,888 vacancies in the forces that also includes CRPF, BSF, ITBP and Assam Rifles, 34,959 belongs to CISF and SSB. Of the total, 2,847 vacancies belong to posts manned by women.

The SSB, which guards the 1,751 km long porous Indo-Nepal border and the 699 km Indo-Bhutan border, has 19.43 per cent of its post remaining vacant. This force has the highest percentage of vacancies compared to other forces.

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  Sanctioned Strength Vacancies % of vacancies
CRPF 3,14,138 19,067 6.06
BSF 2,57,025 6,103 2.37
CISF 1,43,396 16,206 11.30
SSB 96,514 18,753 19.43
ITBP 89,430 7,459 8.34
Assam Rifles 66,411 1,300 1.95
TOTAL 9,66,914 68,888 7.12

Source: Ministry of Home Affairs

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According to latest figures of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), 18,753 posts out of a sanctioned strength of 96,514 remain vacant in the SSB that has the huge task of preventing smuggling as well as possible entry of terrorists through the border.

Sources said there have been an increase from around5-6,000 vacancies in January 2015 in SSB and attribute it to rise in sanctioned strength as well as retirements. There may not be corresponding recruitment but they said enough personnel are on the job.

The CISF, which had 5,737 vacancies as on January 2015, also saw a rise in number of vacancies to 16,206. The percentage of vacant posts in CISF, which has a sanctioned strength of 1.43 lakh, is 11.30 per cent.

The CRPF, the biggest paramilitary force in the country with a sanctioned strength of 3.14 lakh, has the highest number of 19,067 vacancies but its percentage is low compared to those in position.

This force, which is in the forefront of anti-naxal operations and deployment in Jammu and Kashmir and the north-east, also saw a rise in number of vacancies from 16,710 recorded in January last year.

However, BSF, which had 25,749 vacancies in January 2015, had filled up vacancies fast in the past months as it now has only 6,103 vacant posts. BSF, which guards the sensitive Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangla borders, has a sanctioned strength of 2.57 lakh.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in a written reply in Lok Sabha recently that filling up of vacancies is an ongoing and continuous process, as they arise due to reasons like new raising, retirement and resignations.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on July 25, 2016)

 

Cyber Crime, Cyber Attacks and Blocking

Cyber crimes have witnessed an alarming 20 per cent rise in the country with Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka topping the list in the number of cases registered.

The trend of cyber attacks, related to targeting websites and data theft among others, are also on the rise with the first five months of 2016 already witnessing 21,248 incidents.

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CYBER ATTACKS

Security Incidents 2013 2014 2015 2016 (till May)
Website defacements 24,216 25,037 26,244 11,915
Virus/Malicious Codes 4,160 4,307 9,830 7,680
Website Intrusion and Malware propagation 4,265 7,286 961 852
Network Scanning 3,239 3,317 3,673 225
Phishing 955 1,122 534 281
TOTAL (including others) 41,319 44,679 49,455 21,248

SOURCE: Ministry of Home Affairs

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According to latest figures of Ministry of Home Affairs, there were 11,592 cyber crimes reported in 2015 compared to 9,622 the previous year. In 2013, there were 5,693 cases registered. Officials said one of the reasons for the rise in cases is due to the increased understanding of cyber laws and provisions among police and common man.

Slowly, convictions are also on the rise with statistics showing an almost three-fold increase in the number of people convicted. While 95 people were convicted in 2014 in 76 cases, the number rose to 302 people found guilty in 234 for cyber crimes in 2015.

The number of people arrested in 2015 was 8,121 as against 5,752 the previous year.

Among the states, Uttar Pradesh (2,208), Maharashtra (2,195) and Karnataka (1,447) continued to top the list in number of cases for another year. These three states together accounted for 50.46 per cent of the cases, as against 48.18 per cent in the previous year.

Though UP has a better conviction numbers (112 people convicted in 82 cases), both the figures for Karnataka (3 persons in 3 cases) and Maharashtra (4 persons in 2 cases) are dismal. Andhra and Bihar are at distant second with convictions in 19 cases each in which 52 people were put behind bars.

On cyber attacks, the trend appears to be on the rising trend. While there were 41,319 cyber attacks reported in 2013, it rose to 44,679 next year and 49,455 in 2015.

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BLOCKED

 

Year

URLs of social media websites blocked under Sec 69A of IT Act URLs of social media websites blocked due to court orders
 

2013

 

13

 

533

 

2014

 

10

 

432

 

2015

 

587

 

632

SOURCE: Ministry of Home Affairs

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In 2016 till May, there were 11,915 website defacements,  7,680 virus attacks, 852 cases of website intrusions, 281 cases of phishing and 225 cases of network scanning among others.

Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir recently told Lok Sabha in a written question that the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) is conducting regular training programmes on cyber security to enable officials to fight cyber attacks.

The Government is already on a mission mode to tackle cyber crimes and attacks by setting up a Rs 500 crore India Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) to tackle the menace.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on July 22, 2016)

Rs 98 cr for CISF from pvt sector

The CISF appears to be making the most of its association with the private sector, as it raked in around Rs 98 crore in the past four fiscals for providing security to eight units.

The clients include Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Infosys, Tata Steel and yoga guru Ramdev headed Patanjali Food and Herbal Park.

The CISF Act 1968 was amended in 2009 to provide for deployment of CISF in private units. As on date, CISF is deployed in eight private sector units in which a maximum of 1,128 personnel could be deployed.

The RIL in Gujarat, which has 278 CISF personnel securing it, has made the highest payment for a single unit while Infosys spent the largest amount as a single company. Infosys spent Rs 45.39 crore for its three units in Bengaluru, Mysuru and Pune, according to Ministry of Home Affairs’ written reply in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The Infosys Bengaluru campus has 176 CISF personnel on duty while another 105 personnel are deployed in its Mysuru campus. The Infosys Pune campus has 105 personnel from the CISF guarding it, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said.

Electronic City with 84 personnel in Bengaluru has spent Rs 10.04 crore while the CGPL/UMPL in Gujarat’s Mundra has spent Rs 3.73 crore. Tata Steel, which has the highest sanctioned strength of 278 personnel, in Kalinganagar has paid Rs 4.76 crore and Patanjali Rs 1.57 crore.

The security expenses incurred by these companies are increasing year after year with the figures showing that around Rs 24 crore were paid by five units in 2013-14 and it increased to Rs 27.32 crore in the next fiscal.

In 2015-16, three more units were added and the CISF added Rs 35.15 crore to its coffers. In this fiscal, the CISF has already realised 11.13 crore.

 

Company

 

Sanctioned Strength

 

Amount paid*

 
Infosys Tech Bangalore  
   
176 Rs 15.8 cr  
Electronic City, Bengaluru 84 Rs 10.04 cr  
Infosys Tech, Mysuru 105 Rs 7.20 cr  
Reliance Industries, Gujarat 217 Rs 32.11 cr  
CGPL/UMPL, Mundra, Gujarat 99 Rs 3.73 cr  
Infosys Tech, Pune 134 Rs 22.34 cr  
Tata Steel Ltd, Kalinganagar 278 Rs 4.76 cr  
Patanajali Food and Herbal Park, Hardwar 35 Rs 1.57 cr  
 

TOTAL

 

1,128

 

Rs 97.61 cr

 

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on July 21, 2016)

Officers, think before you draw and post!!!

Caricatures, tweets or Facebook posts critical of government may soon land bureaucrats in trouble with administration planning to amend civil servants’ conduct rules.

The civil servants will also have to be extra cautious in filing their assets declarations as there could be a change in rules that expands the ambit of movable assets to include all household equipment and vehicles with a value exceeding two months of basic pay.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has circulated a draft to amend the All India Service (Conduct) Rules 1968 to sychronise it with the changing times.

Though the officers are allowed to participate in “any public media, including social media websites”, the draft says, they could not “make any such statement on television, social media or any other communication application”, including “caricature”.

The officers were earlier allowed only to publish books or articles in “bonafide discharge of duties” without prior permission. However, the draft allows publish books or articles even “otherwise”.

Social media was not mentioned in the existing rules and the addition comes against the backdrop of recent incidents of civil servants taking to social media to level allegations against their superiors and government.

A Madhya Pradesh-cadre was in trouble for endorsing a post that criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and eulogised Jawaharlal Nehru while a police officer in Kerala faced the ire for an inappropriate remark on a leading Malayalam actress on social media. The social media post of a Kashmir IAS officer Shah Faesal on the recent violence in his homestate also attracted a lot of attention.

Another change is in the norms that allow IAS, IPS and IFoS officers to accept simple and inexpensive entertainment events arranged by public bodies or institutions.

Earlier, cars, motorcycles, horses or any other means of conveyance had to be declared while it has now been redrafted as automobiles or any other means of conveyance of value exceeding two months basic pay.

While only refrigerators, radiograms and television sets were to be declared, now all household equipment of value exceeding two months of basic pay have to be declared in their annual returns to the government.

July 19, 2016

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