Existing police system considerably alienated from rural mass: Study

With the existing police system “considerably alienated” from the rural mass, a new study has suggested that there is an “urgent need for increased involvement” of panchayats in the functioning of police.

There should be one police station per panchayat in order to have a better working relationship and sharing of budget and other schemes between these two institutions at the local level, according to the study ‘Local Self Governance and Policing: A Study on two Grama Panchayats of Thrissur District, Kerala’ by Sony Kunjappan.

The study based on ‘Janamaithri Suraksha Project’, ‘Jagratha Samithi’ (Vigilance Committees) in two Gram Panchayats in Kerala was aimed at examining the functional relationship between gram panchayat and police in rural policing, thereby exploring ways to strengthen the rural citizen’s access to justice.

Acknowledging that the existing police system “continues to produce fear and inaccessibility” for in time of need, the study commissioned by Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) said the police stations should not be viewed as “symbols of a foreign power or an alien form of government” imposed on the local community.

“Police stations must be transformed into centres of justice where citizens may enter with confidence to demand that their rights of citizenship be secured. For this, a policing system that interacts directly with the people must be created,” the study said while commending the Kerala Police initiative of Janamaithri Suraksha Project.

The study said that the police stations do not have enough staff and each one cater to more than one local body. It goes on to suggest the a need for outsourcing the functions of service of summons, escort and such general duties to appropriate agencies.

There is “also an urgent need for increased involvement” of local government in the functioning of the police, it said adding, “police functions such as traffic control and solving minor law and order problems should come under local self governments. It needs transfer of most of the police functions along with the personnel to the local self governments over a period of time.”

With politicisation of police “causing considerable amount of barriers to human rights based policing”, the study said, insulating the institution of police from politics and related dynamics are of paramount importance towards ensuring the constitutional mandate of equal treatment for all citizens before law.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 31, 2016)

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Fatigued police putting themselves and public at risk: Study

A large number of policemen, who are fatigued due to erratic work hours and lack of sleep are putting themselves and the public at risk, a new study has said.

According to a study commissioned by Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), 91.71 per cent of the policemen surveyed said they felt fatigued. Of these, 71.52 per cent said they experienced fatigue but not severe while 28.48 per cent felt they were severely fatigued.

The study ‘Fatigue in Police Personnel: Causes and Remedies’ said cause of mild to severe fatigue among policemen include erratic duty hours, extended shift duties, lack of proper sleep, poor and untimely food, behaviour of superior officers.

“Fatigue tends to increase irritability and anxiety while diminishing the capacity of officers to make sound decisions, it is likely to increase the probability of officer misconduct, especially misconduct associated with the use of force,” said the study conducted by Dr AK Gadpayle, the Director of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in New Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

Excess fatigue will tend to promote officer misconduct above and beyond that which arises from venal, self-serving motivations, the study conducted among personnel below the rank of Inspector in Delhi, Guwahati, Puducherry, Kolkata and Nagpur said.

The main reasons identified by the personnel for fatigue was erratic duty hours (74.25 per cent), increase or extended shift duties (70.79 per cent) and sudden onset of emergency (70.42 per cent). Lack of proper sleep (62.12 per cent) and poor and untimely food (59.34 per cent) were rated as second most common causes of fatigue.

Living away from family and not finding time to meet family members even after duty hours, smoking, alcohol intake and behaviour of colleagues and superiors were among other reasons cited in the study.

Increasing staff strength, decrease work hours, increasing leave period and improving work atmosphere were among the measures suggested by senior officers to fight fatigue among personnel, it said.

“As erratic duty hours and extended shift duties were found to be the most common causes of fatigue, eight hours shift for the police personnel will be instrumental in decreasing the fatigue among them,” the study said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 30, 2016)

Buz of middleman ‘most flourishing’: Book

The business of middleman is the “most flourishing” and recession-proof industry in India, says a new book.

Drawing on the needs of a nondescript village in Bihar which needs a road and hospital, the book talks about how middlemen help big businesses subvert the system and get their jobs done.

According to ‘A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India’ by journalist Josy Joseph, the Indian democracy works only through middlemen who know how to get the moribund system moving.

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“Ordinary Indians in their thousands wait patiently every day at the residence of local politicians, typists, professional middlemen and such intermediaries to get the system to deliver what is justifiably theirs,” the book says.

On the other hand, the corporates look clearances for a government deal worth billion dollars.

As an example, the book talks about how East West Airlines promoter Thakiyuddin Wahid was murdered, how Mumbai Police ignored leads suggesting that Dawood gang was behind and insisted that rival Chhota Rajan gang was behind it and the possible role of a business rival.

It goes on to say that the business of being a middleman between public and governments is the “most flourishing industry” in India and is “recession-proof” with no entry barriers.

“A significant part of India’s GDP and much of its black economy is made of the fees generated by these facilitators for getting people what is, mostly, rightfully their – or for getting businessmen deals that may not have gone to them otherwise,” it adds.

At the same time, the book also says that India’s social welfare schemes look “very impressive” on paper but on the ground it is a “vastly different story”.

No other economy is growing as fast as India’s while “simultaneously recording such low progress” in the reduction of malnutrition, eradication of poverty and illiteracy.

Referring to an elderly villager in Bihar who gets only Rs 100 as old page pension when he is supposed to get Rs 300, the book says that government officials and their political masters might be cornering around Rs 60 crore a month. “And this is just one social welfare scheme in one of India’s 29 states and seven Union Territories,” it adds.

(Aug 30, 2016)

A censor is seated inside me now: Perumal Murugan

He declared he won’t wield the pen again after facing insults and threats over his novel but when Tamil writer Perumal Murugan returned to writing, he feels a “censor is seated inside” him.

Twenty-one months after Murugan declared that he was dead as an author after his ‘One Part Woman’ ran into trouble with Hindutva elements, he is back in the literary world with a collection of Tamil poems ‘Kozhaiyin Padalgal’ (Songs of Coward).

At the launch of his collection in Delhi on Monday, Murugan said in anguish, “a censor is seated inside me now. He is testing every word that is born within me. His constant caution that a word may be misunderstood so, or it may be interpreted this, is a real bother. But I am unable to shake him off.”

“If this is wrong let the Indian intellectual world forgive me,” he said in a statement circulated at the venue.

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Murugan had to leave his village following threats from caste groups threatened over allegations that he defamed their community in ‘One Part Woman’. He was made to apologise and withdraw the controversial parts in the novel, prompting him to take to Facebook saying, “Author Perumal Murugan is dead. He is no God. Hence, he will not be resurrected. Hereafter, only P Murugan, the teacher, will live.”

His post attracted lot of support and recently, the Madras High Court while hearing a plea to prosecute Murugan and ban his book said that there was nothing obscene in the novel and that “the right to write is unhindered”.

Referring to the High Court verdict, he said it has said that Murugan should be able to write and advance the canvas of his writings.

“The last word of the verdict – write – sounds to me both as a command and a benediction. The question of whether a word or a sentence in a judicial verdict should determine if I write or not remains in my mind. If a faceless force can put a full stop to writing, can’t a line in a judicial verdict bolster writing?” he said.

Recalling that he has conceived some 50 books in his heart, Murugan said he was not sure whether he would write all these and that he was certain that his writing will not be the same.

“To spell out what would be the nature of that change will require quiet and reflection. I need time to gather my creative energies. I am not a motor pump to draw water from the depths the moment it is switched on. I am more a pupa in a cocoon. It will require time to develop colourful wings. Please allow me the time to do so,” he added.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 23, 2016)

Photo courtesy: juggernaut.in

Women and Dynasitc Politics

More than half of the women MPs in three Lok Sabhas since 2004 belong to political dynasties, a new book says as it argues that dynastic ties are rectifying under-representation of fairer sex.

In an article in the recently released ‘Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary Indian Politics’, academician Amrita Basu also says that “overwhelming proportion” the women who were elected MPs have “male rather than female relatives precede them in politics”.

Basu, a Professor of Political Science and Sexuality at Amherst College, also cites statistics to prove her point. In 2009, family members that preceded dynastic women MPs were 19 husbands, 13 fathers, seven fathers-in-law, three uncles, two grandfathers and two brothers. Only four of them had female relatives preceding them.

BSP chief Mayawati would have “found it hard to succeed” as a Dalit woman without her ties with Kanshi Ram. Jayalalithaa, a Brahmin, “needed the backing” of M G Ramachandran to surmount the anti-Brahminical sentiment that she confronted, she writes.

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The book argues that women have arguably relied on family ties in part to counteract discrimination by parties and the broader society. It said if dynastic undermine democratic principles of political representation, so too does the under-representation of almost half the population.

According to the book, women formed a small proportion of MPs in 2004 (eight per cent), 2009 (11 per cent) and 2014 Lok Sabhas (12 per cent).

Of the 45 women MPs of 2004, 58 per cent of them are political dynasties while in 2009, the figure rose to 69 per cent of 59 MPs. Of the 63 women MPs of 2014, 43 per cent are from political dynasties.

In Basu’s view, “societal prejudices, electoral processes and party biases and structures” have limited women’s representation in Lok Sabha. “Women’s dynastic ties have partially rectified the historical under-representation,” she writes adding lack of representation of women is linked to weakly organised parties.

Increasing violence and politicisation of politics, gender bias and absence of reservation has impeded women’s representation, she adds.

Referring to the numbers in other countries, Basu says the current international average of women representatives is 22.3 per cent of all lower or single house seats. Of the 188 countries, India “does not even make it to the first 100”. India is ranked 117 below Syria, Jordan, Niger and the UAE, she says.

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

 

‘Government must stop misuse of laws for witch-hunting NGOs’

Amnesty International India is facing the heat after pro-Azadi slogans were raised at an event in Bengaluru recently. Amnesty’s executive director Aakar Patel responded to my queries.

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How do you react to the complaint by ABVP against the event?

The allegations mentioned in the complaint are without substance, and we are hopeful that the charges will be dropped. We issued a point by point rebuttal to the complaint filed by ABVP. Amnesty International India staff did not raise any slogans or sing any songs, as claimed in the complaint.

The events planned were for the families of victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir to narrate their personal stories of loss.  The only discussion at the event was about allegations of human rights violations and the denial of justice to families in Kashmir. These are issues that have regularly been discussed in the media. They have been written about at length by members of Parliament, politicians, judges and civil society. In July 2016, the Supreme Court, in a ruling relevant to the issues discussed at the event, stated that the armed forces do not enjoy impunity for human rights violations.

How do you see slapping of sedition charges against Amnesty?

The police decide the sections of law which are mentioned in an FIR, and it is surprising that they chose to use provisions such as Section 124A (sedition), when the Supreme Court has ruled that for speech to amount to sedition, it must involve incitement to violence.

The police was present all through the event. The registration of a case of sedition shows a lack of belief in fundamental rights and freedoms in India.

Reports suggest that MHA would insist that Amnesty should register under FCRA. What are your objections to it?

We have not received any notice. When we do we shall respond adequately.

Do you think the Central government is also using the Bengaluru incident to tighten its screw on Amnesty? Is it part of a larger design of the government to target NGOs?

Various state governments have used the sedition law to clamp down on activists who are critical of government policies. Successive governments have attacked the NGOs that don’t toe the government line. Lately, we have witnessed a pattern of using the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA) to suppress dissent and harass groups critical of government view and action.

The UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, freedom of expression and freedom of association said in a statement: “We are alarmed that FCRA provisions are being used more and more to silence organisations involved in advocating civil, political, economic, social, environmental or cultural priorities, which may differ from those backed by Government.”

In April this year, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of association had reiterated that the ability to access foreign funding is an integral part of the right to freedom of association, and said that FCRA restrictions were not in conformity with international law, principle and standards.

It needs to respect the rights of these individuals and organizations to freedom of expression and association.

(Excerpts of the conversation appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 20, 2016)

** Photo Courtesy: audiomatic.in

Divorced or Separated: India in numbers

For every divorced or separated man in India, there are three such women and none of the major religions, except Sikhism, has bucked the trend.

The latest findings are part of the report ‘Marital Status by religious Community and Sex: Census 2011’ released on Wednesday, which showed that 67.02 per cent (32.82 lakh) of the 48.97 lakh people who have divorced or living separately are women.

According to the report, there are 35.35 lakh people who are separated while another 13.62 lakh have got legal divorce.

Among this, 23.72 lakh married women are living separately from their husbands while the number of men living separately from their wives are 11.62 lakh.

The number of women who have got divorce legally is 9.09 lakh while that of men is 4.52 lakh.

There are 57.08 crore ‘never married’ people, 57.95 crore married ones and 5.55 crore widowed people.

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Divorced/Separated

  Total  

Men

 

Women

 

Hindu

 

38.33 lakh

 

13.10 lakh

 

25.23 lakh

 

Muslim

 

6.54 lakh

 

1.54 lakh

 

4.99 lakh

 

Christian

 

1.92 lakh

 

61,361

 

1.30 lakh

 

Buddhist

 

63,123

 

19,859

 

43,264

 

Jain

 

15,455

 

6,489

 

8,966

 

Sikh

 

82,291

 

43,603

 

38,688

 

Total

 

48.97 lakh

 

16.15 lakh

 

32.83 lakh

Source: Census 2011

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If one goes by the proportion of divorced or separated women among religion, Muslims seem to have the worst record.

Of the 17.22 crore Muslim population, 3.84 lakh (0.22 per cent) are living separately while 2.69 lakh (0.15 per cent) have got divorce.

Though Muslims may have similar proportion of its population of separated and divorced people, the number of women is more than three times. Hindus’ proportion of separated people is 0.29 per cent while that of divorced population is 0.09 per cent.

While there are 97,120 men who are living separately, the number of women is 2.87 lakh. Similarly, the number of divorced men is 57,535 while that of women is 2.12 lakh.

For no other religion, the proportion of such women are this high though it is double or just more than double.

The number of Hindu separated men is 9.66 lakh while that of women is 19.04 lakh and divorced men 3.44 lakh and 6.18 women.

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ALL INDIA

 

Marital Status

 

Total

 

Men

 

Women

 

Never married

57.08 crore 32.28 crore 24.79 crore
 

Married

57.95 crore 28.65 crore 29.30 crore
 

Widowed

5.55 crore 1.22 crore 4.32 crore
 

Separated

35.35 lakh 11.62 lakh 23.72 lakh
 

Divorced

13.62 lakh 4.52 lakh 9.09 lakh

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Among Christians, who have strict anti-divorce laws in certain denominations, too the number of such women is double than that of men. While there are 60,361 divorced or separated men, there are 1.30 lakh such women.

However, the only religion which has a reverse trend in India is Sikhism. The number of separated women following Sikhism is marginally high – 24,448 men against 24,956 while the number of divorced women is less – 19,155 men as against 13,732 women.

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