POSTED BY OWD ON Jan 13, 2015 AT 19:08 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 22, 2015 23:30 IST

On Jan 11, PTI reported that a  Greenpeace India activist, Priya Pillai, was stopped from boarding a flight at Delhi airport to London, where she was scheduled to address British Parliamentarians on the 'infringement of rights of forest communities'.

On Jan 12, Pillai shot off a letter to the Home Ministry seeking an explanation for forbidding her from leaving the country.

However, when asked to comment on the issue, Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told reporters, "I have no idea (about the incident). Let me get a report... I shall seek a report."

An editorial on the incident in the Mint said:

"The substantial point is, should a government curb such freedom when a person plans to travel abroad and campaign against the country’s economic security? For example, activism against thermal and nuclear power plants that can imperil energy security of the Indian people? The answer is not clear-cut.

Denial of liberty may sound atrocious but endangering of economic security is a far worse proposition."

The piece created quite a stir on Twitter:

The Indian Express, in its Jan 14 editorial, says:

"A nation which wants to project itself as a serious power should have the confidence to tolerate dissent and deal with bad publicity...It should remember that if Bangladesh embarrasses India with better development indices, some of the credit goes to its flourishing NGO sector, which complements services delivered by government. The social sector should be seen as a partner in the process of development, not a political adversary paid in dollars to lobby for alien agendas and foment dissatisfaction in the countryside. Lobbying and activism are legitimate acts. The government’s response should be to negotiate. The puerile alternative of offloading inconvenient people mars the image of confident maturity that India is trying to project."

Another report in the Indian Express dated Jan 22 says:

"Days after Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a flight to London at the IGI airport in Delhi, it has emerged that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) used the "etc" category in an internal order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to issue the lookout circular that stopped her from flying out. This was done as there was no criminal case against Pillai, officials said."

Mass organisations and concerned individuals issued a statement condemning state intimidation against activists and people’s groups:

"We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the ‘offloading’ of environmental activist Priya Pillai, associated with Greenpeace India, at the Delhi airport on 11th January 2015...It then appears that the decision was made solely by intelligence agencies on basis of ‘national interest’. Rather than an isolated case, it seems that the NDA Government and intelligence agencies are making a habit of preventing activists from travelling abroad for meetings."

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POSTED BY OWD ON Jan 13, 2015 AT 19:08 IST, Edited At: Jan 22, 2015 23:30 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 01, 2014 AT 18:52 IST ,  Edited At: Nov 01, 2014 18:52 IST

When Yella­p­ragada Sudershan Rao, a staunch proponent of the view that Ramayana and Mahabharata are truthful accounts of events present in the collective memory of people, known for placing primacy of faith over reason, was appointed the head of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) by the BJP-led NDA government, there was widespread dismay in academic circles, but little surprise.

But when Lokesh Chandra, the 87-year-old Indira Gandhi loyalist, with links to leaders of the erstwhile Soviet Union, was appointed president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the country’s cultural interface with the world, many eyebrows were raised.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 01, 2014 AT 18:52 IST, Edited At: Nov 01, 2014 18:52 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 03, 2014 AT 23:43 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 03, 2014 23:43 IST

While the Congress has attacked the appointment of former Chief Justice of India Palaniswamy Sathasivam as the new Governor of Kerala, and asked if he was being given the gubernatorial post for giving relief to the BJP President Amit Shah in a fake encounter case last year, it has also brought up the question of what the current finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley had said in the past about former judges and their post-retirement appointments to positions that could be considered political.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 03, 2014 AT 23:43 IST, Edited At: Sep 03, 2014 23:43 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Mar 19, 2013 AT 15:20 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 19, 2013 15:20 IST

The Telegraph, Calcutta, reports on the serious points raised by many of our senior netas as the cabinet cleared the criminal law (amendment) bill retaining 18 as the age of consent for sex, some of whom rued that the “stricter” provisions would rob the country of romance at the consensus-seeking all-party meeting, where leader after leader seemed to betray the utmost incomprehension of terms such as “stalking”, “voyeurism” and “trafficking”:

“Mohabbat to ab khatam hi ho jaayega. Ladka jab ladki ke taraf dekhega nahi aur uska peechha nahi karega to mohabbat hoga kaise (Romance will die out now. If a boy doesn’t look at a girl or follow her, how can romance happen)?” Yadav said, according to a senior politician who was present but didn’t wish to be quoted...

...Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav took the prize. He claimed people resorting to “transfer and posting” of women at workplaces could be jailed under the bill’s provisions. Met with a chorus of denials, he held his ground and insisted he could prove it.

When he showed the “relevant portion” to leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, it left her speechless for some time.

The source told The Telegraph that Mulayam actually pointed towards the portion of the bill that deals with trafficking of women. The former chief minister had apparently confused “trafficking” with “transfer”.

Ye mahilayon ke gair kanooni tareki se le jana aur gair kanooni kaam me lagana ke liye hai. Transfer-posting ke liye nahin (This is about illegally taking women away and forcing them into illegal professions. This is not about transferring or posting women employees),” Sushma explained. Mulayam nodded and the rest tried to suppress smiles.

Read the full report at the Telegraph: Tragedy of errors at rape law meet

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Mar 19, 2013 AT 15:20 IST, Edited At: Mar 19, 2013 15:20 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 28, 2012 AT 23:58 IST ,  Edited At: Nov 28, 2012 23:58 IST

Lant Pritchett and Shrayana Bhattacharya succinctly sum up the recent debate about Cash Transfers in the Indian Express: Cash is no Cure:

If the problem is that people who are eligible find it hard to procure paperwork to prove their citizenship and poverty to make claims on state resources, while those who are ineligible nevertheless manage to get benefits, it is hard to see how moving to cash helps...

Cash transfers are terrific at what cash transfers are terrific at — a pure and direct transfer of purchasing power. If the goal of transferring resources to citizens is simply to attain a socially desirable distribution of money and ability to buy things, cash works very well. However, if the idea is to tackle market failures and attain a socially desirable form of behaviour, where administrators allocate benefits to the poorest and the poorest are able to use the subsidy amounts for good nutrition and health outcomes, the idea of cash as a cure-all is problematic. Much of the current discussion on cash transfers is focused on what the state ought to do, without enough consideration of what the Indian state is capable of doing. Proponents of a cash-based approach assume the state has better ability to supply cash than the supply of physical goods. However, cash transfers leave many of the hard problems in implementing social programmes in India just as hard, if not harder.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 28, 2012 AT 23:58 IST, Edited At: Nov 28, 2012 23:58 IST
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