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Arrears and Backlog: Creating Additional Judicial (wo)manpower

Arrears and Backlog: Creating Additional Judicial (wo)manpower GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA 
Report No. 245 July, 2014
  The 20th Law Commission was constituted for a period of three years from 1st September, 2012 by Order No. A-45012/1/2012-Admn.III (LA) dated the 8th October, 2012 issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, New Delhi. The Law Commission consists of a full time Chairman, four full-time Members (including Member-Secretary), two Ex-officio Members and five part-time Members.
Chairman
Hon’ble Justice A.P. Shah Full-time Members
Justice (Mr.) S.N. Kapoor Prof. (Dr.) Mool Chand Sharma
Justice (Ms.) Usha Mehra
Mr. N.L. Meena, Member-Secretary Ex-officio Member Mr. P.K. Malhotra, Secretary (Department of Legal Affairs and Legislative Department) Part-time Members
Prof. (Dr.) G. Mohan Gopal Mr. R. Venkataramani
Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh Tyagi
Dr. Bijai Narain Mani
Prof.(Dr.) Gurjeet Singh
The Law Commission is located in
14th Floor, Hindustan Times House,
K.G. Marg,
New Delhi-110 001
Member Secretary
Mr. N.L. Meena Research Staff        
Dr. (Smt.) Pawan Sharma    : Joint Secretary & Law Officer
Shri A.K. Upadhyay    : Additional Law Officer
Shri S.C. Mishra    : Deputy Law Officer
Dr. V.K. Singh    : Deputy Legal Adviser
The text of this Report is available on the Internet at :
http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in
© Government of India
Law Commission of India
 
Acknowledgements The Commission deeply appreciates valuable inputs received from the Group it had constituted in finalising the report on “Imtiyaz Ahmad v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors (Criminal Appeal No.s254-262 of 2012)” to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and the present report. The group that initially comprised : Prof. Theodore Eisenberg, Henry Allen Mark Professor of law, Adjunct Professor of Statistical Sciences at Cornell University; Prof. Sital Kalantry, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, International Human Rights Clinic, University of Chicago Law School; Prof. Sri Krishna Deva Rao, Registrar, National Law University, Delhi (as representative of NLU Delhi); and Mr. Nicholas Robinson, Fellow at Centre of Policy Research was expanded when Dr. Aparna Chandra and Mr. Utkarsh Saxena, Consultant to Law Commission of India joined it. Mr. Madhav Mallya and Ms. Vrinda Bhandari, Research Associates, National Law University and Mr. Saral Minocha and Ms. Sonal Sarda, students of National Law University also helped in analysing and compiling the data. Enthusiasm and dedication apart from research inputs of Dr. Aparna Chandra deserves special mention.
  INTRODUCTION Denial of ‘timely justice’ amounts to denial of ‘justice’ itself. Two are integral to each other. Timely disposal of cases is essential for maintaining the rule of law and providing access to justice which is a guaranteed fundamental right. However, as the present report indicates, the judicial system is unable to deliver timely justice because of huge backlog of cases for which the current judge strength is completely inadequate. Further, in addition to the already backlogged cases, the system is not being able to keep pace with the new cases being instituted, and is not being able to dispose of a comparable number of cases. The already severe problem of backlogs is, therefore, getting exacerbated by the day, leading to a dilution of the Constitutional guarantee of access to timely justice and erosion of the rule of law. The present report is aimed at addressing this scenario that demands a multi-prong approach including more sensitive and rational judicial (wo)manpower planning. It may be acknowledged that the present report is largely driven by the Hon’ble Supreme Court when in the matter of Imtiyaz Ahmad1 it directed the Commission to undertake an inquiry and submit its recommendations in relation to the following: “I. Keeping in view that timely justice is an important facet to access to justice, the immediate measures that need to be taken by way of creation of additional Courts and other allied matters (including a rational and scientific definition of “arrears” and delay, of which continued notice needs to be taken), to help in elimination of delays, speedy clearance of arrears and reduction in costs. It is trite to add that the qualitative component of justice must not be lowered or compromised; and II.    Specific recommendations whenever considered necessary on the above aspects in relation to each State be made as a product of consultative processes involving the High Courts and other stake holders, including the Bar.” For arriving at informed understanding of the problem at hand and for making any meaningful suggestion(s), to deal with it, the Commission requested all the High Courts to provide data on litigation in each district within their jurisdiction. To facilitate orderly organization and supply of data, the High Courts were sent a prescribed format (Annexure I). Some very useful data was produced. However, most High Courts due to variety of reasons, could not fully provide the data / information sought. Keeping in view insufficiency of the data received, after detailed in-house discussions and also involving experts that an additional questionnaire was sent to various High Courts. In response, no doubt, some relevant data was received. However, lack of scientific collection, collation and analysis still remained a 
serious constraint. Despite these constraints, reading and analyzing data received very closely, especially in the light of different methods of data analysis available that the Commission gave its response to queries and matter raised by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the same has provided the basis of this report. While acknowledging that the problem of delay is not only enormous but complex, the Commission in the present report has remained confined to developing more informed understanding of as to whether problem of delay and strength of judges is a related one in some ways and if so how? In the report, an attempt has been made to suggest number of judges as are required to reduce delays. In a way, the report provides a roadmap for judicial (wo)manpower planning. While agreeing that there exists no clear ‘time standard’ or a ‘reference’ to which a case can be classified as ‘delayed’. How one defines ‘timeliness’ (and, therefore, how many cases are delayed) is crucial to suggest any kind of basis for computing how many additional judges are required to process cases in timely manner. Without arriving at some such definition, it is difficult to suggest any appropriate method for planning and computing additional resources required to contain problem of delay. Similarly, the Commission is fully aware as thus undermined in the report that terms, such as ‘arrears’, ‘pendency’ and ‘backlog’ which are so oftenly used in almost all kinds of discourse on working of justice administration system in India are used very vaguely and beg clear and precise definition. The report is an attempt to reflect and throw more light on some of these terms, and it is hoped that the policy makers and other stakeholders in the system may find these reflections and attempt to introduce some clarity by the present work of some use during their course of deliberations on judicial reforms. As the pivotal issue for the report is to suggest some basis for computing as to how many additional judges are required to process cases in ‘timely’ manner to large extent, answer to this question depends on how one defines ‘timeliness’ (and, therefore, how many cases are delayed). As already mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs, it may be emphasized at the cost of sounding repetitive that without arriving at some such definition, it is difficult to suggest any appropriate method for planning and computing additional resources required to contain the delay. A significant portion of the report right at the start, after critical examination of various approaches to defining terms like ‘arrears’, ‘pendency’ and ‘delay’ as floating around in the literature on the subject incorporates Commission’s own reflections. These reflections, while may provide little more clarity to assigning meaning to above referred terms which have been generally understood so ambiguously, the Commission still views that it may not be possible to devise any perfectly scientific and uniform definition of these concepts. Acknowledging such definitional limitation and of inadequacy of data received, present report culminates in making some suggestions on the additional resources required to dispose of the current pendency, and to prevent the backlog in future.
DEFINING KEY CONCEPTS: PENDENCY, DELAY, ARREARS, AND BACKLOG There is no single or clear understanding of when a case should be counted as delayed. Often, terms like “delay,” “pendency,” “arrears,” and “backlog” are used interchangeably. This leads to confusion. To avoid this confusion and for the sake of clarity, these terms may be understood as follows: a. Pendency: All cases instituted but not disposed of, regardless of when the case was instituted. b. Delay: A case that has been in the Court/judicial system for longer than the normal time that it should take for a case of that type to be disposed of. c. Arrears: Some delayed cases might be in the system for longer than the normal time, for valid reasons. Those cases that show unwarranted delay will be referred to as arrears. d. Backlog: When the institution of new cases in any given time period is higher than the disposal of cases in that time period, the difference between institution and disposal is the backlog. This figure represents the accumulation of cases in the system due to the system’s inability to dispose of as many cases as are being filed. Therefore, as is evident, defining terms like delay and arrears require computing “normal” case processing time standards. How should the normal time frame be determined? It may be noted that since the Supreme Court had directed the Law Commission to recommend a “rational and scientific definition of “arrears” and delay,” the Commission clarified to the Hon’ble Court at the outset that there exists no single “objective” standard or mathematical formula by reference to which “normal” case processing time and hence delay can be defined or calculated. However, Commission is of the view that various methods, drawing on statistics, social science research techniques and experiential inputs can help make “rational” determination of “normal” case disposal times, and hence of delay. Based on a survey of various jurisdictions and previous reform efforts in India it is revealed that two approaches, and combinations thereof, are generally used in computing rational timeliness requirements. The first approach, which can be called the Practice Assessment Approach, involves studying the patterns of current filing, disposal, case-length and pendency. A comparative analysis of these patterns inter se and between jurisdictions, can help policy makers determine whether a particular Court takes more or less time compared to either a system-wide average, or the median case in the system. This analysis does not tell the policy maker whether a particular Court or type of case is delayed. However, it does allow for a relative assessment of which Courts are taking longer than others, such that they may require targeted intervention in terms of greater allocation of resources, etc.2 When a Court is a complete outlier in terms of its case processing time, the policy maker (or superior Court) may be able to draw an inference that cases in that Court are unacceptably delayed and are, therefore, in arrear. 3 Further, while current practice assessments are inadequate for defining delay, they can reveal when and where (in which Court and in which types of cases) backlog is being created, so that targeted intervention is possible to address the issue. In the absence of other measures, this is the approach that the Commission has adopted in examining the question of adequate judicial strength for the Subordinate Judiciary. Another approach, which may be called the Normative Assessment Approach, is to fix time standards for the disposal of cases. Cases that are disposed of within such time are not delayed; cases beyond such time are delayed; cases which exhibit unwarranted delay are in arrears. One of the means by which such standard setting can take place in a rigorous and rational manner is to begin by studying the current patterns of filing, disposal, pendency, length, etc. Based on this study, the policy maker can determine the average or median time taken for processing various types of cases. Studies based on interviews with stakeholders, examination of the life cycle of sample cases, etc, can then be undertaken to understand whether these time frames reflect an optimal standard for timely disposal. A committee of experts, drawn from persons with extensive experiential knowledge of the system, can then review the current patterns to determine optimality, keeping in mind resource constraints, Court cultures, system goals and constitutional and statutory requirements. The Normative Approach therefore, relies on an amalgam of past and current statistics, social science research techniques and experiential inputs to make a “rational” determination of “normal” case disposal times, and hence of delay. One method of defining delay through the Normative Assessment Approach is by determining the normal time frame within which cases of a particular type should be processed through a Court. If a case takes longer than this time frame, then the case is delayed. Time frames can be in the nature of mandatory time limits, or they can provide general guidelines that are normally to be followed, but can be departed from in exceptional circumstances. Countries like the US have limited mandatory time frames, for example under the US Speedy Trial Act, 1974.5 However, India does not have general statutory time limits comparable to the US Speedy Trial Act. While the Civil Procedure Code, and the Criminal Procedure Code, have time frames for completing certain stages of the case, these statutes generally do not prescribe time limits within which the overall case should be completed, or each step in the trial should be concluded.6 On the judicial side, setting of mandatory time limits was attempted by the Supreme Court in a series of cases.7 However, in 2002 a seven judge bench of the Court in P. Ramchandra Rao v. State of Karnataka8 held that mandatory time limits could not be prescribed by the Court.9 Though the Court was not in favour of mandatory time limits, it did not find problematic the use of time frames as guidelines for the Court. The prescription of such non-binding, directory guidelines has been a common means of defining normal time frames and evaluating delay, both in India and abroad.10 In India, previous Law Commissions and various Governmental Committees have suggested various directory time frames both as guidelines to Courts for the timely disposal of cases, and as standards by which delay in the system can be measured.11 However, all these suggestions are based on ad-hoc prescriptions rather than grounded in empirical analysis and observation. And thus the concern raised by the Hon’ble Supreme
It is neither advisable, nor feasible, nor judicially permissible to draw or prescribe an outer limit for conclusion of all criminal proceedings. The time-limits or bars of limitation prescribed in the several directions made in Common Cause (I), Raj Deo Sharma (I) and Raj Deo Sharma (II) could not have been so prescribed or drawn and are not good law. The criminal Courts are not obliged to terminate trial or criminal proceedings merely on account of lapse of time, as prescribed by the directions made in Common Cause Case (I), Raj Deo Sharma case (I) and (II). At the most the periods of time prescribed in those decisions can be taken by the Courts seized of the trial or proceedings to act as reminders when they may be persuaded to apply their judicial mind to the facts and circumstances of the case before them and determine by taking into consideration the several relevant factors as pointed out in A.R. Antulay’s case and decide whether the trial or proceedings have become so inordinately delayed as to be called oppressive and unwarranted. Such time-limits cannot and will not by themselves be treated by any Court as a bar to further continuance of the trial or proceedings and as mandatorily obliging the Court to terminate the same and acquit or discharge the accused.  
Court in Imtiyaz Ahmad, viz., of providing “a rationale and scientific definition of ‘arrears’ and ‘delay’ demands deeper study and rigorosity in terms of data. Time frames serve as performance benchmarks and provide guidance to Courts as well as other stakeholders on what constitutes the timely disposal of a case, and enable them to determine both whether an individual case is being processed in a timely manner; and whether a Court or system as a whole is providing timely justice. Where time frames are not mandatory, they can be departed from, but only in limited circumstances, and often with the requirement of justification for why such departure from the time frame is necessary. This provides the flexibility needed to individualize case processing, while at the same time, taking care of the systemic concerns over timeliness. Though general time frames of this type serve a useful benchmarking purpose, and are well suited as a time template for the run of the mill or average case, they require further fine tuning for cases which require less or more time. A standardized time frame is likely to be both over and under inclusive in determining the requirements of timely justice. The intention behind benchmarking performance is not to have all cases processed at the same time. Each case is different and might have different requirements. Therefore, apart from general guidance there is a requirement for case-specific determination of what would amount to a timely disposal of the case. Case-specific time tables are generally adopted to meet this object of individualized timely justice. Such time tables are fixed by the judge hearing a particular dispute, generally at a scheduling hearing held towards the start of proceedings, so that all parties know who has to perform what activity, and by when. Setting individualized time-tables allows the judge to mould the general time frame to suit the requirements of the individual case, while at the same time keeping in mind the needs of the overall case-load before the judge. The time table set at the beginning of the case proceedings then becomes the benchmark by which the timeliness of the proceedings is measured. Unforeseen events may de-rail the time-table, but the case, though delayed, would not be counted as an arrear, if the delay was warranted. Case specific time-tables are used as timeliness standards, delay reduction methods, and yardsticks for measuring delays in the system in various jurisdictions around the world, including U.S.,12 U.K.,13 and Canada.14 In India the Supreme Court has also recently advocated the use of case-specific time tables for the timely disposal of cases, in the case of Ramrameshwari Devi v. Nirmala Devi.15 As a staple part of systematic case management strategies, such timetables provide clear time frames for dispute resolution, define litigant expectations of timeliness, and thus impact the litigant experience of delay. They allow the judge flexibility to take into account the specific aspects of an individual case in framing a time schedule for that case. When accompanied by general time frame guidelines, the possibility of abuse of the power by setting long time frames can be avoided. When case-specific targets cannot be met because of systemic delays the system needs to take responsibility for allocating proper resources. Where the delay is because of the conduct of parties, the judge can provide sanctions for such behavior, including, dismissing the application, imposing costs, etc. The Normative Assessment Approach requires state level studies to determine optimal time frames. High Courts are best placed to take into account state level concerns and circumstances in determining adequate time standards. Within the frame work of these time standards, individual Subordinate Court Judges can set time frames for individual cases. For this system to work, a strong monitoring frame work would be required, whereby the timeliness of the caseload of individual judges can be supervised by High Courts. Annual reporting of disposal 
and timeliness data will also ensure public scrutiny and add another layer of accountability towards timeliness goals and standards. As a beginning however, the Normative Assessment Approach requires extensive and sustained study over a period of time in order to provide a rational and scientific definition of delays and arrears. In the meantime, in the absence of such time frames, and for the purposes of the study of adequate judicial strength in India’s Subordinate Judiciary, the Commission has examined the current patterns of institution, disposal and pendency, to address the question of whether more judicial resources are required (and where they should be targeted) in order to clear the current pendency and prevent the accumulation of backlog in the future. COMPUTING JUDGE STRENGTH A. Overview of Data and its Limitations Lack of complete data was a great handicap in making critical analysis and more meaningful suggestions as responses to questionnaires received from many High Courts16 were incomplete. However, data supplied by High Courts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab & Haryana, Sikkim, and Uttarakhand proved very useful in furnishing the basis for the present work. The analysis in this report is based on the data received from these High Courts. High Courts have provided data for the period 2002 to 2012. All the data received has been computed on an annual basis. Therefore, for example, each High Court has provided data as on 31st December of each year, under the categories of institution, disposal, pendency, etc. Some High Courts provided data that was disaggregated into two categories: Higher Judicial Service and Subordinate Judicial Service. Other High Courts provided data disaggregated by cadre, i.e., Higher Judicial Service, Civil Judge (Senior) Division, and Civil Judge (Junior) Division. For uniformity of analysis, all the data has been analysed in the two broad categories of Higher Judicial Service and Subordinate Judicial Service. It is important to note that the data on institution, disposal and pendency does not indicate the actual number of cases in the system. High Courts count data in various ways. Some High Courts such as those of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa and Sikkim count interlocutory applications before Subordinate Courts as separate institutions, disposals and pendencies. Kerala even counts committal proceedings as separate for purposes of institution, disposal and pendency. Therefore, a single case may be counted multiple times in some High Courts. Thus, the number of cases pending, instituted or disposed of by the Courts is significantly smaller than the overall pendency, institution or disposal figures would suggest. Further, the multiplicity of approaches in tabulating data make a cross-comparison between different High Courts problematic. For example, in the High Courts of Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Bombay, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh,  
B. Analysis of Data The data shows that overall, institution, disposal and pendency have all been on the rise in this category in the last decade.  The data shows that while the annual rate of institution, disposal and pendency has increased overall in the 2002-2012 period, in the last few years, pendency has been on a decline whereas institution and disposal are largely constant.
The data for the Higher Judicial Service also indicates that in the 2002-2012 period, by and large, more cases have been instituted than have been disposed of in any given year. As a result, a backlog is being created in the system. 12.    Backlog Creation Rate is the ratio of institution to disposal in any given year. If the ratio is greater than 1, this implies that more cases are being instituted than are being disposed of. If the ratio is less than one, then more cases are being disposed of, than are being instituted. A number less than 1, therefore, indicates that the judicial system is being able to handle new institutions.
As the figures indicate, the Higher Judicial Service is disposing of fewer cases than are being instituted. As such, it is adding to the backlog of cases in the system. On the other hand, in the Subordinate Judicial Service, the disposal rate is higher than the institution, implying that the backlog is being reduced. It should be pointed out here that the backlog creation analysis does not indicate whether the same cases that were filed in a given year were disposed of in that year. Rather, it takes a systemic perspective and looks at how many new cases are coming in, in relation to how many cases are going out. A low backlog creation rate, therefore, indicates that the system as a whole is incapable of dealing with the recurring annual demand for Judicial Services, and is, therefore, in need of additional resources. As mentioned realier, the Backlog Creation Rate focuses on the number of cases going in and out of the system in a given year and does not take into account the already backlogged cases that carry forward from year to year. To understand how well Courts are handling the already backlogged cases, the Pendency Clearance Time is useful. This figure is arrived at by dividing the pendency at the end of the year by the disposal that year, and indicates the amount of time it would take to dispose of all pending cases if no new cases were filed. The following figures indicate the annual pendency clearance time in the 2002-2012 period for the Higher Judicial Service and the Subordinate Judiciary, respectively. Overall, for both the Higher Judicial Service and the Subordinate Judicial Service, the time it would take to clear pendency has declined in the 2002-2012 period. This implies that overall, the system is processing cases faster at the end of 2012 than it was in 2002. While these figures do not indicate the types of cases that are being processed through the system, the figures do provide an overall picture of the system and indicate the broad trajectory of the system in the past decade. The data also indicates that in the High Courts under consideration, in the last three years 38.7% of institutions and 37.4% of all pending cases before the Subordinate Judicial Services were traffic and police challans.19 An additional 6.5% and 7.8% cases account for institution and pendency respectively of Section 138 Negotiable Instruments Act, matters.20 Annexure V provides the numerical data and the following figures provide State-wise breakup of institution and pendency including data on traffic/police challans and Negotiable Instrument Act matters. Cases of traffic and police challans generally do not require much judicial involvement. However, given the high volume of such cases, they cumulatively take up a significant amount of judicial time. The bulk of these cases deal with the payment of fines and are usually uncontested by parties. For such cases, automation of the system through the ability to pay fines online or at a designated counter in the Court complex, can significantly free up valuable Court time. For the remainder, the Commission considers that the creation of separate Special Traffic Courts, over and above the regular Courts, may significantly reduce the burden on regular Courts. These Special Courts can sit in two shifts (morning and evening). Since most such cases are not contested and do not involve lawyers, the shift system is not likely to inconvenience other stakeholders. In fact, the evening Court shift is likely to assist parties to come to Court after work hours and pay their fines. Recent law graduates can be recruited on a temporary basis (e.g., for 3 year periods) to preside over these Courts.21 However, cases in which there is a possibility of imprisonment, should be tried by regular Courts. Thus, a simple analysis of data supplied shows that there is a large amount of double counting of institution, disposal and pendency figures in the Subordinate Judiciary, such that the total volume of cases being processed through the system is significantly less than the figures supplied by the High Courts. Tit is also evident from the data that a high proportion of cases before the Subordinate Judicial Service comprises of petty matters like traffic and police challans. As already suggested, it is reiterated that these petty matters can better be dealt with by special morning and evening Courts over and above the regular Courts. The burden on the regular Courts will be significantly reduced as a result. C. Methodologies for Computing Adequate Judge Strength Most oftenly referred methods in most discussions for computing adequate judge strength are: the judge-population ratio, the judge-filing ratio, the ideal case load method, time based methods, and the rate of Disposal Method. Briefly analyzing these methods and looking into their pros and cons the report finds greater favour with the rate of Disposal Method. 1. Judge to Population Ratio & Judge to Filing Ratio One method commonly advocated for determining how many judges are required in the judicial system is the judge to population ratio, i.e., the number of judges per million persons in the population.22 The Commission finds this method very wanting because there is no objective number by reference to which we can determine whether the judge to population ratio of any State is adequate. It is known that filings per capita vary substantially across geographic units. Filings per capita are associated with economic and social conditions and can vary across India’s States by as much as a factor of 50.23 The justice needs of different societies thus vary, and no universal standard can be prescribed in this regard. Therefore, while population might be the appropriate metric to measure the availability of other essential services like health care and nutrition, it is not an appropriate standard for measuring the requirement for Judicial Services. Another similar method oftenly referred to on various discussions is to look at the Judge to Institution Ratio.24 This would tell how many judges a State has relative to the existing pattern of demand for judicial services within that state. Here, again, however, there is no ideal number of judges per 1000 instituted cases, by reference to which one can determine whether or not a State needs more judges and by how much. Further, institution figures often vary depending upon the issue area and the social identity of those instituting cases. Socially marginalized groups are likely to have lower institution rates for reasons of lack of access to Courts.25 Institution figures may also vary depending upon the geography. Far-flung areas, where physical access to Courts is a problem, may have low institution figures compared to the population. No doubt, while these are not by themselves reasons to discard the judge to institution ratio method but they do caution that merely meeting some ideal ratio will not necessarily fulfill the justice needs of a society. 2. The Ideal Case Load Method Another method sometimes advocated for fixing the appropriate judge strength is the ideal case load method. This method requires a determination of the ideal number of cases that a judge should have on his/her docket. The total caseload (existing pendency plus new institutions) can then be divided by the ideal case load to estimate the number of judges required by the system. Where the number of cases per judge is disproportionately higher than the ideal case load, additional judges are required to be recruited.26 The ideal case load method seems difficult to implement in practice. One is absence of any exhaustive study, one does not find any fixed criteria for determining what the ideal case load should be. Generally, ideal case loads are fixed on an ad hoc basis. To give one illustration, the Law Commission vide letter no. 6(3)/224/2012-LC(LS) dated 28.05.2012 had asked High Courts to provide “reasonable workloads that each category of Courts (DJ, Sr. Civil Judge, Jr. Civil Judge/Magistrate) can bear in order to establish better and speedy access to justice.” However, the information received from various High Courts revealed that measurements of ideal case load for each cadre of judge varies widely across states. Thus for instance, the reasonable workload for the Higher Judicial Service was suggested to be 120 in Madhya Pradesh, 500 in Andhra Pradesh, 750 in Jammu and Kashmir and 1000 in Orissa. This wide variation across states is a result, in part, of the lack of a rational basis for determining the ideal case load. Second, different types of cases require different amounts of judicial time. A murder trial is generally likely to consume much more time, for example, than a summary trial in a petty offence. An ideal case load approach that looks only at the number of files before the judge, will treat both cases as equal even though a judge with 500 murder cases is likely to be over-stretched and one with 500 summary trials, under-utilized. To be fruitful, the ideal case load method requires some analysis of the types of cases likely to come up before a judge. Also, there is need to analyze as to the amount of time each type of case normally takes. Such analysis may probably give an idea of what should constitute ‘ideal case load’ before a judge. However, there is need to be cautious because the existing case mix can change fairly quickly, for instance, through the emergence of new laws and increased rights awareness. For example, The present section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, was a result of an amendment in 2002 vide the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2002 (55 of 2002). This provision has been wide used and has drastically changed the number and type of cases in the case mix before the Subordinate Judiciary.
Finally, if we were to do the study into the case mix and case times required to operationalize the ideal case load method, this information can be directly used to determine the appropriate number of judges required by the system. The via media of ideal case load would not be required. The method to determine the appropriate number of judges by using case mix and case times is discussed below. 3. The Time Based Method Another model often used, as for example in the US, for determining the number of judges required by the judicial system is the Time Based Method.28 Broadly speaking, this method determines the time required to clear the existing judicial caseload. It then determines the time available per judge for judicial work. Dividing the first number by the second provides the number of judges required to deal with the existing caseload. In more detail, the time based method involves determining the ideal or actual time taken by judges in deciding a particular type of case on average. Then it requires determining the average number of cases of that type being instituted and pending in the Courts. Multiplying the number of cases with the time required per case, gives the number of judicial hours required to deal with cases of that type. Dividing this by the number of judicial hours available per year gives the number of judges required to deal with cases of that type. Adding this information for all types of cases that a particular category of judges deals with gives the number of judges required for disposing of the caseload. In the United States where this approach is followed, the National Centre for State Courts (“NCSC”) conducts studies to determine the number of minutes it takes judges to resolve certain cases. Judges are interviewed and are often required to keep time sheets in order to determine the time value of each type of case. The Time-Based Method, as followed by the NCSC computes the number of judges using four pieces of data: 1)  The number of cases instituted by Court, district, and type of case 
2)    The average bench and non-bench time a judge requires to resolve each type of case within the Court 3)    The amount of time a judge has available to complete case-related work per year 4)    The number of active judges by Court and district All the information required to run this model for Indian Courts is not available. In India, the system does not have any information about the time required by judges to resolve each type of case. This lack of information points to a larger systemic problem. Any effort at delay reduction has to first determine how many cases in the system are delayed. This requires determining what the normal time frame for a particular type of case should be, such that anything beyond this time frame is considered delayed. The judicial system has no such benchmark and, therefore, has no data on how many cases are delayed (as opposed to pending). One proxy for time could be units. Since judges are required to complete a certain number of units per month, and one knows the time available per judge for judicial work per month, and can calculate the time value of each unit. One can then determine the time value of each type of case by looking at the number of units allotted to that type of case. This would give the data required in point 2 above. However, two problems arise: 1.    Units are not a good proxy for time. Units serve as performance benchmarks for judges. As such they are used for different purposes. Often units are used to incentivize the quick disposal of certain types of cases, for example, cases pending for a certain number of years. Second, they are used to incentivize greater productivity. Therefore, for the same type of case, more units per case is sometimes awarded if a judge completes a certain number of such cases. Therefore, the allocation of units is not based solely on time. 2.    The data about institution, disposal and pendency that High Courts record, often do not map well against the information available on units. For example, while it is known that the number of Section 302, IPC cases instituted and pending before the Sessions Courts of Delhi, it is not clear how many witnesses are required to be deposed in each case. Units though are awarded, inter alia, on the basis of the number of witnesses in a particular case. Hence, even if one knew the time value of each unit, one would not know the unit value of each murder case instituted or pending before the Court. For these reasons, the Commission feels that any approach that uses “unit as a proxy for time” may not be a sound approach. There is no other proxies for time and further no scientific data in this regard is available. The time Based Method as practiced elsewhere may not be applicable or feasible in Indian context. 4. The Rate of Disposal Method In the present scenario, especially in the absence of complete and scientific approach to data collection that the commission finds the use of the Rate of Disposal Method to calculate the number of additional judges required to clear the backlog of cases as well as to ensure that new backlog is not created as more pragmatic and useful. This method generally speaking addresses two important concerns: (a) a large existing backlog of cases and (b) new being instituted daily which are adding to the backlog. To address both these concerns, the Rate of Disposal Method can be applied to provide for two sets of judges: (a) Number. of judges required to dispose of the existing backlog and (b) Number of judges required for ensuring that new filings are disposed of in a manner such that further backlog is not created. It may not be out of context to briefly explain what constitutes “Rate of Disposal Method”. Under the Rate of Disposal Method, one first looks at the current rate at which judges dispose of cases. Next one determines how many additional judges working at a similar level of efficiency would be required so that the number of disposals equals the number of institutions in any one year time frame. As long as the institution and disposal levels remain as they currently are, the Courts would need these many additional judges to keep pace with new filings in order to ensure that newly instituted cases do not add to the backlog. Second, working with the current rate of disposal of cases per judge one is also required to look at how many judges would be required to dispose of the current backlog. Backlog, for the present, has been defined as those cases which have been pending in the system for more than a year.30 It has to be noted that in the past the Law Commission and other Committees have suggested that since the judges required to dispose of the backlog are needed only till the backlog is cleared, therefore, short-term ad hoc appointments be made from among-st retired judges, for the purpose of clearing backlog. Most recently, the National Vision Statement and Action Plan presented by the Law Minister in October 2009, also recommended that retired judges and eminent lawyers may be appointed as ad hoc judges for a period of one year for dealing with arrears.32 However, as previous experiences with appointing ad hoc judges has shown, there are serious concerns about such appointments, especially the lack of accountability in the functioning and performance of ad-hoc judges, since these are short term appointments. Further, even if ad hoc judges were to be appointed, additional infrastructure for these Courts would have to be created. Though the National Vision Statement recommended adopting a shift system to overcome the infrastructure problem,33 this proposal has been resisted by members of the Bar since it significantly increases their working hours.34 Significantly, the Central Government, the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers, and the Advisory Council of the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms, have all proposed the doubling of the current judge strength.35 As per the information supplied by the Department of Justice to the Law Commission indicate that consultations are currently underway between the Central Government, the State Governments, and the High Courts, on formulating memoranda to be presented to the 14th Finance Commission regarding funds required for doubling the judge strength. The Commission recommends that since this decision to double judge strength has already been taken, the judges required for disposing of the backlog can be drawn from the new recruitment itself. Once backlog is cleared, these judges can be deployed for disposing of freshly instituted cases, which will also increase over time. Given the vast resources required to double the existing judge strength, the time that it will take to complete selection and training processes, and the funds and time required to create adequate infrastructure, the Commission is of the opinion that the Rate of Disposal Method should be used to indicate how many judges should be appointed on a priority basis for the interim period. Tables I- XII below, provide data for how many judges need to be hired to dispose of the backlog in one, two, or three years.36 The Rate of Disposal Method provides an approximation- a rough and ready calculation- based on current efficiency levels of the Subordinate Judiciary, of the adequate judge strength required to address the problem of backlog in the judicial system. The formula as proposed below has been evolved largely based on the data that the Commission could gather. With more precise data, the formula indicated below can be fine-tuned to provide a more exact estimation of the additional judges required. Keeping in view concerns expressed about other methods and other analysis as carried out here, the Commission is of the view that the method proposed here could provide a reasoned basis (as opposed to ad-hoc) for determining adequate judge strength. The method is as below:
 
1.    The method aims at calculating the number of judges required in each cadre of Subordinate Court Judges, i.e., Higher Judicial Service, Civil Judge Senior Division and Civil Judge Junior Division. For evolving the method, a separate analysis of figures for institution, disposal and the working strength of judges in each of these three cadres from 2010 to end 2012 was carried out. 2.    Disposals for one cadre of judges (e.g., Higher Judicial Service) is divided by the working strength of judges in that cadre. Working strength refers to sanctioned strength minus vacancies and deputations. This division gave the annual Rate of Disposal per judge in a cadre for each year from 2010 to 2012. The average of these annual rate of disposal figures gave the Average Rate of Disposal per judge in that cadre. 3.    An average of the annual institutions before each cadre of judge for the years 2010-12 was taken.37 The average institution was divided by the Average Rate of Disposal per judge for that cadre to give the number of judges required to keep pace with the current filings, and ensure that no new backlog is created. This figure has been described as : The Break Even Number. 4.    Subtracting the current number of judges from the Break Even Number gives us the Additional Number of Judges required to ensure that the number of disposals would equal the number of institutions. 5.    The backlog for a particular cadre of judges (defined as all cases pending before that cadre of judges for more than a year) was then divided by the rate of disposal for that type of judge. This gave the number of judges required to clear the backlog within a year. Dividing this number by 2 gives the number of judges required to clear the backlog in 2 years, and so forth. Based on application of these formulae, the following tables were generated. These tables indicate the additional number of Subordinate Court Judges required to breakeven, and the number of Subordinate Court Judges required to clear the existing backlog for the High Courts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab & Haryana, Sikkim, and Uttarakhand. Illustration: The method can easily be illustrated with an example. Table I shows the rate of disposal analysis for the Andhra Pradesh Subordinate Courts. As this data shows, in 2010 Andhra Pradesh had 129 judges of the Higher Judicial Service who disposed of 109085 cases, at an average of 109085/129 = 845.6 cases per judge. Similarly, in 2011, 139 judges disposed of 111892 cases at an average of 111892/139 = 805 cases per judge; and in 2012, 136 judges disposed of 106997 cases at an average of 106997/136 = 786.7 cases per judge. On average, therefore, judges of the Higher Judicial Service disposed of (845.6+805+786.7)/3 =    812.4 cases per judge per year in this time period. This is the Average Rate of disposal per judge. Now the average institution per year from 2010-2012 in the Higher Judicial Service cadre is (112209+112710+113250)/3=112723. If each judge is disposing of on average 812.4 cases per year, then the number of judge required to dispose of 112723 cases is 112723/812.4 = 138.7. This is the breakeven number, which implies that if there were 138.7 Higher Judicial Service judges then in any given time period, all new institutions would be disposed of without adding to the backlog. Since currently there are 136 judges of this cadre, there the need is 138.7- 136=3 (rounding off to the higher number) additional judges to reach the breakeven number. The breakeven number deals with the current institutions. There is also a huge backlog of cases. In the case of the Higher Judicial Service, 98072 matters are pending for more than a year, as on 31.12.2012. If one judge disposes of 812.4 cases per year on average, then system would need 98072/812.4 = 121 judges to dispose of all pending matters in one year, or 121/2=61 (after rounding off), or 121/3=41 (after rounding off) for disposing of all pending cases in 2 and 3 years respectively. A closer look at the foregoing analysis of the data and evaluating various methods as discussed the Commission considers it important to emphasize the following:
1.    Appointment of judges on a priority basis: As this data indicates, the situation is indeed grim, and is getting worse by the moment. In all states, there is a significant backlog of cases which requires a massive influx of judicial resources even if one takes a 3 year time frame for clearing backlog. Bihar, for example, requires an additional 1624 judges to clear backlog in three years. The problem of backlogs is compounded by the fact that in some states, Courts are unable to even keep pace with the new filings, thus adding to the already huge backlog. As the data shows, even where the Courts are breaking even, the system is severely backlogged and requires urgent intervention.38 Given the large number of judges required to clear backlog and the time it will take to complete selection and training processes, the Law Commission recommends that the recruitment of new judges should, therefore, focus, as a matter of priority, on the number of judges required to breakeven, and to dispose of the backlog in a 3 year time frame. This has to be dealt with on a priority basis, otherwise the already severe problem of backlogs will only get worse. 2.    Special Traffic Courts: The figures for institution and disposal do not include traffic challans/police challans. As mentioned in Part III A above, the Law Commission recommends that these cases be dealt with by Special Courts, over and above the regular Courts. The Special Courts can function in morning and evening shifts. Much of the work of these Courts is likely to require very little judicial involvement. Therefore, recent law graduates can be appointed for short durations, e.g., 3 years, to preside over these Courts. Providing online facilities for the payment of fines, or separate counter facilities in Court precincts for this purpose, can ease the work load of these Courts considerably. In order to ensure fair process, Special Traffic Courts should deal only with cases which involve fines. Where imprisonment is a likely consequence, the matter should be heard by a regular Court. Staffing such Courts with recent law graduates will also have the added benefit of providing such graduates with a meaningful stepping stone for careers in litigation or the judicial services.
It is to be noted that the Backlog figures do not exclude traffic challans. Data on what proportion of pending traffic/police challans were more than a year old were not available. However, given that these cases generally do not require much judicial involvement, most of these cases are not likely to be backlogged. 3.    Periodic Needs Assessment for the Judiciary: The present work is based on analysis of institution, disposal and pendency data for the time period 2010-12. Institution and disposal trends can and will change over time. New laws, greater awareness of rights, changing social circumstances, and even the reduction of judicial delay are likely to lead to an increase in the number of cases being instituted. At the same time, better infrastructure, more support staff, access to time-saving technology and better training are likely to increase the efficiency levels (and hence, rate of disposal) of judges. Since the method of calculating Additional number of Judges depends on these figures, the Law Commission recommends that the trend of institutions and disposals should be constantly monitored by the High Courts, in order to meet the evolving needs of the judiciary. Using the formula provided above, judge strength should be increased periodically, particularly when institution rates start climbing over disposal rates. The Commission also recommends that in order to engage in this analysis, High Courts should put in place reliable and regular data collection and management systems. 4.    Efficient Deployment of Judicial Resources: The Commission recognizes that apart from increasing the judge strength, there is also need for efficient deployment of the additional judicial resources. While the rate of Disposal Method indicates how many additional judges are required it does not indicate how these additional judicial resources should be allocated (e.g., which Courts, which districts, what types of cases) to best meet the goal of delay reduction. Further, the Commission also recognizes that the most efficient allocation of resources will depend upon various local factors and micro level analyses, for which pan-India recommendations may be inappropriate. Therefore, the Law Commission recommends that once appointments are made, High Courts should make appropriate allocation of judicial work, keeping in mind the following factors: a.    In this report, all cases pending for less than a year have been treated as current cases. All cases pending for more than a year have been categorized as backlogged cases. The Commission recognizes that this division is ad hoc. However, as elaborated earlier in this report, we do not have any established metric for determining when a case can be considered delayed for purpose of counting only delayed cases in the backlogged category. In the absence of this information, a time frame of one year has been taken as the period for considering a case as current or backlogged. It is possible that a Court with high pendency of backlogged cases might have many recently filed pending cases whereas another Court with a relatively
lower backlog may have a high proportion of very old pending cases. High Courts should, therefore, allocate more resources for Courts with more old pending matters than those with relatively new case loads. b. It is also important to note that not every case requires the same amount of judicial time or resources. A petty case may be considered delayed if it takes more than 3 months whereas a murder case may be considered disposed of well in time if it takes 6 months for disposal. However, the rate of Disposal Method does not take this complexity into account. The Commission has taken one, two and three years as the time frames within which pending cases should be disposed of. However, one year might be too much time for some cases, and too little for others. A benchmark to determine delay and the requisite age wise break up of cases by subject area, can help to determine what percentage of cases are delayed and hence require targeted intervention. On the general principle of first in, first out for each type of case, High Courts should allocate more resources for Courts with more delayed pending cases. c. Similarly, even if a Court has a relatively high rate of disposal, some cases in that Court might be very old and moving at a very slow pace, compared to the bulk of the case load, which may be simpler and moving at a much faster rate. Since the overall rate of disposal averages out the rate of disposal of specific types of cases, a high overall rate of disposal may mask the fact that some cases such are stagnating for long periods within such a Court. Therefore, even if some Courts have a very high rate of disposal, the High Court should not re-allocate judicial resources in those Courts, without first determining how current their case loads are. d. Relatedly, even though the general picture that emerges lets system know how much extra judicial time is required to clear up the backlog and prevent the system from getting backlogged in the near future, the Rate of Disposal Method does not tell anything about how judicial time and effort should be spent so as to cater to the needs of the socially and legally marginalized who are often likely to need more judicial resources in order to meet their basic legal needs. The method does not provide a way to tailor judicial resource allocation based on the different needs of different groups. It treats all cases as similar from the point of view of delay reduction regardless of the nature of the right being asserted or the person making the assertion. Therefore, High Courts should provide guidelines to Subordinate Courts to ensure that older or more complex or more priority cases (for example, those relating to sexual violence) do not stagnate in the system. e. Finally, even if judges of a particular category are disposing of cases at a high rate, this indicates nothing about the quality of decision-making of such judges. The focus of the method is on the quantitative output without compromising the current qualitative standard. However, there might be trade-offs involved between the quantity and the quality of decision-making that the model does not take into account. If some judges are actually compromising on the quality of decision-making and are thus being able to dispose of more cases, the model will recommend a lesser number of additional judges, compared to the additional judges that would be required to dispose of the same number of cases in a more qualitatively sound manner. The Commission, therefore, recommends that in allocating the additional judicial resources, High Courts should pay heed to the quality of decision making in the Courts concerned. In sum, therefore, the rate of Disposal Method described in this report should be seen as giving an approximation of required judicial strength that can then be adjusted and allocated on the basis of other considerations, which can include, but are not limited to: (1)    adjustments made for inaccuracies in available data; (2) a particularly large number of cases that have been pending for an excessive period of time which may indicate a need for more judicial resources and (3) relevant feedback about pendency and judicial functioning in the State and particular districts from stakeholders. 6.    Timely filling of vacancies; increase in age of retirement of the Subordinate Judiciary: As Table XIII indicates, most High Courts have a high vacancy in Subordinate Courts. Additionally, every year many vacancies are created through retirement. It takes time to select and train new judges to replace the retiring ones. In the meantime, the backlog piles up. To deal with this concern, the Commission recommends that in addition to recruiting new judges, the age of retirement of subordinate judges be raised to 62 in order to meet the need for a large number of adequately trained judicial officers. The benefit of increase in the retirement age can be made available to judicial officers in terms of the directions of the Supreme Court in All India Judges’ Association v. Union of India.40 Further, the directions of the Supreme 
Court in Malik Mazhar Sultan v. U.P. Public Service Commission,41 regarding the time bound filling of vacancies, needs to be strictly adhered to. 7.    Need for system wide judicial reforms: From a litigant’s point of view, what matters is not just the timely disposal of his/her case at the trial Court level, but at all levels of the judiciary. Therefore, judicial reform targeted at delay reduction is required not only in the trial Court, but throughout the judicial system. In particular, a. If the number of judges in the trial Courts increases significantly the number of cases being disposed of by the trial Courts will rise sharply. The total number of cases being appealed to the High Courts will also increase. The case load of High Courts will, therefore, increase. If a corresponding increase is not made in the judge strength at the High Court level, the system as a whole is likely to remain backlogged. Data obtained from the Supreme Court publication Court News shows that High Courts are already backlogged and are not being able to keep pace with new filings. The recent annual data from Court News is for the time period 01.10.2011 to 30.9.2012. In this time period, though 1909543 fresh institutions were made in High Courts, only 1764607 matters were disposed of. The backlog, therefore, increased by 144936. On average, in this time period, High Court judges disposed of 2821.07 cases per judge. As of 30.9.2012, 4407861 matters were pending before all the High Courts. At the current rate of disposal, High Courts require an additional 56 judges to breakeven and an additional 942 judges to clear the backlog. It is relevant to note here that the sanctioned strength of the High Courts is 895. As on 31.12.2012, 31.4% of these positions were vacant. Therefore, there is already a massive shortage of judges in the High Courts. The increase of judge strength in the Lower Judiciary is likely to further exacerbate the problem. b. Without adequate infrastructure or support staff, an increase in judge strength will not be effective as a delay reduction strategy. A systemic perspective, encompassing all levels of the judicial hierarchy, is, therefore, needed for meaningful judicial reform. c. Other approaches like encouraging Alternative Dispute Resolution methods, where appropriate, can divert cases outside the Court system and lead to an overall reduction in pendency in the judicial system.42 Therefore, a piecemeal approach to delay reduction should be eschewed in favour of a systemic perspective. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS In conclusion, it would not be wrong to say that at general level and in nutshell, the present report in a way deals with the issue of arrears and delay and problem of judicial (wo)manpower planning - a problem that for quite many years remained ignored. Undermining this, the Law Commission, in its 120th Report: “Manpower Planning in Judiciary: A Blue Print” had observed, “The Commission was of the view that the question of judicial manpower planning had generally been ignored in India’s planned development. The developing science of manpower planning has not attracted the attention of policy opinion makers in the field of administration of justice in India. All reorganization proposals are basically patch work, ad-hoc, unsystematic solutions to the problem”. Importantly, the report, while confessing its limitations and inability said: “Commission itself is in no position, given the fact of its present structure, to provide this kind of technical analysis only on which sound programme of change can be envisaged. Of course, the Commission has done the next best thing and elicited extensive opinion of those knowledgeable in the field and the general public. But we must admit that, all said and done, this is a very poor substitute for sound scientific analysis.” The Commission, thus, while being expressly conscious of limitations inherent in suggesting any scientific method to deal with problem of arrears and delay relied on the judge population ratio method as a way for judicial manpower planning. In making such suggestion, the Commission was inspired by prevalence of such method in few other countries. The Commission in its report recommended that there was strong justification to increase the then existing ratio from 10.5 judges per million to at least 50 judges per million of Indian population. Thus, it is primarily because of non-availability of data and their scientific analysis, that the Commission simply adopted the simple approach of Judge-Population Ratio. In fact, the report had no occasion to analyse strengths, weaknesses and relevance of adopting Judge-Population Ratio method in Indian context especially the context that has its own peculiarities different in many respects from the systems where Judge-Population Ratio method prevail. No doubt, in recent years, the issue of arrears and delay and problem of Judicial (wo)man power planning has attracted attention of almost all major stakeholders including the judiciary, executive, media, policy makers, and public in general. However, despite this spurt of rising attention, it is largely due to the dearth of any uniform and scientific approach to data collection and its analysis that arriving at more scientific and futuristic suggestions with regard to judicial (wo)manpower planning to deal with issue of arrears and delay still remains a challenge. However, the present report, while fully realises the frustration expressed by the Commission and consequent failure in making deeper analysis of the problem when submitting 120th Report, is an attempt to deal with the problem somewhat more analytically and scientifically. As the Commission, in the process of preparing the present report and response submitted to the Hon’ble Supreme Court adopted every possible venue and opportunity that could be thought of for collecting data including through questionnaires and personal interviews and subjecting information thus collected to rigorous analysis adopting various tools of data analysis available in the domain of research methodology. Analysis of data and information thus made was then examined in light of various methods of judicial (wo)manpower planning practised in many other systems while keeping in view peculiarities of Indian judicial and profession’s culture. Adopting this approach, the Commission has finally arrived at making following suggestions and recommendations: Rate of Disposal Method That, given the existing availability of data, the Rate of Disposal Method and formulae be followed for calculating adequate judge strength for Subordinate Courts, instead of Judge-Population or Judge-Institution Ratio, Ideal Case Load Method or the Time Based Method. Number of judges to be appointed on a priority basis That, data obtained from High Courts indicates that the judicial system is severely backlogged, and is also not being able to keep pace with current filings, thus exacerbating the problem of backlogs. The system requires a massive influx of judicial resources in order to dispose of the backlog and keep pace with current filings. The data indicates the need for taking urgent measures for increasing judge strength in order to ensure timely justice and facilitate access to justice for all sections of society. That, as per the resolution of the Advisory Council of the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms, the resolution of the Chief Justices and Chief Ministers Conference, 2013, and public addresses of the Prime Minister and the Law Minister, the current judge strength is being doubled over the next five years. Given the large number of judges required to clear backlog and the time that it will take to complete selection and training processes and to create adequate infrastructure, the Law Commission recommends that the recruitment of new judges should focus, as a matter of priority, on the number of judges required to breakeven and to dispose of the backlog, in a 3 year time frame.43 Increasing the age of retirement of Subordinate Court Judges That, in order to meet the need for a large number of appropriately trained Subordinate Court Judges, the age of retirement of Subordinate judges be raised to 62 The benefit of increase in the retirement age be made available to judicial officers in terms of the directions of the Supreme Court in All India Judges’ Association v. Union of India.44 Creation of Special Courts for Traffic/Police Challan Cases That special morning and evening Courts be set up for dealing with Traffic/Police Challan cases which constituted 38.7% of institutions and 37.4% of all pending cases in the last three years, before the Subordinate Judicial Services. These Courts should be in addition to the regular Courts so that they can reduce the case load of the regular Courts. In addition, facilities be made available for online payment of fines as well as the payment of fines at designated counters in the Court complex. This measure will further reduce pendency before such Special Courts. Recent law graduates may be appointed for short durations, e.g., 3 years, to preside over these special traffic Courts. These special Courts should only deal with cases involving fines. Cases which may involve imprisonment should be tried before regular Courts in order to ensure fair process. That, if Special Traffic/Police Challan Courts are not created, the number of judges required in the regular cadres should be further increased to take into account traffic and police challan cases. Provision for Staff and Infrastructure That, adequate provisions be made for staff and infrastructure required for the working of additional Courts. Periodic Needs Assessment by High Courts That the present work is based on analysis of institution, disposal and pendency figures upto 2012. Needless to say, over time these figures are likely to change, affecting the requirement for additional Courts to keep pace with filings and disposals. The Law Commission does not have sufficient information to predict by how much institution is likely to vary in the coming years.46 Therefore, the High Courts may be required to carry out Periodic Judicial Needs Assessment to monitor the rate of institution and disposal and revise the judge strength periodically, based on institutions, disposals, pendency and vacancy, using the formula given above. That, in the light of revelation before the Commission about the lack of uniformity in data collection and concerns with the quality of data recorded and provided by High Courts, the Commission strongly recommends that High Courts be directed to evolve uniform data collection and data management methods in order to ensure transparency and to facilitate data based policy prescriptions for the judicial system. Need for system-wide Reform That a systemic perspective, encompassing all levels of the judicial hierarchy, is needed for meaningful judicial reform. Taking measures for the timely disposal of cases at all levels of the judicial system, including by monitoring and increasing judge strength throughout the system; encouraging Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods, where appropriate and more efficient allocation and utilization of resources is required to fulfill the    goal    of    providing    timely    justice    to    litigants.    In    particular,    the    Commission emphasizes the urgent need to increase judge strength in High Courts to ensure that appeals/revisions from additional cases disposed of by the newly created Subordinate Courts, are dealt with in a timely manner, and that the already heavy backlog in the High Courts is adequately addressed. Therefore, a piecemeal approach to delay reduction should be eschewed in favour of a systemic perspective. That, as the Supreme Court recognized in its order in Imtiyaz Ahmad dated February 1, 2012, the creation of additional Courts is one amongst various measures required to ensure timely justice and facilitate access to justice. The Commission recognizes that apart from increasing judge strength, many other measures have to be undertaken for reducing delays, including the application of good judicial management practices such as putting into place timeliness and performance benchmarks. As discussed earlier in this report, the Commission emphasizes the need for establishing, based on rational criteria, non-mandatory time frames for the resolution of different types of cases.48 Unless judges and litigants have clear expectations of how soon their cases are likely to resolved, there will be little accountability for delays, and systemic problems are likely to increase. Therefore, the Commission seeks to highlight an urgent need to fix rational, non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases, and use such time frames as a basis for setting judge performance standards, litigant expectations, and making more robust policy recommendations for the judiciary.
 

Timebound Justice

Timebound Justice AUGUST 30, 2017 BY SHAILESH GANDHI  Presently there is considerable focus being paid to the Judicial accountability and Judicial appointments bills. These are necessary but do they address the biggest problem of the judicial system? The biggest problem of our judicial system is that it does not deliver in any reasonable time. Consequently over 80% of Indians will not approach the courts, unless they are trapped by the system. If a poor man is implicated in a civil or criminal case he is unwillingly trapped, since there is no time limit for the judicial system. The respect for rule of law has almost disappeared since the powerful can ensure that they will never have to pay for their crimes, even if they are caught. The Chief Justice has rightly refused to fast track only cases against MPs, since it effectively means pushing the others back in the queue. The Supreme Court needs to make a commitment on how it would deliver timebound justice and what would be required for this. I decided to take a look at the issue by doing some number crunching with the objective of trying to estimate the number of judges required. Data has been taken from the Supreme Court website for twelve quarters from July 2009 to June 2012. I noted the new cases Instituted in each quarter, disposal and the pending cases in the Supreme Court, High Court and the District & Subordinate Courts. Using simple arithmetic it is possible to get the number of months’ pendency. I have calculated for each quarter, and in no case did the backlog appear to be over 36 months. The average pendency for the Supreme Court, High Court and the District & Subordinate Courts for the period July 2009 to June 2012 comes to 9 months  30 months and 19 months respectively. The legal profession is aghast when one talks about measuring such numbers, on the ground that the differences in cases is vast. However, over a large number of courts and cases, the large variations due to different cases would even out and can be used to compare or find possible solutions. Besides the evaluation is based on 12 quarters over three years, and appears to show some consistency as revealed in the graphs. This appears to indicate that if the principle of ‘First In First Out’ (FIFO) could be strictly followed, this may be the time for a case to go through the Courts. This would not be feasible completely, but there can be no justification for many cases taking more than double the average time in the Courts. The Courts should lay down a discipline that almost no case could be allowed to languish for more than double the average time taken for disposals. Presently the listing of cases is being done by the judges, and no human being can really do this exercise rationally, given the mass of data. It would be sensible to devise a fair criterion and incorporate this in computer software, which would list the cases and also give the dates for adjournments based on a predetermined rational basis. This would result in removing much of the arbitrariness, and also reduce the power of some lawyers to hasten or delay cases as per their will. If this was done, the maximum time at the three Courts would be 18 months, 60 months and 38 months. The average vacancies in the three levels are 15% for the Supreme Court, 30% for the High Courts and over 20% for the lower courts.  When citizens are suffering acutely because of the huge delays in the judicial system, there can be no justification for such high levels of sanctioned positions being vacant. The dates of retirement of judges are known in advance and hence the vacancies are largely because of neglect. After filling the vacancies, if the Courts stick to their avowed judgments to allow adjournments rarely, it should certainly be possible to increase the disposals by at least 20%. If Courts basically follow the principle of dealing with cases primarily on a FIFO basis, the judiciary could deliver in a reasonable time. My suggestions based on the above are given below: Main suggestions: 1. Courts must accept the discipline that over 95% of the cases will be settled in less than double the average pendency. Then, reasonable equity could be provided to citizens, and Article 14 actualized in the Courts. 2. The listing of cases should be done by a computer program, with judges having the discretion to override it in only 5% cases. Secondary suggestions: 1. Vacancies in the sanctioned strength of judges should be less than 5%. 2. Adjournments should be rare and maximum number fixed by a computer. Even when an adjournment is given the next date should be given by the computer program. 3. A calculation could be done to see the number of judges required to bring the average pendency in all Courts to less than one year. Most probably an increase of about 20% judges in the High Courts and lower judiciary could bring down the average pendency to less than a year. 4. Disposal per judge and Court along with data of pending cases giving details of the periods since Institution should be displayed by the Courts on their websites. This would be meaningful judicial accountability.   Shailesh Gandhi Former Central Information Commissioner. http://satyamevajayate.info/2017/08/30/timebound-justice/
 

The Times of India (Delhi) - 70K Judges

The Times of India (Delhi) - 70K Judges May 29 2016 : The Times of India (Delhi) BY INVITATION – Don’t need 70,000 judges. Just fill vacancies to cut backlog SHAILESH GANDHI Everyone agrees that judicial pendency is a serious problem in India.Most of the suggested big-ticket reforms call for major changes in the way the judiciary and bar function, way the judiciary and bar function, and a threeto four-fold increase in the sanctioned strength of judges. On the ground, though, nothing has changed. It is almost as if we have come to accept that the problem cannot be solved. To understand why the right to speedy justice -recognized as a fundamental right by our courts -is violated in India, I analysed data from January 2009 to September 2015. The information was taken from the Supreme Court’s website (http:supremecourtofindia.nic.incourtnews.htm) and the idea was to deter mine how many judges would be required to dispose of incoming cases as well as reduce the backlog -assuming there is no change in functioning, adjournments and judges’ vacations. The analysis exposes several myths about the justice system: MYTH 1: India needs more prisons as the ones we have are overcrowded with criminals -4.2 lakh in 2014, against a capacity of 3.6 lakh. FACT: Only 1.3 lakh prisoners were convicts. The rest were undertrials, most of them poor. And in many cases, their only `crime’ perhaps was poverty . Many of them were like Tukaram, whose story was recounted to me by a prison volunteer. Tukaram, 27, came to Mumbai from a village in Vidarbha. He dreamt of earning enough so his wife and one-year-old daughter wouldn’t have to go hungry . While sleeping on the footpath one night, he was picked up by the police and put in jail. Tukaram had no idea what crime he had been arrested for. He managed to send a postcard to his wife, who sent back a reply saying she could not come as she had no money . Sometimes Tukaram was taken to the court, but he did not understand what was happening. After six years, a sympathetic lawyer heard his story and got him released. Tukaram went back to his village and found his daughter had died and his wife had married a 60-year-old widower. A broken man, he committed suicide. MYTH 2: Backlog in courts is increasing at a galloping pace. “There are over three crore cases pending and it might take 320 years to clear these.“ This statement by Justice V V Rao of Andhra Pradesh has been quoted extensively . FACT: Every year about two crore cases are instituted and a similar number decided by the courts. Between January 2009 and September 2015, the backlog increased from 303 lakh to only 312 lakh. While talking of a backlog of three crore cases we do not realize that each year our courts dispose around two crore. MYTH 3: We need 70,000 judges instead of the sanctioned 21,542 to clear the backlog. FACT: That’s complete fiction. The average vacancies in sanctioned positions of judges in this period were about 21%, whereas backlog increase was less than 1.5% per year. If the judicial positions had been filled, the backlog would have gone down to less than one crore cases. MYTH 4: The government is solely at fault for not appointing enough judges. FACT: Though there are 462 vacancies in high courts currently, the judges’ collegium has only recommended 170 names. Neither the government nor the judiciary has paid attention to the simple fact that merely ensuring zero vacancy in judicial positions would lead to reduction in backlog. Some argue that it is difficult to find good people to fill vacancies of judges. If India cannot find 21,542 judges, what purpose will be served by sanctioning 70,000 judges? Large companies in India sometimes hire more than 10,000 persons in a single year, for jobs requiring both logical thinking and ethical standards. MYTH 5: Unless major judicial reforms take place, the backlog will remain. FACT: Judicial reforms will help, but a simple, doable solution exists already . All it takes is will. MYTH 6: The judiciary cannot force the government to fill vacancies. FACT: As far as the Supreme Court and high courts are concerned, selection is only done by the collegium. So this is clearly the responsibility of the judiciary . In the case of lower courts, it is a joint exercise. The judiciary had recently ordered the government to fill up vacancies in the Central Information Commission and the order was complied with. The apex court can certainly do the same for judicial vacancies. These myths need to be dumped and the judiciary must accept its primary responsibility of ensuring fewer delays by appointing judges as sanctioned.   SHAILESH GANDHI  The writer is a former central information commissioner http://satyamevajayate.info/2017/08/30/toi-70k-judges/
 

Right to Information and Good Governance

International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention
ISSN (Online): 2319 – 7722, ISSN (Print): 2319 – 7714
www.ijhssi.org Volume 2 Issue 2 ǁ March. 2013ǁ PP.11-22
  Right to Information and Good Governance
The right to information act is a path making legislation which brings to light the secrecy of administration. It is an effective means to promote democratic ideology. The act is powerful instrument to fight against corruption. By realizing this significance the Second Administrative Reform Commission had prepared a detailed blueprint for revamping the public administrative system. The second Administrative Reform Commission, government of India has published its first report in ―Right to Information: Master key to good governance.‖ Through this report the commission directly mentioned that access to information can empower
the poor and weaker sections of society to demand and government information about public policies and actions, thereby led to welfare of all. Good governance and right to information are complimentary to each other. A nation whatever form of government it pursues must fulfill the aspirations of common man. Good governance is the only avenue, which can provide guaranty the life of individuals. Good governance is characterized by- political accountability, availability of freedom, bureaucratic accountability, availability of information, effectiveness, efficiency, law abiding citizen and cooperation between government and society. As such the Right to information is a natural corollary of good governance. The enactment of RTI act 2005 introduces an open and transparent government and gives every citizen right to seek and receive information to make administration more responsible and transparent which means good governance. So, World Bank once rightly remarked, ―Right to information is an integral part of good governance.‖ V.K Agnihotri and B.V.R Subrahmanyam opined that Right to Information is a part and partial of success for good governance. They said the minimum expectations of citizens from the governance are-
- Timely prompt service.
- Minimum Red Tape.
- Minimum waiting time.
- Minimum visit to multiple officers.
- Minimization of Arbitrariness.
- Prompt information in delays, waiting times etc, and
- Prompt information on status of application. In the following paragraph, this paper tries to examine the right to information and transparency of administration as an effective tool of good governance. (1) Participation Participation of both men and women is the cornerstone of good governance. Representative democracy does not mean the rule of chosen few; it must take into interest of all sections specially the most vulnerable sections in the society. The Right to information acts gives people a chance to participate not just one in five years, but every day and question any decisions. The right to Information act gives an opportunity to the common men to participate in governance and reduce the imbalance in power relationship, provides a tool to oppose injustice and allows collective spirit to make democracy work for everyone. Right to information act also strengthen grassroots democracy and ensures peoples participation in local governance and development activities. (2) Accessibility Right to Information makes it possible to easy access of information from government departments, documents, records, services, finances and policies to all sectors of community. The Right to Information act by providing easy access of information reduces the traditional long gape between citizens and administration and thus helps in nation building process. The right to know and easy access of government information helps the people to understand the limitations of government at different levels. The availability of information also helps to foster in development process and it is a symptom of true and mature democracy. (3) Transparency Transparency is the milestone of good governance. Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. Transparency and accountability is possible only when the public have access to information. The enactment of Right to Information act 2005, people are now able to seek information from any government department with a definite time frame. The Right to Information act is intended to promote accountability and transparency in government by making the process of government decision making more open. Though some departments of the
Union government are exempted from this act but the information can be sought if it is concerned with violation of human rights. Even the information from the private authority can be sought only through the controlling authority and controlling authority will send the notice to the institution concerned under section 11 of the act. In addition to this, the citizens are taxpayers, so they have every right to ask the government. (4) Accountability Accountability is another requirement of good governance. Not only the government, the private sector institutions should also accountable to the people. Information is power and Right to Information act brings accountability and transparency in the administration. The Right to Information act provides people with mechanism to access information, which they can use to hold the government accountable or to seek explanation as to why decisions have been taken, by whom and with what consequences or outcomes. However, accountability can not be achieved without transparency and rule of law. (5) Empowerment Before enactment of Right to Information Act, participation in political and economic processes and the ability to make informed choices has been restricted to India. As a consequence, commoners remain ignorant of various schemes and are unable to resist when their rights become causality. At the same time, people remain ignorant in terms of the ways and means through they can obtain their entitled rights from the concerned departments legally. Now with enactment of Right to Information act people can participate in decision making process and it enables the citizens to know about the government decisions. The Right to Information act empowering people by removing unnecessary secrecy surrounding in decision making process of the government. (6) Equity and inclusiveness Equity is another prominent feature of good governance. It implies everybody is a part of the governance and they do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. The Right to Information act also does not make any discrimination between rich and poor and it covers all the citizens in India. It always comes forward to fight against inequality, injustice and inhuman activity. (7) Effectiveness and Efficiency The Seventh feature of good governance is efficiency and effectiveness. The concept of efficiency in good governance covers doing work at first speed and effectiveness means doing things effectively with result oriented. In this connection Right to Information act will bring more effective and efficient record management techniques that are needed to facilitate the provision of information in response to public interest. Under RTI provision 4 (1) it is clearly mentions, ―It is the obligatory of public authority to maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed.‖ Under section 4(b) ―every public authority is requested to publish within 120 days from the enactment of the act as many as 17 manuals.
 

What are the powers and functions of Information Commissions?

What are the powers and functions of Information Commissions? Complaints
Section-18. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall be the duty of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person,— (a) Who has been unable to submit a request to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, either by reason that no such officer has been appointed under this Act, or because the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has refused to accept his or her application for information or appeal under this Act for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified in sub-section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be; (b) Who has been refused access to any information requested under this Act; (c)Who has not been given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limit specified under this Act; (d) Who has been required to pay an amount of fee which he or she considers unreasonable; (e) Who believes that he or she has been given incomplete, misleading or false information under this Act; and (f) In respect of any other matter relating to requesting or obtaining access to records under this Act. (2) Where the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission,as the case may be, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into the matter, it may initiate an inquiry in respect thereof. (3) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall, while inquiring into any matter under this section, have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters, namely:— (a) Summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce the documents or things; (b) Requiring the discovery and inspection of documents; (c) Receiving evidence on affidavit; (d) Requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office; (e) Issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents; and (f) Any other matter, which may be prescribed. (4) Notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other Act of Parliament or State Legislature, as the case may be, the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may, during the inquiry of any complaint under this Act, examine any record to which this Act applies which is under the control of the public authority, and no such record may be withheld from it on any ground. Appeals 
Section-19 - (1) Any person who, does not receive a decision within the time specified
in sub-section (1) or clause (a) of sub-section (3) of section 7, or is aggrieved by a
decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer,
as the case may be, may within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the
receipt of such a decision prefer an appeal to such officer who is senior in rank to the
Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer as the case may
be, in each public authority: 
Provided that such officer may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of
thirty days if he or she is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient
cause from filing the appeal in time. (2) Where an appeal is preferred against an order made by a Central Public
Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under
section 11 to disclose third party information, the appeal by the concerned third party
shall be made within thirty days from the date of the order. (3) A second appeal against the decision under sub-section (1) shall lie within
ninety days from the date on which the decision should have been made or was
actually received, with the Central Information Commission or the State Information
Commission:
Provided that the Central Information Commission or the State Information
Commission, as the case may be, may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period
of ninety days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause
from filing the appeal in time. (4) If the decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public
Information Officer, as the case may be, against which an appeal is preferred relates
to information of a third party, the Central Information Commission or State
Information Commission, as the case may be, shall give a reasonable opportunity of
being heard to that third party. (5) In any appeal proceeding, the onus to prove that a denial of a request was
justified shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information
Officer, as the case may be, who denied the request. (6) An appeal under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be disposed of within
thirty days of the receipt of the appeal or within such extended period not exceeding
a total of forty-five days from the date of filing thereof, as the case may be, for
reasons to be recorded in writing. (7) The decision of the Central Information Commission or State Information
Commission, as the case may be, shall be binding. (8) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information
Commission, as the case may be, has the power to—
(a) Require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to
secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, including—
(i) By providing access to information, if so requested, in a particular form;
(ii) By appointing a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information
Officer, as the case may be;
(iii) By publishing certain information or categories of information;
(iv)By making necessary changes to its practices in relation to the maintenance,
management and destruction of records;
(v) By enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its
officials;
(vi) By providing it with an annual report in compliance with clause (b) of subsection
(1) of section 4;
(b) Require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or
other detriment suffered;

(c) Impose any of the penalties provided under this Act;
(d) Reject the application. (9) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the
case may be, shall give notice of its decision, including any right of appeal, to
the complainant and the public authority.) (10) The Central Information Commission or State Information
Commission, as the case may be, shall decide the appeal in accordance with
such procedure as may be prescribed. Penalties 
Section-20 - (1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information
Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: 
Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public
Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of
being heard before any penalty is imposed on him 
Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and
diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public
Information Officer. (2) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information
Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is
of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public
Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause and
persistently, failed to receive an application for information or has not furnished
information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely
denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or
misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request
or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall recommend for
disciplinary action against the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public
Information Officer, as the case may be, under the service rules applicable to him.   http://www.cic.gov.in/who-are-we
 

Delivery Of Justice

Delivery Of Justice AUGUST 30, 2017 BY SHAILESH GANDHI Justice can be delivered in reasonable time without undertaking Major Reforms We have been hearing that the Indian Judiciary would need decades to clear its backlog, unless the number of judges is increased multiple times and certain other reforms brought in. The judicial system has become irrelevant for the common citizens, and this is responsible for many ills plaguing our Nation, like disrespect for laws and corruption. The ease of doing business also suffers and the rule of law cannot really prevail. Most people have started believing that this can change only if there are major judicial reforms, or judges do not give adjournments or forgo their vacations. These would require changing the attitudes of judges and lawyers and there is no sign of it happening.  On the other hand a fairly popular belief is that the problem will defy any solution unless the number of judges is increased by three to four times.  It appears to have been accepted that a judicial system which can deliver timebound justice is unlikely, and the fundamental right to Speedy Justice will be a mirage.
I decided to look at the data and analyse it to arrive at the number of judges required. The 20thLaw Commission in its report no. 245 submitted in July 2014, after examining the issue from different perspectives has come to the conclusion that the Rate of Disposal per judge per year is the right method for evaluating this. In simple terms it assumes that if ten judges dispose 1000 cases, 12 judges will dispose 1200 cases. I took the data reported by the Law Commission in its report no. 245, and did that a proper analysis of its data for 2002 to 2012 of fourteen states for the subordinate courts it had taken. It shows that if it had  been ensured that all sanctioned positions of judges were filled there would have been no  backlog by  2007[1]. This would mean the queue would disappear and it would be possible to devote adequate time to all cases without having to wait. In most cases it may be possible to dispose cases in less than 3 months. I decided to also take a look at this issue by analyzing the data given on the Supreme Court’s website at http://www.supremecourt.gov.in/publication for a ten year period from 2006 to 2015 which has a quarterly report for all the courts.[2] The summary of this analysis is tabulated below[3]. This shows that the number of sanctioned judges is adequate and if all the sanctioned judges were appointed mounting pendency would be history. The number of judges sanctioned in the three levels on 31 December 2015 was 31, 1018 and 20620, whereas the actual number of judges was 26, 598 and 16119. Thus the total number of sanctioned posts were 21669 whereas the working judges were only 16743! Filling about 5000 vacant positions can make the judicial system deliver efficiently. Another way of looking at this data is, for the ten year period from 2009 to 2013: The increase in pendency in ten years was about 38 lac cases whereas the disposal missed due to not filling all sanctioned posts was nearly 400 lacs! There can be no excuse for keeping judicial positions vacant while the nation suffers because of this neglect. The retirement date of judges is well known. The process of selecting new judges can start six months ahead for those retiring. We need just about 22000 judges. Even if infrastructure is inadequate it would need to be augmented by only about 20%.  This is a simple solution and can be implemented very easily. This does not assume any change in the way judges and lawyers function. It only assumes that the extra judges who fill the vacancies will also dispose matters at the same rate as those who are already in the system. The average rate of disposal for the lower court judges taking the data of the Law Commission for eleven years from 2002 to 2012 gives an average rate of 1380 cases per year. On the other hand rate of disposal for all the subordinate courts for the ten year period 2006 to 2015 gives a rate of 1232. This is a variance of just about 12%. This shows that over a reasonably long period all the variability of cases would even out. For the sake of the nation all those responsible must ensure that all judicial appointments are made in a timely manner. An easy solution is available. This analysis suggests that if a simple discipline of ensuring zero vacancy is followed, the sanctioned strength is adequate to dispose the inflow of cases and some backlog. Even if we assume that there would be upto 5% vacancies, the backlogs would go down. If this simple solution is implemented the problem will move towards a resolution.   Shailesh Gandhi Former Central Information Commissioner,  shaileshgan@gmail.com +91-89762-40798 http://satyamevajayate.info/2017/08/30/delivery-of-justice/
 

Why Is India So Obsessed with GDP Growth?

Why Is India So Obsessed with GDP Growth? A recent announcement by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says that the GDP of India will grow by 7.4% during 2017-18 and 7.6% in the next fiscal. Announcements such as the above are very common. Whenever people – policymakers, politicians, economists, international agencies as well as the media – across the world want to talk about progress they talk of ‘growth’ – pointing to economic growth (GDP Growth). It is not surprising if leaders in India also routinely promise to speed up the ‘GDP growth.’ They ask for votes promising “rapid” or “double-digit” GDP growth. Before we go ahead, it helps to know what the GDP really is. The GDP is just a measure of total marketed activities, money changing hands. The more you consume, waste or spend the GDP gets boosted. It is a useful gauge of the economical aspect of nation’s progress when seen alongside other economic parameters. However, being a pure economic number it is not designed to represent human or social welfare. It has no direct connection with people’s wellbeing except that a growing economy creates more national wealth. Yet, modern economists want the GDP to grow year by year till eternity. Why? Because in industrial economies if the GDP falls for 2-3 consecutive quarters the economic Pandits call it a recession (a word that sends shivers down their spines!). It scares western people – the dread of job-loss and stock market crash start crossing imagination. This is the simple logic that dictates all economic activities of the market. Origin of GDP In reality, GDP is a relic of a pre WW2 era. Around the period of the Great Depression, in early 1930s the US government wanted to have some way of knowing how well the economy was doing. In the faltering economy of those years, the idea of combining production and spending was simple enough to do the job. It laid the foundation for what became the GNP (gross national product), and later the GDP. [Difference between GNP and GDP] Thus, particularly during WW-II, the GNP became the primary way to keep track of the US economy. As the US churned out war machinery from its wartime factories, it helped maximize factory output which not only helped the US better prepare for the war but it also lifted the nation out of Depression. After the end of war, citizens replaced the military as major consumer but the factories kept churning out products. At that time, bigger factory output and increasing consumption was progress itself. Thus, the GNP (or GDP) also symbolized progress. In the 1950s and 1960s, personal incomes and GDP really moved up hand in hand. But those days are history now. Yet, the GDP has remained the primary indicator of national progress and growing it continually has come to become a national obsession — the sole national goal.  The compulsion to keep economy growing gave birth to relentless consumerism that we see today.  Here is the thought process that went into that. “Our enormously productive economy…demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption…we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.” – Economist Victor Lebow in 1955 in his paper Price Competition  The Perverse Nature of GDP As mentioned, GDP is a pure economic number and reflects only the gross tally of products and services bought and sold. Things which aren’t sold, say household work, have no relevance in GDP calculation, despite the fact that they add value to people’s lives. In fact, they reflect the true human side of people. Thus, GDP is blind to all activities where money is not exchanged; for example, parenting, community work, volunteering and so on. If you grow your own vegetables and fruit in the backyard and consume, it is not included in the GDP. But if you buy vegetables from the market, it adds to the GDP. If 6 members of a family cooperate and share a mobile phone, it doesn’t help the GDP growth. But if they start fighting and separate six mobile phones will be needed, that’s wonderful for GDP growth. Consequently, the GDP not only conceals the breakdown of the social structure and natural habitat; worse, it portrays such breakdown as economic gain. In fact, when governments legalize things like prostitution, drug use, liquor bars, etc it is only trying to boost its revenues and prop up the GDP. When you apply the GDP yardstick to poor nations there is problem. Most of their production takes place in the informal sector, in the household or community, or in the voluntary sector – all invisible to the GDP. When policies are created to raise the GDP in the poor nations, it effectively goes against the informal, cooperative and household economy – and works to degrade the humane and cooperative culture of societies, in other words, increase social chaos. The truth is: in societies with limited resources the sense of cooperation and community bonds allows people to help each other. As a result, economic size may be small but people have good life. No wonder, over the decades families and societies have been falling apart as a result of forces that boost GDP growth. No Distinction between Good and Bad Things The GDP counts every transaction of money as a gain. It makes no distinction between economic activities that enhance people’s well-being, and those that diminish it. It treats all economic activities as making positive contribution, without separating costs from benefits, or constructive activities from destructive ones. For example, natural disasters such as cyclones or floods increase GDP because of the cost associated with repairs, clean up and reconstruction. Increasing crime rates result in bigger expenditure on police, jail and legal procedures; an increase in diseases results in more medical spending; an oil spill results in extensive and costly clean-up; wars and other international tensions increase arms expenditure – all these increases the GDP. Thus, the GDP not only ignores social and natural disasters, it takes them as economic expansion. Blind to Social and Environmental Impacts Pollution increases GDP By nature, the GDP is oblivion to the environmental and social impact of monetary activities. The GDP violates common sense and basic accounting principles – it treats the depletion of natural capital as income. As a result, the more a country consumes its natural resources, the more its GDP goes up. Suppose you clear all forests to sell the timber, the GDP will suddenly shoot up. Or catch all fish from lake overnight and sell, GDP will shoot up. Clearly, it is dangerous to look at GDP as a measure of progress. GDP also does not account for income distribution or income inequality in a country. Globally, there is a trend of increasing inequalities with just 1 percent richest controlling almost as much as the rest. The GDP no longer reflects the economic experience of ordinary citizens. Here are some more healthy things that will depress GDP growth Good Habits. What will happen if people stop eating junk food and regularly exercise or practice Yoga? People will become healthier and illness will reduce. This will result in less business for doctors, hospitals and pharma companies. It will shrink the economy and reduce the gross domestic product (GDP). People Live in Peace. What will happen if conflicts and wars vanish and there is peace everywhere? There will be less demand for weapons and less business for arms manufacturers; again the GDP will decrease. People become good citizens. What will happen if crimes reduce and criminals transform into law obeying good humans? There will be less expenditure on police, jail staff, lawyers and courts. This will also hurt the GDP of the country. These are all desired things that are good for people and societies, but would show up in the GDP in the negative way. Inefficiencies Increase GDP! In India, there is a huge market for voltage stabilizers and inverters (UPSs). Why? Because there is wild voltage fluctuations and frequent power cuts. They happen because of inefficiencies in the electricity generation and transmission systems. The battery market has also mushroomed to feed the inverters and UPSs. The purchase of these devices boosts the GDP. So when we tolerate inefficiencies in one part of the economy – the power sector here – another segment of the economy gets boosted. Here an entirely unnecessary product range has grown out of inefficiency. Further, the more we begin to rely on stabilizers and inverters the more we turn a blind eye towards inefficiencies and shortcomings of the power sector. And the vicious cycle continues. It is purely a wasteful way to progress and senseless destruction of natural resources – coal, gas, water, and nuclear material here – and we see it as progress in the form of economic growth!! From GNP to GDP When nations shifted from GNP to GDP, another subtle deception crept in. Earlier the earnings of a multinational company with production facilities, say in India, were counted as part of the GNP of its home country – say Germany, US, UK.   But under the GDP rules, the incomes of MNCs are counted towards the GDP of the country where the plants are located – it is another story that big chunk of profits goes to their home country. What does this peculiar little twist means in real life? It means that several poor countries appear to be booming on paper, but in reality, rich nations walk away with the resources of poorer ones. Yet, this gets noticed as a GDP gain for the poor country! See, how clever economics of rich nations are!   And, we in India follow them blindly, as a routine. The Way Forward As long as the GDP is viewed like any other economic parameter, things remain in perspective. The problem creeps in when GDP expansion alone becomes the prime national goal. It is grossly flawed as a measure of people’s wellbeing. For poor nations, it is of little relevance to say that the GDP has gone up. It would be more useful to know if people are better off. Human life is multidimensional and complex; it should be always seen as such. No economic number can measure status of human life. It is like using litres to count apples! The only reason GDP has remained popular as yardstick of progress is its simplicity and that it suits the interests of people who rule the world today, particularly the industrial corporate world. The richest corporate houses can easily dominate and dictate any small or poor country, and the rules of globalization have been framed to suit their interest. However, today their interests are at odds with rest of humanity which is troubled by climate change disasters and ever increasing gap between the richest and rest of the people. Now more and more people are realizing that ever increasing GDP growth is only increasing consumption (depletion of natural resources) without meaningful enhancement in people’s sense of well-being. One really wonders: if human life is multidimensional why the hell we are stuck chasing ‘GDP growth ‘ year after year, in the name of progress or development? https://socialissuesindia.wordpress.com/india-needs-real-development-not-gdp-growth/
 

Why Indian “Secularism” Is So Distorted ?

Why Indian “Secularism” Is So Distorted ? Indian intelligentsia and media are in love with the word “secularism”; it is taken as a sign of being liberal and progressive. But when you look at their discourse, you soon begin to see signs of their empty brains. Whenever they pretend to be championing the cause of ‘secularism’, they are either deriding Hindus by calling them communal or pretending to be the advocates of minorities (for all practical purposes, minority in India mostly means the Muslim community and occasionally the Christians). If you ask me, “Are there no other minority ‘religions’ in India?” I will have to just laugh out loudly at your ignorance! Because you don’t know what ‘religion’ is – and if you don’t know what is religion, you can’t understand what is secularism!  Both are 100% western inventions. But looking at how media intellectuals and politicians use the word ‘secularism’, it is clear that they haven’t the least idea what they are talking about or why the West had to coined this word! Come election time, and the word ‘secular’ gets into the mouth of every politician – each one trying to be a bigger ‘secular’ than the other! Being a western concept, therefore, the idea of ‘Secularism’ needs to be put into the right perspective. Contrary to popular belief in India, secular and communal are not each other’s opposite. Communal as not such a bad thing, it simply means something ‘related to a community’. A community can be any group of people; not necessarily people belonging to a single religion. In Germany, local body elections are called “communal elections”. So, next time when you are hear Laloo or his opportunist buddy Nitish Kumar saying that “all secular forces should unite in the Grand Coalition against the Communal BJP and super communal Modi” you should laugh out loudly! Because what they are saying is totally ridiculous! Even their ‘secular’ buddy, Italy born Sonia, is as illiterate when it comes to  secularism. In fact, she should have known better because it was her mother-in-law Indira who inserted this word into the Constitution. But as we all know, during her 10 years of UPA government she proved to be just a mediocre power hungry politician like any Laloo, Pawar or Nitish. Anyway, her only strength in politics comes from the Nehru family connection that unites sycophantic and sub-mediocre submissive Indians into the Congress Party. It is sad that Sonia and her Son appear to be taking the once prestigious party, connected with India’s independence, to slow death. Leaving the Congress obituary for the right time, let’s get back to Secularism. ‘Secular’ is Opposite of ‘Religious’ Secular is something non ‘religious’. For the context of this article, being ‘religious’ refers to Christianity, which is a well-organized, dogmatic faith that claims to be the Only Keeper of the ‘Truth’, revealed by God himself through his Son Jesus. And, briefly, what truth did Mr God reveal? He revealed that you as a human are a born sinner – here you must recall the fairly tale of Adam and Eve and their fall to temptation. Then around 2000 years ago he felt mercy on the ‘humans’ – the sinners – and sent his son Jesus to salvage them from their sins by dying on the Cross!  After the act, Jesus again became alive and went back to his Father God in the Heaven, somewhere up in the sky. Yes, this is the revealed Truth, the ONLY Truth !! So if you want to get rid of your label of ‘sinner’ you can take benefit of Jesus’ ‘sacrifice’ by becoming a Christian. Else, you, on some future Judgement Day you will be sent to eternal hell! This is the ONLY divine truth!  And you must believe in it and become the privileged Christian and feel obliged (or guilty) that Jesus Died for your sins !! So, shut your mouth as well as the brain – and just Believe. Being a ‘believer’ is enough to salvage yourself from all your sins! Even if you are not a Christian, you may ask – so what is wrong in believing in this story? There is absolutely nothing wrong in believing in this story or some other story! The problem cropped up when the story is imposed on people as the ONLY TRUTH by the State, which traditionally has also been the Christian Church in Europe. It is a big problem when you are asked to believe in this story alone, and nothing else. In effect, you are asked to live as if you are a brain-dead man or surrender your rational mind and its reasoning ability. Christian clergy (or Church) had assumed the role of the State in the West almost since Christianity was born, and it was dictating so-called holy laws under the fear of punishment. Torture and death were common for disobeyers or those who dare question the authority of the Church. It demanded a ‘shut-minded’ adherence to whatever it said in the name of the ‘holy god’. Therefore, rational and free thinking people had to remain silent for fear of punishment. People had no choice of questioning the imposed belief or to express opinion different from it. This was the PROBLEM. In nutshell, faith is not a problem; discriminating on its basis or imposing it is the PROBLEM. Need to Separate Church and State brought “Secularism” 350 years ago ! Thus, for centuries, the Church played the role of the State and demanded absolute unquestioning surrender to its dictates from the masses – in the name of religion. But things started to change around 350 years ago as scientific discoveries began to emerge that demanded free, open and rational thinking – and dogmas and blind beliefs were seen as barriers to human progress. Thus, more and more Europeans started to speak against the dictates of religion. Many faced punishments in various harsh ways, we can’t even image now. But slowly the idea that reason and rationality (not blind and imposed religious beliefs) should guide society gained ground. It ultimately led to the demand for separating the State and the Church. This separation is called SECULARISM. It was born out of the need to get away from Church imposed blind beliefs and shut-minds. Today, most western democracies are ‘secular’. Religious (Christian) beliefs don’t dictate state policies, although most western democracies still grant Christianity preferential treatment. For example in Germany, the Constitution guarantees that the Christian doctrine is taught in government schools. However, Muslims appear to be moving in just the opposite direction – always ready to put political power in the hands of their Maulwis and Mullah. In fact, for the extreme Islamic cults progress only means one thing: living like Arab tribes of 7 century in the modern 21st century world! Nothing can be more unfortunate for humanity than this. Indian Situation is Different The situation in India has been entirely different. India never had a faith based governance that imposed pre-defined dogmas and beliefs on people and to punish them if they did not blindly follow them. In India the vedic knowledge, by its very nature, does not stifle rationality. On the other hand, it encourages open thinking and enquiry to find one’s own path to Moksha (Liberation). Hindu philosophy accepts that people can choose their own path to realise the same ultimate truth – which is experiential. It is fully liberal and allows Hindus full freedom to use their minds. Nothing is ever imposed on Hindus – in the name of Ultimate Truth. In must be stressed that Hinduism is entirely a different philosophy than dogmatic religions of the West. It is a Dharma based life philosophy that evolved spontaneously and collectively through the experiential knowledge of ancient Rishis, sages and ascetics who aimed to realise full liberation. Their focus was always on reason, intuition and direct experience. So, people followed a multitude of paths according to their conscience. Their efforts were always about living in the right way or doing the right thing at the right time. Their faith was all about reverence for the One Universal Consciousness that permeates all life and all existence. Therefore, everything that exists in nature became the object of reverence – the rivers, trees, mountains and living creatures. This gave rise to the concept of non-harming and peaceful coexistence. So, people in India traditionally lived in an open environment, believing in different beliefs and rituals was a normal way of life. Arrival of Christians and Muslims Changed the Situation However, arrival of Christianity and Islam changed this open atmosphere. Drilled to believe in the ‘only truth’ revealed by their ONLY god or allah they despised and ridiculed the good natured Indian people who considered the whole world as a one big family. For their Dharma based thinking it was a strange thing to look down upon people who held different beliefs. Trained to think that good moral conduct makes good human beings, they found it weird when told that mere believing in Jesus or Mohammad – or someone else for that matter – makes people superior. They also could not understand how it is right to kill another human being just because he believes in a different path. Islamic invaders from Central Asia brought the ‘religious barbarism’ to India when they slaughtered countless Hindus simply because they were ‘Hindus’ (which is actually a geographical term) and believed in a different faith. It was totally unbelievable for them to see merciless killings in the name of god and then the shouts of “Allah is Great!  Guru Nanak had left a graphic testimony describing how bad the situation was. Nothing much has changed in the 21st century as far as the basic Muslim mindset is concerned. Here are typical pieces of wisdom from the mouths of some Indian Muslimsthat shows what they feel about Hindus. Voltaire, who opposed the stranglehold of the Church in Europe, had accurately observed, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”. Thus, under the centuries of Mughal rule Hindus had to remain low for fear of life. But arrival of the Christian brained British and missionaries also brought similar oppression. They imposed Macauley education system designed to create Indians suitably trained to carry out clerical work for the British administration; it further cut them off from their traditions. This naturally took a toll on their self-esteem. Even today, this low self-esteemed mindset is evident in the English educated class – who ‘naturally’ think that good things only come from ‘foreign’. It is obvious to the outsiders, though it may not be clear to the persons concerned. Swami Vivekananda tried to instil confidence in the people of India but his efforts failed to impact this brown English class of people. Nevertheless, it is a big achievement that Hindu Dharma survived through all these centuries of mental slavery. In fact, it should have started to flourish in ‘independent India’ but politics of ‘brown Englishmen’ continued to give priorities to Muslims and Christians, leaving Hindus still feeling inferior and left out on their own ancient land! India’s Secularism is Utterly Nonsense After Independence, Muslims and Christians pushed for special civil laws and other benefits in the name of religion. Such laws were squarely against the spirit of Secular India. Long used to adjusting with others Hindus, however, never made any demand in the name of religion, nor dictated any term to the Indian state. So, it is mysterious why the word ‘secular’ was added to the Constitution of India in 1976  – almost 30 years after the British departure. Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that it was to assuage the faith-based fear psychosis among Christians and Muslims looking at the awe inspiring high population of Hindus. But even after adding this word in the Constitution, things remained the same. The Congress government remained eager to give benefits to just these two dogmatic religious communities. Ironically, if the concept of secularism is to be applied, it applies only to these two faiths! Rest of the Indians don’t practice ‘religion’; they practice Dharma based life philosophies like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and so on. None of these faiths divide people into believers and non-believers or discriminate against those hold different beliefs. They also don’t go on Conversion Spree to pop up their numbers like the Christians and Muslims do. Therefore, logically speaking after the word ‘secular’ was added in the Constitution it should have been the burden of Muslims and Christians to prove that they are secular – and all their demands in the name of religion should be declared unconstitutional. But what actually happened was silly and ridiculous – and this sick comedy still continues. The word ‘Secular’ got an entirely new and unusual meaning in India. Today, secularism has come to mean championing the interests of Christians and Muslims in the name of religion. Quite often the concept of secularism gets further distorted: when it means calling Hindus ‘Communal’. These are pathetic display of ignorance: How can anyone call Hindus ‘communal’ when Hinduism is not a religion. It is really a sad irony and a serious distortion in the political discourse. Today, many Hindus wonder: Partition of united India gave Pakistan to the Muslims, in the name of religion. What did Hindus get? “A ‘Secular’ State where all preferential treatment goes to the Muslims and Christians.” Can someone explain why “Secular India” gives Haz subsidy to the Muslims (when even Muslims call it un-Islamic!)? And why 2 MPs are nominated from the Christian community to ensure their representation in the Indian parliament? How long Hindus will continue to remain unassertive on their own ancient land – even after the so-called ‘freedom’ in 1947 !! In fact, soon after August 1947 Hindus should have been demanding apology and compensation for the centuries of occupation and injustice done to them both by the Muslims and Christians during the Mughal and colonial periods. Can you imagine the Jews giving special privileges to the Germans in Israel? I just hope that Hindus soon start thinking of uniting themselves and shake off the slave mindset resulted from centuries of Islamic and British exploitation. They need to learn from the Jews, Germans and Japanese how to take pride in their ancient culture and way of life. Looking at the rise of global Islamic terrorism and terrorist sympathisers, the 100 crore Hindus have the sole responsibility to protect India and keep vigil on separatist forces whose loyalty lies in foreign lands. There must not be another 1947 in the 21st century; no ‘another Pakistan’ in the name of Islam.   https://socialissuesindia.wordpress.com/why-indian-secularism-is-so-distorted/
 

Population Development: What Kerala can Teach India and China

Population Development: What Kerala can Teach India and China Kerala: The Most Women Friendly State !!! Kerala, a tiny southern state of India, has drawn both international and national attention due to its impressive performance in social development and demographic transition. Its human development indicators are the best in India and compare with some of the developed countries. Its achievement of demographic transition is rather unique and has earned worldwide accolades for Kerala. Its population development model is ideal for developing countries who are struggling with issues of population and poverty. Kerala amazes Western demographers because it achieved demographic transition despite poor economic development. Nothing surprising, because for a Western mind everything must correlate with economic development. Many experts wonder: What is the development model of Kerala? The answer is simple: Kerala focused on its people and improving their quality of life, a human development model. This is totally opposite from what the West thinks and prescribed: put economic growth at the center-stage and make people subordinate to it. This is flawed, as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has often emphasized - put people at the center of development and develop economy along with social and political processes according to what they need. In fact, people need many more things other than economic growth; such as freedom to participate in social and political processes and activities, opportunity for spiritual growth, family life and relations, easy access to social support systems and quality health services, freedom from all forms of insecurities, clean environment, sufficient leisure time and so on. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of Kerala is the Female/Male sex ratio: According to the 2011 census, Kerala has 1084 females (up by 26 since 2001) for 1000 male against the national average of 940. In past hundred years, this has steadily improved. Even the most economically advanced states like Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra don’t match Kerala in female-friendliness and women empowerment. In the past decade, all districts of Kerala have shown improvement in the sex ratio. As per the 2011 data, the top 3 districts are Kannur (1133), Pathanamthitta (1129) and Kollam (1113) and even the worst districts have better figures: Idukki (1006), Ernakulam (1028), and Wayanad (1035). Kerala’s also tops the literacy rate at 94% (male literacy (96%) and Female literacy (92%)) compared with the national average of 74% (Male 82%, female 65.5%). Kerala is a Female Surplus State!! Long Tradition of Girls’ Education The Maharaja of Travancore established the first girl's school in the 1850s. His example was taken up by neighboring kingdoms such as Cochin. Demography of Kerala The state of Kerala is wedged between the Arabian Sea to the west and the Western Ghats to the east. It covers only 1.18% of India's landmass. Situated at the southwestern tip of India, it has Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as its neighboring states. Kerala's coast runs 580 km in length, while the state itself varies from 35-120 km in width. Kerala is among the preferred destinations for nature loving tourists from across the world. In the 2011 census, the population density of Kerala is 860 persons/sq km up from 819 in 2001, next only to Bihar (1106 up from 881) and West Bengal (1028 up from 903). The national average is 382 up from 324 ten years ago. In the State, The highest density of 1,508 persons per sq. km is reported from Thiruvananthapuram district while Idukki with 255 has the lowest density. The high density has played a major role in improving access to social services like schools and hospitals leading to improved development indicators. A steadily aging population (13% people over 60 years compared with 8.2 in the country) and low birthrate (14.8 per 1,000 compared with national average of 22.1 ) make Kerala one of the few regions of the Developing World to have undergone the "demographic transition. It is highest among the major states of India. The highest percent of elderly population falls in Alappuzha district. Children in the age group 0-6 year are just about 10% and up to 14 years, are less than 25% of the total population, which is lowest among the major states of India. The dropping number of children is endangering the primary schools. More and more schools are turning uneconomical every year in Kerala. The school drop out rate is the state is less than 0.5% - the lowest in the country. Kerala has the highest literacy rate (94%) and life expectancy (75.8 years; national average 65.5 years) in India. Its fertility rate is below sub-replacement level (at around 1.7) and the infant mortality rate (only around 10 deaths per 1,000 live births) is among the best in the country. Over the past century, Kerala's population increased by over five times from 6 million in 1901 to 33.4 million in 2011. Currently, it is the 12th populous state with slightly less than 3 percent population share. Its population compares with those of Canada and Iraq but is somewhat larger than populations of Afghanistan, Nepal, and Malaysia. There has been a five per cent fall in population growth rate in the state in every succeeding census since 1971. The decadal population growth rate was 25% growth rate in 1971, reduced to 20% in 1981, 9.4% in 2001 and stands at 4.9% in 2011. If this trend continues, the growth rate in 2021 will be either zero or negative. The birth rate among all the communities has been declining. At present it is around 1.2 among Christians as against 1.4 among Hindus and 2.1 among Muslims. The difference in the birth rate among different communities must show up in the overall state population composition. It is expected that the Christian population should be about 16% in 2011 down from 19.5% in 2001 and the Muslim community must have reached 25% as against 21% in 2001. In 2011, the Hindu community should be around 54% against 56% in 2001. Women constitute 51.9 percent of the total population of the state and outnumber men by 1.3 million. Here also women outlive men. Better Female Literacy in Kerala Compared with Rest of India Kerala has Lowest Infant Mortality Rate in India Demographic Transition A country’s population remains stable when the birth and death rates match. Demographic transition is the shift from a stable population with high birth/high death rates to a stable regime with low birth/low death rates. A society with high birth/death rates is clearly underdeveloped. When it advances in healthcare, education, sanitation and nutritional facilities, both birth and death rates fall because people realize the importance of smaller families and plan for it and aged people enjoy better health and live longer. Western societies achieved this transition long ago due to their technological and economic advancement. Developing nations are now moving towards it and are at different stages of demographic transition. Countries take more or less time depending upon their policies and strategies. Age structure of the population changes during such transitions. Read, for example, Demographic Transition in Kerala In India the demographic transition has been relatively slow but steady. As a result, India was able to avoid adverse effects of too rapid changes in the number and age structure of the population, as is seen in China which abruptly reduced population by imposing the one-child policy. Kerala has been setting an example of potentials of human development over last several decades. This beautiful tiny state has emerged far ahead in human development indicators, leaving behind even the economically advanced states like Gujarat and Maharashtra. It also has the lowest rate of population growth, achieved without coercive sterilization policies of family planning ministry. Kerala has the lowest crude death rate (around 6 per thousand), lowest infant mortality (around 10 per 1000 live births), highest life expectancy at birth (75 years) and highest literacy rate (94 percent). Kerala attained replacement level fertility, or total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1, during early 1990s. Other states which achieved this feat in the following years are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra and Punjab. Total Fertility Rate Total fertility rate (TFR) is the average total number of children a woman will have her lifetime. Associated with total fertility rate is the concept of replacement rate which is achieved when, on an average, every woman gives birth to just one girl child in her lifetime. In order to do that she gives birth to just two children (TFR of 2.0), so that statistically one would be girl. It leads to population stabilization – zero population growth. In reality, to account for mortality of young women before they produce new offspring, the replacement level fertility is kept slightly above 2.0. In developed countries where healthcare facilities are good, it is taken as 2.1. In societies where child or adult death rates are higher, the replacement rate is kept around 2.3. Currently, China’s TFR is 1.70 (similar to Kerala) and India’s about 2.7. China reached the replacement fertility level around the year 2000; it is expecting to see population stabilization by 2030. Population stabilization takes place about 30-35 years after it the replacement fertility has been reached; until them population continues to grow due to momentum. It is hoped that by 2020 India’s TFR would have fallen to replacement level. To put things in perspective, here are some very high TFR nations: Niger (7.03), Mali (6.25), Somalia (6.17), Uganda (6.06), Zambia (5,81), and Afghanistan (5.54). Some very low TFR countries include Singapore (0.79), Taiwan (1.11), South Korea (1.24), and Japan (1.39). EU as a whole (1.58). The US (2.07) is hovering just below the replacement value of 2.1. World average is around 2.45 (down from 2.8 in 2002 and 5.0 in 1965). Power of People Development It is noteworthy that that Kerala achieved it despite a sluggish growth in economy – because normally economic growth has been known to curtail population growth. Sociologists attribute these achievements to Kerala’s better healthcare, high literacy rate, and better standard of living compared to other Indian states. Kerala's human development indices — elimination of poverty, primary level education, and healthcare — are among the best in India. Kerala's healthcare system has garnered international acclaim, with UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) designating Kerala the world's first "baby-friendly state". For example, more than 95% births in Kerala are hospital-delivered. The state also nurtures several traditional forms of medical practices – apart from Ayurveda, siddha, and Unani many endangered and endemic modes of traditional medicine, including kalari, marmachikitsa, and vishavaidyam are practiced in Kerala. Experts tried to figure out which socio-cultural or developmental factors contributed significantly towards Kerala’s demographic transition. People often point to high literacy as the most dominant factor leading towards lower fertility. Noted scholar D. Radhadevi examined the correlation between education and fertility and compared the fertility parameters of Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. She wondered why fertility is fairly high even among women graduates in Madhya Pradesh and fairly low even among illiterates of Kerala? She concluded that the spread of formal education among women can’t by itself bring about a drastic change in their reproductive behavior. Another researcher, Zachariah argued that in case of Kerala the high population density and the rather homogeneous spread of population (without the drastic village-town divide) helped develop infrastructure of schools and healthcare facilities in such a way that they were easily accessible to the whole population. In Kerala 95 percent population has been living in such settlement pattern. This pattern eliminated the lopsided development in other states where facilities get concentrated in or around cities and rural areas are left behind both in facilities as well as easy access. In addition, rather low or absence of gender bias in Kerala should also be given credit. When women are free of male dominance they are in a better position to control their fertility. This empowerment must get as much credit as other physical facilities and family planning programs. The Population Pyramid of Kerala is Distinctly Different Kerala Martial Art Praise for Kerala The case of Kerala is unique because the demographic transition was achieved in the absence of a high level economic development as prescribed in the theory of demographic transition, and observed in the West in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies. Kerala’s human development model of fertility transition appears better suited to developing countries which are struggling with poverty and population stabilization issues. Noted author and environmentalist, Bill McKibben, described as "the world's best green journalist” by Time magazine, summarized Kerala's unusual socioeconomic and demographic situation in these words: “Kerala, a state in India, is a bizarre anomaly among developing nations, a place that offers real hope for the future of the Third World. Though not much larger than Maryland, Kerala has a population as big as California's and a per capita annual income of less than $300. But its infant mortality rate is very low, its literacy rate among the highest on Earth, and its birthrate below America's and falling faster. Kerala's residents live nearly as long as Americans or Europeans. Though mostly a land of paddy-covered plains, statistically Kerala stands out as the Mount Everest of social development; there's truly no place like it.” Lessons from Kerala Question: What can Kerala teach other developing nations? Answer: People development and women empowerment are the best contraceptives in the world! Kerala demonstrated that demographic transition, and hence population stabilization, can also be achieved through people development. It proved many Western thinkers wrong who believed that economic development along can bring about demographic transition, as they had observed in their countries. It also highlighted that imposing smaller family size is NOT at all required to reduce population growth, as China has done. Kerala also highlights the role of gender equality and women empowerment. Coercive state policies, such as the One Child Policy of China, combined with gender prejudice against women, has led to a highly disturbed sex ratio creating several serious social issues. China already has a surplus of over 30 million men under the age of 20 and adds about one million “extra male child” each year. This scenario is loaded with potential for serious consequences in the future and is showing up in increasing sex related crimes and women trafficking from neighboring North Korea and Myanmar. Kerala avoided all such side-effects of societal distortions. Read, for example, The Dark Side of One Child Policy of China. Indian government should learn from Kerala (certainly not China) and shift the focus of family planning efforts to socio-cultural issues like raising age at marriage, women education, gender equality and women empowerment. Incidentally, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's capability approach to development also focuses on people development as the right sustainable growth model. Acknowledgement This article is inspired by a one day roundtable held in New Delhi (Jan, 2011) on “Population and family Planning: Contemporary Challenges & Opportunities”, organized by the National Coalition on Population Stabilization, Family Planning & Reproductive Rights. https://soapboxie.com/world-politics/Population-Development-What-Kerala-can-Teach-India-and-China
 

Population of India: Women’s Empowerment is the Best Contraceptive.

Population of India: Women’s Empowerment is the Best Contraceptive. Is Population a Problem? Yes; if your thinking is shaped by the enlightened philosophy of English cleric Mr Thomas Robert Malthus prophesied 2 centuries ago. If you see people merely as food eating morons their increasing number is clearly a burden. In his 1798 piece Essay on the Principle of Population Malthus observed, “…in nature plants and animals produce far more offspring than can survive, and that Man too is capable of overproducing if left unchecked. Malthus concluded that unless family size was regulated, man's misery of famine would become globally epidemic and eventually consume Man.” Whenever philosophers and scientists extrapolate observations from "plants or animals" to the human world deficiencies are in-built into the logic. Because humans are far too superior compared with plants or animals in every aspect -- whether we like it or not! If Malthus' ideas survived and found prominence, a large part of the credit goes to the elite class of Western societies which found a rationale for their supposed supremacy over ordinary and poor people. Most of the class and race bias in the Western world most definitely originated from his philosophical ideas. Malthus was concerned about the decline of living conditions in the 19th century England and argued that growing population is a burden on nature’s resources. He also noted that the lower classes were bearing more children; therefore, he suggested that poor families should only produce as many children as they can support. Why he did not think of helping poor become rich is not known; probably he had no interest in uplifting the poor despite being a cleric. Given his observations and the socioeconomic conditions at that time, his conclusions were certainly logical. What is wrong is to apply them in today’s world by ignoring the premises on which he said what he said. In fact, Malthus's ill founded ideas shaped much of the aid politics during the mid 20th century. China’s One Child Policy Yet the most faithful disciple of Malthus and his philosophy turned out to be the Communist China, whose One Child Policy is often touted as a brilliant example of Malthus’ ideology in action and how any country should check its burgeoning population quickly. In fact, Chinese turned out to be more enthusiastic than Malthus – they implemented their One Child policy across board to all families, not just in the poor class as Malthus initially suggested! However, what is left unsaid is the havoc the One Child policy caused in the basic structure of the Chinese society and the long term social problems it created for China and its neighbors. Rather than a discourse here, a link to The Dark Side of China’s One Child Policy should suffice. In direct contrast to the State control of people’s reproductive behavior there is a bright example of Kerala here in India. In fact, Kerala has demonstrated how people development can give more humane and more sustainable population control without denying basic reproductive rights to the people. Kerala’s model has been highly applauded and both India and China have a lot to learn from Kerala. "Women do two-thirds of all the work in the world. They produce over 50 % of the food, but earn less than 1 % of the income and own less than 10 % of the property. It will be an enormous challenge to overcome this depth of inequality." - Joanna Maycock, President, CONCORD, An European NGO Need to Learn from the ICPD, Cairo 1994 In the current world order, not Mr Malthus, but the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) of 1994 held in Cairo and its Program of Action (PoA) should guide the policies of population dynamics. The Conference marked a watershed in the understanding of population and development issues. What appears to be “population problem” is nothing but an indication and a symptom of lack of “people development.” It is in direct opposition to the scare mongering of “population explosion” type rhetoric and endorses the idea of rights based approaches in health through the adoption of the concept of “reproductive rights.” The ICPD Program of Action also highlighted the need for male responsibility along with the empowerment of women and mentioned sexual health. As the Conference highlighted and further corroborated by many studies, women empowerment has a direct bearing on their reproductive behavior and a controlling effect on fertility. A woman’s ability to control her reproductive activities and fertility are very much affected by her status, self-image, and the sense of empowerment. The more empowered she feels, the greater is the freedom and options available to her in terms of education, time of marriage, contraceptives she would like to use, when to bear children, and how to participate in social and work related activities. I am not sure why Mr Malthus could not think of empowering women at that time. Probably gender equality and its positive consequences were unknown to the primitive English society he lived in. Early Marriages Feed both Population Growth and Poverty Best Investment – Girls’ Education In a recent study of 65 countries including India, the World Bank also concluded that for development there is no investment more effective than educating girls. This one action alone solves several problems in one go; for instance, Reduction in Women’s Fertility Rate: Educated women are more likely to use family planning methods, delay marriage and child-bearing compared with women with no or little education. There are studies to suggest that one year of female schooling, particularly secondary school, reduce fertility by 10 percent. Reduction in Infant and Child Mortality Rates: Educated women are more aware of healthcare, children’s immunization and their nutritional requirement, and adopt improved sanitation practices. Hence, their kids have higher survival rates and tend to be better nourished and healthier. Reduced Maternal Mortality Rate: Due to their better knowledge, educated women are better equipped to avoid unwanted pregnancies and have better planned and well spaced pregnancies and take care of pre- and post-natal issues. It has been estimated that an additional year in school for 1000 women prevents two maternal deaths. Protection against HIV/AIDS Infections: Girls’ education is a powerful tool for reducing their vulnerability. Education provides access to information that enables them to stay protected. Education Enables Women to earn More: Education opens the door for jobs, income, and opportunities. They become a contributing part of the society. Educated Mother Means Educated Kids: Education of mothers is a significant variable affecting children’s educational opportunities. Thus, an educated mother pulls her children from the quagmire of ignorance and poverty. The problem with the rigid patriarchal society like India is that women have been traditionally confined to home and their role has been limited to mere breeding and shouldering responsibility of all domestic work. Even now in many pockets of rural society the world beyond home boundary is an alien land for them. Male dominance is the sole reason for domestic violence in Indian society. Women get least priority in everything in the families, including education. So, they remain trapped in the self sustaining cycle of exploitation and misery. Therefore, it is also vital to work with men and bring change in their patriarchal mindset. Involving Men for Women Empowerment Involving men in the process of gender equality and women empowerment is equally important because that will automatically serve the purpose of population stabilization. When men change, the societal perception and definition of female gender will also change – that in turn will be good for women’s own sense of self worth. Fortunately such an effort has emerged during last ten years, in the form of a network called Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women (MASVAW). While typically groups working on women empowerment focus on women – that is quite logical – but MASVAW approaches it from the other side, men. Yes, it puts men in the center to change their gender definition and redefines masculinity to include the concept of “share and care.” The changed men then become role models for other men to emulate. Being focused on “men” MASVAW also provides a supportive platform where men can discuss their intimate issues freely and help each other to concretize the change in them. “MASVAW initiative was first of its kind in Asia which helped propagate such movements in many other countries. It also played an important role when the “Men Engage Global Alliance” was set up in 2004 at the international level.” – Satish Kumar Singh, MASVAW Convener If all subtle or gross forms of violence against women (VAW) are eliminated, an important mile stone is already achieved on the way to women empowerment. A violence-free environment offers them “normal” atmosphere to grow, discover self-worth, and participate in all types of decision making in the family including reproductive activities and fertility. Perhaps the happiest individuals from MASVAW's work are the wives of MASVAW activists!! For instance, sample this: “Now (after joining MASVAW) my husband does not beat me. In fact, now he even counsels me why I should not beat kids. He also encourages me to go out and work. I like the fact that he trusts and respects me.” – Wife of a MASVAW activist Men are certainly part of the problem; they must share their responsibility in solving it too! Guidelines on Women's Empowerment
UN guidelines for implementation of ICPD Program of Action. Sahayog
A reputed NGO in Uttar Pradesh working for women empowerment since 1992. It is also responsible for the birth of MASVAW. MASVAW(Men's Action for Stopping Violence Against Women)
MASVAW's work is highlighted on his blog. Population Growth and Women Empowerment It is amply clear to population experts at least, that the current population growth is momentum driven – too many young people in the reproductive age group – and not because family sizes are increasing. The remedies to check the population momentum are societal – Not clinical. It can be checked by two simple steps: delay the woman’s age at first birth (by discouraging early or child marriages and delaying first pregnancy) and then spacing further births. Child marriages – and hence early pregnancies – are the biggest source of population rise in India. According to UNICEF, 15 percent of girls in rural areas across the country are married before they are even 13; and 52 percent of girls have their first pregnancy between 15 and 19. So, the most effective way to solve the population problem is to kill the population momentum by preventing early pregnancies. Women empowerment is the ideal way to kill the momentum of population growth. When women have control on their bodies and reproductive health and have the freedom to make decisions and choices a lot of imposed or unwanted pregnancies will be automatically eliminated. Summary Indian government will do well to heed the experts and don’t just allocate funds for clinical sterilization of women that have been traditionally target driven. The whole focus is loaded against women as if they are solely responsible for pregnancies and child births – and men have no responsibilities. Sensitizing men through a network such as MASVAW for the ultimate goal of women empowerment will automatically put the population issue in perspective. So, the bottom line is: There is no other contraceptive as effective as women empowerment in the long run; and population is just one of the symptoms of lack of women empowerment, along with poverty. That’s all! https://hubpages.com/politics/Population-of-India-Womens-Empowerment-is-the-Best-Contraceptive
 

Child Marriages Feed Poverty In The Developing Countries

Child Marriages Feed Poverty In The Developing Countries Child Marriages Cover-Up Lifetime Abuse Of Girls "Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects." – Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA. Every year about 14 million girls are locked into marriages, often with much older men. The tradition of “marriage” provides cover for the tale of life-long physical and sexual abuse of the girl. It legitimizes denial of her human rights and dignity. From a broader perspective, it is just a part of the ongoing discrimination that begins with her birth and continues till she dies. Child marriage is defined as a marriage before age 18. It is perhaps the harshest symbol of male dominance over the female who are viewed as mere objects of lust gratification. In this information age, we still have societies where rich tycoons in seventies hunt for virgins teenage girls for wedlock. Sounds sick, but all you have to do is to look for where a lot of young girls end up in the Gulf countries after disappearing from Bangladesh or India. Rest assured, it is part of the lifestyle of the rich. There are societies where rapist is exonerated and allowed to marry the victim. But we need not blame these rich lecherous characters, a lot of girls particularly in the developing countries find themselves into marriages they never intend or understand. However, child marriage can’t be seen as a stand-alone abusive practice, but must be seen in the larger context of discrimination and violence against women and girls. It is only a proof of girls’ vulnerability that exposes them to abuses throughout their lives. According to the UN reports, the leading cause of death for girls aged between 15 and 19 years old in developing countries is pregnancy-related complications – their immature body can't properly cope with the physical demands of carrying a baby. Stopping child marriages is the key to achieving UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of improving child mortality and reducing maternal deaths directly. Early marriages not only fuel population growth but also sustain poverty. The situation is nothing but a life-long trap in the cycle of poverty. The social pressure, especially to produce male offspring, soon after marriage is another tormenting aspect of life in many societies. As a result of the highly unequal gender equation and patriarchal family structures the young bride are left with few choices and little control over their own bodies. South Asia And Sub-Saharan Africa Are Global Centers Of Child Marriages Child marriage transcends regional and cultural boundaries and persists to varying degrees around the globe. It is commonly measured by the percentage of women aged twenty to twenty-four who report being married before eighteen. The highest rates are found in South Asia and West and Central Africa, where an estimated two out of five girls are married as children. Across all developing countries, an estimated one in three girls is married before turning eighteen, and one in nine before fifteen. However, in terms of absolute numbers, India surpasses other countries by a wide margin due to its huge population; it accounts for about 40 percent of all child marriages in the world. Around 37,000 girls under the age of 18 are married off everyday – which translates to about 13.5 million a year. If not curbed, the numbers would go to 14 million a year by 2020 and 15 million annual by 2030. According to the UNFPA the highest prevalence of child marriage is seen in Niger, where 75 per cent of girls are married before 18, and a third are wed before age 15. Under Niger’s law, the minimum age for marriage is 15, but traditional customs often prevail in villages. In the Central African Republic and Chad the rate of child marriage is 68 percent, it is 66 percent in Bangladesh, and 47 percent in India. In Afghanistan 46 percent of girls are married before 18; 60-80 percent of those girls were forced into the marriages by their parents. In Nepal, 41 percent of girls end up as child brides. According to a Human Rights Watch report, approximately 14 percent of girls in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest countries, get married before the age 15, and 52 percent wed before they turned 18. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are the only Arab countries that do not have laws that set a minimum age for marriage. Yemen has recently proposed a law to set the legal age of marriage at 18 along with other reforms; it has yet to become a law. The UN has launched a campaign to end child marriages by 2030 which means freeing the girls from poverty, ignorance and abuse at the hands of their husbands. The problem is mainly concentrated in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where girls as young as 5 or 6 are married off. Despite laws setting a minimum age for marriage in many countries, social and cultural norms continue to weigh heavily and provide a semblance of legitimacy to child marriage. It legitimizes human rights violations and abuses of girls under the guise of honor, tradition and religion. Age Of Consent And Marriage! While international legal conventions consider 18 as an acceptable age of marriage. But many countries allow marriages at lower ages with the consent of parents or judicial authorities. About three dozen countries allow children at the age of 15 or younger to get married with parental consent. In many more countries girls are allowed to marry with consent at younger ages than boys. Clearly, early marriage is also a gendered phenomenon. Some Child Marriage Facts One-third of the world’s girls are married before the age of 18 1 in 9 is married before the age of 15. At the present trend, each year about 14 million girls are married before 18. Girls from poor families are almost twice as likely to marry before 18 as girls in higher income families. Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. Pregnancy is the leading cause of deaths worldwide for girls ages 15 to 19. Girls in the age group 15-19 are two- to six-times more likely to contract HIV than boys of the same age in sub-Saharan Africa. Source: International Centre for Research on Women What Prompts Early Marriages Of Girls The Value of Brides! Poverty, patriarchy, cultural norms, and the low social status of women and girls are the primary driving forces behind early marriage of girls, although the precise reasons differ from society to society. Cultural Norms Male dominance is the unwritten rule of law in most poor countries. Given the state of widespread backwardness and ignorance girls and women become easy prey to male dictates. It is taken for granted that women have to make babies and take care of the family – the only roles traditionally assigned to them. Many cultures place an emphasis on girls' virginity, which is closely tied to a family's honor. Parents may marry off a daughter at an early age to ensure that she marries as a virgin and to prevent the shame of out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Marrying the girl means getting rid of the responsibility to “protect” her. A married girl becomes protected from male eyes of the society and her abuse is limited to that coming from just one man, her husband! Then there are religious sects that support early marriage. For instance, in Ethiopia child marriage is embedded in the customs of Orthodox Christian communities such as those in the Amhara region, although country’s Orthodox church opposes the practice. In Muslim communities, some follow a conservative interpretation of sharia and argue that girls can be married upon reaching maturity, which they define as puberty. However, there is debate within Islam about at the age of maturity of a girl. Others agree with the internationally recognized age of maturity, 18. Many Muslims further argue against child marriage because Islam mandates that men and women should choose their partners freely, and children are not capable to do so. Economics In several communities girls are seen as economic burden. For impoverished parents marrying off girls soon is the best option to get rid of the financial load. Some countries have the popular tradition of using girls as a means to settle family debt or gain financially when the husband pays dowry. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, bride prices (money given to the bride's parents) rise if a girl marries at an earlier age. Rich elderly men exploit young girls in these societies. I was really in need of money and thought it was a solution for the family. – Abdul Mohammad Ali, father of a 9 year old girl in Yemen "The man I loved did not have cows and my uncles rejected him. My husband paid 120 cows. ... I refused him but they beat me badly and took me by force to him. The man forced me to have sex with him so I had to stay there." – A South Sudanese child bride Families in crisis situations are more likely to marry their daughters early, either to preserve the financial status of the family by shedding the economic responsibility for the girl children or in an attempt to ensure daughters’ safety from potential sexual abuse. Crisis Makes Girls "Dispensable" A March 2013 report from World Vision titled, “Untying the Knot: Exploring Early Marriage in Fragile States” studied countries like Bangladesh, Somaliland and Niger and found that fear of rape, premarital pregnancy, hunger, and homelessness were major drivers of early marriages. Most of the countries with the highest rates of early marriages are affected by conflict, fragility, or natural disasters. Other drivers of child marriages included lack of alternative opportunities for girls such as the lack of opportunity to go to school. The current Syrian conflict has also unleashed another round of child marriages – gender based violence on the displaced population. Syrian refugees are marrying their daughters for financial gain as well as to lodge the girls in the safety of the marriage institution. Lecherous characters are always lurking around the refugee camps to hunt for young brides. Why Early Marriages Are Harmful Child marriage is a human rights as well as developmental and health issue. International conventions define 18 as the age of adulthood. Matrimony before the age of 18 is termed child marriage which is prohibited. The reasons being that children and adolescents are not mature enough to make choices about marriage, and that early marriages often lead to lasting emotional, physical, and psychological harm. Moreover, child marriage robs girls' of educational opportunities and income-earning prospects, and perpetuates poverty. According to a United Nations Population Fund report, “When a young girl is married and gives birth, the vicious cycle of poverty, poor health, curtailed education, violence, instability, disregard for rule of law . . . continues into the next generation, especially for any daughters she may have.” Health Child brides are often expected to bear children soon after marriage, which makes them vulnerable to pregnancy and childbirth complications, including obstetric fistula, a condition that causes chronic incontinence and occurs commonly in young girls who give birth before their bodies have matured. According to WHO reports, pregnancy complications remain the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19 in low- and middle-income countries, and those girls are twice as likely to die in childbirth as are mothers aged 20 and older. Further, babies born to adolescent or child mothers are more likely to die than those born to mothers over age 20. They tend to have lower birth weights and weak immune systems, and face higher risks of malnutrition. In areas with high infection rates, early marriage makes girls more vulnerable to HIV and other STDs. Violence According to UN studies, girls who marry before they are 18 are more likely to become victims of violence from their partners, with the risk increasing as the age gap between the couple gets larger. Once married, young girls suffer a traumatic initiation into sexual relationships, are put at risk of domestic violence and the chances of a career are gone almost forever. Isolation of Girls Marriage generally cuts-off the girl from her families and peer network and is thrust into hostile environments where she is beholden to her new husband and in-laws. This isolation can have emotionally scarring effects, particularly if the new family mistreats her and husband forces her into non-consensual intimacy. The option of divorce, even if available, is beyond her capacity because she lacks financial support. Her life becomes more miserable if her husband ditches her or dies – when she is left alone to look after her kids. The Education Dilemma Education generally becomes the first casualty of child marriage. This has life-long consequences and restricts their earning potentials. It further weakens their status and makes them dependent on the husband. The high prevalence rates of child marriage correlates well with lower education for girls. A study by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) found that girls with no education were up to six times more likely to marry as children than girls who had received secondary education. Likewise, a UNICEF study from 47 countries found that girls with primary school education were less likely to be married than girls with no education. Therefore, child marriage feeds this vicious cycle and perpetuates the cycle of misery in the female gender. The Poverty Cycle As discussed above, early marriage leaves girls without the skills, knowledge and social networks to financially support their families. The effect is passed-on to the next generation and the cycle of poverty continues. There are numerous studies to link girls' education and development to larger economic benefits. As their education level increases the impact is reflected in lower child and maternal mortality rates, lower birthrates and higher female participation in the economic activities. Child marriage, then, not only adversely impacts the trajectory of young girls' lives, but also of the society and country. The International Day of the Girl Child The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 on Dec 19, 2011 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, in order to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. 11 October – The International Day of the Girl Child. What Can Be Done To Prevent Child Marriages Although the tradition of child marriage is entrenched in the social customs maintained by patriarchy, it can be easily seen as a problem of lack of social development, education and gender equality. Therefore, the solution lies in working from different perspectives to create an environment where child marriages are discouraged and finally eliminated altogether. Experience from around the world tells us that the following 2 broad strategies can be used at the local, national and international levels to curb the practice of child marriage. 1. Girls’ Empowerment Promote Education This lies at the core of the whole issue and education has been proven to be the best tool to achieve it. Both formal and informal education and skill and knowledge development play important roles. Incentives can play a crucial role in encouraging education, if they can outweigh the hurdles that keep girls away from the school. It works well if parents have incentive to keep their daughters in schools. For instance, parents may be given some monthly cash incentive as long as the girls are attending schools. Another form of incentive pertains to delaying their marriages till they are eighteen. India has an effective Apni Beti Apna Dhan (my daughter, my wealth) scheme; it offers bonds to newborn girlsthat can be redeemed only if they remain unmarried until the age of 18. Promote Reproductive Health Knowledge A vital aspect is to give girls’ the education and information about reproductive health issues. Married girls can be targeted for regular visits to local health centers where they can share their problems and learn about various aspects of maternal and reproductive health. Such facilities, if easily accessible, are highly empowering for 'girl wives' who have little support mechanism at husbands home. 2. Changing the Traditional Mindset Spread Awareness in the Communities Community-based targeted programs can be highly effective in changing traditional mindset of people about the roles of women and girls in society, if done consistently over a period of time. Involvement of local leaders and parents make such programs more effective. They should be presented with the negative consequences of child marriages as well as the alternatives. There are organizations in different countries that directly work with the society. Strengthen Laws Laws pertaining to minimum age of marriage and against sexual violence need to be strengthened and the justice delivery mechanisms should be bolstered. A first step towards monitoring child marriages can be requiring registration of births and marriages. Such a law passed in Bangladesh in 2004 contributed to an increase in birth registrations from 10 percent to 54 percent over three years. Girls found this requirement as an effective way to uphold laws against child marriage. Regular data collection and updates go a long way in strengthening the monitoring mechanism. Raising Diplomatic Pressure Since child marriages work against development and human rights goals, global leaders like the US and UK and organizations such as the UN and World Bank should exert pressure on countries with high levels of child marriages. They can selectively lend support to countries that are already making efforts to prevent child marriage – like India and Ethiopia. https://hubpages.com/politics/child-marriages-sustain-poverty
 

Poverty is Multidimensional, So should be Development

Poverty is Multidimensional, So should be Development Why Poverty? Let's Talk People Development ! Looking at Poverty, Beyond Lack of Income Different Types of Poverty Traditionally, poverty is associated with lowness of income. They don’t earn enough income to take care of all their basic requirements; as a result, they lead a life of shortages and hardships. It is obviously a state of low human well-being. A simple way to look at the well-being of people is to see whether their basic needs of life like food, clothing, housing, education, medical care and public transportation are adequately met. They live deprived of many things considered essential for normal living. The World Bank uses a benchmark of $1.25-a-day for extreme poverty. On this yardstick it estimates that globally around 1bn people live in extremely poverty. Such a simple yardstick is convenient for policymakers although it tell nothing about the nature of poverty or hardships the poor face. Regardless of the causes of poverty we can broadly identify three types of poverty. First is the Short-Term Poverty. – This is a situation where people lose the source of livelihood for whatever reason and try to survive with available resources (assets and savings) until the next source of income comes. This can happen in the life of any person, rich or poor and in any country, rich or poor. Second is the Structural Poverty – This is a situation where people have income to survive but one or more basic requirements remain unsatisfied. This is a typical situation in countries where the State run public services are absent (or when basic services like healthcare and education are run by private players for profit and hence costly for the poor) but people somehow earn enough to subsist. In such a situation it helps a great deal if the State provides basic facilities so that people have access to shelter, sanitation, clean water, education and healthcare. Countries with similar average incomes can differ substantially when it comes to people’s quality of life: access to education and healthcare, employment opportunities, availability of clean air and safe drinking water, the threat of crime, and so on. The third category is Chronic Poverty when people are not earning enough and public services are absent. It means people live deprived of many basic needs. This situation is typical of poor countries where economies are weak and public services and infrastructure are lacking. This is actually a poverty trap – many deprivations reinforcing each other. Without multi-pronged attempts for economic and social development it is difficult for people to come out of chronic poverty in these countries. Therefore, the extent and type of poverty depends upon the state policies, socio-economic conditions. Social traditions and culture also have significant influence on people’s lives. Hence, it is important to consider all these factors in order to understand poverty in any country. Poverty is Multidimensional The income poverty line is too simple a proxy of poverty to reveal anything about the nature or depth of deprivations people face. Lowness of income is clearly an important parameter to view poverty but it must be seen along with deprivation of other basic necessities of life. Hence, in the recent decades the focus of poverty discourse has shifted to broader definitions so that poverty is seen with all its manifestations and consequences beyond income and money. Thus, the multidimensional poverty concept has emerged. For instance, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set in the Millennium Declaration in 2000, may be seen as an attempt to view poverty in terms of its individual manifestations. Another explicit example, of course, is the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) launched in 2010 by the UNDP which uses a set of 10 indicators to probe the status of health, education and living standard. It can reveal both the extent of poverty and the nature of deprivations poor are facing. Many Dimensions of Poverty Who Says Poverty in not Multidimensional! Income Poverty Health poverty Education Poverty Moral Poverty Ethical Poverty Environmental Poverty Relationship Poverty Emotional Poverty Love and Trust Poverty Multidimensional Poverty Perspectives A consensus has emerged that poverty should be explored beyond difficulty in meeting the basic minimum physical requirements of life and must also consider inability to function properly in the social and political environment. This leads to exploration of all factors that affect the capacity of people to live comfortably. Researchers and developmental agencies have different perspectives when they explore the multidimensional nature of poverty. For instance, poverty may be viewed in terms of lack of resources to meet social demands and customs (Townsend), or as a lack of capacities to participate fully in society (Amartya Sen) or in terms of human development (Alkire). But perhaps the most influential viewpoint is provided by Amartya Sen’s capability approach which is grounded on a solid theoretical foundation. It not only goes well beyond the confines of income and consumption and also beyond the physical and economic needs of people. It is focused on ‘the capability to function and participate fully in the society.’ The capability approach offers a comprehensive framework for assessing poverty by combining all aspects of human life – personal, economic, social and political. As interest in considering poverty from social and political perspectives is increasing more and more people now want to see poverty in terms of people’s ability to do or to be. The UN’s definition encompasses most of these concepts in its human development approach: “If human development is about enlarging choices, poverty must mean denial of most basic opportunities and choices to lead a long, healthy, creative life and to enjoy a decent standard of living, freedom, dignity, self-respect and respect for others.” A consequence of using such a comprehensive framework is that the phenomenon of ‘social exclusion’ gets highlighted as it usually sets up a poverty trap. Well known examples of people affected by it are the Roma in Europe, the African Americans in the US and the so-called lowest caste (untouchables) communities in India. It doesn't make sense to discuss poverty in these communities by ignoring this important factor which lowers their ability to function properly. Therefore, the development model must be able to handle things beyond economy and money. Goals and Means of Development Different countries have different priori- ties in their development policies. So the crucial question is: what development really means to you, what it is supposed to achieve. Indicators measuring this achievement could then be used to judge progress in development. Is the goal merely to increase national wealth? Or is it something more subtle: Eradicating poverty? Reducing rich-poor inequality? Ensuring people’s freedom? Human Development According to the Human Development Report 1996, published by the United Nations Development Program, “human development is the end, economic growth a means” (p.1) Amartya Sen puts it more eloquently: "Human development, as an approach, is concerned with what I take to be the basic development idea: namely, advancing the richness of human life, rather than the richness of the economy in which human beings live, which is only a part of it." Sen’s writings on the ‘capability approach’ provide the philosophical basis for human centric development. This approach has the flavours of sustainable and participatory development and focuses on enhancing people’s freedoms and choices. It is equally applicable in both the developed and the developing countries. Pakistani economist, Mahbub ul Haq, applied Sen’s theory to propagate the human development approach. He wanted to see development in a different way, away from the economic growth considerations. Societies can Develop Despite Poor Economy The tiny southern state of India, Kerala, developed its society by focusing on people. It paid particularly attention to Women Empowerment. Today, its human development indicators compete with those of economically most developed nations, making it an object of several international studies. Human Development is Multidimensional The first Human Development Report of 1990 defined human development as ‘both the process of widening people’s choices and the level of their achieved well-being’ (UNDP, 1990, p9). It covers all aspects of human life – cultural, social and political. No aspect of the development falls outside its scope, but the focus remains on widening people’s choices and the enriching their lives. Since people are put at the center of attention, the economy becomes secondary as a tool to enable people to enjoy a long, healthy and creative life. Economic growth provides means for things like good education, better nutrition and health services and state policies create enabling environment for citizens to have more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and a sense of participation in community activities. All these measures empower people; make them capable in different ways. In this paradigm, economy related factors become only one subset of the overall human development. This form of comprehensive human development is needed if we really want to eradicate poverty from the societies and the world while limiting inequalities within reasonable limits.   https://hubpages.com/education/Poverty-is-Multidimensional-So-should-be-Development
 

8 Reasons Why India Is so Poor

8 Reasons Why India Is so Poor The Super Poor India ! India has 269 million (21 percent of total population) people under the poverty line, as per the latest official headcount of the poor in India. It used to be 396 million (29 percent) prior to the announcement of new counting in June 1024. However, World Bank recently estimated Indian poverty to be 172 million (12.4 percent), based on its new poverty line of $1.90 per person per day using the new 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) data. This is a measure of extreme poverty. [The World Bank revised its poverty line in October in 2015 to $1.90 a day from the earlier $1.25 a day.] In 1947 when colonial British left India, they left 70 percent Indians in deep poverty and a tiny elite class that controlled everything. Over six decades later in 2011-2012, poverty is down to 21 percent despite the multifold increase in population. However, despite the significant progress, even 21 percent poverty means a huge headcount in a country of 1.3 billion people. You may like to know that World Bank has set the target of bringing down the global extreme poverty to less than 3 percent by 2030. The global community is now also duty bound to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which provides a holistic global development agenda, particularly for the poor countries. There is a more comprehensive way to measure poverty, through the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). It is a joint venture of UK based Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Its 2017 report estimated India’s poverty at 41 percent (528 million). Note that various dimensions of the MPI are connected with the SDGs. Thus, progress in SDGs can be suitably monitored through the MPI data. While there can never be agreement on poverty numbers, compare these numbers with the European Union and US populations of 500 million and 320 million, respectively. The mammoth Indian poverty is a delight for poverty experts for playing the game of poverty line and counting the poor! Due to its very large population India holds the distinction of having the most number of poor of the world – a super poor nation! Consequently, South Asia has become the world’s biggest center of extreme poverty, followed by the sub-Saharan Africa. In both regions the MPI estimates higher poverty than calculated by the one dimensional income poverty line ($1.90 a day) of the World Bank. In South Asia, the MPI reveals 41.6% percent poverty compared with 19.2 percent from the WB’s income indicator. For the sub-Saharan Africa these figures are 60.1 percent and 46.4 percent, respectively. Multidimensional poverty indicators map the SDGs Poverty is Inherently Multidimensional Wise people say: Poverty is easy to spot, but hard to define. The income based one dimensional poverty line of the World Bank fails to reflect the hardships faced by the poor. It gives only headcount. A life in poverty means living deprived of sufficient food and nutrition, education, proper shelter, sanitation, clean water and so on. This points to the need of seeing poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon. The way MPI is constructed it offers a useful breakup of various deprivations faced by the poor as if poverty is being looked through a microscope. Education of girls is the best anti-poverty tool. Major Factors Behind India’s Poverty In this page, we will discuss major factors that led to deeply entrenched poverty in India. Given the multitude of languages, customs, cultures and castes in India, these factors are further intertwined. Here we highlight 8 important reasons for high poverty in India. However, one message is very clear: One has to look at poverty, beyond income. 1. Social Inequality Leading to Exclusion and Marginalization Societies cannot progress if certain sections of people are left-out simply because they happen to be from the “wrong” class, caste, ethnic group, race or sex. If the virus of color and race based discrimination has damaged the social set up of many countries in the West, the bacteria of “caste” division has undermined the cohesive social fabric of India. Lower caste people have traditionally been excluded from the mainstream society governed by the so-called upper caste communities. They have historically lived isolated in the periphery of the villages and townships and subsisted doing only those tasks considered “unfit” for the other castes. Their un-touchability can be considered the worst form of rejection by the mainstream society. While considerable change has taken place in people’s attitude since 1947, but the “lower caste” communities are still not satisfactorily absorbed in the mainstream society. Rural India (where 70% of the population lives) is still quite “caste conscious” compared with the urban society where education and financial well-being has largely erased the caste divisions. Mahatma Gandhi tried to remove the social stigma of un-touchability by coining the label "Harijan" (god's people) for them but with only partial success. The official label for about 170 million (around 14 percent of current total population) unfortunate lower caste people is Scheduled Caste (SC). Another segment of society that is still very much detached from the mainstream is the tribal community forming 8% of the population. These tribal people (called Scheduled Tribe (ST)) have historically lived in secluded areas such as forests. The Colonial British designated their habitations as "excluded areas", not due to any special privilege but for convenience of the colonial policies. Unfortunately, the “free” governments after 1947 never bothered to assimilate them into rest of the mainstream society and the tribal communities continued to remain isolated and “barely governed.” As a result, besides the poverty of the tribal communities, their backward due to lack of governance of their areas also gave rise to armed Maoist movement. It, ideologically, wants to establish communist state based on Mao’s principles through gun battle. Popularly called Naxals, these Maoists now pose the biggest internal security threat for the country. Fortunately, even now they have not formed any nexus with Islamic terrorist groups of next door neighbor Pakistan. Beside the SCs and STs, there are several other communities designated “Other Backward Classes” or simply OBC – they may or may not be Hindus. Their socioeconomic plight is also similar to SCs and STs. The list of OBCs is dynamic and every now and then the government edits it (mostly for political reasons); there is significant confusion about their exact proportion. However, most experts agree OBCs to be in the range 25 – 35% of the population. Combined together they form 50 – 60 percent India's population! Thus, the population of the so-called forward or upper class is less than one-third, but who by and large control everything. Now tell me how any country can possibly progress if over half of its people get excluded from the mainstream societal processes. While marginalization and exclusion happen in all societies, but in India it is in grotesque proportions due to sheer numbers. The policy of reservation in government jobs for the backward communities has certainly helped them to rise up to some extent. But it is insufficient because government jobs are limited. A far better way is to train and turn them into entrepreneurs. Here the idea of ‘social business’ offers a great opportunity for NGO and social organizations to make a difference.   2. Illiteracy High level of illiteracy, particularly in the rural areas and among women, has been a crucial factor not only in perpetuating economic backwardness but also for high population growth. The persistence of high illiteracy has created a situation where poverty and population have been feeding each other. It is well established that female literacy plays an important role in the well-being of the family in many ways. When women are educated, they not only contribute economically but also raise healthier kids and keep the family size small. Early marriage of girls and early child bearing is closely related with their low literacy; it feeds poverty. In 2010 only 26.6% women above 25 years found to have received secondary education, as opposed to 50.4% men. In comparison, in China 54.8% women and 70.4% men had secondary education; in the US, this figure was 94.7% for women and 94.3% for men. 3. Population While the growth rate of population has decreased significantly over the decades and the rate fertility decline has accelerated since 2011, India's population is currently growing annually at the rate of about 1.4 percent. The total fertility rate has sharply fallen to 2.3 and should approach the replacement rate of 2.1 by 2020 and country's population should stabilize by 2050 at around 1.5 billion and then begin to fall. The current population increase is largely driven by population momentum (large base of people in the fertile age); not because people want large families. Around 18 million people are added to population each year. However, not that many people are lifted out of poverty every year. Early marriage of girls and lack of awareness about reproductive healthcare, particularly in the rural areas, are major factors behind current population growth. Population is clearly a factor contributing to, and sustaining, high levels of poverty. But the Chinese population control through one-child model would be a bad example to follow for the democratic India. () 4. Gender Inequality Gender equality is both a core concern and an essential part of human development. Indian social fabric is highly patriarchal which has left women significantly exploited and discriminated. If caste based biases work only outside home in the open society, the discrimination against women operates both in and out of homes. Not only men always get preference in every walk of life, their attitude towards women is largely patronizing and imposing. Their weak status, particularly in the rural areas, is at the root of most chronic problems. It is their lack of awareness or access to family planning tools and early marriage of girls and their early child bearing, which ultimately have led to high population; lack of awareness of health issues related to pregnancy and child upbringing has resulted in high mortality rate, under-nutrition and malnutrition among children; lower education and lack of freedom has resulted in low participation in societal processes. All these factors are enough to feed and sustain poverty. On the World Economic Forum’s 2016 gender gap index (GGI) India ranked 87 out of 144 nations.Last year it was at 108 position. The index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health criteria. Indian Muslim community is easily the most backward group in terms of gender inequality. Its clergy habitually wants to live like the Arab tribes of the 7th century uncivilized Middle East, in the name of Sharia'h Law - confining women inside the veils and oppressed by polygamy and 'triple' Talaq.. But for their resistance, India would have by now a Uniform Civil Code for all Indians. As radical Islam (Wahhabi Islam) is spreading across the world due to push from the Saudi Arabia it will make the task of providing equal treatment to Muslim women even harder. Fortunately, Indian government is now firmly pushing an end to the stone-age practice of ‘triple talaq’ in the Supreme Court of India. There are chances that Indian Muslim women would now move a bit closer towards gender equality.   5. Unequal Distribution of Wealth India happens to be a rich country inhabited by very poor people. – Dr Manmohan Singh Unfortunately, since departure of the colonial British in 1947 all economic development has taken place in the cities, while the majority of the population lives in the countryside. Thus, the rural India has always remained neglected. Another peculiarity is the land holding pattern in India: most land has traditionally been under the control of a few landlords, leaving the vast majority landless. The "Zamindari system” of lopsided land ownership has ancient origin but given a boost during the British rule. Handful zamindars became legal owners of vast tracts of land and all others had to work for them to survive. This rent seeking exploitative system has since kept a vast majority of people in the rural India poor. Land reforms were debated noisily after independence but implementation lacked honest political will, despite the famous "Bhoodan Andolan" of Vinoba Bhave. Unfortunately, land reforms are no more an issue of public debates at present. All talks of poverty removal appear to center only around economic reforms, imitating the unsuitable Western capitalism. Rising wealth inequality According to the latest edition of Oxfam International’s global inequality report titled An Economy For The 99 Percent published in Jan 2017, the richest 1 percent in India owns 58 percent of the country’s wealth. As the myopic ‘economic experts’ gloat over rising number of billionaires in India, the inequality is growing bigger with each passing year. Rising inequality is trapping more and more Indians in poverty; it is also fracturing the society and undermining Indian democracy. It is in fact a global phenomenon. The report also revealed that 7 out of 10 people live in countries that have seen inequality widen in the last 30 years. Furthermore, the report also mentioned that during 1988 - 2011, the incomes of the poorest 10 percent around the world increased by an average of just $65 per year, while those of the richest 1 percent grew by an average of $11,800 a year—182 times as much!   6. Faulty Economic Reforms The so called economic liberalization and market reforms that started in the 1990s are nothing but an attempt to replicate the Western capitalism that promotes "trickle down" economy. It serves to make the rich richer and expand the economy. India has become more unequal in recent years. In early 1990s, there were just 2 billionaires; now there are 97 billionaires, in a country of 1.33 billion people. The rich elites are also controlling more wealth, their share increased from 1.8 percent in 2003 to 26 percent in 2008. Today, they are still richer and much more powerful. Experts suggest that if India could only freeze its rising inequality, by 2019 around 90 million more people could come out of extreme poverty. Reducing inequality by 10 points in Gini coefficient (equivalent of a 36 percent reduction) could further lift up another 83 million poor people. The push to urbanization means uprooting the poor from their rural roots and turning them into “cheap labor resource” for businesses in the town. In the cities they would live in large slums, exploited both by the mafia and employers, devoid of human dignity and livelihood security. Given the huge population and poverty, India needs an "employment centric" economy – millions of micro, small and medium business units. Only they can employ the unskilled or low skilled people from the vast pool of the poor. Large high-tech industrial units don't generate too many jobs and whatever jobs they create is suitable for those who are already well off. According to the NSSO survey, the size of India's workforce is around 450 million. Of which only about 30 million work in the formal or organized sector. The government recognizes only about 70 million as unemployed or underemployed. Thus, there are 350 million unrecognized by the government as unemployed. Government surveys list them as "self employed" but they barely survive and live chronically in poverty. Who are these "self employed" people, more in numbers than the population of United States, and how do they survive? They milk the cows, become seasonal farm workers, run small shops or sell on the roadsides, make incense sticks, match sticks and bidis, drive manual or auto rickshaws, work as domestic help, work as unaccounted contract workers on daily wages, work as gardeners and watchmen, or work as plumbers, carpenters or shoe repairers and so on. They have no safety net such as pension or healthcare benefits enjoyed by the regular employees and hence, are the most vulnerable. They are also the first victim of natural calamities, now becoming more frequent due to climatic disorder. [The poor are always the first victims of climatic disasters. Of course, nothing changes for better after their death-toll makes headline news.] Jobless Economic Growth Considering the population growth of around 18 million every year, around 10 million new jobs need to be created per year. In 7 years, between 2005 and 2012, India's GDP growth was 5.4% and only about 15 million new jobs were created. Official data say that 1.55 lakh jobs were created in 2015 and 2.31 lakh in 2016. All these numbers talk about the so-called formal economy of the rich people and their firms. This formal sector is all about the prosperity of the rich; not at all about the well-being of the poor. Arrival of the dynamic Modi government in 2014 did not make things any better for young job seekers. The GDP may be growing at 7% per year. But job growth remains pathetic and that too for those well educated. India’s textbook ‘economic experts’ are ‘worried’ about stagnating 5% unemployment rate because their book knowledge ends at GDP growth. They have never lived in poverty or read books that talk about how the poor masses survive and what type of economy they actually need. Why? Because the ‘poor men economy’ is labeled ‘informal economy’ and it is all about people’s well being; not GDP. The Economic Survey 2015-16 estimated that this informal sector provided 90% of jobs through the period 2004-05 to 2011-12. Further, the Survey also pointed to a shift in the pattern of employment from permanent jobs to casual and contract employment. The increasingly “temporary” nature of work has an “adverse effect” on the level of wages, stability of employment, and employees’ social security. It also indicates preference by employers away from regular/formal employment to circumvent labour laws. Here is another twist. Such employment surveys do not consider the hugeworkforce – people working in units employing less than 10 people – and those employed in the informal sector. A commonsense question: Why Indian government doesn’t make policies around this informal sector, if it is serious about eradicating poverty? And the answer is: because India is run by the "follow West" economists who haven't the slightest idea what type of economic reforms India and its poor people really need. Their thinking stops at inviting "foreign direct investments" and vision fails to go beyond air conditioned corporate houses of the rich few. They are capital market fundamentalists who worship their only God called GDP! I wonder why Indian finance minister doesn’t read about the capability theory of Nobel winner economist Amartya Sen to come out of his morbid obsession to GDP growth. India Needs “Social Capitalism” India must reject the Western capitalism model; it needs a “Social Capitalism” that is ideal for solving India’s problems. It should follow twin goals: ‘maximizing employment’ – given its huge population and poverty – and ‘maximizing social good’. This involves shifting away from the ‘shareholder’ to ‘stakeholder’ capitalism by incorporating interests of other stakeholders: employees, society, customers, and environment. Then finally encouraging what nobel winner Bangladeshi economist calls “social businesses” which operate to maximize chosen social goals while keeping the business profitable. 7. Corruption Corruption and leakages in government schemes are widespread in India. Late Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi had famously admitted that only about 15% money actually reaches the ultimate beneficiaries. Even if we discard this figure as highly pessimistic and assume that say 30-35% of the welfare funds actually reach the designated beneficiaries, the rest is siphoned off by the middlemen and people connected to the implementing government machinery. This is a common way for the people with “high connections” to acquire dirty wealth – by depriving the poor who generally have no voice or ability to assert. Another common form of corruption in schemes designed for the poor is inclusion of non-poor people with political connections in the list of beneficiaries. The end result is that the eligible poor are denied the benefits. The scale of corruption has steadily increased since the economic reforms were started. In 1992, when market reforms just started Harshad Mehta led stock market scam was estimated at 750 crores; it was mind boggling figure then. Corruption peaked during 2004-14 when Manmohan Singh ruled the country. India was rocked by scam after scam, as if the country was literally thrown to dogs. Fortunately, 2014 brought a nationalist government of Modi which is honest, efficient and far sighted. Indians are now full of hope about the future. How India was "colonized" is reflected in this "brilliant" thinking of a British Official 8. The Colonial Rule "A significant fact which stands out is that those parts of India which have been longest under British rule are the poorest today." – Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India The colonial British rule laid the foundation for a long term and chronic poverty in India after they departed. This is what Nehru is saying above using different set of words. The tiny state of Kerala in the southern India fortunately saw the least damaging influence of the British exploiters (there are many reasons for that) and is at present a unique model (in the world) of improvement in the quality of life through social and human development alone. It is something unthinkable for a Western brain which has been taught to see economic growth alone as "development." It was the traditional historic prosperity of India that attracted invaders from various parts of the world in the last 2000 years. Prior to the British, India had been ruled by the foreigners like the Kushanas, Turko-Afghans and Mughals. All of them gradually got assimilated into the Indian society and culture. They not only became absorbed in India but also protected and promoted Indian society, culture and economy. None of them systematically drained India’s wealth or resources to make another country prosperous. Revenue collected or wealth acquired by them was spent within India. Whether spent on the public or for personal luxury of the ruling elite, the wealth remained within the country. Thus, India remained prosperous even in the Mughal era until the East India Company started acquiring "diwani" (right to collect revenue) around 1760. It was the beginning of the legal "plunder." The colonial rule was all about robbing India to enrich Britain. The Battle of Plasssey in June 1757 marked the beginning of British dominance (and also the beginning of end of the Mughal Empire): when a small force of the East India Company's professional troops, defeated and killed the ruling Nawab of Bengal, Siraju-ud-daula. The outcome of the battle marked a significant turning point in the history of Indian subcontinent. It allowed the English East India Company foothold on the Indian soil, from which to undertake its future expansionist ventures within and around India. Soon, after the Battle of Buxar it acquired the "diwani" in Bengal and in 1765 its rights expanded to Bihar and Orissa. Unlike their predecessors the British, however, consciously remained in India as foreign occupiers until their departure in 1947. They remained isolated from the Indian society and culture and formed a separate class of their own within India. The only reason for their presence in India (and in other occupied colonies) was to secure raw materials for British industries and other goods for the comforts of their citizens. The vast population in India also provided market for goods manufactured back home. They subordinated Indian economy to the British trade and industry. Their economic policies actively favored non-Indians or made things difficult for Indian businessmen. As occupiers, they used Indian wealth to pay for all their expansionist ventures and territory building both inside and outside India. Moreover, the British policies forcibly disbanded community grain banks and promoted replacement of food crops for local consumption with cash crops like cotton, opium, tea and grains for export to feed the animals in England. This change in the cropping pattern left Indian farmers vulnerable to famines. There are documentary evidences to suggest that the colonial rulers chose to ignore the famine affected people. It is estimated that during the two centuries of colonial rule, famines and the resulting epidemics caused over 30 million deaths. The most recent Bengal Famine of 1943-44 led to about 1.5 million deaths from starvation; 3.5 million if deaths from epidemics are also included. In his masterpiece "Poverty and un-British Rule in India" Dadabhai Naoroji (popularly labeled as "The Grand Old Man of India" and "The Father of Indian Nationalism") also categorically blamed "the drain of wealth" for the poverty in India. Conclusion As oppose to the Western ‘trickle down’ capitalism India needs a comprehensive “human development” plan in order to really crush the widespread poverty. 1. It needs an economy that supports millions of small and medium enterprises that are suitable to employ low skilled poor people. 2. Focus on good governance to root out deep rooted corruption that eats away major chunk of the welfare budget. 3. Finally, promote women empowerment through education and healthcare; it will greatly help deal with poverty fed by the population growth. These 8 major causes of poverty, by themselves, point to the right development model. India must realize that by blindly following GDP growth, it is only promoting inequality that sustains by keeping the poor in poverty.   https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/Reasons-Why-India-is-So-Poor
 

Amartya Sen’s Capability Theory of Development and Poverty

Amartya Sen’s Capability Theory of Development and Poverty Table Of Contents 1. Overview Of Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach
2. Core Concepts: Functionings, Capabilities and Agency
3. Poverty In Rich Countries 
4. Non-Monetary Poverty
5. Importance Of Freedom and Democracy
6. Development means Expansion of People’s Freedom
7. Freedoms Supports Expansion of Capabilities
8. People are “Agents” of Change
9. Accepting Human Diversity
10. Poverty is Deprivation of Basic Capabilities
11. Influence of Amartya Sen’s Capability Theory
12. Challenges in applying the Capability approach
13. Critique Of Capability Approach
14. Conclusion The Central theme of Capability Theory 1. Overview Of Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach (CA) A People Centric Approach The capability approach (CA) is a people-centred model of development and involves the process of acquiring more capabilities and enjoying more opportunities to use those capabilities. With more capabilities and opportunities, people have more choices. Expanding choices is at the core of the capability approach. Over the past decades, Amartya Sen’s capability theory has emerged as a serious alternative model of progress and development. It is both comprehensive and flexible. It shifts the development discourse from pursuing material opulence to enhancing human well-being, from maximizing income to expanding capabilities, from optimizing growth to enlarging freedoms. Sen’s approach focuses on the richness of human lives rather than simply on the richness of economies, and in doing so it has changed the lens for viewing development results. It is broader than other approaches, such as the human resource approach, the basic needs, minimum rights and the human welfare approaches. People should be the focus of development. A Paradigm Shift! People who have grown seeing economic growth as development will undergo a paradigm shift in their thinking when they step into Amartya Sen’s capability approach of development. People obsessed to measure human well-being in simplistic money terms get disheartened when the CA reveals social, personal or say, psychological dimensions of development. And people who have grown up taking economic expansion as the only goal of development are confused when Sen puts ‘people first.’ Rather than talking of philosophical equality of people, the capability approach explicitly recognizes the individual differences coming from things like age, sex, race, class, health, disability, intelligence, education and so on. It also accepts that people’s abilities are influence by external factors – other people, social arrangements, access to infrastructure and public services, freedom to speak and participate, state policies and so on. Since it considers people as humans (and not as mere consumers) the scope of the capability approach is quite vast. All possible factors – personal, economic, social, political, or environmental – that can possibly influence human capabilities which dictate the real well-being of people, come relevant. In this approach social exclusion is as important as racial discrimination. Resource based theories do not acknowledge the fact that people differ in their abilities to convert their resources into capabilities. The capability approach rejects normative evaluations based exclusively on commodities, incomes, or material resources. The capabilities don’t refer exclusively to a person’s abilities or internal powers, but it refers to an opportunity made feasible (and constrained by) both internal (personal) and external (social and environmental) factors. In the capability framework, poverty is seen as deprivation of capabilities, which limits the freedom to pursue the goals in life. For Sen ‘capability deprivation’ is a better measure of poverty than lowness of income. He asserts that poverty should be seen "as a deprivation of basic capabilities, rather than inadequate income. If in today’s world of sheer abundance there are people living in poverty, they are living in a state of 'un-freedom', unable to realize their capabilities. Salient Features Of The Capability Approach The capability approach focuses on people as humans, not as mere consumers. It focuses on individuals, unlike the basic needs and standard of living approaches that concentrate on households. It views goal of development as expansion of people’s freedom, not expansion of economy. The capability perspective is intrinsically multidimensional; it is concerned with a plurality of different features of our lives and concerns. It considers individual differences. For instance, it recognizes that senior citizens, young children, people with disability need extra attention. It does not see people in isolation, but inherently considers societal, political and other factors that affect people’s lives and capabilities to function. It focuses, not on poverty, but on the poor – in terms of capabilities’ deprivation. 2. Core Concepts: Functionings, Capabilities And Agency Sen argues that people’s well-being depends upon what they are actually capable to be and do with resources, facility and freedom available to them. Knowing what a person has doesn’t tell about how well his life is going. A simple example: Having a cycle doesn’t say that the owner has acquired the capability of mobility from it. He might simply doesn’t like to ride the cycle, or he might be handicapped, or doesn’t know how to ride it. Functionings: Life of a person to consist of “a sequence of things the person does, or states of being he achieves: together they constitute 'functionings'.” Thus, functionings are what people actually “do and are” – they are achievements of people. Taken together, these doings and beings – achieved functionings – give value to life. They can be both basic and complex achievements. Putting in simple words, functionings are various things a person value being and doing — such as being happy, being literate, able to work, rest, adequately nourished and in good health, as well as having self-respect and participating in social and political activities. Achieving a functioning with available resources and facilities depends on a range of personal and social factors (e.g. age, gender, activity levels, health, access to medical services, nutritional knowledge and education, climatic conditions, and so on). A functioning therefore refers to the use a person makes of whatever is at his/her command. They are closely related to another core concept: capability. Capabilities may be visualized to have two parts: functionings and the substantive freedom to choose from them. They denote a person’s opportunity and ability to achieve desired outcomes, considering all internal and external factors. Most significantly the freedom should be intrinsic (has valuable in and of itself). If the freedom were just a means to achieve an end then the capability set would simply the combination of functionings. Thus, the capability approach is not merely concerned with achievements (outcomes), but basically with freedom of choice, which is of direct importance to a person's quality of life. They are like opportunities about what a person may like to do, have, or be. In other words, capabilities refer to the real freedoms a person “enjoys to lead the kind of life he/she has reason to value”. Consider the difference between fasting and starving, on a person's well-being. Fasting involves a choice to not eat despite the availability of food, but another (poor) person starves because he has no choice. Clearly, the difference is the freedom of choice. Therefore, having a lifestyle is not the same as choosing it – it is important to emphasize that well-being depends on how that lifestyle came to be. Difference between functionings and capabilities Functionings refer to what people actually “do and are” and capabilities denote what people really “can do and can be”. The achieved functionings are the realized achievements and the capabilities are potentially possible. Functionings are, in a sense, more directly related to living conditions, since they are different aspects of actual living. Capabilities, in contrast, reflect his freedom to choose between alternative combinations of functionings. In the absence of freedom to choose, we would only be talking about his functionigs – what he can do or be. Therefore, the freedom to choose is inherent in the definition of capability. The difference can be best illustrated with an example. Consider two persons, both without enough to eat. One is a victim of a famine in Africa and the other is sitting on a hunger strike in New York to protest against US troops in Afghanistan. Although both lack the functioning of being well-fed, their freedoms to avoid hunger are vastly different. The former is badly constrained in freedom and lacks the capability to achieve the functioning to be well-fed; the later has this capability even though he is choosing to be hungry. Agency The capability approach of development is about enlarging freedoms so that all people can pursue choices that they value. Such freedoms have two fundamental aspects — freedom of well-being, represented by functionings and capabilities, and freedom of agency, represented by voice and autonomy. Both types of freedoms are absolutely necessary for human development. Agency is related to what a person is free to do and achieve in pursuit of whatever goals or values he or she regards as important. Amartya Sen defines an agent as someone who brings about change. Agency in the context of capabilities approach primarily refers to a person's interactive role in the society – his freedom to participate in economic, social, and political actions. In order to be agents of their lives, people need an environment where they have the freedom to speak in public without fear, raise their voices, associate with others and influence external factors that affect their lives. It points to the importance of fostering institutional participation, public debates, democratic practices, and empowering policies. These are all on-monetary dimensions of life and particularly important for poverty alleviation, sees as expansion of capabilities. Capability Theory Homelessness in Rich Countries As of 2012 there were 633,000 homeless people in the United States and 284,000 in Germany. Such anomalies are part of GDP model of development which is blind to people’s well-being. 3. Poverty In Rich Countries The capability approach doesn’t need to distinguish between developed and developing societies. The per capita GDP is the common way to compare countries’ state of development. It is expected that economic growth should automatically make people’s life better but there is no straightforward relation between per capita GDP and quality of life. For example, Sri Lanka and the Indian state of Kerala have low per capita GDP but have higher life expectancies and literacy rates than richer countries like Brazil and South Africa. Likewise, the African Americans in the US have lower life expectancy than China or Kerala despite higher average income. Clearly, growing national wealth doesn’t automatically translate into enhanced well-being of all people. Economic growth, as we notice around the world, tends to concentrate wealth in few richest hands and very little (sometimes hardly anything) reaches the poorest section of the society. Recent reports from Oxfam International points to the disturbing trend of rising inequality where wealth is increasingly concentrating in few hands. These reports are eye opening and underscore this point with global examples and highlight how the rich elites influence state policies in their favor, which excludes the ordinary citizens from the development process. Consequently, particularly those at the bottom remain trapped in system created state of deprivations. The human development report of 1996 also pointed out: “The imbalances in economic growth, if allowed to continue, will produce a world gargantuan in its excesses and grotesque in its human and economic inequalities.” 4. Non-monetary Poverty It is not sufficient to know how much access a person has to resources in order to know his capabilities – well-being he has achieved or can achieve. Rather, we need to know much more about the person and the circumstances in which he or she is living. The capabilities don’t refer exclusively to his abilities or internal powers, but it refers to an opportunity made feasible (and constrained by) both internal (personal) and external (social and environmental) factors. Resource based theories do not acknowledge that people differ in their abilities to convert these resources into capabilities. The capability approach rejects normative evaluations based exclusively on commodities, incomes, or material resources. Resource- based theories do not acknowledge that people differ in their abilities to convert these resources into capabilities. 5. Importance Of Freedom and Democracy As mentioned above “freedom” is a vital part of the capability theory. Lack of freedom limits people capabilities in different ways. But this freedom is not what is given on paper by the national Constitution; it is also not the right to vote in elections. It is the ‘real’ freedom enjoyed by individuals so that they can live their lives in the manner they want. Likewise “democracy is best seen as governance by discussion” – namely, people's participation and public reasoning. Citing the history of global famines, Sen asserts that “no famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy”. He cites India’s example, “The prevalence of famines, which had been a persistent feature of the long history of the British Indian Empire, ended abruptly with the establishment of a democracy after independence.” This is because democratic governments “have to win elections and face public criticism, and have strong incentive to undertake measures to avert famines and other catastrophes”. As a contrary historical example, he cites is the massive famine in China during 1958-61 during the failed 'Great Leap Forward', which claimed close to 30 million of lives. Loss of lives could have been avoided if people and the media in China had freedom to report the truth. For various self serving reasons local authorities also did not convey the ground reality to their top bosses. In the context, particularly of poor nations, people often think that freedom counterproductive to both political stability and development. Thus, they recommend restrictions and authoritative rule. However, Sen takes the opposing view and cites the examples of Taiwan and Thailand and claims that the rapid transformation of East Asian economies resulted from the “social opportunities” provided by governments in the form of schooling, basic health care, basic land reform, and micro-credit. As a result of development, these economies became more democratic. Taking the same logic forward, Sen points to the breakdown of former Soviet Union and asserts that political liberties are essential for sustainable development. Thus, comparing the development strategies of India and China he argues that democratic India holds more promise for a long term and sustainable development. 6. Development means Expansion of People’s Freedom "The success of a society is to be evaluated primarily by the freedoms that members of the society enjoy." – Amartya Sen Freedom is the primary goal of development; freedom is also the principal means of development. It is “the enhancement of freedoms that allow people to lead lives that they have reason to live”. Thus, development is the process of expanding human freedom. It also means removal of contrary forces that restrict people’s freedoms such as poverty, all types of discrimination and inequalities, neglect of public facilities, lack of economic opportunities, social exclusion, authoritative state policies that limit freedom and so on. He asserts that development is enhanced by democracy and the promotion of human rights – notably freedom of the press, speech, and assembly – because they foster clean, honest and accountable governance. Development as Freedom! In his book Development as Freedom, Sen prescribed five types of freedoms that “tend to contribute to the general capability of a person to live more freely.” They are interdependent and interconnected. Indeed, these interconnections are central to a fuller understanding of the instrumental role of freedom. Political Freedoms: They essentially include functioning democracy, freedom to scrutinize and criticize actions of authorities, freedom of expression and speech, and presence of free press.
Economic Facilities: such as People’s opportunity to possess and use economic resources or entitlements.
Social opportunities: They include people’s ability to access health and education services, opportunities to participate in social processes and activities.
Guarantees of Transparent Governance: This concerns transparency in the functioning of authorities so that people can trust the system and information they receive.
Protective Security: This pertains to social protections of the vulnerable people so that they don’t fall into abject deprivation. It includes welfare programs and mechanisms to support and empower the weakest segment of the society. Expanding these freedoms constitute not only the means, but also the end in development. The state must play its role in supporting freedoms by providing infrastructure and easy access to public services, social safety nets, good macroeconomic policies, and environmental protection.   7. Freedoms Supports Expansion of Capabilities Freedom means having space to acquire capabilities and using them as one would want to. What people are “capable” of doing (achieving) is influenced by the freedom to avail economic opportunities and state programs and ability to enjoy political liberties and social powers. It is necessary to evaluate the status of freedom enjoyed by the individuals so that effective developmental policies could be framed. In the context of anti-poverty programs, the individuals need to be seen as “agents of change” rather than “patients” diagnosed with the “illness of poverty”. It means looking into their capabilities rather than just their income levels – more precisely, evaluating their deprivation in capability terms, not in economic terms. In other words, one needs to probe the potentials of the individual and the constraints in realizing them, as opposed to simply seeing their (often averaged out) income, consumption or expenditure. It will map out development in terms of freedoms (or their lack) enjoyed by individuals in the societies – it will be something like a Human Freedom Index. Microfinance and Capability Approach The Power of Micro-Credit!! “The poor themselves can create a poverty-free world... all we have to do is to free them from the chains that we have put around them.” – Muhammad Yunus, Bangladeshi Nobel laureate of 2006 and founder of the Grameen Bank to help women and poor through micro-credit The Grameen Bank has helped 10 million Bangladeshis move above World Bank's $1.25-a-day threshold of extreme poverty. 8. People are “Agents” of Change Sen sees people as “Agents” of Change, not passive recipients of benefits or mute followers of expert created policies. In Sen’s view, in the development process “people have to be seen … as being actively involved – given the opportunity – in shaping their own destiny, and not just as passive recipients of the fruits of cunning development programs.” So the central theme of development is to enable people to become agents of change in their own lives. When people, individually or in groups, are recognized as agents, they can define their priorities and also choose the suitable means to achieve them. However, people differ in the ability to use the available freedom and choices and hence, in what they can achieve. In order to be good agents of change, people need the freedom to be educated and healthy, to speak in public without fear, to participate in the social and political processes, etc. On the positive side, once people have these freedoms they can themselves build the environment in which they can be educated, healthy and speak freely and participate, and so on. 9. Accepting Human Diversity A unique feature of the capability approach is that it recognizes individual differences. Sen accepts this as ‘realism’ and steers clear of the stereotype idealism, ‘all men are equal’. He takes it as a fundamental aspect of our interest in equality” and does not consider human diversity as a secondary complication (to be ignored, or to be introduced ‘later on’!). The capability approach categorically recognizes that there will be variations among people in conversion of resources into functionings and capabilities. These variations in conversion arise either due to personal or socio-environmental factors. The diversity will also be seen in the variations in the income-using ability of individuals, and also in their income-earning ability. An important consequence of acceptance of diversity among people is that they can’t be assessed uniquely in terms of resources they posses; they can only be judged in terms of what they are capable of ‘doing’ or ‘being’ with the available resources. Indeed, if people were not diverse, then inequality in one aspect (say income) would more or less be identical with inequality in another aspect like capabilities.   10. Poverty is Deprivation of Basic Capabilities Poverty must be seen as the deprivation of basic capabilities rather than merely the lowness of incomes. – Amartya Sen Sen has argued that poverty should be seen as the deprivation of basic capabilities, where that deprivation limits the freedom of a person to pursue their goals in life. For Sen “capability deprivation” is a better measure of poverty than lowness of income. For instance, in India over 50% of all malnourished children come from non poor families. When the Indian government claims that the poverty is down to 22% or 29% it is mere statistics that tells nothing about people’s state of well being, which ultimately depends upon what they can or cannot do – their capabilities. In the context of measuring poverty, Sen asserts that “identifying a minimal combination of basic capabilities can be a good way of setting up the problem of diagnosing and measuring poverty.” In Amartya Sen’s view, all individuals are endowed with a certain set of capabilities. If situation is created so that they can realize their capabilities they will automatically escape from poverty (ie, from their state of 'un-freedom'). If in today’s world of sheer abundance there are people living in poverty, they are living in a state of 'un-freedom', unable to realize their capabilities. The capability approach has revolutionized the approach to development and poverty. It is taking the thinking into areas never considered relevant before. It recognizes the presence of poverty in the economically rich countries, again in terms of deprivation of capabilities. Inequality and social exclusion have emerged as two most common side effects of the current economic growth model. While it becomes only too obvious in the poor economies, it remains somewhat camouflaged in the opulence of the rich societies. 11. Influence of Amartya Sen’s Capability Theory The Capability Approach has been highly influential in the context of international development. It has led to a paradigm shift in the understanding of ‘development’, away from the narrow confines of economic growth to a focus of “poverty as a denial of choices and opportunities for living a tolerable life.” Despite the challenges, attempts to apply the CA have mushroomed in recent years. Among other things the CA has been used to investigate poverty, inequality, well-being, social justice, gender, social exclusion, health, disability, child poverty and identity. It has also been related to human needs, human rights and human security. Numerous attempts have been made to apply the CA to the measurement of poverty and human well-being. While most applications focus on functioning, some studies have tried to capture capabilities in terms of freedom to choose or human talents and skills. Perhaps, the most well known measure is the human development index (HDI)of the UNDP, for which a significant contribution was made by Dr Mahbubul Haq – noted Pakistani economist (who died in 1998) and Sen’s lifelong buddy. The first Human Development Report of 1990 defined human development as “a process of enlarging people’s choices” and stated that “income is a means, not an end” of human development (p. 10). It was a major shift away from seeing development as mere economic growth and towards sustainable human development. It underscored that the economic growth is not an end in itself; it is only an important tool to achieve the end goal, which is human development. Development ought to be people-centric and both socially and environmentally sensitive. The annual UNDP reports also began a process of questioning the wisdom of 'trickle down' economics. 12. Challenges in applying the Capability approach Compared with the income perspective of development translating the capability approach into practice is quite challenging due to the emphasis on value judgments with high informational requirement and its multidimensional nature. In the capability approach the units of evaluations are not opulence (utilities, goods and resources) but functionings (doings and beings). People attach varying importance to different functionings; some functionings can be essential and important, others can be trivial and valueless. But ultimately it is their freedom. A person’s freedom to live the way one would like has intrinsic value – it constitutes a person’s being. It means not only the achieved functionings are valuable but also the individuals’ capability to choose and discriminate among different possible living. Emphasis on freedom to choose also brings out the point that not any choice counts; but only those that reflect an expansion of valuable choices. These will be different for different individuals. In ‘Development as Freedom’, Sen argues that “People have to be seen in this perspective, as being actively involved in shaping their own destiny (given the opportunity). They are not mere passive recipients of the benefits of the development programs.” This aspect emphasizes the role of individual’s initiative and their effectiveness in social settings. Now the question is: how to put the capability approach into practice if the capability is a possibility (exercised or not) and not an actuality? Since the capabilities denote potential opportunities they are not directly observable. Thus, the assessment of capabilities has to proceed primarily on the basis of noting the actual functionings; it can be supplemented by other information. It should work because the valuation of actual functionings is one way of assessing how a person values his options. A practical way is to combine the information from income data with social functionings. This should easily work at the macro level and not much difference is expected between the capability approach and other approaches that also explore development in terms of non-income variables. However, at the micro level significant differences are expected where the capability approach (CA) allows people to express their ‘power of discrimination’ about what is good life for them. Measuring Capabilities Require Different Procedure The existing poverty evaluations rely on income surveys which provide no guidance for policy interventions other than economic growth through top-down approach. If expansion of human capabilities is going to be the prime goal of development, then progress need to be evaluated differently. Rather than income (or material) measures one has to now probe people’s capabilities. To apply the capability approach, capability surveys need to be designed to assess capabilities and potentials, rather than incomes, in order to determine the constraints or un-freedoms that restrict capability expansion. The conditions leading to constraint are, by nature, subjective. Therefore, the input must come through a participatory process following a down-top approach, rather than from statistical analysis of ‘experts’. 13. Critique Of Capability Approach Sen’s thesis is focused on individualism and localism. It almost entirely revolves around the individual – his abilities and choices. In short, it boils down to ‘what can I get from what I have, under the given conditions.’ His theory ultimately appears to come out in favor of capitalism running on principles of justice and good ethics. Yet he offers no strategy for creation of such good conduct. In reality, markets are everything but just or moral. Impact of Global Powers and Processes Amartya Sen’s theory is clearly a humane one and has won widespread acclaim, even by the mainstream economists. However, his thesis squarely rests on Western individualism and fails to provide critical analysis of major western states and institutions. The focus of today’s mainstream development is on development of possessive individualism, where freedom means security of property and ease tradability in the market. This has entered into Sen’s development concept also. Thus, his theory is silent on impact of global capitalism; it ignores the problems of unequal trade rules that favour the rich corporations and individuals. The current philosophy is represented in the Washington Consensus, trade liberalization, and in agreements such as the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and Trade in Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). What goes on in the name of liberalization actually breaks down the communities and sense of justice. Today, people who manage to gain good education and skills find themselves constrained by the way the market functions, which decides where they can sell their labor, to whom, for what price, and the manner how it is used. As a result, they are left with little freedom that Sen considers vital for ‘development’. Meanwhile, the highly powerful “institution of speculators” and middlemen operate in a way that effectively decouples prices from the demand-supply equation of the market. Their manipulative tactics sap away considerable freedom of individuals – leaving them with practically no choice. Sen’s theory assumes presence of an honest and just world which is ruled by the most ‘capable,’ which makes it an ideal theory without legs to stand on the uneven ground.   Conclusion Despite the idealism, Amartya Sen’s capability approach to development has left strong impact on the global developmental discourse. It provides a unified view of development and poverty – the opposite side of each other. If development is expansion of people’s capabilities, poverty is just the opposite – deprivation of basic capabilities. The capability approach has put the idea of development in the right perspective by considering it as a multidimensional process that can’t be adequately viewed from any one dimensional lens such as economic growth. This then makes poverty also a situation with multidimensional deficits in development. Since capabilities go hand in hand with freedom, the development must necessarily involve expansion of people’s freedom which creates an enabling atmosphere for building capabilities. This offers directional guidance to the policymakers. Development also necessarily involves identifying factors that go against such enabling environments. This takes the development discourse to social, political and (now) environmental platforms (due to worsening climate change issues) to uncover what restricts people’s freedom and choices. Disclaimer This page aims to convey basic ideas of Amartya Sen's development theory for ordinary people. Much research has been done on capability theory. Students should consult relevant journals for better accuracy.   https://hubpages.com/education/Amartya-Sens-Concept-of-Development-and-Poverty
 

Why "Development" should Focus on People, Not Economy

Why "Development" should Focus on People, Not Economy Development should focus on people, not economy. Why Poverty? Let's Talk People's Development People should be the Focus of Development “People are the real wealth of a nation.” This is how the historic first Human Development Report titled “Concept and Measurement of Human Development” in 1990 opened, outlining the onset of a new thinking on what development should be and how to go about quantifying it. Since then, each annual human development report has touched on a specific theme around “human development” and catalyzed the developmental policies around the world. These reports underscore the point that people’s sense of well-being can’t be described or measured in monetary parameters alone and outline “what is development”, “why it should focus on people” and “how to go about measuring it”. Reading these reports year-after-year, clearly shows how countries are stuck with “merely economic growth” in the name of development and are actually paying a huge human cost to achieve it. The point is made amply clear by Nobel laureate economist and philosopher Amartya Sen in this quote below: "Human development, as an approach, is concerned with what I take to be the basic development idea: namely, advancing the richness of human life, rather than the richness of the economy in which human beings live, which is only a part of it." –Amartya Sen, 1998 When development is correctly viewed as an all encompassing development of societies by putting people at the center-stage, fresh new insights develop in the understanding of poverty which can be seen as a lack of well-being (or as ill-being) of people. What comes out is a new perspective of poverty, not possible from the income or monetary vintage points. The most notable impact is that poverty no longer remains neither an economic problem alone, nor income the only solution; the importance of its social, cultural and political dimensions also becomes clear. For example, social exclusion comes into picture because it promotes and sustains poverty, and weak gender of women becomes an issue because it increases their vulnerability to poverty. Such things remain hidden as long as poverty is seen form the monetary perspective. This brings out the multidimensional nature of poverty which enables policymakers to create more effective and realistic anti-poverty policies. School Meal - Food for Body and Mind both From the Human Development Report, 1996 ♦ The imbalances in economic growth if allowed to continue will produce a world gargantuan in its excesses and grotesque in its human and economic inequalities. ♦ Development that perpetuates today’s inequality is neither sustainable nor worth sustaining. ♦ Human Development is the END, economic growth a MEANS. ♦ Human development and economic growth should move together, strongly linked. ♦ Investing in women’s capabilities and empowering them is the surest way to contribute to overall development. ♦ From the human development perspective, poverty means denial of choices and opportunities for a tolerable life. Why Development needed Redefining? The 1980s saw emergence of development approaches in the West which equated development with economic growth resulting in top-down market growth strategies. Under the leadership of economists, programs of privatization and deregulation were launched with the assumption that the economic growth would trickle down to the poor and end poverty – and everyone would be happy. However, the idea of economic growth as a universal panacea to solve all social ills proved illusory. Social dynamics and complexity of human lives proved too much to have such a simplistic approach. It resulted in things unacceptable to most rational thinkers. For instance, highly unequal wealth distribution and the oligarchy of the rich few controlling everything; acceptance of entrenched poverty even in rich societies and things like child labor; social exclusion of the weak and poor; neglect of the environment; increasing crimes and weakening of community fabric despite increasing wealth in the societies. It made consumption the sole standard of development resulting in an increasing competition for consumption of natural resources. In fact, it evolved a culture where wealth and its accumulation became the sole lifestyle. [Three decades later, the impact of this narrow brand of development which views people as mere input to the economic engine is clear in the worldwide wave of money based monoculture that excludes everything else people grow up valuing.] As a result, scholars and thinkers began questioning the monetary concept of development and poverty. Researchers started talking about ways to measure human well-being, in terms other-than income or consumption. Many, such as Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the Pakistani economist who later played a vital role in formulating the human development reports, recognized the need for a better development model. Initially, the basic needs approach (BNA) to poverty dominated the minds of leading development experts like Haq and the World Bank, after it evolved in the International Labor Organization (ILO). The BNA recognizes that the poor need certain basic minimum goods and services such as food, healthcare, shelter, education etc to lead a decent life. The ease of implementation was perhaps its biggest strength. But it was not a complete development model and concentrated only on goods and services – decided by the experts. It left the poor as mere passive spectators. Moreover, the BNA is limited to mere consumption of goods and services; not with the true objective of development which is to lead a decent and fulfilling life. The BNA is also silent about non-poor. Ultimately, it was Amartya Sen who provided a coherent and theoretically sound framework for development through the people-centric capabilities approach.   The Human Development Approach Amartya Sen’s capability approach sees development from a much deeper perspective. It views development as enhancement of people’s potential to be and to do, in terms of people’s capabilities, so that they are enabled to live a long and healthy life, have access to knowledge and a decent standard of living, and participate in the community activities and decisions affecting their lives. It considers income and commodities as important means, but remains focused on people’s capabilities and the freedom to lead life they value. It is relevant to rich as well as poor societies – a big advantage over the BNA. Sen’s theory and others working on the similar theme provided the conceptual foundation for an alternative and broader human development approach. The capability approach challenges the popular commodity based understanding of poverty and discards the measurement of poverty based solely on income. It does not see people as mere tools (means) of development (seen as economic growth); they are the “target” of development. It is comprehensive and recognizes the important role of economic growth and technology along with many other factors which are social, political and environmental but only as means towards expansion of people’s capabilities – the real development. Poverty is Lack of Human Development The human development is concerned with enhancing people’s choices and freedoms in order to make them more capable so that they can lead a long, healthy and creative life enjoying a decent standard of living, dignity, self-respect and respect for others. In this context, poverty must mean denial of opportunity to lead such a life. It is a situation that that deprives people of basic capabilities that are essential for people to live with some minimum well-being in the society. For example, absence of economic infrastructure; social discriminations, whether based on class, gender, race, religion or region; inability to access public services of say, healthcare, educational or banking, for whatever reason; hunger and poverty; inability to participate in economic, social and political activities and processes for whatever reasons; and so on. All such factors restrict the development (of people) and cause or sustain poverty. Thus, the human development model will address issues like social exclusion that denies the poor voice and participation in social and political processes, gender inequality that limits the freedoms of the weaker gender, all forms of discrimination because they limit participation and freedom of people, and so on. From the policymakers’ perspective, the poverty of choices and opportunities is often more relevant than the poverty of income, because it leads directly to strategies of empowerment and other actions that enhance opportunities for everyone. Education is highly empowering. Putting Theory into Practice Mahbub ul Haq, and his team consisting of BNA and capabilities thinkers, is credited for putting Sen’s ideas into practice in the human development approach. He also created the configuration of the Human Development Index (HDI) as an alternate measure of progress, within the UN Development Program’s annual Human Development Reports. It was a major shift away from the usual income or economic growth (GDP) considerations of the World Bank’s annual World Development Reports (HDRs). The HDI combines measures of life expectancy, literacy and command over the resources to enjoy a decent standard of living. The annual HDRs published since 1990 have considerably enriched the understanding of development from the perspective of enhancing human capabilities and freedom through the yardstick of the HDI. When countries are ranked on their HDI score, an entirely different picture of the world emerges – repeatedly underscoring the fact that high national income does not necessarily enhance the wellbeing of people. These reports have had a profound impact on development policies around the world. By now policymakers around the world have come to recognize that good human development involves inclusive economic growth, equitable distribution of income and well targeted social expenditures. It has also emerged that empowering girls and women through education and participation is perhaps the most effective social development tool. The HDI, as constituted, is in no way the only index possible. Sen has remarked – the idea of human development goes well beyond the HDI. Looking at Poverty, Beyond Lack of Income Poverty is Multidimensional, So should be Development Poverty and Development have Several Dimensions The HD approach framework, while underscoring the shortcomings of income and basic needs approaches, brings out a multidimensional picture of poverty as well as of development. Most importantly, it goes beyond monetary and consumption based assessment of poverty and focuses on participation and empowerment – in order to eliminate exclusion and marginalization of the poor and to give them the opportunities to be heard and freedom of choices. It also goes beyond physical conditions or possessions to institutional and political elements. Most importantly, the poor are not seen as patients diagnosed with a disease called poverty; they are seen as active agents of change in their own lives. The very idea of the HDI also gave rise to other indexes: gender related development index, gender empowerment measure, human poverty index which in 2010 gave way to an elaborate multidimensional poverty index. Conclusion Although the idea of people development has been around since Aristotle, the efforts to introduce the human development approach should be seen as a course correction so that people become the focus of development – through expansion of their freedom and capabilities. It provides a blueprint for enriching human life – as opposed to enriching economy – of the current generation without jeopardizing the well-being of the future generation through advancing inclusiveness, fairness and justice in the world. The HDI may tell us a little more about the human quality of life than does the GDP, but assessing the quality of life is a much more complex exercise than what can be captured through only one number. Nor can it be left to the experts and their math skills. But it certainly makes sense to say that people should be the end of development, not economy which is just a mean, at best an important mean.   https://hubpages.com/education/Why-Development-should-be-Peoples-Development
 

Kashmir: Where Religion Is Killing Culture

Kashmir: Where Religion Is Killing Culture Updated on August 26, 2017 Kashmiri Pandits are Refugees in their Own Nation Is There a "Kashmir Problem" in Kashmir? Kashmir’s Culture is Unique! The Kashmir Valley is easily counted among the most scenic places on the earth: snow covered mountain peaks, lush green pastures and meadows, orchards of almonds and apples, Chinar trees, magnificent lakes and springs, Mughal gardens, handicrafts and Pashmina shawls. What tourists experience is a surreal bliss. Native Kashmiris proudly call their land, the ‘Pir Vaer’ – the alcove of Sufis and Saints. Over the centuries, a unique culture evolved in Kashmir; a hybrid mix of Hindu and Sufi spiritualities. In ancient India, Himalayan region used to be the cherished abode of saints and sages who lived in isolation and strived for liberation (moksha, in Sanskrit). As Islam arrived in Kashmir, its spiritual essence practiced by Sufis synched well with universal Hindu spirituality. Kashimiris proudly call this culture ‘Kashmiriyat’ – it gave them their unique identity. It is an open culture that transcends the narrow philosophies that get boxed as religion. Kashmiriyat does not recognize divisive boundaries that divide humanity. This makes it closer to Hinduism that sees humanity as one global community. This confuses stereotype Muslims who are trained to see humanity divided between the believers and non-believers, and want to see everything as Islamic or un-Islamic. Without understanding Kashmiriyat or Kashmiri-ness one can’t understand Kashmiri people. Just as there is German-ness in Germans and French-ness in French, people of Kashmir have their Kashmiriyat. Most people in France and Germany may be Christians, but that doesn’t give them the French or German traits. Seeing them as mere Christians would be both wrong and deceptive. This logic applies perfectly well on Kashmir and its natives – Hindus, Buddhists or Muslims. Imagine what would happen to France if radical Christians from outside start meddling in France in the name of Christianity and start imposing unhealthy ideas under threat. But this clearly what is going on in the Kashmir valley – conspiratorial meddling in Kashmir by radical Islamists trained in ‘jehad factories’ and sent from across the border to spread violence and terror. Terrorists are seen as highly important ‘strategic national assets’ by the Islamic State of Pakistan which is more Wahhabi than Islamic now. Since 2002, while pretending to fight jehadi terrorists alongside the US in Afghanistan Pakistan continued to use aid money to nurture its terror industry. Americans have woken up to this double game much too late – after 17 years of ‘war against terror’ Afghanistan, losing several thousand troops and handing over more than 60 billion dollars to Pak generals. President Trump now vows to disinfect Pak-Afghan region from the Jehadi virus. Let’s see how it unfolds. Coming back to the topic, let’s first understand how Kashmir’s beautiful culture evolved since ancient times. Historical Evolution of Kashmiri Culture Since the ancient Vedic period, being situated in the Himalayan ranges, Kashmir has also been the abode of spiritual seekers who renounced the worldly life to experience self-realization and liberation from all human suffering (Moksha or Nirvana in Sanskrit). Attaining Moksha has been the spiritual goal of every Hindu’s life since ancient times. These saintly people lived in isolated areas and led ascetic life fully devoted to spiritual practices. These sages were called Rishis (in Sanskrit) because they explored the Rit or Nature of existence – which is collectively called Dharma. They can be clearly seen as the dedicated spiritual scientists who studied all facets of human existence and its interconnections with everything else in the Nature. Various yogic practices and meditation techniques evolved as a result of their efforts. Mastery over the mind was an integral part of their life, which they used both as an instrument and as an analyst. The knowledge was put in the Vedas and other texts. Vedas are called so because they came from personal experience, not imagined concepts or logical inferences. In this timeless chain of spiritual scientists, the Buddha is a famous example who lived 500 years before the Christ. All such enlightened saints taught how to live a life according to “Dharma” – which is all about right conduct coming from doing the right thing in thoughts, words and deeds – to enjoy peace and harmony. This art of leading a ‘dharma’ based life is universal; for the whole humanity. Different saints taught in different ways, but they were all seen as different paths leading to the same ultimate truth – this collectively evolved to be what is called “Hinduism” today. It is a collection of plurality and is entirely different from the monolithic ‘religions’ or ‘faiths’ that later evolved in the West. Thus, Kashmir has been a land of Rishis – ascetics, recluses and sages of different spiritual traditions, since time immemorial. Sufi Muslims too got absorbed in that tradition. For tourists, Kashmir is the Switzerland of India Arrival of Sufi Islam in Kashmir Perhaps the earliest known (and recorded) Sufi saint in Kashmir was an Islamic saint from Turkistan, Syed Sharif-ud-Din Abdur Rehman who arrived towards the end of 13thcentury. He later became popular as Bulbul Shah. He was followed by many Sufi saints from Turkistan who arrived in the 14th century looking for safe refuge to avoid persecution in their home Islamic societies. Kashmir offered them an ideal environment – long nurtured by countless sages and rishis. People of Kashmir accepted them as practitioners of just another tradition and held them also in very high esteem. What distinguished the Sufis from their other co-religions was their absolute focus on the “essence” of Islam which is spiritual. Unlike others, they did not preach mere ‘words’ of Islam or used Islam as a political tool for dominance, but actually ‘lived’ the “spirit” of Islam. They communicated through their conduct. Keeping away from all worldly pleasures, they also devoted fully to prayers or meditation, like ancient saints of the soil. Their extremely simple, humble and compassionate demeanors resembled closely with the conduct of the ancient rishis. Since the Sufis followed the ‘essence’ of the prophet’s teachings, it couldn’t be different from the Indian “Dharma” – the universal laws of ethics and morality, lived and taught by countless sages since ages. Their deep commitment to the philosophy of Divine Unity (wahdat-ul-wajud) mirrored the Hindu philosophy of non duality (Advaita). Thus, even if these Sufi saints used Arabic phrases their message of universal love, peace and ‘oneness of humanity’ easily transcended the divides of languages, faiths and beliefs. So the Sufi Islamic culture amalgamated with the profound ‘dharma’ knowledge to produce a unique society where religious labels got subordinated to human identity. Kashmir Sufism The Sufi – Rishi Culture of Kashmir Sheikh Nur ud-Din Noorani (1377-1440), more popular as Nund Rishi, is often seen as the pioneer of the Sufi Rishi tradition in Kashmir. People saw him as an ‘enlightened’ saint for whom Islam was a universal message of love, tolerance and service, and at the same time a crusader against social injustice and useless rituals. Serving humanity was a cornerstone of this tradition and helping the poor and suffering people was seen superior to rituals of worshipping God. A lot of people who abhorred the Brahmin and their dry ritualism were automatically attracted towards the simple and welcoming Sufi Rishi culture. Even in those days, their message of universal goodness was often taken as a threat both by the “Bookish” Islamic priests living on doles from the rulers of Kashmir as well as the arrogant Brahminical establishment. Their message of “one God for the whole humanity” was particularly threatening to the orthodox Islamic preachers for whom maintaining the distinction between believers and non-believers was essential to maintain their authority on people. Once, sensing tension between Hindus and Muslims, Nund Rishi advised: "We belong to the same parents. Then why this conflict?
Let Hindus and Muslims (together) Worship God alone.
We came to this world like partners. We should share our joys and sorrows together." Nund Rishi also holds importance in the Valley’s history because he broke away from the tradition of writing in Sanskrit or Persian and started writing in the local Kashmiri language. He was highly venerated and he became a spiritual legend even beyond Kashmir border. Almost 400 years later during 1821-23, the Afghan governor, Ata Muhammad Khan, minted coins bearing his name. His tomb is located in Chrar-e-Sharif, about 20 miles from Srinagar. People of all faiths visit his shrine to take solace in the serene and sublime environment. The annual Urs celebrations attract people not just from Kashmir but from other Indian states and abroad too. It is this secular culture of Kashmir that Kashmiris proudly call their “Kashmiriyat”; it doesn’t recognize the narrow confinements of faiths and beliefs. It is a melodious synthesis of universal “Dharma” and “spiritual essence” of Prophet’s teachings. It is only in Kashmir where many Muslims have Hindu surnames such as 'pandit' and 'bhat'! Islamic Terror in Kashmir Kashmir's Stateless People The Sufi-Rishi Culture comes under Attack But sadly, this sublime spiritual culture is under severe attack, particularly since late 1980s – predictably by radical militant Islam. It worries all far sighted Kashmiris and people of India. But, why would anyone attack such a peaceful and humane culture? The answer lies in the regional politics of Indo-Pak rivalry and Islamization of what was a purely political issue. A quick walk down the memory lane up to 1947 will provide the perspective to understand what is going on today. Kashmir dispute in brief When the colonial British left India in 1947, the country was partitioned based on a two nation theory to meet the Muslim demand for a separate Isalmic nation. The then India was a sum total of 561 tiny princely states ruled by Rajahs or Nawabs; they were given the option of joining either side or staying sovereign. Most chose sides but some harbored the ambition of sovereignty. Ruler of Kashmir was among them; he did not make any move. But Pakistan was expecting that Kashmir would automatically join it on the religious ground (due to Muslim majority), so in impatience it invaded Kashmir. The ruler fought back but soon realized the vulnerability. So he frantically sought Indian military help. New Delhi agreed but demanded accession to India first. Thus, the ruler signed the treaty of accession and Indian troops arrived in Kashmir. When the conflict ended, India held two-third of Kashmir and the rest was under Pakistan control. This became the line of control (LOC) that still holds today despite three wars since then. So, basically Pakistan wants Kashmir in the name of Islam. (Using the same Islamic logic, Pakistan also invaded Balochistan (which was not even a part of colonial India) on April 1, 1948 and is still sitting there, as occupier.) Import of Fundamentalism and Militancy in Kashmir In 1989, the Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan decided to end their 10 year occupation, after suffering heavy losses at the hands of Afghan Islamic jehadis, who were trained by the Pakistan and armed by the US. Suddenly, thousands of trained jehadis went out job. Basking in the glory of defeating the communist superpower, their trainers decided to aim the jehadis at their sworn enemy India in Kashmir. Thus, rather than closing down the training camps Pak continued to operate them – now to spread jehadi violence in Kashmir and in India. People wonder, what is the source of Pak’s morbid hatred of India? Answer: It is the humiliating defeat in the 1971 when its East Pakistan territory became a sovereign nation, Bangladesh. And what led to that situation? It was because politically powerful West Pakistan refused to honor the verdict of recently held general election that went in favor of a party based in East Pakistan. It threw the country into civil war: civilians vs Pak military. Over 10 million refugees arrived in India for safety. India intervened to end the bloody conflict; Pak surrendered and Bangladesh was born. Since 1989 Pakistan trained jehadis have been spreading terror and violence in Kashmir. Thus, the decade of 1990s saw the magnitude of violence Kashmiris had never witnessed before. First, the entire minority Hindus community was driven out. Next, the Sufi shrines were targeted because they symbolized Hindu-Muslim unity and peace. In 1993, jehadis even seized the Hazratbal shrine which houses a hair strand of the Prophet. But somehow the Shrine remained unharmed. Two years later, they seized Nund rishi’s shrine in Chrar-e-Sharif. They burned it down after a 2 month seize and standoff with Indian army. It provoked deep anguish across Kashmir. The shrine was however rebuilt later. But the jehadis continued their tirade against all Sufi symbols of peace and love. In 2012, several shrines, including the Dastageer Sahib in Srinagar, were destroyed in “mysterious fires”. The extremists proudly declared, on social media sites, all these acts as “the divine acts of God.” Ironically, the sufi shrines across the border in Pakistan have also been targeted and destroyed by the same lot of trained Islamic fanatics. Arrival of radical Islamic preachers in the Kashmir valley started to vitiate the social fabric of Kashmiri society. Unemployed youths were initially attracted towards the ideas of radicalism but soon realized that they are being brainwashed into hating their very own sufi-rishi philosophy. They realized that they were being misled to convert their “Pir Vaer” (garden of saints) into “Devil Vaer” (garden of devil). The goal of the perpetrators of violence is clear: If we can’t get Kashmir ‘in the name of Islam’, we will destroy it ‘in the name of Islam’. It’s pathetic, but true. Conclusion The remote controlled Islamic militancy in Kashmir is clearly aimed at New Delhi, but it is destroying the precious and unique home-grown Sufi-Rishi culture of Kashmir. What has been going on in Kashmir is clearly a case of religion killing culture and humanity. Evolution of Kashmir can be clearly summarized as below. What was Kashmir without Islam? It was a peaceful holy abode nurtured by spiritual Hindu saints and Rishis. It was a land of spiritual liberation and bliss – Heaven on earth! What was Kashmir with Hindus and Muslims? It was a peaceful land of Sufi-Rishi culture, a superb mix of Hindu and Islamic spirituality – called Kashmiriyat. It was a land of eternal peace and harmony – Heavenly abode on earth! What is Kashmir without Hindus? It is a den of dreaded Islamic terrorists who kill humanity every day. It is a land of death, violence and brutality – Hell on earth! Yet, there is hope that Kashmir would soon be Kashmir again! The political landscape of India has drastically changed since 2014 and there is no political compulsion to go soft on cross border terrorism to appease anyone. Indian military is killing terrorists every day and the government is targeting terror funding network. The US is likely to redesign its strategy in Afghanistan and focus on eliminating terrorists and terror training camps, as President Trump indicated. Quite likely, very soon the sponsored terror and violence will be things of the past in Kashmir.   https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Wonderful-Sufi-Rishi-Culture-of-Kashmir
 

Overview of Important Issues in India

Overview of Important Issues in India India – the biggest democracy in the world – is going through a lot of changes and turmoil, due to both forces from within and outside. As a country, it is unparalleled in its diversity – cultural, religious, social, and economical. In fact, politically as well: China might have discarded Mao long ago but India still battles to root out Maoists (called Naxalites) entrenched in its tribal belt called the ‘Red Corridor’! Indian diversity is really mind boggling. Watching Muslims carving out a sovereign Pakistan in 1947 and creation of unified India by merging 565 tiny kingdoms, the world was not sure how long India would stay intact without any more division. Even the colonial British thought that India would further fragment in coming years. But time proved them all wrong! In fact, there is no other nation in the world with such unbelievable cluster of diversity. Questioning their wisdom, the diverse India is still going strong at 70 while the mono-cultural Pakistan broke in 1971 and is inching closer to further fragmentation in the coming years!  The unity of 1330 million Indians is firmly rooted in the life philosophy of 1100 million Hindus – which also accommodates 230 million ex-Hindus (who now call themselves Muslims or Christians), despite their shoddy ‘politics of conversion’ in the name of ‘religious freedom’.!  [Explore: India’s ‘Unity in Diversity’ is Unique in the World!] Despite the so-called independence in 1947 from the British rule India has not been able to shed the elements of colonial style governance and thinking even now. The answer lies in the manner India got independence. Freedom from the colonial rule on 15th August 1947 was a pre-negotiated deal – in fact, a very bad and imperfect deal – creation of a separate nation, Pakistan for the Muslims. Thus, Pakistan became a symbol of Islamic separatism in 1947. It is the only country in the world founded on religious ground, leaving aside the Vatican which is just symbolic.  The funny thing is that the separatist Mohammad Ali Jinnah (with a Parsee wife and a lifestyle, anything but Islamic) talked of treating all religions equally in Pakistan!! Being just a namesake Muslim, he clearly failed to understand his own faith. The process of partition started with massive migration of Hindus from Pakistan and vice versa, and Hindu-Muslim clashes with heavy loss of life on each side. Reflecting the imperfect division, the parent India with 88 percent Hindu population remained saddled with a large Muslim population, almost as large as Pakistan (and forming 9.8 percent of Indian population, which increased to 14.2 percent in 2011). Power got transferred from the White British to the Brown British headed by Jinnah in Pakistan and to Nehru in India. As a result, in India the traditions and culture of governance remained largely colonial. For example, it still runs a colonial style education system as if to prepare clerks for the brown colonial masters! There are still several outdated colonial era laws in effect. Mahatma Gandhi had advised dissolution of the Indian National Congress and forming two parties each headed by Sardar Patel and Nehru so that Indian democracy gets grounded on healthy roots. But power hungry Congressis did not heed his advice. As a result, Congress Party ruled almost unopposed for around half century that badly distorted political environment of the country. Within weeks of independence, Pak army along with Muslim tribals attacked the Kashmir province ruled by Raja Hari Singh to annex it. In defense, Hari Singh signed accession treaty with India and Indian troops arrived to defend Kashmir. Soon the Pak army and its tribal buddies were on the run and the Indian army was advancing speedily to secure the entire J&K territory. However, ignoring Sardar Patel Nehru suddenly halted the advancing Indian troops and went to the UN to complain about Pak aggression. It was a serious misunderstanding of the Muslim psych; country is still paying dearly for his naivety. Had Nehru showed pragmatism, the entire J&K would have been under Indian control. He also failed to show right pragmatic understanding of International relations in 1962 when the Chinese suddenly attacked India and grabbed vast territory. His daughter, Indira, who laid the firm foundation of dynastic rule, lost another golden chance to permanently solve the Kashmir dispute when, after winning the Bangladesh war of 1971, India had 93000 Pak troops as prisoners-of-war and 5000 sq km of Punjab of the West Pakistan under its belt. She gave away everything under the Shimla agreement in 1972 after a midnight emotional drama and ‘mere verbal’ assurances of maverick Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Given her penchant for Muslim appeasement politics she too failed to read the Muslim psych like her father. Even in 2017, India is still paying a heavy price for her folly in Kashmir. It is another story that manipulative Bhutto paid with his life couple of years later, for the dirty power game he played with Pak military generals – reminiscent of typical Mughal Islamic culture in Pakistan. After the 1971 victory, Indira Gandhi turned dictatorial and when a High Court judgment disqualified her election to Lok Sabha she imposed Emergency Rule in 1975. The 25 months of Emergency rule was easily the darkest period in the history of independent India for two reasons. One: it was an attack on democracy and two: her son, (now late) Sanjay Gandhi with no formal authority, played havoc with lives of poor people through mass scale forced sterilization – in his misplaced zeal to implement family planning to curb population growth.  An important factor that made her realize her stupidity was the organized resistance from Rashtirya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Since it was founded in 1924, RSS has been inculcating the traits of patriotism and discipline among people. Contrary to Congress propaganda, it is an organization open to all Indians – regardless of their faith or religion. Unlike the divisive Indian Muslim League that was founded a year later in 1925, the nationalistic spirit of RSS attracts every thinking-Indian who wants to stay connected with his ancient cultural roots. Therefore, even ex-Hindus (Muslim and Christians) join the RSS and take pride in the culture of their Hindus ancestors who were forced to convert for survival.  Such Indians don’t harbor isolationist tendency and are important part of multicultural national mainstream. Curse of Appeasement Politics & Fake Secularism Indira’s Congress Party is also squarely responsible for another serious distortion in Indian politics – Muslim appeasement politics. Rather than integrating the highly diverse Indian society divided along numerous caste, language, region and religion into one national mainstream, it created yet another fissure in Indian society – the minority-majority divide. It was a reflection of disproportionately high clout of Muslim and Christian communities (all ex-Hindus).  The label ‘minority’ reflected the privileged political status of ‘Muslims’ and ‘Christians’ – depending upon the place and situation. In 1976, Indira inserted the word ‘secularism’ in the Constitution to provide yet another deceptive cover to “appeasement” politics. Thus, the Congress party degenerated ‘minorities’ into a “vote bank” and turned them into a standard election winning gimmick. In practical terms, it only means placating the Muslim or Christian clergy whose dictate swings the respective vote banks. Its Muslim-focused policies and funds hardly ever benefited the targeted people and the mullah controlled ‘vote bank’ remained where it was – ghettoed in poverty and backwardness. Isolationism and the mindset of seeing Hindus through disparaging labels like kafir and idolaters inherent in the Islamic ideology kept them generally segregated as a ‘vote bank’ bloc.  The ‘virus’ of appeasement soon spread to other politicians and parties; even today the non-BJP politicians go to Muslim clerics for their ‘secular’ certificate! This cult of appeasement was perhaps at its zenith during 1970s and 1980s. It was as if the only way to rule India is to bow before the radical Muslim clergy and pamper them. The Shah Bano case of mid 1980s glaringly exposed this divisive ideology when the Congress government went to the extent of amending the Indian Constitution to placate the agitating maulvis whose Islam starts shaking with any progressive idea of the modern world. Other than the stuck-brained maulvis, it left the whole country and the civil society seething in anger and disgust when they saw the Rajiv Gandhi led Congress government squandering a golden chance to bring dignity and security in the lives of Muslim women – traditionally treated like personal commodity owned by the men. The spineless Congressis also failed to protect lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus when jihadi terrorists forced them to move out of the valley. As this oldest political party of India fell in the hands of power hungry but rootless and visionless Sonia, reflecting her superficial understanding of the psyche of Hindu society, the ‘Muslim appeasement’ politics changed from “ignore-Hindu” mindset to “anti-Hindu” diatribe. This is best exemplified by her sub-mediocre son and one of his mentors Digvijay Singh who appear ever ready to become nucleus for anti-Hindu or pro- radical Islamic forces. Today when someone talks of secularism in India, eye brows get raised. People begin to anticipate some kind of malign-Hindu posturing. These ‘secularists’ often also pose off as liberals and take pride in ridiculing patriotism and nationalism. Some from Congress Party’s dirty brigade, like Sandip Dixit (privileged son of ex-Delhi CM), have no shame in even deriding Indian army or its chief. This is the liberalism of Sonia Congress Private Limited, foolishly called Indian National Congress!! Today, this fake secularism is the biggest threat to country’s integrity – bigger than Pak sponsored Islamic terrorism or naxal/Maoist violence. The secular-mullah nexus has badly eroded the communal harmony in free India over the decades. This comradery on India’s political landscape, however, is a delight for global anti-India forces led by Pakistan’s ISI, the ISIS, Al Qaeda and radical Islamists who want to turn India into an evergreen hotbed of jehadi violence. Here are few sound-bites from some dirty secularists: Congress’ Digvijay Singh blamed Hindu organizations for the 2008 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, another filthy thinker Mani Shankar Iyer after 2014 talked of ousting Modi, from Pakistan, and even Sonia labeled Modi as ‘Maut ka Saudagar’ in 2007. Congress party always goes into the typical ‘secular silence’ over acts of jihadi terrorists. Her son, new Lord of the club of sycophants, hallucinates that Hindu Organizations are the biggest security threat to India – on their own ancient land!!   The mother-son duo must be seeing the jihadi killers from Pakistan as holy saints on god’s mission! Other shining stars of anti-Hindu “fake secular” brigade are the Samajwadi Party owner Mulayam Singh, Trinmul Congress owner Mamta Banerjee and the Rashtriya Janata Dal owner Laloo Yadav; Mayawati’s pure caste politics also need hate-Hindu narrative. Their divisive politics has badly weakened the social fabric and prevented creation of a unique common national identity for all Indians. NEHRU DYNASTY IN CONGRESS PARTY Indian National Congress Founded in 1885 The Congress Party was founded by a retired Indian Civil Service officer, British man Alen Octavian Hume, on December 28, 1885. Its first convention was held during December 28-31, 1885 in Bombay. Its aim was to attract educated Indians and represent interests of Indian masses and to become a bridge between the British rulers and Indian society. Advocate and journalist Vyomesh Chandra Banerjee became the first President of INC, followed by Dadabhai Naurojee. Motilal Nehru Pioneered Nepotism Although Jawaharlal Nehru is blamed for promoting dynastic politics in independent India, the roots of dynastic thinking go back his father, Motilal Nehru who first became President of the Indian national Congress (INC) in 1919 and then 1928 for yearlong tenures. Motilal Nehru wrote to Mahatma Gandhi in 1928 indicating that his son should be made the Congress President. However, Gandhi felt that time was not ripe for Jawaharlal, pointing to presence of other seasoned candidates. Yet, Motilal persisted. And as things evolved, his son Jawaharlal took the responsibility from him in 1929 and remained President for two years. Then he again took charge of INC in 1936 for one year. Jawaharlal Nehru was again made Congress President in 1947.  But this time it was queer. Most regional Congress committees had recommended Sardar Patel as Congress President and none opted for Nehru. However, Gandhi appeared inclined in favor of Nehru. Sensing this, Patel withdrew his candidature. Thus, Nehru was made the Congress President in 1947, who automatically took over reign of the country as PM from the British.  Jawaharlal was as nepotistic as his father and actively trained his daughter in politics. Indira became Congress President for a brief period in 1959 and then again in 1978. Another grave mistake was to not dissolve INC after independence and form two separate parties each headed by Nehru and Patel, as suggested by Mahatma Gandhi. Before Sonia Gandhi, five other foreign born persons had headed the INC but all before 1947 – Alfred Web, Sir William Vyaderburn, Sir Henry Cotton, Annie Besent and George Yule. Sonia Gandhi remained Congress President for the longest period – 19 years. Most recently, Rahul Gandhi is the 47th Congress President. . Now her son was made the 47th Congress President.  Birth in Indira dynasty is the only qualification this otherwise sub-mediocre man can boast of. He is propped up by a gang of rootless politicians who can only survive in the electoral politics through the dynasty. 2014 General Election – Milestone of Hindu Awakening The 2014 Lok Sabha election victory of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will go down in the history as an important milestone of Hindu awakening. In 1947, Hindus became free from the 1200 years of foreign occupation – 1000 years of barbaric Islamic plunder and 200 years of British exploitation. But the clear BJP victory in 2014 Lok Sabha gave them freedom from over 6 decades of living like ignored or second grade citizens under the rule of brown British and phony secularists. It should be seen as a badly needed natural course correction for the country. It was also a big blow to the combined effort of all pro-Muslim and pro-Christian elements led by strongly anti-Hindu Sonia’s kitchen Congress who have been maligning Hindus, their leaders and their organizations as devils. Modi had become their special target after 2002 Gujarat riots. Seeing his dynamic and charismatic personality, insightful understanding of Indian history and society, farsighted vision, unparalleled skilled to forge personal ties with global leaders, ability to take bold steps and capacity for hard work  the political insecurity of the fake secular brigade has multiplies multifold as he became Prime Minister in 2014. The BJP is the only party that openly speaks against the ‘Muslim appeasement’ vote-bank politics’ and actually sees all Indians as One People. It does not want to see Indians through the caste and religion lenses. Over 100 crore Hindus (forming 86 percent country’s population) heaved a sigh of relief because they were tired of being ignored, maligned and side tracked by the maulvi centric appeasement politics for all these decades – in the name of secularism. Even ordinary and poor Muslims were tired of being used like pawns for votes only to be dumped later. Post 2014, the most perplexed class is that of radical maulvis (many of whom still mentally live in the Mughal period and see Hindus as ‘kafirs’ who must be converted or decimated),  and who had been giving ‘fake certificates’ of secularism and enjoying undue political influence. They are also confused why communal clashes are not happening in the BJP rule. End of appeasement politics brought hearty cheers for Muslim women – Modi government stood for their right of equality. Thus, Saira Bano (one of the petitioners) won where Shah Bano was betrayed by the Congress 32 years ago. Negating the outright silly arguments of the Muslim clergy put forth “… in the name of Islam” the SC ended instant “triple talaq” on August 22, 2017. Yet, the clergy promoted malpractice did not stop completely, so the Modi government is bringing in legislation to make it punishable. Indian maulavis can sell any outdated irrationality in the name of Islam. It would be best if all progressive Muslims stay away from stuck-brain mullahs and the ‘secular’ crooks who have fooled them all these decades by sowing seeds of suspicion against Hindus. After over six decades of Congress Rule, India is globally recognized for three things: high poverty, high population, and high corruption. India is home to about one-third of world’s extreme poor, is set to become the most populous country by around 2022 beating China, and is counted among the most corrupt countries in the world where opening and doing business is a mountainous task.  Doing business honestly and efficiently in India is still tough, although recently the ease of doing business index has jumped significantly (by 42 points since 2014; from 142 to 100).  Since 2014, however, things are changing for better with the arrival of the BJP government at the Center. They are doing what the PhD economist PM Manmohan Singh could not do in 10 years! When people see wonderful economic growth of the past decade alongside widespread poverty, they wonder: Why India has Twin Personality. And what about the health of Pakistan? Here is the 70 year travel diary of the “Islamic State” of South Asia: Like India, Pakistan also started out as democracy (a weird choice. Modern democracy in the land of ossified Islam!) but very soon naturally fell in love with Islamic fundamentalism and military dictatorship. It declared itself an “Islamic State of Pakistan” in 1956.  Disrespect of democracy broke the country into two pieces in 1971. During next two decades, its love for fundamentalism turned into fetish for jihadi terrorism. Today it is the proud capital of global terrorism: several dozen terror corporations operate from here, world’s most wanted terrorists roam freely on its streets vomiting hatred against humanity, openly challenging the government to arrest them and declaring entry into politics, and its ex-President declares his proud kinship with them! Very soon dreaded terrorists would be ruling Pakistan with the help of its notorious ISI and army. Pakistan’s national integrity squarely rests on its hate narrative against Hindu India rooted in what it calls Islam. However, the world is not very optimistic about Pak surviving too long and is naturally worried about its nukes falling in the hands of terrorists. More pragmatically, now it should worry about Pakistan falling in the hands of terrorists! Topics covered on this long page are designed to provide in-depth understanding of issues that often necessitate trips into the past to put things in perspective. Contents on this page include: 1.  Truth of Independence and Legacy of Partition
2.  Islamic Plunder of India – 1000 Years of Dark Age
3.  Dangers of  Global Islamic Terrorism
4.  A Terrible Mistake:  Equating “Dharma” with “Religion”
5.  The Unfinished Agenda of National Integration
6.  Economic Reforms and Liberalization
7.  Economic Growth vs Development
8.  Poverty in India
9.  Population Stabilization
10. Governance Reforms
11. Climate Change
12. Renewable Energy – Solar Energy
13. Significant Political Developments 1.  TRUTH OF INDEPENDENCE AND LEGACY OF PARTITION The revolution of 1857 failed but it got the British worried about their grip on India and its sustainability. The Hindu-Muslim unity shown in the revolution was a threat to them. Therefore, they actively started nurturing division forces and incited Islamic radicals against the majority Hindus population. They had the Islamists ponder whether they could ever live as equals of Hindus whom they had ruled for so many centuries, treating as subjects and slaves. In next few decades, this thinking crystallized in the form of demand for a separate Muslim nation and was voiced openly by the Indian Muslim League in the 1920s. The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was the intellectual production house to churn out youths with this separatist mindset that ultimately gave birth to Pakistan. No surprise if the AMU now become attractive to adherents of violent Islam inviting attention of global jihadis and PAK ISI. The AMU provided the fertile ground for nurturing the separatism among the Muslims – coming from their typical “Islamic insecurity”. Its role in breaking the country has been proudly acknowledged by the likes of Jinnah, Liyakat Khan and Agha Khan. Thus, Pakistan symbolizes the 1400 year old intolerant mindset whereby Muslims don’t want to or can’t live peacefully with people of other faith. Pakistanis often gloat claiming that they ‘snatched’ territory from India ‘…in the name of Islam’.  It reflects the same belligerent isolationist and divisive attitude. The Truth of India’s Independence An important question: What made the British decide that it’s time to pack their baggage and leave India in 1947?  This is a particularly pertinent question because Gandhi’s ‘Quit India Movement’ of 1942 had already tapered off and there wasn’t really any compelling situation that would necessitate a hasty departure. Here is the truth: A war weary Britain had to consider two new realities that had emerged when the WW-2 ended, which shaped its decision to quit India. One:  The war with Hitler had completely destroyed the economies of the so-called allied nations and they were no longer able to finance their military presence in their subject colonies. So, despite the Congress Party taking full credit for India’s independence, Britain would have quit India purely for financial reasons anyway. In fact, it had to also bow out of its other colonies for the same reason. Thus, it withdrew not only from India but relinquished its entire colonial portfolio: It left Jordan in 1946, Palestine in 1947, Sri Lanka in 1948, Myanmar in 1948, Egypt in 1952 and Malaysia in 1957. Following similar reasoning another colonial master, France, also had to get out of Laos in 1949 and Cambodia in 1953; it left Vietnam in 1954. Netherlands came out of its colonies called the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesia was born in 1949. Without Hitler and his war, it would have taken several more decades for India and other slave colonies to see the light of freedom. In fact, Britain was in such a bad shape that after the war, under the Marshall Plan for restoration of war torn nations, it was given around one-fourth of the total package to rebuild itself.  Records of deliberations show that the decision to quit India was already taken towards the end of 1946. Two: The weakened British had to also consider the fact that the military activities of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had badly eroded loyalties of Indian sepoys (low-ranking Indian soldiers) and navy personnel. When Japan surrendered, the British charged 20,000 soldiers of Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) with treason, towards the end of war at Delhi’s Red Fort. However, the strong reaction in the masses across the country had the British rethink what they were doing. The 1946 rebellion in the Royal Indian Navy sent another ominous signal to the colonial power. Since racial discrimination was rampant in the Royal Indian Navy, it was always a potential trigger for rebellion. Hence, Britain was concerned that if the mutiny spread into the army and police, there would be large scale killing of Englishmen all over India. Hence, it decided to quit India at the earliest opportunity.  Without loyal sepoys, it would be quite impossible for the British to rule in India and it would be politically and financially not prudent to call for enough Englishmen from Britain to quell activities of nationalists in India. (It is worth highlighting that in 1857 Englishmen were able to suppress the Indian uprising (which can be easily called India’s First War of Independence) mainly due to the support of the Sikhs of Punjab and Pathans of the North-West Frontier Province. They helped the British recapture Delhi. The Sikh princes backed the British by providing 16,000 soldiers and support.  Had they not supported the British at that time, it was quite likely that uprising would have spread to the large princely states of Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Kashmir, as well as in the smaller ones of Rajputana. Such a potential scenario would have made British presence in India untenable and it could have thought of exiting India in 1857 itself!) Therefore, a good part of credit goes to Netaji and his INA. Their actions certainly hastened departure of the White lords from India. Self serving Congress Party leaders never openly acknowledged the contributions of Netaji towards India’s freedom. On the contrary, many believe that they handed over Netaji to the Russians who tried and executed him in secrecy. The much talked about Gandhi’s non-violent movement played only a minimal role in shaping the British decision to quit India, if the then British prime minister Clement Atlee is to be believed. But, as is always the case: the winners write history! The Congress party had that privilege. Later it fell into pathological sycophancy and started to glorify only the Nehru-Indira dynasty; the process is still going on. Today, Sonia is ‘Her Royal Highness’ and Rahul is ‘His Royal Highness’ for congress men, outsmarting each other in display of servility and sycophancy! For Congress men, Sonia family would forever remain the ‘First Family’ of the nation! If you want to find out how submissive minded Indians must have behaved with the White British in the colonial era, just look at how the Congress Party workers bow before Sonia and her kids! The Legacy of Partition Partitioning India on religious ground was a nasty idea of colonial British who purposefully gave undue importance to separatist minded elements of the Muslim League who wanted a separate country in the name of Islam. It was also designed to sow the seeds of long term future confrontation on the Indian sub-Continent after they departed. Leaving intact a giant nation would not be in the interest of their future global political interests. The colonial looters would have been happier creating more fragments but could not find other separatist leaders outside the Muslim community. For example, Christian missionaries had not converted sizable number of Hindus into Christianity so they could not create another separate ‘Christianland’ for them. However, they were convinced that riddled with mind boggling diversity India would fragment into several pieces shortly after they leave. Partition fueled the communal disharmony, leading to massive blood-bath and mass migration of Hindus and Muslims from both sides. It gave wounds to lakhs of people that would take generations to heal.  A lot of wise Muslims consciously chose to stay in India among Hindus, away from fanaticism of some of their co-religions. They now feel satisfied looking at the pathetic status of today’s Pakistan society badly infected with all types of fundamentalist viruses eating its vital organs. Yet, there are brain-dead Mullahs like the Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid who feel closer to Islamabad than New Delhi!! If this great nation could be divided in the mid 20th century ‘…in the name of Islam’, today the risk is surely much bigger considering the spread of Wahhabism through Saudi funds and clerics during the past decades. Hindu hater fanatic mullahs like Owaisis who openly talk of decimating Hindus and who regularly incites Muslims through hate speeches are surely potential threat to India’s integrity. Then there is the headquarter of radical Islam in Deoband in Western UP – it has earned a name as “fatwa factory” of India due to its endless silly “fatwas” typically against women. The ossified Islam promoted from here is no less dangerous than Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi cult that has turned humans into brain-dead jihadi killers. Now the 100 crore non-Muslims of India have to stay united to protect their ancestral land and foil all designs of Islamic separatism and jihadi violence. Hindus – The Biggest Losers of India’s Partition The inner Muslim feeling of hatred against ‘unbelievers’ has spring up naked and unashamed…. We have seen, revived, as guide in practical politics, the old Muslim religion of the sword…. In thinking of an independent India, the menace of Mohammedan rule has to be considered.  – Annie Besant (1847-1933), British theosophist and Member of Indian National Congress I have devoted most of my time during the last six months to the study of Muslim History and Muslim Law and I am inclined to think that Hindu-Muslim unity is neither possible nor practicable… I do honestly and sincerely believe in the necessity and desirability of Hindi-Muslim unity. I am also fully prepared to trust the Muslim leaders, but what about the injunctions of the Koran and Hadees. Muslim leaders cannot override them.  – Lala Lajpat Rai, (1865 – 1928) Religious harmony is a desirable thing. But it takes two to play the game. Unfortunately such a sentiment holds no position in Islamic theology.  – Ram Swarup, (1920 – 1998) The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt, slavery and enmity.  – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, (1891 – 1956) Commonsense demanded that if the country was being divided along religious lines, to create a separate nation for the “privileged” Muslims, the other half should naturally have been a Hindu Nation. This is natural logic and pure commonsense. But the power brokers of the Congress Party let the Hindus down. They conveniently forgot that Hindus had remained exploited and humiliated for over a millennium. First it was 1000 years of Mohammadan plunder of their culture, repeated genocides, destruction of their temples, sending Hindus as slaves to Afghanistan and elsewhere and forced conversion to Islam and then around two centuries of British exploitation while their missionaries converted gullible Hindus.  Like the colonial British, Congress leaders also continued to take the accommodative silence of Hindus for granted. They were too myopic to see the future dangers of having in India a Muslim community as big as Pakistan. Thus, undoubtedly Hindus were the biggest losers in the Game of Partition. Had they been a monolithic bloc (like Muslims or Christians) and united, they would not have allowed their ancient land to be divided in such an arbitrary way. Else they would have forced India to be a Hindu Nation. But what they got in reality was a supposedly religious ‘neutral’ State where the Constitution ensured representation of ‘Christians’ in the parliament (because they are privileged Christians and a reminder that Christian British ruled India!). The President of India still holds special power to ensure their representation in the parliament by nominating 2 members from the community! Free India continued granting favors such as the Haj subsidy to Muslims (because they are privileged Muslims and a reminder that Mughals ruled India!).  !). Modi Government ended it in 2018, obeying Supreme Court’s order of ending it by 2022. Thus, free India’s so-called religion neutral (secular) governance started off already on the wrong foot, heavily loaded against 88 percent Indians, the Hindus. All through the cold war era, the left leaning intellectuals and the West dominated media continued to sustain the malign campaign the Hindus culture and painting them as lowly and mere promoters of an exploitative caste system. At least 2-3 generations of Hindus in free India grew up believing that everything connected with their culture and tradition is substandard – and that good, civilized and progressive practices only come from outside the national boundary! It was essential for their vested interests that Muslims and Christians retain political supremacy over the Hindus. Many Westerners are surprised that at the time of partition Hindus did not demand compensation from Muslims and Christians for atrocities and social, cultural and economic damages inflicted upon them during the centuries of Mughal and British rule. In fact, they should have even demanded probe into Hindus massacres at the hands of British and Muslims during the past centuries. They see it as a sign of irrationally high tolerance and accommodative nature of Hindu society ever ready to give up its own interests. But then the gloomy mindset resulting from centuries of humiliation and suppression is not so easy to wash away. Start of Hindu Awakening By 1980s Hindus had started to realize that something is terribly wrong with the way India was being governed. They clearly realized that Indian politics was firmly in the hands of pro-Muslim and pro-Christian politicians – and they are simply being taken for granted for their indifference, tolerance and silence. The Shah Bano case of 1985 glaringly exposed how the Congress Party was sitting cozily in the lap of backward looking mullahs, following its ‘minority appeasement’ politics. The Supreme Court gave a just verdict in favor of a victimized Muslim woman Shah Bano. Ossified brained mullahs came out on the street as if the Supreme Court of the country has launched an attack on Islam. The convent educated PM Rajiv Gandhi felt no shame in amending the Constitution to negate Supreme Court’s sensible justice to a poor Muslim lady. His foolish action further emboldened the radical mullahs and fed their hallucination that they are far too powerful than even the apex Court of the secular country where 85 percent people don’t practice Islam. Then came the mass exodus and massacre of Kashmiri Hindus in 1989, perpetrated by Islamic jehadis supported by Pakistan. Over 4 lakh Hindus became refugees in their own country. But was a non-issue for the mullah centric Central government – it was as if just the continuation of centuries old ‘normal pain’ inflicted on Hindus. Then, the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convinced Hindus that the country was still in the Mughal era when Hindus could be attacked by Muslims at will. They suddenly realized that they are politically voiceless and country’s agenda is firmly in the hands of fake-seculars and radical mullahs. But fortunately for them, the BJP emerged and Hindu organizations started speaking vocally and loudly. Advani’s country wide Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya in late 1990s had just one goal: To Awaken Hindus of India. Alongside came the slogan: Garv Se Kaho, Hum Hindu Hain!  It is still helping a lot of Hindus come out of their deep rooted inferiority complex, coming from the endless onslaught on their culture and way of life since the first Islamic invader in the 8th century. Pro-Islamic elements disguised as seculars and left leaning pseudo-intellectuals whose loyalty lies outside Indian boundaries represented the post 1947 equivalent of colonizers with the same anti-Hindu agenda. You may like to see some eye opening statistics from Indian Express – so many Moghul names still prevalent in Hindu dominated India. Have you ever wondered how many thousand temples were destroyed by Islamic marauders and rulers and mosques built upon them? Can they ever be symbol of pride for current Hindus whose ancestors lived humiliated and exploited to survive forced conversions during 1000 Years of Islamic Jihad in India ? The uninterrupted Pak sponsored jihadi violence in Kashmir since 1989, Godhra train burning to burn alive Hindus, terror attack on Indian Parliament, Kargil attack, the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and so many other acts of senseless jihadi violence have by now convinced more and more Hindus both in India and abroad that they need to get united and organized. Hindu organizations are now more pro-active and more vocal. They have started to unite around the Hindutva agenda. It underlines the fact that Hindu way of life inherently accommodates diversity and goes well beyond what is called secularism by the West. Bhartiya Janata Party’s victory in 2014 and elevation of charismatic Modi to PM brought real cheer on Hindu faces perhaps for the first time post 1947. His One India One People philosophy has bamboozled all fake-secular divisive forces promoted and nurtured by global Islamic and Christian lobbies under the nurturing environment provided by Congress Party. Even Indian media is changing, leaving aside some pathological ‘liberal’ journos like Rahul Kanwal, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghosh and Shekhar Gupta. Most of the sensible TV anchors and journalists have stopped playing the deceptive tunes of fake secularists and club of anti-Hindu “liberals.” Let’s see what kind of anti-Hindu politics the new lord of Congress Party Rahul Gandhi and his dirty brigade come up with. The news of his coronation has already sent cheers in Pakistan and anti-India international  lobbies. 1a)  THE KASHMIR DISPUTE The so-called Kashmir dispute can be summed up in three statements: What was Kashmir without Islam?  It was a peaceful holy abode nurtured by spiritual Hindu saints and Rishis. It was a land of spiritual liberation and bliss – Heaven on earth! What was Kashmir with Hindus and Muslims?   It was a peaceful land of Sufi-Rishi culture, a superb mix of Hindu and Islamic spirituality – called Kashmiriyat. It was a land of eternal peace and harmony – Heavenly abode on earth! What is Kashmir without Hindus?   It is a den of dreaded Islamic terrorists who kill humanity every day  to please their terror god.  It is a land of death, violence and brutality – Hell on earth! After separating from India, the liqour guzzling Jinnah (married to a Parasi woman) started behaving as if the newly born Pakistan has a natural right on everything that is Islamic! Pakistan’s obsession with this ‘Islamic logic’ has not weakened a bit even after seven decades. On the contrary, it turned into a kind of religious religious frenzy, particularly since country’s break up in 1971, radicalization of the Pak society by Military dictator Zia ul Haq in the 1980s and adoption of jihadi terrorism as its undeclared State policy after 1989. (Result: Pakistan is today the global capital of jihadi terrorism and in the opinion of experts, it is waiting to be eaten away by the cancerous jehadi virus!). Pak economy is thoroughly dependent on the US and Chinese doles. Besides, Wahhabi funds are increasingly converting Pakistanis to Wahhabi radicals – semi-finished raw material for terror factories. Historical perspective: When the British left after 190 years of plunder and loot, India was a conglomeration of 565 tiny princely estates rule by Rajas, Nizams and Nawabs – they were both Hindu and Muslim rulers. Their prime task was to collect taxes from the public on behalf of the colonial rulers. They had the option of joining either side or stay sovereign. Ideally, they would all want to stay sovereign but political reality demanded that they choose between the two sides. Kashmir was also one such Princely State ruled by Raja Hari Singh who wanted to stay sovereign and had not joined either side by August 15, 1947. Pakistan was hoping that it would come its way but Hari Singh did not oblige. In frustration and impatience, Pakistan attacked Kashmir by sending its troops along with armed tribes (primitive version of modern Muslim terrorists). Plundering and looting, they soon reached ominously close to Srinagar. Raja Hari Singh panicked and seeing no other option requested help from India. New Delhi however demanded accession to India first before sending military help. Hari Singh signed the Accession Treaty and Indian troops were dispatched immediately. Soon the invaders were on the run and India was in control of about two-third Kashmir. Then strangely, against Patel’s advice, Nehru halted the military operation and went to the UN to complain about Pak aggression. Thus, he foolishly internationalized the Kashmir issue, while allowing Pakistan to sit tightly with around one-third Kashmir; it created the LoC. A big mistake, in the hindsight! And, clearly a very bad politics and absolute lack of understanding of how political Islam works. If Kashmir is still not fully integrated with rest of India even after 70 years, Congress Party’s directionless, indecisive and visionless governance should get all the blame. It even squandered the golden chance to get the entire Kashmir when after the 1971 Bangladesh  93,000 Pak troops were prisoners of India and around 5000 sq km of West Pakistan was under Indian control. However, the then PM Indira fell for Bhutto’s emotional gimmicks and verbal assurances in a midnight drama and signed the Shimla Agreement in a midnight drama. Currently, India controls 45 percent of original J&K area, 35 percent is under Pak control and 20 percent is with China. China grabbed about 35,000 sq km in Aksai Chin in the 1962 war and got another 5,000 sq km area in Baltistan from Pakistan under a 1963 treaty. Indian Kashmir has three regions: Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh. The Kashmir Valley now is mainly Muslim after Hindu Pandits were driven away. Jammu is Hindu dominated and Ladakh is largely Buddhist.  Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) has a Muslim majority. The bone of contention is just the 100 mile long Kashmir Valley, which is only about 9 percent of the original J&K territory. It helps to remind that over the centuries, a unique Sufi-Rishi culture evolved in Kashmir. Under the influence of Hindus’ universal ‘dharma’ which sees ‘humanity as One’, Kashmiri Muslims started practicing Sufism (a gentle form of Islam, which profound Islamic scholars see as the true ‘essence’ of Islam). Sufi saints don’t distinguish or discriminate against people of different faiths and see ‘humanity as One’ – as Hindus do. They were revered by both Hindus and Muslims and their Shrines became symbols of Hindu-Muslim unity. These Shrines were among the first prime targets for destruction in the Valley to destroy inter-faith unity – the very essence of ‘Kashmiriyat’.  No wonder, Kashmir was the only place where no communal violence took place during the partition of India. Kashmir: Where Religion Kills Culture 1b)  PAK  SPONSORED  JIHADI  TERRORISM  IN  KASHMIR  After seeing the defeat of former USSR in 1989 by Afghan Mujahideens (“Islamic holy warriors,” propped up jointly by the Americans and Pakistanis), Pak military Dictator General Zia Ul Haq got the idea of promoting jihadi terrorism in Kashmir. Since Pak can’t defeat India militarily, this low-cost war of attrition through trained terrorists is ideal to ‘bleed’ India with over 1000 million Hindus, its eternal enemy. You may ask: Why bleed India? Because after Pak’s break up in 1971 (that gave birth to Bangladesh) due to cockiness of its own mentally deranged politicians like Julfikar Ali Bhutto and humiliating defeat at the hands of Indian military, Pakistan’s Islamic pride was badly jolted. Pak rulers declared India their eternal enemy and swore to “bleed India” through thousand cuts!! That’s understandable, because Islam was and is the only reason behind Pakistan’s existence! Pak agenda is clear: If it can’t get Kashmir in the name of Islam, it must destroy Kashmir in the name of Islam!  So, reflecting its Islamic credentials it wants to cause as much violence and destruction in Kashmir as possible using its home grown Jehadis – exploiting the Islamic connections across border. It doesn’t matter who dies in Kashmir – Hindus or Muslims – the purpose is to create fear and terror to please the Terror-God. It must be clear that Pakistan no longer practices ‘normal’ Islam – the “Religion of Peace”. It is now a hardcore Wahhabi nation where clerics preach hate against humanity and glorify killing of non-Muslims as mujahideens (holy warriors). In the early 1990s, jehadis started killing Hindus in the Kashmir Valley, causing them to flee. Practically all Hindu Pandits (estimated at around 4.5 lakh) were forced to leave – it was ethnic cleansing through terror.  It is reminiscent of 1000 years of Islamic rulers in India that half-brained secularists love to glorify. In the ‘secular’ Islamic doctrine of the Congress Party, Hindu’s wellbeing doesn’t matter. So, it never played minority appeasement politics in Kashmir. Thus, Pak sponsored Islamic jihad is going on in Kashmir since 1989. Pak army routinely provides cover-fire to help jehadis sneak across the LoC. The Congress Party could never muster political courage to take the Pak Muslim jihadis head-on for fear of losing votes of Indian Muslim in India!! However, arrival of Modi government in 2014 has brought an important change in the manner India responds to cross border infiltration and terrorism. It has given free hand to the Indian army to chase and eliminate Jehadis and ‘raised the price’ for Pakistan for each cease fire violation. The surgical strike across the LoC in September 2016 unfolded an entirely new dimension. In the year 2017 alone, over 200 Pak trained jihadis have been killed by the Indian forces, including their dreaded commanders – highlighting India’s determination to erase all jehadi violence from its soil. India plans to install high tech fencing and state-of-the-art surveillance system coupled with automatic response system along the entire LoC. It would present nearly un-surmountable challenge before Pak jehadis still dreaming to die on Indian soil to meet their Allah. In order to sustain the jihadi violence against India, Pakistan has now come up with a ‘Gazwa e-Hind’ narrative. It is promoting a new ‘logic’ behind the formation of Islamic Pakistan: Pakistan is duty bound to revive the second wave of Islamic invasion of India (the first wave was between 8thto 18 century) and Islamize the whole India (over 1000 Hindu kafirsrepresent the unfinished task of the first wave). Therefore, it must prepare jihadi warriors to fight Gazwa e-Hind. That’s why it nurtures the ‘army of the Mohammad’ (Jaish e-Mohammad) and the ‘army of the Pure and Righteous’ (Lashkar e-Tayyiba)! No wonder if Pakistan is now providing winter gear and night vision equipment to the ‘holy killers’ and is reportedly training them in chemical/biological warfare also. There are reports that in future the ‘holy killers’ would glorify Islam by targeting the Kumbh Melas and other large Hindu gatherings; poisoning water bodies and disrupting basic services could be other forms of their holy mission. They might also try repeating the Godhra type attack by burning Hindu kafirs in the train bogies. Pak ISI also plans to train Rohingya Muslim terrorists of Myanmar and infiltrate them into India for Terror God’s holy mission. Bad for Pakistan, now the US seriously wants it to stop nurturing terrorists and eliminate them from its soil. But the US is unlikely to succeed because it can’t solve Islamic problems.  However, the world is watching the rise of terrorists and fundamentalists in its national politics and the ever increasing voices of separatism from the Baloshs, Pakhtuns and Sindhis.   1c)  INDIA’S  “HEADACHE”  CALLED  PAKISTAN Reflecting its typical Islamic mindset Pakistan remains deeply stuck in the PAST – either in 1971 or in 1947! What distinguishes Pakistan from India?  Absence of Hindus!! Inflicted by the virus of Islamic extremism, Pakistani Mullahs have almost eliminated non-Muslims: from 23% in 1950 to less than 2% in 2017, at the average rate of about 69000 per year. Even today, in Sindh province alone, average in a month, 20-24 non-Muslim girls are forced to convert through sexual assault. This is how their Hindu ancestors increased Muslim population during centuries of Islamic rule. What makes Pakistan, Pakistan?   What makes it so self-destructive, violent and unreliable? There is only one unique answer: Pakistani Islam. It’s a special Islam, kind of ossified Islam! This Islam is the reason and inspiration behind everything Pakistan does or doesn’t do. Although Pakistanis are all ex-Hindus and come from the ancient Hindu lineage of Ram, Krishna, Buddha and Mahavira and are descendants of the unfortunate Hindus who were forced to accept Islam for survival during centuries of Islamic rule and onslaught, but the Hindu traits of peace and tolerance have totally vanished from their DNA. Now they have turned into clones of 7th century Arab tribals both in conduct and spirit – that’s the magic of their special Islam! Pakistan is a “model Islamic State” born out of love for Pure Islam. Thus, in its quest to purify Islam, Pakistan has declared the lowly Muslim communities like the Ahmedias non-Muslim and has virtually wiped out Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. Its democracy is practically in comma, waiting to die. Country’s direction is dictated through the AK-47s of the army and terrorists combined.  That should make it an ideal and Pure Islamic Caliphate – in no way inferior to what the ISIS created in the Middle East. At least that is what Pakistanis believe. However, we leave that judgment to the informed scholars. The more important question, however, is: How does the world sees 70 year old nation of Islamic separatists? Even at the age of 70 Pakistan remains trapped in juvenile delinquency – it jumps form one silly boast to another, tries selling two lies as one truth and confuses duplicity as smartness! No wonder then that it fools itself as a democracy, but is actually run by the army and secret agency – now globally wanted terrorists also are gearing up to meddle in running the country. Its population is just one-seventh of India, but behaves as if it equals India – often even bigger! Like North Korea, it squanders money on arms and terrorists while its citizens remain trapped in poverty. It habitually creates Jehadis and then fights them, when pressured by the US! It nurtures jihadi terrorism but also claims to be the biggest victim of terrorism!  India gives visas to its critically ill citizens but Pak routinely sends jihadis to kill innocent Indian citizens. The glue of ‘Islam’ should have kept Pakistan united better than India’s Fevicol, but it easily broke into two pieces in 1971! If the world sees Islam as a religion of peace, Pakistan has turned it into a religion of ‘unholy violence’. It wants to send its cricketers and terrorists into India, at the same time.  It wants to play cricket with Indians and kill them by terrorists, at the same time. Like paranoid and isolated North Korea, Pakistan is the only other nation that threatens its neighbor (India) with nuclear attack.  Today, both are the closest allies of Communist China. More correctly, both are valuable “Strategic Assets” of China! However, Pakistan is slipping on the way to become a Chinese colony – given the massive Chinese investments (beyond its repayment capacity) and ever increasing presence of Chinese army (apparently for protecting Chinese projects). Since its birth, Pakistan went through several transformations – but, all in the wrong direction. It has failed to find a sane national goal other than destroy India, on whose territory it was founded in 1947. But that’s quite natural, given the fact that it was born hating Hindus and fought wars to prove its Islamic superiority. Its hate turned into a pathological mania after it lost the 1971 Bangladesh war and half of its territory. Since then its behavior remains divorced of sanity. It was Pakistani rulers’ derogatory mindset against the Bengali Muslims that pushed East Pakistan into a suicidal civil war – the trigger came when the cocky politicians like Bhutto sitting in the West Pakistan decided to dishonor verdict of the recently held general election that went in favor of a East Pakistan based party. What ensued was wide spread genocide and rape resulting in mass exodus of Bengali Muslims. It inundated India with millions of East Pakistani refugees. When their numbers crossed well over one crore, India was forced to intervene and supported the Mukti Bahini of Bengali Muslims that was offering resistance to the ‘highly fierce’ Islamic Pak army. This ‘ferocious’ army of 93,000 cowards surrendered in just two weeks of tussle – and a new nation Bangladesh was born. However, by then they had managed to proudly slaughter around three million civilians and raped perhaps a similar number of Bengali women. It was the biggest genocide in South Asia post 1947. The conduct of Pak army is best described by its own top commander who led the surrender.  Lt. General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi described in his book titled The Betrayal of East Pakistan, what ensued when the army was ordered to crack down on agitating civilians: “On the night of March 25-26, 1971, General Tikka Khan [of the Pakistani Eastern Command] turned the peaceful night into a time of wailing, crying and burning…. The military action was a display of stark cruelty, more merciless than the massacres at Bukhara and Baghdad by Changez Khan and Halaku Khan, or at Jallianwala  Bagh  by the British General Dyer.” Since Pakistanis consider the historic Islamic barbarians like Ghori, Tuglak, Babur and Nadir Shah as their heroes, their atrocities on Bengali Muslims (whom they always considered inferior) was ‘normal.’ Today they are highly proud of Hafiz Saeed – the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack and chief of Lashkar e Tayyiba (The army of the Pure and Righteous)! What followed after losing the war and half its territory also reminds the power struggle of the Mughal era. Reign of the left-over Pakistan went to maverick Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was then ousted by General Zia ul-Haq in 1977. Two year later in April 1979, Zia hanged Bhutto after a sham trial. No wonder, today gun wielding army, fundamentalists and terrorists decide how Pakistan would be governed. As Pak army pushes extremists and terrorists into electoral politics, the day is not far when dreaded terrorist would deal with the world as prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister. How Pakistan Became Terroristan!   1d) INDIA:  A  GREAT  EXAMPLE  OF  “UNITY  IN  DIVERSITY”  In 1947, when the colonial British were leaving India after gifting Pakistan to Muslims, they were convinced that India consisting of 565 Princely States would fragment into several pieces within next few years. Clearly, the myriad diversity – lingual, cultural, traditional, and geographical – was beyond their rational comprehension. In fact, they had not seen such high level of diversified but united entity anywhere in the world. But history post-1947 has proven them wrong. What actually fell apart was the mono-cultural Islamic State of Pakistan – its East Pakistan wing became sovereign Bangladesh in 1971. It is still battling to keep together the Balochs, Pakhtuns and Sindhis. Yet, it remains obsessed to break India!   Breaking societies seems to be a peculiarity of Pakistani Islam! Now look at the global history of other fragmentations. After the First World War several new nations were born – Finland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungry, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia etc. The Muslim Middle East is highly divided and turbulent despite common faith, culture and traditions; it is weird that Shia Iran stands aloof from rest of the Sunni states as if there are two separate Islams!  The Kurd’s are restless for a separate nation. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was born and gone already despite lofty dream of forming global Caliphate!! Europeans who love to lecture the world on democracy and liberalism can’t keep the European Union intact. The UK is leaving; others are likely to follow suit. Catalonians are restless for divorce from Spain. Between 1989 and 1992 Yugoslavia broke into seven pieces. In 1991, the USSR gave birth to 15 nations. Chechnyans are still demanding separation from Russia. In 2011, Sudan broke into two. Somalia and Somaliland are two different political realities. Creation of Israel in 1948 turned the Palestinians displaced and then refugees since 1967’s Islamic misadventure. Major democracies like the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Australia are now facing challenges of diversities as population of migrants is rising. Most globe watchers wonder how India has managed to assimilate so much diverse forces into one national mainstream. In order to understand it they need to grasp the essence of Indian culture that goes much far beyond the superficiality of their ‘secularism.’ Indian ethos comes from its ancient Vedic philosophy which revolves around “Dharma.” It has no equivalent word in the foreign languages.  Even in India misguided people have naively translated it into English as “religion.” “Dharma” essentially points to natural order, the right ethics and adopting them in personal conduct. It is all about right human values and their practice in life. Thus, all India-born different philosophies of life like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc stress the right human conduct in their own ways. But they all translate into practice of non-violence, non-greed, and understanding the natural law of Karma which means doing good deeds bring good fruits in future and harming others invite pain and misery. This knowledge or Dharma evolved from the experience of countless Yogis and sages of the ancient past. They discovered that everything is interconnected through some divine force that pervades everything and every being – this reality has been also often called God, although not necessary. Thus, Indians  respect all forms of life as well as nature’s rivers and mountains; and see humanity as one big family (vasudeva Kutumbakam) – disregarding diversities. This knowledge permeates throughout India, right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Meghalaya to Maharashtra. . It can be realized through various paths – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainist, Sikhism etc and even Christianity and Islam if practiced strictly as tool of human evolution. Mere ‘belief’ and dry rituals are meaningless. In fact, in ancient times when the boundaries extended to most of East Asia and to Afghanistan and beyond in the West, the Western and Chinese travelers saw just “One India” everywhere, despite so much diversities. Even early Christians and Muslims who had to escape their homeland to avoid religious persecution and found shelter on the Indian soil merged among congenial Hindus effortlessly despite their foreign ‘faith’ whose ‘core essence’ already existed in the Dharma knowledge. Indian Christians and Muslims have the golden chance to re-board the Dharma expressway, from which their ancestors were dislodged in the past centuries! That would only serve the cause of national integration. 1e)  EXCHANGE  OF  ENCLAVES  BETWEEN  INDIA AND  BANGLADESH Enclave dwellers filled with Joy! 15 August 1947 brought independence to all Indians and Pakistanis except those living the 162 enclaves along India-East Pakistan (Bangladesh) border. These 51,000 enclave dwellers got real freedom on August 1, 2015. Due to their peculiar geography the enclaves on both sides had remained badly underdeveloped and the ‘stateless’ existence had left people living there with severe hardships. Located inside another country the enclaves badly lacked basic facilities like sanitation, electricity supply, schools and hospitals. The feelings of enclave dwellers can be succinctly summarized by this quote of late President APJ Abdul Kalam – “A dream is not what you see when you sleep. A dream is what keeps you awake!” At the stroke of midnight connecting July 31 and Aug 1 of 2015, 111 Bangladesh Enclaves inside India and 51 Indian Enclaves inside Bangladesh got officially exchanged. It ended the 68 year agony of 37,369 Indian enclave dwellers inside Bangladesh and 14, 856 Bangladeshi enclave dwellers in India. All Indian enclaves were in Cooch Behar district of WB. While no one from the Bangladeshi enclaves (now part of India) chose to cross over, most from the Indian enclaves (now part of Bangladesh) decided to leave their ancestral land and shift to Indian Territory. Enclaves existed across the Bangladesh-Indian border in the 4 states: West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya. India exchanged 17,160 acres of land for 7,110 acres from Bangladesh.  In fact, there were not just enclaves but counter-enclaves inside enclaves and also counter-counter-enclaves – world’s only third-order enclaves! The problem surfaced after the Rangapur district merged with East Pakistan in 1947 and the Cooch Behar district remained independent before merging with India in 1949. It was the beginning of identity crisis for the enclave dwellers. Efforts were made in 1958 by India and Pakistan to ‘de-enclave’ but nothing materialized. However, after the birth of Bangladesh a ‘land boundary agreement’ was signed between the two countries in 1974. But the pact could not be implemented because it involved swap of land and population which needed amendment to Indian Constitution. This hurdle was finally removed when both houses of Parliament approved the 119thamendment to the Constitution. The entire process of physical exchange will be completed by June 30, 2016. Peaceful resolution of such a complex boundary issue between two neighbors and the bigger neighbor giving up some of its land set a unique example before the world. It also sent a signal to both Pakistan and China that boundary issues can be resolved peacefully given the honest will. 2.  ISLAMIC  PLUNDER  OF  INDIA –  1000  YEARS  OF  DARK-AGE The Biggest Holocaust in World History The word ‘holocaust’ automatically triggers images of inhuman treatment and genocide of the Jews during 1930s by the Nazis. Hundreds of movies have highlighted the plight of Jews in the concentration Nazi camps. Massacre of the Native inhabitants by the European settlers in the Americas, and the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks are also in knowledge of people. But the world’s biggest holocaust has happened in India between 8th to 18th century AD – the period of Islamic invaders and rulers. Historian Professor K.S. Lal estimated that even before the Mughal rule was founded by Jahiruddin Babur, the Hindu population in India had decreased by 80 million between 1000 AD and 1525 AD – an unparalleled extermination of humanity in the World history. One may disagree with the number but the scale must be surely astronomically high. Alain Danielou, in his book, Histoire de l’ Inde: “From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoliations, and destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of ‘a holy war’ of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians destroyed civilizations, wiped out entire races.” Genocide, rape, loot and forced conversion of Hindus were routine features during various invasions and rules of Arabs, Turks and Afghans. The atrocities on Hindus continued during the Mughal dynasty, vacillating only in scale, and beyond, when the Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked India in 1757 AD, and yet again recreated the horrific specter of genocide, rape, destruction and plunder in Mathura and Agra. Mughal atrocities on Sikhs during the Mughal rule are very well recorded in history. Aurangzeb’s torture of Sikhs has been recorded in the most graphic ways, and is widely known in the north India. How Rajput queens committed Jauhar (burnt alive) to save their honor from the lecherous Mohammadans is also a well known historical phenomenon. Historical Oblivion If the Hindu genocide on such a gigantic scale has remained virtually blacked out and if even Hindus have little clue about the horrors their ancestors had to go through at the hands of Mohammadans in the past, it is largely because India’s history has been written predominantly by non-Indians from their perspective and by the communist historians through their own distorted lens. Many have even gone to the extent of glorifying Muslim rulers, completely shadowing Hindu heroes who fought them but failed. Some have gone to the extent of painting some Mughal rulers “secular!!” These historians belong to the primitive foreign culture where barbarism and brutality alone make people heroes. The passivity of Indian historians has been glaring; instead of critically analyzing what the so-called ‘noted historians’ offered them in the text books they took it on the face value. As a result, ordinary Indians don’t understand how their own highly exalted ancient civilization – a wonderland of profound Vedic wisdom and spirituality, highly advanced art, culture, education and unbelievable prosperity – was destroyed by the barbaric invaders from Central Asia or Arabia who came swaying the “Sword of Islam”. Some of these villains are still portrayed in the school textbooks in ways that betray any commonsense moral judgment. It is, however, heartening that some select Indian historians started to come forward to set the record straight. In the 18th century, when the British started taking control of the Indian territories they un-mistakenly noticed that Hindus were not behaving like normal human beings. One thousand year of continuous suppression and humiliation had left them virtually drained of spirit. The British were certainly not on a charity mission but theirs was primarily an economic mission with political control – plundering India to make Britain a “Great Britain.” Unlike Mohammadans, the British did not come as fanatic Christian Crusaders to establish the glory of Jesus Christ through terror on Indians. However, their presence did facilitate the political “conversion industry” of the Christian missionaries. The Cult of Islamic Barbarism The unparalleled prosperity and peace loving people of India had remained targets of foreign attacks even before the Mohammadans, but they never indulged in animalish behavior. The Islamists brought with them the culture of savage barbarism, totally unthinkable to people of the region. What was most unbelievable for the Hindus was that they proudly indulged in the ghastly conduct claiming to be the mujahids (holy warriors) to become ghazis (kafir-killers, ie, killers of non-Muslims) in the service of their Only God whom they called Allah. Throughout the 1000 years, the Islamist invaders repeated the same pattern of barbarism – mass slaughter, loot, rape, taking slaves, capture of women and girls for sexual pleasure or to be sold as slaves and destruction of temples – in the “Glory of Islam.” The scale of success was measured by the size of the booty, number of enemy skulls, and from the number of women and slaves taken.  For example, in 1000 AD the invasion of Afghanistan was followed by the annihilation of the Hindu population; the region is still called the Hindu Kush, i.e. “Hindu slaughter.” There were instances when even middle rank officials had set and fulfilled the targets of slaughtering 100,000 Hindus. Historians say that the savages truly followed the words of their so-called Holy Book (Surah 9:29): “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Prophet, nor acknowledge the religion of truth even if they are People of the Book, until they pay the jizyah (tax for non-Muslims) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The founder of Moghul dynasty, Jahiruddin Shah Babur, who ruled between 1526 and 1530 AD, proudly wrote in his memoir Baburnama:  “For the sake of Islam I became a wanderer, I battled infidels and Hindus, I am determined to become a martyr. Thank God I became a Killer of Non-Muslims!” His grandson Akbar ordered a general massacre of 30,000 Rajputs after he captured Chithorgarh in 1568. And who was Babur, you may ask. He was a hybrid creature, formed with father genes from the Turko-Mongol barbarian Timur side and mother genes came from the Mongol tyrant Genghis Khan side. Thus, he inherited barbarism from both sides of his ancestors. After establishing him in Afghanistan, he moved southwards through the Khyber Pass and launched an attack on India. He grabbed much of the north India defeating Sikandar Lodi at Panipat in 1526. He ruled from 1526 to 1530; got buried in Afghanistan as he wished. Baburnama also mentions that there were two major trading points between Hindustan and Khurasan – at Kabul and Qandahar – where caravans came from India carrying slaves and commodities to be sold. Historians glorify the Mughal king Shah Jahan for building the Taj Mahal. Here is how Islam was glorified in his rule (1628-1658), from the contemporary record:  “When Shuja was appointed as governor of Kabul he carried on a ruthless war in the Hindu territory beyond Indus…The Sword of Islam yielded a rich crop of converts….Most of the women (to save their honour) burnt themselves to death. Those captured were distributed among Muslim Mansabdars.” Islamist Mind – A Frozen Mind!  “The tree (of Islam) is of artificial planting. Instead of containing within itself the germ of growth and adaptation to the various requirements of time and clime and circumstance, expanding with the genial sunshine and rain from heaven, it remains the same forced and stunted as when first planted some twelve centuries ago.” – Sir William Muir, (1819 – 1905) Scottish Orientalist, scholar of Islam, and colonial administrator Everything remains frozen in the world of Islam.  In the 21s century, what the ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terror outfits are doing has a long history of 1400 years; nothing has changed in their mindset. In fact, that is their ossified signature mark. 2a)  WORDS  OF  HISTORIANS Religion can be highly dangerous in the hands of deranged people – more dangerous than even the cholera or ebola viruses. In the past 2000 years, “Religions” have killed more people than all the wars of the history combined. Here are some wise cracks on the religion of peace!! “This is a profession of faith of a Muslim: ‘I certify that there is no God other than Allah, of whom Mohammed is the only prophet’, which means in effect: After and before Mohammed, there is nobody else…’ Thus the whole religion of Islam is based on negation: nobody but us, no other religion but ours’. And if you disagree, you shall die. This puts a serious limitation to tolerance and from this strong belief sprang all the horrors of the Muslim invasion of India.”  – Francois Gautier French writer and journalist based in India “The tree (of Islam) is of artificial planting. Instead of containing within itself the germ of growth and adaptation to the various requirements of time and clime and circumstance, expanding with the genial sunshine and rain from heaven, it remains the same forced and stunted as when first planted some twelve centuries ago.”   – Sir William Muir, (1819 – 1905) Scottish Orientalist, scholar of Islam, and colonial administrator “The contrast between our own faith and Islam is most remarkable. There are in our Scriptures living germs of truth, which are in harmony with civil and personal liberty, and will expand with advancing civilization. In Islam it is just the reverse. It has nothing to help abolish polygamy, slavery, and arbitrary divorce, or to elevate woman to her proper place. As a Reformer, Mahomet did advance his people to a certain point, but as a Prophet he left them fixed immovably at that point for all time to come.”  – Sir William Muir (1819 – 1905) Scottish Orientalist, Scholar of Islam and Colonial administrator “Muslims are the first victims of Islam. Many times I have observed in my travels that fanaticism comes from a small number of dangerous men who maintain others in the practice of this religion by terror. Liberating the Muslim from his religion is the best service that one can render him.”  – Joseph Ernest Renan (1823 -1892) French expert of Middle East languages and civilizations “If the people of this religion are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational and free thinking, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed in followers of Mohamet.”   – Zakariya Razi (Rhazes) (865 – 925) Persian chemist, philosopher and physician “You cannot defend Islam with reason and promote peace at the same time. …And they have been busy defending Islam for 14 centuries!”   – Vijay Agrawal, Thinker and Writer “He (Muhammad) poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and allowing polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. The essence of his doctrine was violence and lust: to exalt the brutal over the spiritual part of human nature.”   – John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848) Sixth President of the United States, 1825 – 1829. “The world of fundamentalists is changeless, barren and growth-less – stunted forever. Centuries go by, world changes, people adapt, societies advance but “their ISLAM” remains ever stuck in the Arab desert of 7th century AD.”   – Vijay Agrawal, Thinker and Writer You may like to explore: Islamic Plunder of Somnath Temple 3.  DANGERS OF  GLOBAL  ISLAMIC  TERRORISM The Institute for Economics & Peace publishes the performance report card of global terrorists every year. The Global Terrorism Index 2017 revealed that terrorists killed 25,673 people in 2016 around the world. In terms of attacks, the 2016 world champion was the ISIS, followed by Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and Taliban. The ISIS also killed the most, 9,132 followed by Taliban (3,583), Al Qaeda (1,349) and Boko Haram (1,079). Iraq is the top victim country, followed by Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan. Top ten terror infected countries are all Muslim countries except India which occupies the 8th position. The global brand ambassadors of Islamic terrorism are the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Taliban, Haqqanis, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and Hezbollah. The IS is rooted out from the Middle East, but now it is trying to get territorial hold in the Afghan-Pak region, which is already the fertile ground for breeding terrorists and home of the Talibans and Haqqanis. There are reports that many jihadi groups have declared allegiance to the ISIS. However, entry of the IS in this area will be problematic for Pak ISI because the IS is unlikely to play to the tune of ISI, which would like to have its own terror companies dominate the region. Let’s see who wins the race of dominance. If India (world’s largest democracy of 1.33 billion people, including around 200 million Muslims) finds a place in the top ten it is not because of the huge Indian Muslim population; it is fully due to its neighbor, the Islamic State of Pakistan which has emerged as the global capital of terrorism – and is now rightly known as a Terroristan.” Its secret agency ISI is well connected to global terror organizations and particularly nurtures terror groups like Laskar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizbul Mujahideen to create jihadi violence in India, particularly in Kashmir. Pakistan is a hotbed of Islamic terrorists with over 150 terrorist training camps. It grooms terrorists as undeclared strategic assets and its highly radicalized society offers abundant human resource for terror corporations. Globally wanted terrorists like Hafiz Saeed roam freely on its streets spewing venom against the humanity, holding public gatherings and declaring plans to enter Pak parliament. Despite the US pressure, it appears totally incapable of acting against the terror groups operating from its soil. Resurgent Islam Although the Islamic ambition to rule the world is as old as Islam itself, the current spell of Islamic terrorism originates from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that was opposed by the US-Pak created army of Afghan jihadis. They also attracted mujahideens(Islamic holy warriors) from other parts of the world, particularly the Middle East. The communists left but the Al Qaeda remained along with its highly trained and motivated jihadi fighters who started nurturing global ambitions, and ended up doing the 9/11 in the US. In the past quarter century, the ‘radical Islamist terrorism’ as US President Trump calls it, has grown into a global monster. People variously call it jihadi terrorism, radical Islam, Wahhabism, Salafi jihadism and so on. The ideologues of this violent ideology also draw inspirations from Quran, but in absolutely political way. They are also convinced that their Allah is pleased when they kill people and would reward them with highly intense sensual pleasures if they die killing humanity. They completely reject all modern ideas – free speech, free enterprise, freedom to think, respect for people of other faiths, equality of men and women, separation of religion from government, basic human rights. They even reject the modern nation-state model of sovereign countries and see all Muslims as one people, Umma, and aim to impose Shari’ah everywhere and want people to live like the primitive tribals of 7thcentury Arab desert where women were treated like men’s personal properties. It is not their concern that it is the 21st century modern world where people have different aspirations and values. Yet, they must get credit for not shunning modern automatic weapons for killing and cyber technology for spreading their ideology. It is really strange because these things did not exist 1400 years ago in the Shari’ah society and therefore, must be Haram just as nail-polishes and lipsticks are. However, let’s not get too far and respect their irrationalities and conveniences! The biggest problem is that they are inherently expansionist. So you can’t expect that if you give them a piece of land they would live happily thereafter inside the territory. They would attack neighbors for expansion because their god wants them to kill everyone who doesn’t submit to their will! And what they would do after winning – they would slaughter men, take away women and girls as sex slaves and for breeding, and destroy everything they don’t like. There is 1400 year old history behind this pattern of conduct. You may read: 1000 Years of Jihad in India. Their primary weapon is terror. Reflecting the realities of the 21st century, they use bombs and automatic weapons rather than swords. And their signature terror tactics are: sending suicide bombers into crowded places, exploding bombs at funerals, targeting subways and rail stations, throwing acid on girls going to school, flying hijacked airplanes into buildings, trampling pedestrians with trucks or vans, killing people with knives. Their future innovations could be poisoning water bodies, initiating fires at public places, virus attack, chemical weapons, targeting hospitals, old-age homes and primary schools, etc. Glamorization of Terrorism The ISIS revived the barbarism of pre-Islamic Arab world – executions through beheading, burning people alive, using and selling women of other faiths as sex-slaves, training innocent kids to kill and behead and so on. It erased the distinction between the civil-world and the under-world and between civilians and criminals. Aiming to Islamize the whole world under a global Islamic Caliphate it glamorized and globalized the cult of jihadi violence and terror – exploiting the social media platforms. Its propaganda leads (or misleads) normal Muslims to aim for bigger achievements beyond this life by dying in jihad by promising highly intense sensual pleasures in Heaven. For example, they would be rewarded with 72 virgins for sex pleasure in Heaven as they blow the suicide vest; the ISIS jihadis believe it. Motivated by its “jihadi call”, thousands from around the world came to Iraq and Syria to die for the Allah. A lot more could not come but remain highly indoctrinated in the jihad ideology and are mentally ready to ‘die for Allah’ while killing – perhaps in their own neighbourhood or city. Such ‘lone wolves’ exist in practically all countries with Muslim community. Such people live normally and have no previous criminal records, so authorities have no clue about their presence, until they strike suddenly. Communism Vs Terrorism What is common between communism and Jihadi terrorism? Both are ideology driven; both are totalitarian and oppressive, both can’t tolerate dissent, and both are without respect for human life.  If communism unites communists, the terror ideology unites the terrorists regardless of where they live. Both believe that peace comes only after decimating those who think differently. Thus, they keep waging wars. Ironically, their war never ends and peace never comes. And both perpetually wage war against freedoms of voice and choice. However, despite the lofty dream of global caliphate, the jihadis comes around as utterly immature, myopic and self-destructive in comparison with followers of Stalin and Mao. Another peculiar similarity is the issue of loyalty.  When Indian communists bat for China or North Korea or when anti-nationals hoists Pakistani or ISIS flag in India, they are declaring that their loyalties lie in some distant land.  Thus, a ‘lone actor’ jihadi is a traitor; he wants to destroy the very same society or nation that shelters him. Communists are no different – although not so dramatic. Nonetheless, the godless communist discourse is much simpler than the nothing-but-god philosophy of the jihadis. Consequently, unlike the believers of the holy-Book the believers of the red-Book don’t kill themselves when they want to kill others. It is pure commonsense – just kill the enemy, stay alive and be happy!  Why hallucinate about fictional Heaven populated with charming virgins who only have sex with the dead! The communist-radical mullah nexus has ruined the socio-political fabric of India; it is also a big threat to Indian democracy which is sustained by the way of life of 1 billion non-Muslims. 3a)  WAHHABISM  –  THE  IDEOLOGY  OF  JIHADI TERRORISM All Islamic radicals, fundamentalists, extremists and terrorists derive their ideological inspiration and justification from distorted and out of context interpretation of the Prophet’s words and deeds. They appear mentally incapable of absorbing the ‘essence’ of Islam which is peace, brotherhood and compassion. This spirit makes Islam a religion of peace. But they are repelled by such thoughts. They merely want to ape the Prophet as if he was a mere political leader who had to fight wars; not a saintly person. Hence, for 14 centuries they have been invading countries and terrorizing humankind into submission – in the name of Islam. The ISLAM of terrorists is based on negation: nobody but us, no other god than ours, and no other religion but ours’. And if you disagree, you shall die.  – Vijay Agrawal, Thinker and writer Around 250 years ago, this cult was revived by Muhammad ibn Abd-al Wahhab (1703 – 1792) among the Bedouin tribes in Arab desert. His influence on the Saud tribe (one among many squabbling tribe) ultimately led to creation of Saudi Arabia in the 1930s which is founded on Wahhabi ideology. Obsessed for dominance in the name of Islam they can’t stand any disagreement, from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Their only way to erase dissent is to eliminate the dissenter. For decades, Saudi Arabia has spent an enormous amount of resources to propagate this Wahhabi cult through mosques and madarasas around the world. As a result, more and more Muslims around the world have given up peaceful religious interpretation of Quran and fallen for the context-less and distorted Wahhabi twists. Thus, wherever Wahhabi mullahs preach they only promote intolerance, separatism, isolationism and obscurantism – thereby making their disciples unfit to live peacefully anywhere. But they make ideal raw material for jihad factories. All Islamic terror groups display this pathological intolerant tendency, regardless of their geographical location, race or color. Thus, worldwide all jihadi terrorists speak the same language of hate, violence, terror and destruction – in the name of Allah or Quran. It helps to trace the origin and history of ‘jihad’ that goes back to 7th century during Mohammed’s time, against the Arab during (622-634 AD). 3b) HOW  TERRORISM  HAS  POLARIZED  THE WORLD  The senseless jihadi violence around the world has clearly polarized the world: Muslims against the rest. Every act of Islamic terror strengthens the anti-Muslim sentiments in non-Muslim communities. As a result, anti-Islam groups and political parties are emerging in most countries. Election of Donald Trump as US president from an anti-Muslim platform is a significant event and perhaps the best indicator of how global politics is shaping for the future. He has already banned immigration from six disturbed Muslim countries and openly takes anti-Muslim stand. His recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is another glaring example of that. In European countries too anti-Islamic groups are emerging or getting stronger. Even Germany has seen rise of an extreme right wing party (AFD) for the first time since the WW2. Politicians like Angela Merkel now get branded as traitors for liberally allowing refugees. There is a strong undercurrent in European nations against allowing refugees from the Middle East to prevent entry of radicalized Muslims and trained terrorists. Many worry about changing demographic balance and cultural change with rising Muslim population. The anti-Islamic sentiment is increasingly jeopardizing the well-being and security of ordinary Muslims around the world. They are constantly looked down upon as “suspects” and untrustworthy. Airport security checks have already become quite distressing for Muslims around the world. Racial targeting of Muslims has increased in most nations affected with jihadi terrorism. The prospect of having indoctrinated ‘lone actor jihadi’ in the neighborhood, is frightening for ordinary citizens. They are scared because they can’t be sure that the Parvez Mussharraf, Hafiz Saeed Sheikh, or Azmal Kasab living next door is not an indoctrinated jihadi terrorist, waiting for his chance to attack them. Naturally, today there is widespread resentment everywhere against Muslims. If you ever thought that terrorists only scare non-Muslims, you are wrong. When the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS propagate their version of Islam, even normal Muslims feel terrified because the ‘imposed Islam’ is totally unfamiliar to them. Moreover, it is a fact that jihadis have killed more Muslims in the name of Islam than they killed non-Muslims. You may like to read how Islamophobia in Pakistan is affecting the Pak society. 3c)  WESTERN OIL  POLITICS AND  THE  RISE  OF  ISLAMIC  FUNDAMENTALISM How Unjust Western Oil Policies led to Rise of Radical Islam Islamic terrorism in the Middle East should be seen in the context of Western meddling for oil control. Ever since the oil was discovered in the 1930s in the Saudi Arabia, practically everything in the region has revolved around one single issue: Western oil interests. Thus, the US and its European allies have been solidly supporting the Saudi Arabia which is the most conservative Islamic country practicing a highly intolerant version of Islam – Wahhabism. And the Saudis have been using their petro-dollars for propagating their Wahhabi doctrine around the world. Post WW2 history tells us that the US has always promoted puppet regimes in the Middle East to serve its own interests. It never allowed people to raise their aspirations and democracies to run freely. This has allowed the fundamentalists to emerge as defenders of people’s cause. Thus, the US scuttled democracy in Iran in 1953 to install a favorable king, who was ultimately thrown away by militant Islamic movement in late 1970s. It turned ‘good’ Iran into ‘bad’ Iran; and now the US sees Iran as the biggest ‘devil’ of the Middle East! Iraqi Dictator Saddam was a ‘good’ ally as long he kept fighting the ‘bad’ Iran; he became ‘bad’ only when he invaded Kuwait in the early 1990s that threatened Western oil interests. Saddam became ‘really bad’ when he made Iraq really strong and started defying the US; it was when the 9/11 happened. The Bush-Blair duo decided to invade Iraq under the false pretext of destroying his non-existent WMDs and supposed links with the 9/11 terrorists. However, the Iraq war was only about ‘protecting Western oil interests’ and nothing else. Additionally, as the West show-cased the latest range of weaponry in the real battle field, their weapon industry started bagging huge orders from around the world. Roots of the current Syrian mess can also be traced back to the overthrowing of democratic government in Syria. Today, Assad regime of Syria is ‘bad’ for the US, but is ‘good’ for the Russians and Iran! The US-Russian rivalry only adds further complications in the region. When the US led Western troops withdrew from Iraq the vacuum was filled by the ISIS which further fueled Islamic fundamentalism not just in the region but throughout the world among Muslims. Now though the ISIS is defeated on the ground but the ‘virtual Islamic State’ is still radicalizing people through its highly elaborate online campaign on social media. That’s worrying nations about the ‘lone wolf’ type attacks by local Muslims which are hard to spot. Sadly, while the dead get counted the sufferings of millions of affected people remain out of media headlines. Thousands of refugees from the war torn regions have died trying to cross over to Europe for safety. And those who reached the other shore are not sure if they really have safe future. But these issues are not important for the West. If it were a Just-World, the Bush-Blair couple would have been put on trial for unjust invasion and mass genocide in Iraq. But we live in a highly unjust world, dictated by whoever holds the bigger gun. Now let’s come to another epicenter of global terrorism: the Pak-Afghan region in the South Asia. After the 9/11, attack the US troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2001 hunting for Osama bin Laden and are still there after 16 years, although they managed to kill Osama living right inside Pakistan. And the terror groups are still in pink health despite countless drone attacks and dropping the ‘mother of all bombs.’ Incidentally, Osama and his Al Qaeda were ‘good’ for the Americans when they were fighting the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The US had no problem with Wahhabi Osama and his activities until the 9/11 happened on its own soil. Then the ‘good’ terrorist became a ‘really bad’ most-wanted terrorist! The Americans made another vital mistake in the 1980s after the communist left Afghanistan. They did not dismantle the Jihadi army and the jihad factories they created with the help of Pakistan. It also ignored the fact that Pakistan, instead of scrapping the terror infrastructure, continued operating it. However, this time for a nefarious plan – of directing the trained terrorists against India, its “eternal” enemy. Thus, India became the first victim of Islamic terrorism after the communist departed from Afghanistan; it still is. By the time 9/11 happened a decade later, Pakistan had a mushrooming terror industry. In the mid 1990s, it installed a Talibani government in Afghanistan – which the Americans threw away when they arrived looking for Osama in 2001. In 2017, Pakistan has emerged as the global capital of terrorism and a hotbed of terrorists. The Taliban, Haqqanis, ISIS, and Al Qaeda terrorists have active support in Pakistan and they keep launching attacks in Afghanistan. Now the US wants Pakistan to destroy them but Pakistan is hesitant. It is apparent that the US lacks the faculty of farsightedness in its policies. 3d) WHAT  IS  WRONG  WITH  THE  “WAR ON TERRORISM” Barak Obama killed a lot of terrorists through guns and drones, but the more he killed the more came alive! The game still continues. Baghdadi has been already killed 7 times! The ISIS is defeated in the Middle East but the ‘virtual Islamic State’ is still firmly ‘grounded in the cyberspace’ and radicalizing Muslims around the world. Obsessed with “political correctness”, Trump’s predecessor Obama recited the mantra “terrorism has no religion” and treated terrorists as underworld criminals who happened to be Muslims. He thus reduced Bush’s “war on terrorism” to a “fight against terrorists”.  Thus, he only fought the terrorists, not terrorism or the ideology that fuels it. Donald Trump calls the phenomenon ‘radical Islamist terrorism’. Trump should certainly get the credit for calling a spade a spade and also for not fooling the world in the name of ‘political correctness’. However, there is little indication of how his counter-terrorism measures would be different from his predecessors’. In the context of his Afghanistan policy, he has rightly identified Pakistan as the safe-haven for terrorists and has demanded from Pakistan to take action against the Haqqanis and Taliban who indulge in terrorism in Afghanistan.  He has withheld the annual dole until Pakistan takes decisive action. Yet, Pakistan continues to defy the sentiments of the global community. For argument’s sake, even if the US forces Pakistan into action and eliminates some terrorists the cult of terrorism is unlikely to end; it doesn’t counter the ideology of terrorism.  On the contrary, the terrorists would gain further sympathy from Pak’s highly radicalized society – as ‘true’ warriors of Islam! Therefore, the only lasting solution to jihadi terrorism is to attack the ideology alongside the battle with troops, guns and drones. Trump has to fight this ideology just as the US waged the ideological war against communism during the cold war era. . The human resource for the terror training camps comes from the madarsas where ideological indoctrination takes place.  For that he needs to connect with the peace loving Islamic scholars and preachers and isolate the distortionist preachers and propagandists.  He also needs to pay attention to social media which has emerged as a global platform for radicalization. For this he needs to create a team of “virtual commandos” from the genuine Islamic experts who can tear apart the distorted interpretations and hollow arguments of the fundamentalists. There are instances of Muslims who joined the militancy influenced by radical brainwashing but when someone pointed the “right knowledge” they came back to normal life. President Trump should also focus on utilizing them as “virtual commandoes” to counter the jihadi propaganda.. How the terrorists have turned the “holy book of peace” into the “unholy book of violence” is apparent from this passage from the training manual of the Al Qaeda: “[An] Islamic government would never be established except by the bomb and rifle. Islam does not coincide or make a truce with unbelief, but rather confronts it. The confrontation that Islam calls for with these godless and apostate regimes, does not know Socratic debates, Platonic ideals nor Aristotelian diplomacy. But it knows the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing, and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and machine-gun. The young came to prepare themselves for [holy war], commanded by the majestic Allah’s order in the holy Koran.” Remove the words – Islamic, Allah and Koran – and it becomes an ideology of plain anti-human beastly conduct. 3e)  GLOBAL MUSLIM POPULATION Worldwide around 1.6 billionpeople follow ‘Islam’ – divided between Sunnis (87-90%) and Shias (10-13%). Both Indian and Pakistani Muslim communities follow this Shia-Sunni ratio. However, there are further divisions that complicate their mutual sectarian relations. Iran is the global hub of Shias, and the Sunni world looks towards Saudi Arabia for religious leadership. About 1 billion (or 62 percent) live in the Asia pacific region, followed by about 320 million (21 percent) combined in the Middle East – North Africa and 245 million (15 percent) in the Sub Saharan Africa. Americas have just 5 million and entire Europe has only 43 million Muslims. Both France and Germany have around 5 million Muslims, forming 5-7 percent population. Russia has the largest Muslim population of 14 million (or 10 percent) of country’s population. The largest number of Muslims lives in Indonesia (215 million, forming 88% of country’s population).  It is followed closely by Pakistan (205 million) and India (195 million); Bangladesh (160 million) occupies the fourth place. In terms of numbers, other major countries are Egypt (80 million), Nigeria (80 million), Iran (75 million), and Turkey (74 million). The politics of oil rich Gulf region is dictated by the traditional rivalry between Shia Iran (75 million) and the cash rich Sunni Saudi Arabia (30 million). Around 80% Muslims live in countries where they are in majority. However, Indian Muslims are an anomaly; their unusually high population of 195 million is in MINORITY (14.2 percent) in Hindu dominated India! Danger of Radicalization A question on globe watchers mind is:  Out of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, how many are radicalized? Nobody knows for sure but love for medieval Shari’ah law might offer some guidance. A 2013 Pew Research Poll tried to probe it and found that 86 percent of Muslims in Pakistan, 80 percent in Egypt, and 65 percent in Jordan supported stoning of adulterers; and 79 percent in Afghanistan, 62 percent of Palestinians, and 58 percent in Malaysia (considered a moderate Muslim country) supported execution of Muslims who convert from Islam. Let’s now make some conservative calculations. If just 10 percent of the 1.6 billion population are radicalized (it could be much higher); that’s 160 million people. Among these, how many are willing to get violent or tie suicide jacket and blow up?  Let’s again be cautious and say that the figure is only 1%.  That’s still a staggering 1.6 million potential terrorists ready to kill, destroy and die for the terror god. Let’s reduce it to just 1 million or 10 lakh. Pakistan alone may have currently around 0.3 million (300,000) trained jihadi terrorists under banners of several dozen terrorist groups. The biggest one is the Haqqani network with around 1 hundred thousand terrorists. Although the ISIS has been wiped out from the Middle East, it has extensively radicalized people around the world using the social media – and the process still continues. There are other active groups like the Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah along with scores of other groups. Adding Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab operating in North Africa into the list, makes the estimate of 1 million highly realistic. The count of fundamentalists should be several fold higher. 3f) MUSLIMS IN INDIA Why Indian Muslims Feel Fortunate Living In India! Progressive Indian Muslims feel particularly satisfied when they look at the status of the ‘almost failed’ Islamic State of Pakistan – the only nation ever founded in the name of Islam. Pakistan – literally, the land of Purity – is rotting infected with all kinds of extremists and fundamentalists. On the Pak soil the space for civility and civil society has shrunk to dangerous extent. The case of Muslim population in India is highly peculiar: It is the third largest Muslim population (195 million) in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan, but as minority! Yet, the number of people gone to join jihad in Syria has been exceptionally insignificant – just a few hundred, at most. In contrast, Europe with just around 25 million Muslims has seen thousands going to join the ISIS. It speaks volumes about the benign influence of majority Hindus and their way of life. Indian Muslims enjoy full freedom and fruits of modern democracy, nurtured by highly tolerant and accommodative majority Hindus. Thanks to the moderating influence of peace loving majority Hindus, Shia and Sunni Muslims don’t blow up themselves or each other’s Mosques – unlike in Pakistan. Such is the tolerance and secular mindset of Hindus that top Bollywood stars are Muslims. Pak artists crave to work in the Bollywood. Amir Khan can make a blockbuster film mocking Hindu gods and stay safe. A noted, but mentally deranged, Muslim painter (Hussain) could proudly show off his lecherous mind by painting nude pictures of Hindu goddesses – and yet remained alive! It’s all because tolerance is the core principle of Hindu way of life and the concept of ‘blasphemy’ is totally alien to Hindu ethos. The Dharma based foundation of Hindu philosophy is so strong that slanderous cartoons and movies don’t threaten it, unlike the ritualistic Islam. However, they do damage the social fabric. Thus, even those Indian Muslims whose heart always beats for Pakistan feel fortunate that they live safely in India among naturally secular and tolerant Hindus. The only Muslims unhappy are the fanatics like the Hyderabadi Owaisis who can’t stop dreaming about annihilating 100 crore Hindus to Islamize India – the unfinished agenda of 1000 years of Islamic invasion or dominance. They send their own kids to modern universities but hallucinate and preach about medieval Shari’ah society to their followers. Moreover, Indian Muslims are all ex-Hindus – their Hindu ancestors were forced into Islam under threat during the rule  of Muslim barbarians for centuries. It is ironic that these ex-Hindus have learned nothing from the Muslims of South East Asia which also once flourished with rich Hindu and Buddhist culture and where current Muslims still feel proud of their ancient pre-Islam cultural heritage. For instance, most Indonesians practice Islam but have not forgotten the culture of their Hindu ancestors and have no problem respecting the ancient Hindu epics like Ramayana. In comparison, here is the tale of “pure” Islamic culture of Pakistan. Muslims who migrated from other parts of India to Pakistan during partition got labeled as Mohajirs and treated like second grade citizens. It tried disrespecting democracy in 1971 and lost half of its territory to form Bangladesh. People of its largest and mineral rich province Balochistan live under military oppression ever since 1948 1948 – now further troubled by the activities of Chinese economic corridor. People of Sindh remain alienated by the Punjab centric national politics. Pak democracy is more of a joke; people elect government that runs dictated by Pak army and ISI. People need development but the army develops  fundamentalists and terrorist. In the past three decades, religious fundamentalism has infected every organ of Pak society. Saudi backed Wahhabi mullahs have taken control of a large number of madarsas and mosques. There are over hundred training camps to produce jihadi terrorists; many with their own madarsas. Globally wanted terrorists roam freely on the streets spitting venom against humanity. Backed by Pak military they are now forming political parties, contesting elections and trying to enter parliament – clever ploy to undermine democracy by sidelining leaders of the civil society! By now, the country is almost irreversibly infected by all kinds of extremists and terrorists and is appropriately seen as global capital of terrorism – a “terroristan”. International Pakistan watchers are highly distressed to see the shrinking space for normal citizens. They are seriously concerned about country’s stability and safety of its nuclear weapons, due to worsening fundamentalist rot. A demographic comparison of India and Pakistan reveals the striking difference between Hindu and Islamic cultures. India’s Muslim population has steadily grown since independence, both in numbers and in percentage. With the fertility rate of about 3.2 children per woman (national average, 2.2), it is the fastest growing community in India!  Muslims formed just 9.8 percent of total Indian population in 1951; now they are 14.2 percent and expected to be 20 percent by 2050. In contrast, the non-Muslim population in Pakistan has steadily decreased since its birth, from around 23 percent to less than 2 percent today – reflecting the destructive Islamic dominance on minority groups. Nothing surprising, the same trend exists in the Islamic Bangladesh also. Just recently, the first ever Hindu Chief Justice of Bangladesh was forced to flee the country; murder of Hindus due to their faith is a commonly reported phenomenon. There are terror groups connected with Pak ISI, ISIS and Al Qaeda. 3g) JIHADI  THREAT  TO  INDIA Although very few from Indian Muslim community actually went to Middle East or Afghanistan to indulge in jihadi lunacy, the extent of sympathy and inclination towards violence should be much higher. If one radicalized Muslim turns into jihadi killer there must be at least hundred more with similar bent of mind; they are all potential trouble makers for the future. Given the obsession to put Islam into everything, the Muslim community is known for the tendency of isolationism, which can easily translate into separatism. This is typical of the mullah controlled community, practically all over the world.  These traits are exploited by the radical preachers such as Zakir Naik and Wahhabi maulvis to promote jihadi psychosis. Unfortunately, in India, there are notorious Hindu haters like Owaisis and hundreds of others who yearn for the Mughal rule when Hindus were treated like filth and animals and regularly humiliated. Then there is the class of clerics (like the Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid) and the likes of Sheikh Abdullah who still feel closer to Islamabad than New Delhi. All such elements thrive in the safe and free environment of Indian democracy, which squarely derives strength from the 85% Indians who are inherently accommodative and tolerant of diversity. Although the current decadent state of Islamic Pak society discourages them  yet their presence in India provides comfort to Pakistani rulers. In addition to these weirdoes India is also home to the clan of appeasement politicians (fake seculars) who can’t grasp the gravity of threat to national security from Pak jihadis. When in 2014 the Islamic State (IS) showed the feasibility of grabbing territories through the army of jihadis in Iraq and Syria it only concretized the exclusivist sharia’h mindset that is also ubiquitous among the backward looking mullahs of India. There are local pockets, for example in West Bengal – Bangladesh border region, where illegal immigrants have changed the demography and Muslims have outnumbered non-Muslims. In many such areas, the radical elements try imposing their dream Sharia’hjurisdiction. It means nothing but fear and threat for the non-Muslims; thus, quite frequently they leave the area for safety. It further strengthens ghettoization of Muslims. Recently, a dalit village called Gautam Nagar saw arrival of a large number of Muslims that changed in local demography. Soon, radical Muslims unilaterally change the name of the village to Islam Nagar. They could have as well called the area an Islamic State, intention remains the same. All non-Muslims of India have to guard against such exclusionary Islamic gimmicks for dominance, which has ideological history of 14 centuries. India’s Jihadi Gangs They are disgrace on the land of Buddha and Gandhi who preached non-violence to the whole world. All the above elements of Indian Muslim community are represented in several organized gangs; of course, with the sole aim of turning India into an Islamic State. They are all legally banned. Thus, the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was formed in 1977 and the Indian Mujahideen (IM) was created in 2002. An IM splinter group called Ansar ut-Tawhid fi Bilad al-Hind (Supporters of Monotheism in the Land of India) pledged allegiance to the IS in 2014. Junud ul-Khilafa e-Hind (Soldiers of the Indian Caliphate) is another group formed in 2015. The Popular Front of India (PFI), apparently a social organization in Kerala, is reportedly involved in shady gimmicks of ‘Love-Jihad” – a phrase coined by Christian missionaries – whereby Muslim men trap non-Muslim girls into love affair with the ulterior motive of luring them into conversion and marrying them for sexual exploitation, and finally sending them to global jihadis for prostitution and breeding. There are reports that many madarsas in Kerala preach Wahhabi doctrine to children to prepare them for global jihad. Pak Sponsored Terrorism The cancer of fundamentalism has penetrated deeply into Pak society and eaten away whatever little sense of rationality it had. It is now a terroristan, the global terror capital.  As a result, it is a nation waiting to die rotting as the cancer of Islamic fundamentalist eats away its vital organs. It greatly increases jihadi threat to India. As the US is withdrawing its aid, Pakistan is increasingly falling in the lap of China who needs Pakistan territory for its road connectivity project. It also means ever increasing Chinese economic and military influence over Pakistan. No surprise, if Pakistan soon turns into a Chinese colony for all practical purposes. Simultaneously, the grip of fundamentalists and terrorists on Pak society is tightening. These rogue elements have no fear because the army needs and backs them. At the same time, the separatist voices of the Balochs, Sindhis and Pakhtuns are increasingly becoming louder. Taken together, a highly unpredictable and explosive situation is developing in Pakistan. Perhaps the only gluing force that that is keeping the country intact – at least, for now – is the typical ‘hate-India narrative’ coming from the Islamic solidarity for Kashmiris. Pak ISI is increasing its influence in the South Asian region, beyond Afghanistan and Kashmir. Now it is nurturing terror groups in Bangladesh and Myanmar using Rohingya terrorists. Its India focused terror groups like the LeT, JM and Hizbul are promoting fanaticism around the idea of Gazwa-e-Hind, conquering and Islamizing India. Lofty ideals certainly create bigger fanaticism, as the IS proved in the Middle East, but it is hardly sustainable. 4.  A TERRIBLE MISTAKE ! EQUATING  “DHARMA”  WITH  “RELIGION”  4a)  DHARMA  VS  RELIGION India, the land south of Himalaya, is the land of “Dharma.” Indian ethos comes from its ancient Vedic philosophy which revolves around “Dharma.”  Invariably, all India born life philosophies are centered upon Dharma which transcends the shallow boundaries of manmade faiths, beliefs and ideologies. ‘Dharma’ has no equivalent word in the foreign languages because such culture did not exist anywhere else. It was a grave mistake when Indians equated “Dharma” with the English word “Religion”. The difference between ‘dharma’ and ‘religion’, which is a foreign concept, is profound.  The wrong translation occurred because people used the phrases like Hindu Dharma, Sikh Dharma, Jain Dharma and so on to describe their philosophies. Strictly speaking, it is wrong to say that the Hindu Dharma is Hindu religion, the Sikh Dharma is Sikh religion, or the Jain Dharma is Jain religion. There is only one Dharma – that’s nature’s Reality which is universal. However, Christianity and Islam are certainly ‘Religions.’ Equating ‘Dharma’ with ‘religion’ is like saying that a football is same as ping-pong ball because both are ‘round’ or because both are used to play sport! This has ended up devaluing the life philosophies of majority of Indians – who don’t practice Islam and Christianity – and distorted the public discourse. Word ‘Hindu’ was coined by the Arab, to address people living in this region. The colonial British used it for the first time when they started counting population. Of course, they also had divisive motives. Thus, ‘Hindu’ is a geographical term just like ‘Arab’ or ‘Persian’. And, Hinduism should be seen as their way of life.  Likewise, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism etc point to the respective philosophies of the followers. Yet, none of these are ‘religions’ in the sense Christianity and Islam are. So what are they? All India born life philosophies – such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc – are simply different paths to practice Dharma, which is universal and eternal. What is Dharma “Dharma provides a sound and fundamental world-view which is universal and independent of beliefs and traditions. It correctly orients people to the universe and thus, serves as a basic guide for peaceful human living.” Dharma pervades and guides the Indian way of life since the most ancient times. All scriptures revolve around Dharma in various ways. “Dharma” essentially points to nature’s order, various laws according to which the whole existence – including the human world – operates. For the human world, Dharma deals with the right human ethics and adopting them in personal conduct for a peaceful life. This ‘knowledge’ or Dharma evolved (got discovered) from the efforts and experiences of countless Yogis and sages of the ancient past. Their experience got documented in the 4 Veda – in Sanskrit vedana denotes experience or feeling. They discovered that everything is interconnected through some divine force that pervades everything and every being – this reality is ‘Dharma’ or universal Truth. Some even called it God, although not necessary. Thus, Indians  respect all forms of life as well as nature’s rivers and mountains; and see humanity as one big family (vasudeva Kutumbakam) – disregarding diversities and dissimilarities. This knowledge permeates throughout India, right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Meghalaya to Maharashtra. In fact, even before Christ and Mohammad when the influence of Dharma culture extended to most of East Asia and to Afghanistan and beyond in the West, the Western and Chinese travelers saw just “One India” everywhere, despite widespread diversities. Even early Christians and Muslims, who had to escape their homeland to avoid ‘persecution’ at the hands of their own co-religionists,  found shelter on the Indian soil and merged effortlessly among good-natured local people despite their foreign ‘faith’ – the sole reason for persecution! Faiths and beliefs can’t change the reality that people are human beings whose existence is governed by nature’s laws. They all are born, get sick, commit mistakes and die in the same way.  If you hurt people you would be hurt in the future; if you are good to others you get rewarded with good immediately or in future. It’s law of Karma that operates on every human being. These laws operate even if you don’t know or ‘believe’ in them!  They are all part of natural order; this is Dharma that is always working, even in your ignorance! All India-born philosophies like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism are seen as mere different paths leading to the same ultimate truth – or Dharma, the natural order. This universal reality is sometimes called God – a formless God. Despite differences in customs and traditions, people of these different philosophies have coexisted since millenniums. When the ultimate Truth, or natural order, is accepted as God, there is no question of my-God-bigger-than-your-God type of childish tussle. But that is certainly inherent in the Western idea of ‘religion.’ Dharma focuses on good ethical conduct and encourages rational inquiry with an open mind. It is all about right human values and their practice in life. It is also about pious and responsible behavior. It boils down to the practice of non-violence, non-greed, and understanding the natural law of Karma which means doing good deeds bring good fruits in future and harming others invite pain and misery. Thus, Indians grow up learning that conduct is more important than beliefs. The Western theist-vs-atheist debate is irrelevant here. For instance, Buddhism has no God and yet Buddha’s followers are among the most peace loving people in the world.  Thus, acceptance of diversity of beliefs is already an integral part of Indian society. The word ‘Hindutva’ has been coined to denote this collective ethos. Religion Religions have killed more people than all the wars in the history combined. – Anonymous ‘Religion’ is strictly a narrow Western construct and blind-belief in some manmade fictional god-philosophy.  It denotes a very specific rigid theory. It was coined to denote the Abrahamic or Prophetic philosophies such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A religion is a set of fixed ideas revolving around some imaginary God, who conveys his teaching through a messenger (for example, Jesus or Mohammad) which gets written in a Book.  Thus, 2000 years ago, some unseen God conveyed something through Jesus and Bible came into being. Thus, Christianity was born and the ‘Believers’ became Christian! It was replicated in the early 7th century when another God called Allah conveyed something through Mohammad that got written in Quran – it was the birth of Islam. And the ‘believers’ called themselves Muslim. Nobody knows if the Islamic Allah is bigger or smaller than the Christian God. The follower of a religion is supposed to ‘believe’ in the whole package without questioning and become a privileged ‘Believer!’ Religions are all about blind ‘belief’.  The best part is: becoming ‘believer’ is end of the game!  You, by believing, become superior to the non-believers!  Clearly, religions are all about superiority-inferiority politics. If you can’t believe in the unseen Allah you can’t be a Muslim and you must believe in the fictional Christian God and Jesus to become a Christian. If you can’t believe in Allah or God, forget about being ‘religious!’ Further, you can’t be a Muslim and a Christian at the same time! The two are mutually exclusive. Perhaps, you will be dispatched to Hell – another fictional place no one has seen! Despite the claimed of divinity, religions are purely manmade fiction revolving around an imagined God. When Jesus and Mohammad taught people their aim was to enforce right human values in people so that they can lead ethical and harmonious life. But much too soon, their teachings turned into ‘Religion’ and into political ideologies that gave birth to ‘conversion industry’ that works to increase the number of believers. Thus, Christian Crusaders and Islamic Jihadis went on expansion spree through what they called “holy war” to grow their dominance. Today, Christian missionaries and Islamic Mullahs around world are working on the same agenda – to grow their numbers. No one remembers any more the very purpose of religion. The biggest problem with religions is that they kill rational thinking and make people submissive. Another serious issue is that of context-less and distorted interpretation of words written centuries ago and imposing them on people of modern society. This is what the world calls religious extremism or fundamentalism – and this is highly dangerous. Jihadi terrorism is the glaringly example of religious fanaticism. Islamic Jihadis indulge in all types of violence and destructive activities – believing that they are merely performing their religious duties. In reality, they have lost the capacity to think and behave like sane human-beings. This is the ugliest side of man-made political science called ‘religion’. In comparison, none of the Indian philosophies preach hate or violence to impose their thinking on others.  In fact, people of India were not even conscious of their “faith” until the ‘faithists’ – Christians and Muslims – came in. And they even came as refugees running away to avoid persecution from the co-believers in their own lands!! Sufi Muslims make a notable example of this category. Astonishingly, even today many Islamic societies don’t consider them as Muslims!! On the contrary, if religions focus on their ‘essence’ – the central core of the whole teaching – they would be pointing only to universal good, universal human values and universal truth which are nothing but different aspects of Dharma! But such people are rare in the Christian and Muslim communities. You may also like to explore:  World Needs More  “Dharma” and less Religion ! 4b)  ORIGIN  OF  ‘HINDU’  AND  ‘HINDUISM’  WORDS It is speculated that the pronunciation habit of ancient Persian explorers silenced the letter S from Sindhu and they addressed people living around Sindhu River as Hindus. It is also interesting to note that for the Greeks Sindhu was Indos. Even today, we have phrases like Indo-China, Indo-American, Indo-Pacific etc. The term “Hindustan” was first used in the 12th century by barbaric invader Muhammad Ghori, to describe the land of “Hindus”. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the word ‘Hinduism’ did not exist before 1830. It was coined by the colonial British from ‘Hindu’ by adding the suffix ‘ism’ to describe their way of life. Then in the first census of India in 1871, they categorized all people other than Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or Jain as ‘Hindu’. Thus, they used the term ‘Hinduism’ in the sense of a ‘religion’ like Islam or Christianity which are monotheist. This association is totally inaccurate and misleading. In fact, coming from the monotheist Christian culture and limited by vocabulary they couldn’t figure out any better way to describe ‘the way of life’ of ‘Hindus’ which is so varied and pluralistic. After the unsuccessful revolution of 1857 they were highly paranoid about the unity of their subject Indians and were trying every possible means — political, administrative and social – to keep their subjects divided. The words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’ gave them verbal convenience to do that, to pit Muslims against the rest who were thus far without community label. Their Encyclopedia Britannica also suffered from the same handicap when it tried translating ‘Hinduism’ and admitted that every attempt at a specific definition of Hinduism has proved unsatisfactory in one way or another. “…Hinduism is not a revealed religion and, therefore, has neither a founder nor definite teachings or common system of doctrines … It has no organization, no dogma or accepted creeds. There is no authority with recognized jurisdiction. A man, therefore, could neglect any one of the prescribed duties of his group and still be regarded as a good Hindu.” It explains ‘Hinduism’ as: “…Hinduism is both a civilization and a congregation of religions; it has neither a beginning, nor a founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy or organization. It is the glorious magnanimity of Hinduism that one can be a believer in one God, or multiplicity of Gods or even none at all. Hinduism does not expel much less crucify alleged non believers.” Now, let’s go beyond the limited philosophical understanding of the Britishers. Indian philosophies – of the Buddha, Mahavira, Guru Nanak and so many other saints – are all entirely different from the foreign born ‘religions’ like the Christianity and Islam, and share all the fundamentals of what the British called ‘Hinduism’. None of the India born system divide humanity into ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’. They are all ‘Dharma’ (universal truth) based philosophies to lead pure life. They all accept that ‘Truth is One but can be reached through various paths’ and see ‘humanity as one big family’. Thus, tolerance and acceptance of diversity are inbuilt in all of them. They all focus on conduct; not on mere belief. They all promote respect for the whole existence – both animate and inanimate – as manifestation of the universal energy, the Truth or God. Therefore, they can see divinity everywhere. There is never the question of imposing anything upon others, as everyone is free to choose and decide. In striking contrast, the philosophies of Jesus or Mohammad take away the freedom to choose and decide from their followers. The ‘believers’ have no choice but to accept and believe in the pre-decided things. There is no place for any other opinion or approach. These so-called ‘believers’ have caused massive genocides in the history of 2000 years just to force others to ‘believe’ in their ‘Only God’ they had never seen themselves. Mostly they live as slaves of words written 1400 or 2000 years ago. They hallucinate to have become superior by merely believing in something, while in conduct they only turn cockier, intolerant and isolationist. Tolerating diversity and difference of opinion are alien concepts, not written in the holy Books of the ‘believers.’ 4c)  WHO  IS  ‘ARYA’? Western historians have widely promoted the speculative theory of ‘Aryan migration’ – after imagining existence of a superior race called ‘Arya’. Thus, for India they actively promoted the idea of Aryan coming from outside while claiming Dravidians (in south India) to be indigenous. This is not at all surprising given their Greeko-Roman cultural and philosophical background. It also indicates their lack of knowledge or deliberate ignorance of India’s ancient cultural past and literature. Many Indian scholars see it as part of their typical ‘White Race Supremacy’ propaganda. Let’s leave aside their speculative brilliance and myopic mindset, and learn how the word ‘Arya’ was already used in India centuries before their Christ was born. ‘Arya’ can be found in all ancient scriptures, written not only in Sanskrit but in other languages like the Pali. Around the time of the Buddha 2500 years ago, Pali was the language of common people while Sanskrit was common in the elite Brahmin and scholarly community. ‘Arya’ was used in the sense of ‘Respected Sir’ to address learned and/or respect-worthy people. Quite often ladies of royal families would also address their husband and male elders as ‘Arya’. 5.  THE UNFINISHED AGENDA OF NATIONAL INTEGRATION It was the first Indian Home Minister, Sardar Patel who used his political skills to merge over 550 princely estates into the Indian Union. It was natural that these rulers would be reluctant to give up power, but that’s what political realities demanded. It is a matter of pride for all Indians that the NDA government is building a world class monument to honor the “Real Sardar” of India.  Such nationalistic things don’t exist in the DNA of  Congress Party elites. No surprise if this party has elements who mock at the Indian army Chief and see ‘nationalism’ as symbol of narrow Hindu thinking.  But the bigger threat to country’s integrity comes from the extreme politicians who in their own parochial ways promote divisive forces. None of these can ever integrate Indian society. If the bearded man in the middle (in the image below) can think of “nothing but Islam and no one but Muslims” as if he is ambassador of some Islamic State from the Middle East  and dreams of decimating all non-Muslims of India  the rest are plain silly and immature. They can stoop to any level for power. Politicians of such kind are a serious liability for the country shaped by Sardar Patel. While Patel integrated princely states into one mainstream, many areas were still left ignored and neglected – and waiting to be integrated into national mainstream. These are the North Eastern region and tribal areas scattered across the country, not hotbed of Naxalites.  These tribal areas fall under the fifth and sixth schedule and have special autonomy to allow the tribes to rule themselves as per their tradition and enjoy cultural freedom. Then there is the long pending and sensitive issue of Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Absence of UCC has prevented formation of a common Indian identity, away from the typical religious individuality. Muslim appeasement politics and backward looking Islamic clergy are the biggest hurdles in adopting UCC and allowing India to become a really modern democracy. 5a)  THE NORTH EASTERN STATES In diversity – cultural, linguistic, and traditional – India is more colorful than any other country or even continent. A vital unfinished business of national integration relates to the North Eastern States, connected with mainland India through a very narrow strip of land – called Chicken neck. It is ironical that people living in the North India know very little about the North Eastern states, their people, culture and tradition. This is frightening. Economic activities have significantly bridged the north-south gap but the North-East still needs to be integrated with rest of the country. Perhaps the best way to do it is to hold regular cultural festivals across India so that people of one state know about others. Connectivity is still a big problem. It is heartening to see that Modi government is taking serious steps to improve connectivity and spur development in the North Eastern States. Even a special help-line has been set up to take care of their grievances. You may like to explore: Birth and Spirit of the Sixth Schedule 5b)  NAXAL VIOLENCE – THE BIGGEST INTERNAL SECURITY THREAT Maoists want communist rule in India Can you imagine a country that leaves a vast part of its territory ungoverned?  This is exactly what the Congress Party has done in its six decades of governance at the Center. People in the tribal areas have lived abandoned by the government, which left them at the mercy of forest officials who acted as if they were still employed by the agents of the British East India Company. The governance vacuum was filled by left-wing extremists called naxalites, who exploited the isolation of the tribals and injustices done  by state officials and money lenders to strengthen their cadre. Congress governments never really showed any serious willpower to tackle the naxalite violence; they always pretended that was a mere law-and-order problem. Again the Modi government is giving full attention to this tricky problem it deserves. The ‘Red Corridor’ and Maoist Violence   Heavily Armed and Trained Naxals Over the years, they carved out a vast territory covering 92,000 sq km area, called “Red Corridor” by the media. It grew dramatically in last 2-3 decades right from Nepal to Tamil Nadu. In the early 1990s the number of districts affected by varying degrees of Maoist violence stood at just 15 in four states. This rose to 55 districts in nine states by the end of 2003 and to 156 districts in 13 states in 2004. Maoists are currently believed to be operating in around 200 districts (of a total of 604 districts in the country) in 17 states. The worst affected states are Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa. The poverty and backwardness of people in these forest covered areas has provided a fertile ground for the growth of Naxals/Maoists. Download the full report on Naxal/Maoist Violence: NAXAL_Report You may also like to read: Defeat the Maoist Ideology, Not People
PESA: A Potent Weapon Against the Maoist Violence
Download the Full Report: PESA_ACT_1996 5c)  NON-IMPLEMENTATION  OF  UNIFORM CIVIL CODE  (UCC) Non implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) means denial of the right to equality.  It is an issue that Congress governments of past six decades have been evading, largely to please radical and non-progressive Muslim Mullahs who provide Muslim votes. Actually, the issue of UCC dates back to the colonial period when the British applied a common criminal code on all but allowed different religious communities the freedom to have their own religious laws for personal matters. These different personal laws deal with the matters involving marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance in the respective religious communities. While framing the Constitution these personal laws were debated extensively. Progressive thinkers saw them as divisive and wanted a Uniform Civil Code on all Indians – in order to create a unique Indian national identity and eradicate caste and religion based identities. But they were opposed on the ground that it would destroy the cultural identity of minorities (primarily, Christians and Muslims). Thus, a compromise was reached – the UCC was placed under the Directive principles (these are non-binding), but which the state shall endeavor to achieve. Hence, we have Article 44 of the Constitution which says: “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” And there is Article 14 which ensures right to equality. In mid-80s the issue of UCC came under national lime light after the infamous Shah Bano case, when the Congress leaders gave priority to ‘appeasement’ over justice to Muslim women. The  “Infamous”  Shah Bano Case! The Shah Bano case of 1985 stirred up a heated debate when the Supreme Court gave its verdict in favor of an elderly Muslim lady and mother of five, Shah Bano. She was divorced by her husband who refused to pay her maintenance beyond the period of iddat (three-month period after divorce in which she cannot remarry) arguing that the Muslim Personal Law allows only that much. The Supreme Court granted her maintenance for life under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C (according to which he had to maintain her until she remarries or dies, if she has no means of her own for survival). The Supreme Court held that the Cr.P.C. was common for all and that she could claim maintenance under it. Thus the Muslim Personal Law could not be applied. The backward looking Muslim clergy vehemently opposed it and called it an assault on their Shari’ah law! PM Rajiv Gandhi surrendered and hurriedly passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 to nullify the SC verdict. However, later the SC nullified this Act and restored its verdict in favor of Shah Bano. Many Muslims including the All India Shia Personal Law Board supported this order. India Allows 5 Different  Personal  Laws! Thus we have several personal laws governing different religious communities. The Hindu Marriage Act is applicable over people following India born Dharma-based life philosophies – Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs. In fact, there are three other acts: the Hindu Succession Act, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. They were all passed during 1955-56. The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 for Muslims and the Parsee Marriage and Divorce Act that applies on the Parsees. The Christian Marriage Act, 1872 is applicable on all Indian Christians (except in the state of Goa) and their divorce related matters fall under the Indian divorce act of 1869. There is also a Special Marriages Act, 1954 which allows marriage irrespective of the religion of couple involved. Implementing a Uniform Civil Code will make all these laws vanish and all Indians will come under a single law, regardless of religion. Why UCC? It will make India truly a modern secular state, help eliminate Muslim and Christian ‘vote bank’ politics, reduce the burden the on legal system, and most importantly it will free Muslim women from the archaic, unjust and suppressive practices like triple talaq and male polygamy. In fact, Goa can show the way. It has a Common Family Law which is also called Goa Civil Code and governs all Goans, although it allows some exceptions to some communities. It is certainly not a true Uniform Civil Code, but shows that it is possible to move towards a UCC, despite the bickering of appeasement politicians and vehement opposition of Muslim Mullahs. You may like to explore:  Everything You Need To Know About Uniform Civil Code 5d)   DANGER  OF  ISLAMIC  SEPARATISM The Cult of Islamic Separatism If the Islamic State of Pakistan is obsessed to destroy the Kafir India it is just the traditional 1400 old Islamic mindset that wants to annihilate everything that differs with it.  And, Pakistan is so serious about hurting kafir India that it has created special jihadi terror groups like LeT and JM and treats the jihadi criminals like national heroes! It will be foolish to think that such mindset can’t exist among Indian Muslims; after all they share the same Islamic ancestry as the Pakistanis. The only difference is that they can’t fructify their dream surrounded by Hindu kafirs (who outnumber them by 1:7) inside the democratic and pluralistic Indian society. Yet, there is nothing to stop them from aspiring to Islamize India (and turn it into another Pakistan). Fortunately, such dreamers are not too many, but they do pose a future threat to national integrity. Hyderabadi Owaisi brothers and their followers are perfect example of Muslims with this sick sub-human mentality; even while enjoying the fruits of democracy and freedom in India that is rare in Muslim societies. They belong to the lot of Muslims whose fathers and grand fathers actively supported the creation of separate Islamic Pakistan but somehow could not migrate to their dreamland of Islam. These deceitful creatures in human shape nourish their flesh and bones on the Indian soil but mentally nurture thoughts of decimating neighbor Hindus – just as their Muslim ancestors tried doing during the centuries of Islamic rule before the British displaced them. If many Indians think that there is no more danger of further Islamic division of India, they should take note of the presence of the private club of Muslim radicals called the All India Mazlis e-Ittehadul Musalmeen (AIMIM). It originated from the Mazlis e-Ittehadul Musalmeen (MIM) that was founded in 1927 by the Hyderabadi Nizam to assist the colonial British. A character called Sayyad Kasim Rizvi was among its founding members. Then, he was also leader of a radical armed Muslim gang. The MIM opposed the accession of Hyderabad into India despite its 80% Hindu population and gleefully indulged in slaughter and rape against Hindus during partition to justify it Islamic convictions. In 1948, Patel assimilated Hyderabad into India, banned the MIM and jihadi Rizvi was put into jail until his deportation to Pakistan in 1957. After his departure the MIM was revived by adding ‘All India’ before its name. Thus, the current AIMIM was born but its agenda remained the same – spitting jihadi venom against Hindus and ghettoizing Muslims. Their sole childish motto is: ‘No one but Muslims; nothing but Islam’. Videos on social media testify to this treacherous fact. Members of this separatist gang have difficulty saying ‘Vande Mataram’ or ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. Like Jinnah, they can’t think of peaceful coexistence with Hindus or respect the culture of their own unfortunate Hindu ancestors who were forced to convert to Islam to stay alive in the past. The MINORITY Appeasement Politics When appeasement politicians started calling Muslims a ‘minority community’ they were just playing the divisive vote-bank politics. Over time, it strengthened their tendency of religious ghettoization. It sounds really comical when Muslims want to call themselves a ‘minority community’ despite their cosmic count of over 190 million! Of course, their only intention is to demand special favors from the government, in the name of religion. Who should be considered a minority in India, is the real question: Over 190 million Indian Muslims, forming 14.2% population and growing at the fastest pace (fertility 3.2 per woman compared with the declining national average of 2.2)  or  less than 70,000 Parsees who are at the risk of extinction (fertility just  0.8 per woman)? To any rational mind, calling Parsees minority makes sense; handful Jews in India can be surely called minority. But saying that Indian Muslims are ‘minority’ defies all rationality – just like their most demands made “…in the name of Islam”. The population of Indian Muslims is more than the combined populations of two biggest Muslim countries: Egypt (86 million) and Iran (78 million). They are actually a full nation (almost as big as Pakistan) inside India!  If put together, they are as many as the entire population of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in terms of population. Away from irrationality, here is a voice of sanity ignored by Indian media and pseudo-intellectuals: Another question: If India is supposedly a ‘secular’ – religion neutral – country, then why demand anything in the name of religion? Right ‘secular’ parameters to judge small and minor groups of people who might get excluded from the national mainstream are – poverty, physical or mental disability, social boycott (lesbian, gay, transgender), people living in difficult terrains, illiteracy, poor senior citizens without support, orphan / abandoned children, sex workers,  group of people persecuted on any ground (eg. Kashmiri Hindus who were driven out of Valley by radical Islamists), and so on. Does Muslim community qualify to be labeled a ‘minority’ group on any of these really ‘secular parameters’? The answer is a clear NO. Poverty may be applied on Muslims, but they alone are not poor in India. In fact, none of the progressive and secular minded Muslims are poor. Religious ghettoization, indifference to modern education and lack of serious efforts to mingle with non Muslims are the prime reasons of poverty among Indian Muslims – and the backward looking Maulavis are responsible for that. After dubbing Muslims as minority the appeasement politicians play the ‘insecurity’ card. Pseudo-liberals and phony intellectuals join together to pose the next question. Are  Minorities  Safe  in  India? This is the weird concern of Western influenced people, particularly in the media. When an American or European journo raises such an issue, it is understandable because the Western concept of “Religion” runs in their veins and where, for example, a Christian is naturally supposed to have a discriminatory mindset towards a Muslim. But when an Indian intellectual writes a piece with this mindset he/she is doing a great injustice to over 100 crore non-Muslim and non-Christian Indians who make India naturally ‘secular’ and democratic by virtue of their Dharma based non-discriminative way of life. It also reflects a distorted or hollow understanding of Hindu culture that defines India. However, this question is best answered by the Jews and Parasis who are the real minorities in India! More relevant questions are: Why are Hindus not safe in the Islamic States of Pakistan and Bangladesh? Why even Kashmiri Hindus could not stay safely in Kashmir? Why is media blind to massacre of Hindus in Myanmar by Rohingya Muslim terrorists? Is there any Indian ‘secular’ who wants to answer these questions? By the way, here is the Russian perspective on minorities: 6.  ECONOMIC  REFORMS  AND   LIBERALIZATION 6a)  SHIFT FROM  SOCIAL IDEALISM  TO  CAPITALISTIC  PRAGMATISM New face of Modern India Until the end of 1980s Indian economy followed Nehruvian socialistic ideals, the business sector remained under the firm control of government through what is called the ‘license kota raj’. It was a mixed economy where private and State run industries existed side by side. Country’s intellectual domain was unambiguously dominated by socialist-communist principles of justice to the poor and working class. It was a time when the rich were seen as exploitative devils and talk of social justice for the down-trodden offered high moral ground. Nehru was highly impressed with the USSR’s (the Soviet Russia) planned development led by the State run companies. Thus, he started the culture of five-year planning and promoted mega public sector steel projects, power pants, large dams to initiate infrastructure development in country systematically plundered by the British. The development discourse revolved around the government – as if government alone can and should do and decide everything. As a result, the private sector found itself under tight license quota system. Leftist/communist ideals brought labor laws that betrayed the ground realities in which businesses operate and stay profitable. The ‘DattaSamant’ phenomenon in Mumbai correctly sums up the ultra high influence of labor unions in those days. Industrialists were forced to cater to the union leaders along with the bureaucrats and political master who controlled the license raj in order to be able to operate their enterprises. It badly discouraged the development of the culture of entrepreneurship – the foundation stone of economic development. Over the period, the State machinery turned into a highly lethargic, corrupt and obstructionist bureaucracy, technocrat run State industries embraced the culture of extreme inefficiency and widespread pilferage, and the private sector remained stifled by all manners of bureaucratic approvals. As a result, people born within first 3 decades grew up in a highly cynical, corrupt and pessimistic socio-economic environment – which was ‘high’ only in the bookish idealisms of all kinds. Large population and high population growth rate was only adding to the developmental vows. Therefore, by the end of 1980s, when the communist bloc fell apart, India also found itself at the verge of bankruptcy. For the first time, India was forced to pledge gold with international lending agencies to get loan – needless to say money came with attached conditions. It, thus, started the era of liberating businesses from state control. It marked the beginning of market led capitalism based on private capital and entrepreneurship. It also demanded the government to restrict itself to governance and cut down the size of public sector units. Thus, as the process of economic liberalization and privatization picked up in the early 1990s, globalization became another buzz word – implying opening up the domestic market to foreign players. The stock market index became the new barometer of economic development. This new model of development focused on industrialization and corporatization only reflected how the Western nations had developed. But it grossly disregarded the peculiarIndian realities – namely, population pressure, high poverty and high backwardness. Flawed Vision In the new paradigm, poor and ordinary masses ceased to be the focus of economic policies. Instead, now the rich became the target of attention. Like in the developed economies, country’s minerals and natural resources began to be handed over to the rich corporate houses so that they can set up industries and create jobs. They began to receive various incentives to set up industries and simultaneously the farmers and the agriculture sector started to lose subsidies. In fact, subsidy became a dirty word in the new dispensation – seen as mere waste of public funds. It suddenly made the life of farmers extremely hard. They committed suicide in hundreds and thousands. Nothing much has changed for them even after a quarter century of the so-called liberalization.  Farmers’ suicide is no longer a‘breaking news’ in the mainstream media except as a political gimmick. Their suffering has become just a political stick in the hands of opposition parties to whip the party in power. The cult of liberalization and focus on industrialization also brought the issue of economic growth into focus. It made the GDP growth supreme. It means the government policies are increasingly directed to industrial and service sectors that make dominant contribution to the GDP. Today, foolishly the finance minister and politicians talk as if GDP growth alone would solve all the basic problems. Over 60% population depends upon the agriculture sector, but its contribution to GDP is barely 16%. Thus, the welfare of this vast population remains ignored. The only option farmers have is to migrate towards cities, live in slums and become laborers. But the cities are already over populated. Modi’s talk of ‘smart cities’ is yet another offshoot of the GDP growth model of development.  Promoting urbanization and transferring rural folks to cities where they would provide cheap labor to industrial and business houses for growth of GDP is an absurd idea, if one looks at it from human angle. Urbanization, to create pockets of high population, is OK for the Western nations in possession of high technologies and small population base. With mechanized farming they need very few people in agriculture to produce sufficient food grain; the majority gets absorbed in the industrial sector. It is the curse of the GDP development model that ordinary people get turned into mere tools of GDP growth – just like dignity-less  slaves. Tribal  People  are  The Worst  Victims Along with the farmers, the tribal community is another victim of economic liberalization. They have been facing displacement from their ancestral lands (where they have lived since ages and also acted as the natural custodians of natural resources due to their eco-friendly lifestyle) so that the government can hand over their mineral rich lands to corporate houses for commercial exploitation. They are forced to migrate to cities to become manual labors for the industry (and lead an exploited life without any sense of security or dignity). Now comes a far reaching question: Say, after 20-25 years, when the raw material is exhausted the corporate would simply sell off and leave, who will repair the ecological damage and social disruption they leave behind?  We know the answer: no one. This pattern of displacement and exploitation of natural resources is a global phenomenon for which no body is accountable and we are in the middle of the global warming. Just think about it:  How about displacing the rich elites from New Delhi and Mumbai and forcing them to repair the ecological mess of mining activities of Vedantas, Tatas, Essars, JPs, and Ruias and clean the pollution of mega thermal power plants? Isn’t it time that the “consumers must pay” rule should be changed to “polluters must clean”!! 6b) CURSE  OF “TRICKLE  DOWN”  ECONOMY In practical terms, the liberalization regime only ushered in the exploitative Reagan-Thatcher promoted “trickle-down” economy into India. It is run by, for and on behalf of the rich elites. The fruits are first enjoyed by the richest and then the left-over ‘trickle-down’ towards the bottom. The poorest benefit the least and the last. The trickle down economy inherently promotes inequality, with deleterious long term effects. In recent years, Oxfam International annually publishes reports highlighting the increasing global inequality in wealth distribution. In January 2017, it published a report titled An Economy For The 99 Percent where it pointed out that the richest 1 percent in India owns 58 percent of the country’s wealth.In 2017, of the total wealth creation in India 73% went to the rich 1 percent – globally the proportion is 82%. Of the 101 Indian billionaires 17 got added in 2017. There are people who question these numbers but what is important is the trend which is disturbing. While the myopic ‘economic experts’ gloat over increasing number of billionaires in India, the inequality is getting only bigger with passage of time. It only means that GDP model is favors the rich in a country which is home to the largest number of world’s poor. The GDP might be growing but the rising inequality is trapping more and more Indians in poverty. It is absolutely unhealthy and disastrous in the long run. The GDP growth model is unfit for India for another reason. Since modern businesses employ high level of automation and try taking minimum employees, they don’t generate enough employment and the profits remains limited in few hands (major shareholders). But given the high population base (1.33 billion) that adds around 16 million people each year, India needsaround 10 million new jobs each year for mostly the unskilled or semi-skilled masses. 6c) GDP GROWS, BUT NOT JOBS Like rest of the world, India too is obsessed with maximizing GDP growth in the name of national development. Large companies are important for having high technologies and absorbing people with higher education. They certainly make bigger contribution to the GDP but they use automation to minimize the work force. If jobs are created along the way it happens not by design but by default. An expert from the Symphony Technology Group say:Between 2005 and 2012, India’s GDP growth was 54% but its net job growth was only 3% and only 15 million net new jobs were created. This giant disconnect will worsen in the coming decade. Here is another report: Citing official data, The Telegraph reported  that 1.55 lakh jobs were created in 2015 and 2.31 lakh in 2016. Of course, our foreign trained economist mullahs have ready answers to justify every problem. It is also fashionable for them to get ‘worried’ at the ‘jobless GDP growth’!  Look at some ‘expert’ sound bites, taken from different news reports. Anyone can decipher emptiness of their arguments. Experts have cited slow growth of capital formation as another reason for unemployment. The Economic Times reported that private sector capital formation grew at a mere two percent in FY17 over FY16.It fails to tell the relationship between capital formation and job creation. A Deutsche Bank report said, “Stubborn growth in capital formation tends to put a ceiling on GDP growth and constrain employment creation…”This is again a vague statement. M Govinda Rao, former member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, told The Telegraph that jobless growth “will accelerate as we go along.” “The IT firms have already started shedding workers. We are replacing labour-intensive methods with capital even as we have failed to skill up our workers to take on new challenges or to tap into the new avenues which were created in the global market when Chinese wages went up.”This is just a typical justification of the situation. Away from the academic words of ‘expert mullahs’, a recent Economic Survey pointed to a shift in the pattern of employment from permanent jobs to casual and contract employment. The increasingly “temporary” nature of work, it said, has an “adverse effect” on the level of wages, stability of employment, and employees’ social security. It also indicates preference by employers away from regular/formal employment to circumvent labor laws.” It is all common knowledge. There is nothing in this Survey an ordinary person doesn’t know. Everyone knows how companies play tricks with workers to cut costs and increase owners’ profit. Shareholders corner most of the profits and all other stakeholders – employees, society and the ‘environment’– remain exploited. This self-centered approach is the source of all troubles and suffering of ordinary and poor people. 6d)  ‘ECONOMIC EXPERTS’ HAVE NO SOLUTION The doctorate of Dr Manmohan Singh failed to produce 10 million new jobs per year when he was the proxy PM of India during 2004-2014. Modi made it a big election issue and won but he also has no idea how to achieve it. Why? Because Modi also listens to the same lot of economists who can’t solve real life problems of people. Just as radical mullahs know nothing beyond the ‘Holy Book’ the fundamentalists of modern economics can’t think beyond their ‘Holy Capital Market’. It is understandable if Manmohan Singh could not do it because his doctorate studies  did not include topics on job driven economy. But Modi, known for pragmatic and down to earth wisdom, should have known better. Why is his finance minister obsessed with the GDP growth while young graduates are sitting at home? His skill development initiative is close to it, but do youth get the right skill training to start earning with what they learnt? Skill development doesn’t mean tightening more screws for the employer at the lowest wage. But this is precisely how workers are treated by companies. Two decades ago some sectors of economy used to be reserved for small scale industry – and mechanized mass production was not allowed. Millions of artisans traditionally lived this way. Today, cheap and low quality mass produced Chinese imports (legally or illegally) have taken over that segment. It has taken away the livelihood of tens of millions of skilled Indians across sectors. Just move around the market to see how mass produced cheap Chinese goods have flooded Indian markets and pushed skilled people into poverty. 7.  ECONOMIC  GROWTH  VS  DEVELOPMENT Obsessed with materialism, the West has traditionally surrendered the wellbeing of its people to the wisdom of economists. Now it is a fashion around the world, unfortunately. The development of a nation has several dimensions, but the money obsessed economists have reduced it to mere economic growth – measured in terms of the gross domestic product (GDP) which is just the sum total of all market activities. They have highly devalued the importance of wholesome human well being. As a result, people are now mere tools of economic expansion – first as labor providers and then as piggish ‘consumers’ with insatiable greed. It has also unleashed technological savagery on nature’s resources. The result is clear before us all: extreme focus on individualism, ever increasing social discord with degradation of human values and climate change (euphemism for global climatic disruption) Their model demands the GDP to grow eternally, quarter after quarter and year after year. It is fueled and sustained by consumerism; in fact, obsessive consumerism. As a consequence, consumption has become the sole yardstick of development. Whenever the GDP becomes sluggish the so-called economic ‘experts’ startpredicting doomsday – reminding of the great depression of 1930 as if today’s world is same as it was then –  and call foryet bigger push on expenditure to stimulate demand. We saw it happening in 2008 when mega global companies’ were handed over handsome bailout packages in the West.‘Produce more and consume more’ is the only wisdom, if I may call it wisdom, modern economists appear to have. When they talk of research it only aims to find out how to convert ‘consumers’ into ‘bigger consumers’. The ever increasing transformation of people into consumers in the world is eating away nature’s resources with ever increasing speed and causing almost irreversible ecological damages across the world. As a result, the climatic events are getting harsher and harsher.  And the worst for humanity is that the biggest historical polluter, the USA, has given up the fight on climate change. It’s height of irresponsibility and a disgrace on its so-called superpower status. In fact, the humanity is already trapped in the catch 22 situation. The world leaders don’t know how to disconnect what their obsession for GDP growth from climatic plunder and greenhouse emission. As things stand today, the GDP growth is more important than planet’s health or survival of humanity from ever-harshening climatic disasters. What is Wrong with the GDP? Answer:  The gross domestic product (GDP) doesn’t measure people’s wellbeing; it is just an economic number. The concept of gross domestic (or national) product is a relic of pre WW2 era. Around the period of the Great Depression, in early 1930s the US government wanted some way of knowing how well the economy was doing. In the faltering economy of those years, the idea of combining production and spending was simple enough to do the job. It laid the foundation for what became the GNP (gross national product), and later the GDP. [Difference between GNP and GDP] Thus, particularly during WW-II, the GNP became the primary way to keep track of the US economy. It also helped maximizing the industrial output.  Since the US military was a huge consumer it was a demand driven market and the producers had to only focus on production.  The war driven economy lifted the US out of the economic Depression. After the end of war, citizens replaced the military as major consumer and the factories kept churning out products. At that time, bigger production and increasing consumption was progress itself. But economists knew that the consumer demand would not remain ahead of production capacities for long. So they debated to find some solution. Here is the thought process that dominated their debate. “Our enormously productive economy…demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption…we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.” – Economist Victor Lebow in 1955 in his paper Price Competition It sowed the seeds of consumerism that soon transformed into the borrow-and-spend culture. However, as things stood, during the 1950s and 1960s, personal incomes and GDP really moved up hand in hand and the growing GDP really symbolized progress. But then the GDP growth and rise of people’s income decoupled. Yet, the GDP remained the primary indicator of national progress and growing it continually came to become a national obsession — the sole national goal.  The compulsion to keep economy growing gave birth to obsessive consumerism that we see today. The world economy is still running on this model and the GDP growth is still the barometer of economic progress. So, what is wrong with the GDP? GDP is a Deceptive Indicator of Progress The focus on GDP would not have been so bad if it indicated healthy social progress or reflected well being of people. But being just an economic number it tells none of the two – and the simplistic way it is calculated it can’t distinguish between good and bad things.  For example, consider these absurdities of the GDP: Polluting activities increase the GDP because you are forced to spend more money in the clean up. Increasing crimes boost the GDP due to increased expenses on police, security, jails, courts and legal procedures. Junk food is wonderful because it degrades people’s health, which forces further expenditure on medical care. Wars and conflicts fuel expenditure on weapons and the GDP grows. Inefficient or unreliable transmission lines increase demand for generators, batteries, UPSs, and inverters. Casinos and gambling parlors do no social good but helps the GDP. The list can go on and on… Low quality mass-produced Chinese goods that need more frequent replacement boost the GDP but put more pressure on the environment than the same goods with higher quality that last longer. Look at North Korea: its economy is heavily dependent on its weapon program and military while its citizens remain trapped in abject poverty. The GDP numbers can’t disclose it. If 6 members of a family cooperate and share a mobile phone, it doesn’t help the GDP growth. But if they start fighting and separate then six mobile phones will be needed, that’s wonderful for GDP growth. Consequently, the GDP not only conceals the breakdown of the social structure and natural habitat; worse, it portrays such breakdown as economic gain.  In fact, when the government legalizes things like prostitution, gambling, drug use, liquor bars, etc it is only trying to prop up the GDP – in a ‘bad’ (harmful) way! Thus, all unwanted and wasteful expenditure boost the GDP.  Now consider how healthy and desirable activities depress the GDP. If you become more self-reliant and most of your things yourself without spending money, you are hurting the GDP. For example, if you stop buying fruits and vegetables from the market and start growing them in your backyard, you are depressing the GDP. If you start practicing Yoga daily and become really healthy, then you don’t fall ill frequently and your medical expenses would decline. It would adversely affect the financial health of doctors, specialists and pharma industries. You are not helping the economic growth. Now imagine, somehow people become peace loving and crimes stop. It would immediately make all expenditure on police, jail and vigilance unnecessary; the GDP would go down.  You start helping people voluntarily in various ways, but spend no money. It won’t show up in the GDP. But isn’t charity a desirable thing. These are some of the healthy things we all aspire for. But are we heading in the right direction when we blindly chase the GDP? The GDP tells nothing about it. When the GDP is used as the yardstick of progress in poor nations there is problem. Most of their production takes place in the informal sector, in the household or community, or in the voluntary sector – all invisible to the GDP. When policies are created to raise the GDP in the poor nations, it effectively goes against the informal, cooperative and household economy – and works to degrade the humane and cooperative culture of societies, in other words, increase social chaos. The truth is: in societies with limited resources the sense of cooperation and community bonds allows people to help each other. As a result, economic size may be small but people have good life. No wonder, as the GDP agenda is imposed on them the societies and families begin to fall apart. Unfortunately, such issues remain un discussed and people suffer despite GDP growth. Have you ever wondered what would happen to weapon industry if all the wars and conflicts stop. Here is why global powers promote violent conflicts: Terrorists are clearly enemies of humanity. But look at the so-called ‘war against terror’ by the US and its allies. It started after the 9/11 attack of 2001 and is still going on after 16 years!! In fact, it appears to have become a ‘permanent’ war. In reality, as the ‘war on terror’ continued the threat of terrorism has only increased around the world rather than decreasing. The war on terror is still going strong in Afghanistan and the dust of Iraq invasion (on false pretext) has not yet fully settled. Now the US appears to be opening another war front in North Korea and rejuvenating the terror war in Afghanistan by trying to force Pakistan to act against various terror groups on its soil. So, what’s going on? The unspoken truth: The highly powerful global arms industry needs regular tensions, conflicts and wars to sell its state-of-the-art weaponry and advance its R&D activities. Terrorists are doing wonders for the weapon’s industry and for the ‘holy’ cause of GDP growth! Therefore, the GDP growth is all about deception that politicians love. Profound thinkers believe that the developed Western economies have largely reached a kind of plateau, and further GDP growth isn’t adding any meaningful value to people’s life. You may like to read: Development should focus on people, not economy. Here are three development models that can provide more realistic measure of growth in people’s wellbeing. 7a) WHAT  IS  DEVELOPMENT Perhaps the most comprehensive definition of development is given by Nobel winner economist Prof. Amartya Sen in his capability theory. Sen put people above economy.  He sees people as multifaceted human beings whose wellbeing depends upon both material and non-material needs; not as mere human consumers of goods and services. He sees development as the process of enhancing people’s wellbeing by enhancing their freedom and capabilities. His model is both comprehensive and flexible.Worldwide governments are trying to include his ideas to give proper direction of development. A Paradigm Shift! Amartya Sen’s theory is an eye opener for people who have grown up learning that GDP growth is the only meaning of development. Sen clearly highlights the insufficiency and dangers of equating GDP growth with development.  People have several kinds of needs in life – psychological, spiritual, social, political, and now even clean environment – that must grow with progress or development. Simply because there needs are subjective and there are no simple indicators to measure them doesn’t mean that they are not important. Sen’s approach explicitly recognizes the individual differences due to age, sex, race, class, health, disability, intelligence, education and so on. It also acknowledges that people’s lives are influenced by external factors – interaction with other people, social arrangements, access to infrastructure and public services, freedom to speak and participate, social exclusion, racism, terrorism, pollution, crime level, state policies and so on. In Sen’s approach, poverty is seen as denial of opportunities and choices for living a tolerable life. If in today’s world of sheer abundance people living in poverty, they are living in a system that denies them access to means to realize their capabilities. Today’s poverty is all due to exploitation and denial at the hands of those who have the power and authority. 7b) ALTERNATIVE  DEVELOPMENT  MODELS Although the government around the world remain obsessed with GDP growth, despite knowing that it only favors the rich and the poor and ordinary people gain very little from it there are efforts to bring rationality and humanity into development. They all try to include non material parameters to gauge the extent of development.  Here we present three approaches: the human development model, the social progress indicator and the gross national happiness (GNH). 1. The Human Development (HD) Approach Since 1990, the annual Human Development Reports (HDR) of the UNDP have been promoting the idea of human development (HD) which is a people focused comprehensive development model. Commonsense also demands that people and their well-being should be the focus of development, not economy. In the HD perspective, development revolves around people, not economy. The idea of human development revolves around the basic theme: ”People are the real wealth of a nation.” Thus, the prime objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to live long, healthy and creative life, as stated in the first HDR published in 1990. This is a remarkable paradigm shift in thinking about the poor; it sees poverty as lack of development. Human development is about enlarging freedoms so that people can pursue the choices hey value. It implies that people should have the freedom to influence the processes that shape their lives. In doing this, economic growth (GDP) is an important means to human development, but not the end. It is broader than other approaches, such as the human resource approach, the basic needs approach and the human welfare approach. The theoretical foundation of the HD perspective came from AmartyaSen’s capability theory of development. Sen argues that the purpose of development is to enrich human lives, not richness of economy which is only a part of it. 2. Social Progress Indicator (SPI) Social progress is becoming an increasingly critical agenda around the world. Citizens’ demands for better lives was evident in uprisings such as the Arab Spring and the emergence of new political movements in even the most prosperous countries, such as the United States and France. Since the financial crisis of 2008, people are increasingly expecting that development must make their lives better and protect the environment.  This is the social progress imperative. Rising income usually brings major improvements in access to clean water, sanitation, literacy, basic education and connectivity. But on the average, personal security is no better in middle- income countries than low-income ones, and is often worse. Around the world, too many people — regardless of income — live without full political freedom and experience discrimination or even violence based on gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Traditional progress measures, such as the GDP per capita, no longer tell the real progress of societies. Wellbeing of people is better linked to social progress, rather than economic parameters. Thus, if right social parameters are measured, they will guide the economic development in the right direction, setting a virtuous cycle.Social Progress Indicator (SPI) is an attempt in that direction. It provides a holistic, objective and outcome based measure of society’s wellbeing, independent of economic indicators. It checks the social progress alongside the GDP, for a country’s performance. The SPI checks the three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. Each dimension is made up of four equally weighted individual components. These three dimensions of the SPI roughly mirror the progression that most communities and societies go through in achieving higher and higher levels of social progress. The model also relies on the capability approach pioneered by Amartya Sen, which emphasizes the multidimensional nature of wellbeing and the importance of freedom of choice. Costa Rica and Paraguay use the SPI as its official measure of progress. Local bodies and companies’ are finding the SPI useful too. In the 2017 SPI, India is placed at 93rd position, Bangladesh at 97 and Pakistan at 105. Sri Lanka is better placed at 73rd place. 3.  Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) Why India should Learn from Bhutan The tiny Himalayan country of less than a million people has been following perhaps the most humane development model in the world. In fact, it is also in the true spirit of Buddha’s wonderful teaching. Its development model has place for spirituality and cultural engagement along with environment protection.  Bhutan is the only country in the world that does not use GDP as a measure of progress; instead it uses what it calls the gross national happiness (GNH). Way back in the 1970s its king declared that “Gross National Happiness (GNH) is more important than Gross National Product (GDP).”  Therefore, Bhutan’s state policies are not made purely from the monetary or economic angle, as in the rest of the world. Westerners are clearly intrigued by Bhutanese policy making because their brains are hardwired to plunder nature and cultural heritage to make money. While they only talk about worsening climate and decaying environment sitting on the plundered wealth, people of this tiny country already know how to do that without being cocky. While ‘experts’ are busy dreaming sustainable development models, this minute kingdom is already doing it, mandated by its Constitution! It is comical that they come as tourists to admire the Himalayan beauty and hospitality of wonderful followers of Buddha, but lack conviction to put into use the GNH concept in their own country. It is their misfortune that they are forced to live in the greedy material society, devoid of respect for nature, society, culture or humanity. 8.  POVERTY  IN  INDIA    India, the largest democracy of 1.33 billion people, is also the biggest center of poverty in the world – it is both widespread and intense. Consequently, South Asia has become the world’s biggest center of extreme poverty. The only other comparable pocket of poverty is the sub Saharan Africa. Yet, reflecting extreme inequality, India has 101 and sub-Sahara Africa 17 billionaires !! Official data says that 269 million (or 21%) people live in poverty. However, the World Bank poverty line of $1.90 a day puts around 172 million (12.4%) Indians in poverty. The comprehensive Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of 2017 estimated India’s poverty at 41 percent (528 million). The MPI certainly gives a better insight into the extent and nature of poverty. So, it fair to assume that several hundred people live in various degrees of poverty. In 1947, when the plunderer British left India, they left 70 percent Indians in abject poverty and a tiny elite class that controlled everything. The 200 year colonial plunder of India laid the solid foundation for long term poverty in India. Poverty may be a number game for experts who get rich doing research on poor, but it is actually a human development issue. Learn about 8 Reasons Why India is So Poor. 8a)  COLONIAL  RULERS  SYSTEMATICALLY  ROBBED  INDIA “A significant fact which stands out is that those parts of India which have been longest under British rule are the poorest today.” – Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India The colonial looters laid the foundation for a long term and chronic poverty in India – this is what Nehru is essentially saying.  The tiny state of Kerala in the southern India fortunately saw the least damaging influence of the British plunderers (there are many reasons for that) and is at present a unique model (in the world) of improvement in the quality of life through social and human development alone. It was the traditional historic prosperity of India that attracted invaders from various parts of the world in the last 2000 years. However, the plunder became more frequent since the 7th century when Mohammadans started to invade. For next 1000 years, they not only looted wealth they also played havoc on the highly spiritual and peaceful Hindu culture, which provided the foundation for the mind blowing material prosperity. What they did until the 17th century was nothing but pure savagery and beastly conduct – besides plundering temples for wealth they repeatedly indulged in genocides, took away countless slaves, destroyed countless temples, and converted people into Islam through subhuman acts like male slaughters and mass rape. Then the British arrived. Their purpose was pure loot and plunder to make Britain prosper. They did it systematically for 200 years. They destroyed Indian culture through the education system meant to create local clerks for their administration.   You may like to read A Good Short Account of British Exploitation of India Here is an eye opening article all intelligent Indians should read and ponder: Proud to be Educated 8b)  POVERTY  MEASUREMENTS Poverty is a state of constant deprivations, shortages, hardships and lack of well-being. In the extreme case, it is a miserable condition characterized by malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality, and low life expectancy. It is a state of powerlessness and voicelessness that is beyond any reasonable definition of human decency. The one dimensional income poverty line, such as the $1.90 a day line of the World Bank does not tell much about the hardships of the poor. They merely divide people into two: poor and non-poor. The extent of poverty depends upon where the poverty line is drawn. In reality, it is just a number game of experts to justify their arguments. Research of past few decades has firmly established that poverty cannot be properly understood in economic terms alone – divorced of personal, social, cultural and political perspectives. People are social beings; therefore, the processes and activities of the society affect their state of well-being. Clearly, here are multiple factors that often feed one another to trap people in poverty. Now poverty is seen through a multidimensional lens, which sees the poor living deprived of basic essentials of human life – related to nourishment, employment, shelter, health, education, social and political participation, etc.  The multidimensional poverty index (MPI) is an example of that. It lays down a landscape of various deprivations people are facing, which is very useful for the policy planners. Several nations have adopted this measure to better reveal the nature of poverty in different regions. The foundation of the MPI rests on Amartya Sen’s capability theory of development:  It see poverty as failure of the most basic human capabilities needed to live a tolerable life. Seen in this comprehensive perspective, poverty becomes an issue of lack of proper social and human development. You may also explore:  Poverty is Multidimensional, So should be Development 9.  POPULATION STABILIZATION Is Population a Monster? Current population of India is around 1.33 billion (China 1.40 billion), which is about 17.5% of world population. India is a young country: over 50% population is below 25 years of age and over 65% people are below 35. Indian population grows annually by about 16 million.  In the past decade (2001-2011), India’s population growth rate has declined sharply. In fact, the trend of falling birthrates prevails all over the world (except in some pockets), not only in India. 9a)  LATEST FERTILITY TREND In 2013, the Sample Registration System (SRS) statistical report mentioned a sharp decline in fertility, to 2.3 children per woman. It is fair to assume that in 2018 beginning it must have fallen to around 2.15 or 2.1. It means that India has already reached the replacement fertility level. It marks an important demographic transition, implying that the population would peak in next 30-35 years and then begin declining.  Experts think that India’s population would peak in the range 1.55 – 1.60 billion around 2050, and then decline to 1.45 billion by 2100. While achieving average replacement fertility at national level is a welcome sign, there are still regions where the fertility is still high. Highest fertility rate is in Bihar (3.4) followed by UP (3.0) which is also the most populous state in India; other laggards are Bihar (3.4), MP (2.9), Rajasthan (2.8), Jharkhand (2.7) and Chhattisgarh (2.6).  All together these states make up 40% of India’s population, but just Uttar Pradesh and Bihar together account for about a quarter of India’s population.  11 states have already attained the replacement level TFR of 2.1 and the rest are inching towards it.  West Bengal has the lowest TFR of 1.6; followed closely by Delhi, Punjab, Himachal, and Tamil Nadu – all at 1.7. Next are Kerala and Andhra at 1.8 and J&K at 1.9. Community wise fertility data revealed that population growth is largest in the Muslim community. During the decade 2001-2011, the Muslim population increased by 24% compared with national growth of 18%, although lower than the 29% rise in the previous decade. Thus, in 2011 Muslims formed 14.2% of Indian population, compared with 13.4% in 2001. Assam witnessed the biggest rise in Muslim population, from 31% in 2001 to 34% in 2011. A big part of it must be due to illegal immigration from Bangladesh. For the same reason, West Bengal Muslim population 25.2% in 2001 to 27% in 2011. Uttarakhand also registered significant rise, from 11.9% to 13.9%. Almost half (47%) of Indian Muslims live in just 3 states: UP, West Bengal and Bihar. These states are mentioned because the rising Muslim popupation in different pockets of the country also poses security threat, if the population rise is due to illegal migrants. Pak ISI and radical mullahs are always on the look out for vulnerable Muslims for radicalization. 9b)  REASONS OF POPULATION GROWTH India’s population is growing not because people are having large families, but simply because there are too many people in the reproductive age group – population momentum.  The right strategy to curtail such population growth is to delay all births.  The right ways to counter the population growth due to momentum are: Late marriage: Stop all girls’ marriages below 18. In India, about 47% girls are already married before the legal age of 18 and a significant proportion has already given births. This one action alone can not only bring fertility down significantly, but have several other positive effects. Delayed pregnancies: Delay first pregnancy by 2-3 years after marriage, and Space further births: Keep at least 3 year gap between births. Often, quick pregnancies result from non-availability of contraceptives, particularly in the rural areas. Almost a quarter of all births take place for this reason alone. Around the world, Child marriages are a significant driver of the vicious cycle – population growth and poverty feeding each other.  At the core of it, lies the issue of women empowerment, which itself is powerful contraceptive. Women’s reproductive behavior is strongly influenced by their educational level – more than economic development. Therefore, girl education is another vital activity India must not ignore. 9c)  INDIA  WANTS  TO  INCREASE  PARSI  POPULATION! The Parsi Community is Facing Risk of extinction Will Parsis be extinct in coming decades? This surprises population phobic people who can’t sleep because Indian population will overtake China by 2022. Indian government is concerned about the dwindling population of Parsees and has initiated a JIYO Parsee scheme at the cost of 10 crore rupees to encourage Parsees to give more births and change their mindset on marriage and family. The Parsee community is an anomaly in India by all standards. Numbering just about 69,000 in 2001 (when official counting was done) and declining at the rate of about 12% per decade. So in 2018, there must be only around 60,000 Parsees left in India. The Parsee community is all set for extinction if things are allowed as they stand today. What is their current status?  Over half of the Parsees are over 40, a third are over 60, more than 30% of Parsees never marry and those who marry are either childless or have just one child. For every four Parsee deaths, there is just one birth – no wonder the community is evaporating. Parsees are so called because they came from Persia (Iran), in the 8th and 10thcentury in order to avoid persecution in their homeland Iran at the hands of Mohammadans. Pre-Islam Iranians followed Zoroastrianism, but as barbaric Muslims invaded their land to convert them, they had to flee to survive.  Ancestors of Indian Parsees arrived in the Sanjan area of Gujarat coast and after first settling in Kathiawar they spread south towards Mumbai. It speaks volumes for the humane and non-violent Hindu culture that India is the home to the largest number of Zoroastrians in the world, currently about 60,000; other countries with Parsee presence are the land of their origin Iran (25,000), US (11,000), Afghanistan (10,000) and Pakistan (5,000). Note than before 1000 AD, Afghanistan was all Hindu-Buddhist. Despite their microscopic numbers, Parsee community’s contribution in India is simply awesome. It has give many pioneers and Parsees have played important roles in the freedom struggle, business, politics, military and film industry. Dadabhai Naoroji is known as the Grand Old Man of India. His effort to press for end of British rule in India was exemplary. Tatas pioneered in establishing several industries that laid the foundation for industrialization and modernization of India. Daughter of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the Muslim separatist who wanted Pakistan, was married in the noted Parsee Wadia family. Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha founded the Bhabha Atomic Research Institute (BARC) and initiated India’s nuclear program and laid the foundation for modern basic research as Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). The Parsee NatakMandali set up in 1853 is easily seen as the pioneer that laid the platform for Mumbai’s Film industry. Sir Jamshedji Behramji Kanga, Nani Palkhiwala, Fali Nariman and Soli Sorabjee are easily India’s formidable lawyers ever. You may like to explore [9 Pioneering Ways in which Parsees have Shaped Modern India] Indian Parsees are truly wonderful people. Unlike Christians and Muslims they don’t indulge in the dirty gimmick of religious conversions to increase their numbers for political gains. They neither demanded special favors in the name religion. Their belief of peaceful coexistence vibes well with the ancient ‘Dharma’ based Hindu culture and they who would like to have more Parsees among them. Indian Muslims have a lot to learn from Parsees – particularly how to respect Hindus and live peacefully among them. Let’s hope that the JIYO Parsee Program makes a difference and they again start flourishing. (You may also join the JIYO Parsee Program’s efforts on facebook: https://web.facebook.com/jiyoParsee) 9d)  POPULATION  FEAR  IN  COLONIAL INDIA The colonial way to control population of India?: You may not be intrigued to learn how the British “ignored” famines in the colonial India as a weapon (instrument) for population management. During the shameful British Raj 30 – 50 million Indians have been estimated to have died in famines in 200 years of colonial plunder. The post WW-2 years saw Western nations under severe grip of Malthusian population phobia,so much so that they linked aid to the poor countries to performance in sterilization targets. In the 1960s, the topic even entered the presidential election in the US when the phrase “population bomb” was coined to depict the fast rising population of the third world countries. You may like to read History and Politics of Population Phobia 9e)  KERALA IS UNIQUE: POPULATION CONTROL THROUGH PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT Kerala is Unique in the world! The tiny state, Kerala, is a unique example of the power of people development; the whole world acknowledges and admires the wonderful culture and society of Kerala. It is also unique in the respect for women; it has the best female/male ratio in the country – 1084 female for every 1000 male as per the 2011 census (highest in the Kunnur District 1136 and the lowest in Idukki district, 1006). Compare it with the national average of 940 females. The next best is way behind; it is Tamil Nadu, 996 female followed closely by Andhra Pradesh with 993 female per 1000 male. Interestingly, the economically prosperous Haryana has the lowest sex ratio, 879 females. What stops our foreign trained scholars of New Delhi to learn from Kerala? In fact, Kerala can teach a lot, both to India and China about how to look after its people and control the population.   In the past 2 decades, neighboring Bangladesh has become another example of how in a short time social development and women empowerment can pull down fertility rates. Its fertility of 2.24 is almost reaching the replacement level of 2.1. 10.  GOVERNANCE REFORMS Colonial Police of Free India! Systemic ills of any sovereign nation can be traced only to one thing: Bad Governance. What is ‘bad governance’? It is reflected in the presence of corruption, inefficient law and order enforcement, slow judiciary, lethargic or uncooperative bureaucracy, exclusion of weaker segments of society from the mainstream processes, suppression of basic human rights and freedom of speech, and so on. India is still among the worst governed countries in the world, despite its rising status on the global scene in recent years (which is mainly due to the charismatic personality of PM Modi). The root cause is that since 1947 Indian leaders relied more on foreign concepts than building upon the indigenous wisdom and local strengths. The police force still largely operates with the colonial mindset and sees itself as a protector of rulers from the citizens! Poor and ordinary citizens still prefer to stay away fromit. Roadside poor vendors still can’t make their living without paying ‘hapta’ to the police-wala. Judiciary is painfully slow and is sitting on large pile of pending cases and the electoral reforms are stuck for lack of will – taken together we have an ideal recipe for lack of accountability, inefficiencies and corruption. BSP supremoMayawati, the fake secular and real caste politican, became notorious for selling ‘tickets’ during assembly and parliament elections; how she amassed so much wealth is an open secret. Bureaucratic Reforms Founded on the Nehruvian socialistic principles, Indian bureaucracy is still a big put off, particularly for the entrepreneurs and the business world. Although economic liberalization started a quarter century ago, it got mired in severe corruption during the 10 years of UPA regime. However, things are improving with the arrival of Modi and BJP government in 2014. Modi government’s focus on incorporating technology in governance is changing things very fast everywhere across the country. It has brought hope of good future. In just three years,Modi government has significantly improved the ease of doing business in India; India’s rating improved by 42 points, from 142 in 2014 to 100 in 2017. With demonetization, GST and promotion of digital transaction  the corruption landscape and business environment of India are drastically changing. Most macro pointers are showing improvement and the image of India has undergone a sea change on the international arena particularly after Modi’s interaction with world leaders. Political Reforms Lack of transparency in political funding is at the root of all corruption and bad governance. Modi government has planned electoral bonds to bring some transparency in the otherwise opaque funding of political parties. Although it is a good step but is grossly insufficient looking at how our political parties function. Things like the Lokayokta are not getting the serious attention they deserve.  What is needed is the political will to change things. Judicial Reforms However, the biggest reform is needed in the judiciary. Indian judiciary still revolves around the colonial laws created around 1860. For 90% people district courts are most important yet rather than increasing their autonomy they got dumped under the High Court. High Courts and the Supreme Court are out of reach for the poor masses. Justice is painfully slow and uncertain. Yet, no government or even the top judiciary seems much bothered about it. Indian courts are loaded with pending cases and hence atrociously slow, making a mockery of justice for the common masses. Over 3 crore cases are pending in various courts; assuming one case affects 5 people, 15 crore people are ‘victims’ of Indian judiciary. Slow judiciary has a negative impact on the business environment. Businessmen wants speedy disposal of disputes in the judiciary and when it doesn’t happen they have to find ‘round about’ ways to manage conflicts and stay in business. In different courts, there are 1.37 lakh pending cases related to direct tax and 1.45 lakh cases regarding indirect cases. It has locked up around 7.58 lakh crore rupees which is around 4.7 percent of the GDP.  It highlights the urgent need for the judiciary and executive to come together and take steps for speedy justice. Another ugly reality of justice is that the rich can easily get away with practically anything exploiting loopholes and ‘manage the system’ through high profile lawyers. For instance, leniency given to Sanjay Datt and Salman Khan are two limelight cases from the rich bollywood industry. SunandaPushkar’s murder is likely to remain another mystery – and her high profile husband, ShashiTharoor, has ‘no worries’ whatsoever. The doctor Talwar couple managed to come out ‘innocent’ in the murder case of their daughter, Arushi. Ordinary citizen know how crime evidences can be destroyed or faked by well connected people.  Liquor baron Vijay Malya easily ran away from the country and, aided by top legal brains, arrogantly mocks Indian justice system from UK! It is highly unlikely that Sonia-Rahul would ever face any hardship in the National Herald case. Robert Vadra, the great Damad Ji who calls India a ‘banana republic of mango people’, is also unlikely to be ever accountable for anything… the list can go on and on. No wonder ordinary citizens make every effort to stay away from authorities and courts by not standing up. Having a prompt judicial system will have an all round effect. It would not only help in fighting crimes efficiently, but most particularly it would greatly boost confidence of the business world. The recent unprecedented press conference of 4 SC judges is another significant pointer that all is not well even in the top judiciary. 10a)  JUDICIAL REFORMS MUST START FROM THE TOP In mid January 2018, when 4 senior Supreme Court judges called a press conference to air their grievances it was a weird event for the country. It is absolutely unhealthy thing for any country to have senior judges airing their lack of confidence in the Chief Justice in public. It is also weird that the 4 judges did not resign before calling the press conference (PC). The Chief Justice also did not resign taking moral responsibility for having lost confidence of his colleagues. Such steps would have upheld the expected high moral values of the apex court. Was PC the only option for the 4 judges? The dissatisfied judges could have called a meeting of all the 25 SC judges and raised their grievances in house. They could have involved some respected retired judges and tried to solve the ‘serious problem’ that in their eye was a ‘threat to democracy.’ Many even questioned their wisdom: Were they saying that they alone are ‘right’ and ‘above’ all other 21 judges of the SC? In fact, if anyone else had talked to the media in this manner it would have instantly invited ‘contempt of court’ and summary punishment. But the SC judges clearly don’t consider themselves ordinary citizens which is highly objectionable. Regardless of the merits of their grievances, going public was not a wise step. Now high court judges may also start emulating them. They also made the functioning of Supreme Court a topic of public debate everywhere, like inflation and price-rise. Moreover, their action attracted politicians – something very dangerous. Communist D Raja became the first to fish in the troubled water, followed by newly crowned Congress President Rahul Gandhi – perhaps the most superficial and juvenile brained politician in India. Fortunately, the government showed maturity and said that the judiciary should resolve its own issues. Indian system is different from that of the UK that provided the skeleton for Indian judiciary and also from that of the US. In the UK parliament is supreme and in the US it is the apex court. In India, the Constitution is supreme and the three limbs – the executive, legislature and judiciary – are expected to work independently. None is expected to interfere in other’s area. The problem arises when any of them transgresses or doesn’t function properly. Very often, while deciding cases, the SC has said that the other two – executive and legislature –are not discharging their duties properly and so it must take care of the matter. What if now the legislature or the executive say the same thing and take the matter in their domain? Can the government start interfering in judiciary because 3.5 crore cases are pending, there are long delays and the judiciary doesn’t appear to be doing anything about them? Collegium System of Appointment Until 1993, High Court and Supreme Court judges were appointed under sections 217 and 124, respectively, of the Constitution. The SC analyzed it the light of the principle of freedom of judiciary and concluded that the legislature or the executive can’t have any say in appointment of judges and adopted the collegiums system. No other democracy in the world uses the collegium system. In 2014, the parliament amended the Constitution and established the national judiciary appointment commission (NJAC). But the SC bench declared the whole exercise unconstitutional in 2015. However, it also included the dissenting voice from Justice Chelmeshwar, who has since been trying to bring changes in the functioning of the SC from within. In fact, it also goes against the spirit of the Indian Constitution because there is no mention of such a system in the Indian Constitution. While rejecting the NJAC it did not cite any reason or pointed out which provision of the Constitution was violet by it. Thus, the verdict appeared totally arbitrary, undemocratic and unconstitutional. In rejecting the NJAC the SC forgot that it often cites from the British judiciary in delivering judgments – and in the UK judges are appointed by an independent commission similar to the proposed NJAC. Strictly speaking, the Supreme Court only has the right to evaluate laws made by the parliament; it doesn’t have the right to ‘make legislation’ as it did in opting for the collegium. Did the parliament ever proposed a collegium? Never. Most appropriately, the judicial reform should start at the top, perhaps with adoption of NJAC or something similar. Only then the extremely opaque functioning at the top can be made transparent and accountable to the public, of which parliament is the proxy. In the light of the new development, the parliament should extensively debate on this issue in order to eliminate the potential ‘threat to democracy’ as the 4 honorable judges claimed in the PC. Download the Full Report: Corruption in India 11.  CLIMATE  CHANGE Why  Trump  Is  Running  Away Harsh climatic events have become regular around the world. Yet, media which is supposed to be the watchdog of reality talk about the climatic disasters in the typical business-as-usual manner. If at all it mentions natural disasters it is more to capture viewers’ attention to shower higher paid commercials on them. Ostrich mentality is clearly visible among the global leaders when it comes to the issue of climate change. Scientists’ warnings of restricting temperature rise to within 2 degree Celsius by 2100 now appear to have lost meaning. By and large, it appears that the world has resigned on the climatic front. The US President Trump’s decision to pull out of the international climate deal reflects the widespread mentality of putting economic growth ahead, despite the looming climatic catastrophe.  When he says ‘America First’ he sums up the sentiments of highly powerful elites of the business community whose greed for wealth is insatiable. Needless to say, once the US breaks the rule  the other so-called ‘developed’ nations would not remain ‘climatically responsible’ for long. They would discover innovative excuses to ‘excuse’ themselves! Wrong concept of ‘development’ Climate change is un-refutable “proof” of many things wrong in our environmentally and ecologically blind lifestyle that demands that we keep consuming more and more. In many ways, it is a direct consequence of coupling industrial and technological revolution with unsustainable blind ‘consumerism’ – unmindful of how it is polluting the environment and disturbing the balance in nature. A look at the ultrahigh per capita consumption in the so-called developed countries gives the whole story. Their ecologically and environmentally blind lifestyle has already played havoc on the nature and its resources. Ever increasing consumption to sustain their economic growth has put them in a bind; they don’t know how to decouple economic growth and consumption. As the fad for this resource guzzling lifestyle is spreading around the world the future is only getting more dangerous, not less. As things stand, the developed nations can’t cut sufficient carbon emission because its hurts their lifestyle they also don’t want to help rest of the world.  Moreover, they are still more interested in waging wars and picking up conflicts around the world to sustain their hegemony and to prop up their economic growth through arms sales. Fighting global poverty or climate change don’t make much economic sense for them. In reality, what makes the rich nations so arrogant is the simple fact: a New Yorker, a Londoner or a Berliner has more protective resources than a poor Bangladeshi, Nigerian or a Nepali. Therefore, they are not going to be the first victims of climatic disasters.  This is how visionless fools think. Ever increasing climatic disasters are certainly affecting the poor and ordinary people the most, but they also would not remain safe for long as climate change worsens in the future. Therefore, let’s not take international ‘climate talk shows’ too seriously. Instead, celebrate life as long as climatic disasters allow us to live! You may like to explore: Saudi Arabia Sees End of Oil Age on the Horizon 12.  RENEWABLE ENERGY  –  SOLAR  ENERGY Solar Power is the Future of India Modi government has ambitious plan for creating 100 GW solar and 55 GW wind capacities by 2022, apart from saving 20 GW power through energy efficient means. Besides its commitment to provide “Power for All” by 2019, Indian government has to also meet its future international commitment to reduce GHG emissions. Therefore, India must focus on renewables, particularly the solar power given abundance of sunlight throughout the country. Solar Parks For solar projects, 1 MW generation requires about 5 acres of land. Were India to install all its 100 GW capacity in the form of a big “solar farm”, it would require around 500,000 acres of land – three times the current size of the Mumbai metropolitan area. Taking cue from the Charanka solar park in Gujarat, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has announced a scheme to develop at least 25 solar parks (each with capacity 500 MW or up) and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects (UMSPP) (they are mega projects 500 MW or above), in next five years, across the country. Other renewable projects and manufacturing will also be allowed in solar parks. Smaller parks could also be considered under the scheme in Himalayan states where availability of large tracts of contiguous land may be difficult and in States where there is acute shortage of non-agricultural lands. If 100 GW solar power is created from a single mega “solar farm”, it would require around 500,000 acres of land – three times the current size of the Mumbai metropolitan area. 13.  SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS 13a)  THE REAL SIGNIFICANCE OF 2014 FOR INDIAN POLITICS! By all means the year 2014 will go down the history of free India. It will be remembered for changing the political discourse in the history of free India – a non-Congress party got absolute majority at the Center. It signifies many other things, such as: End of Coalition Era It effectively means end of power broking role of regional parties like SP, BSP, NCP, TMC, AIIDMK, DMK, Shiv Sena, BJD, TDP and so on. End of the most corrupt government It removed the most incompetent and corrupt government since independence.  The 10 years of Manmohan Singh as PM were the most unusual and demeaning governance free India has seen. Hiding behind Manmohan Singh, the actual power was wielded by Congress supremo Italy born power hungry Sonia and her yet-to-mature son. Her superficial knowledge of India and sub-mediocre advisors left the country feeling badly helpless and powerless. She showed no remorse or introspection while India was bleeding with scam after scam – as if she had literally decided to throw the country to “dogs.”  Demise of her incompetent rule in 2014 gave India and all its proud and nationalist citizens a deep sigh of relief. Arrival of an Assertive and Charismatic PM Who Knows India Well Arrival of Modi brought much needed sense of assurance and security among ordinary Indians, particularly 100 crore Hindus that they don’t have to put up with the corruption and divisive nonsense of Mullah declared ‘seculars’. Modi has already proved that he is the tallest leader in the political landscape of the country – much above all in the ruling NDA and opposition parties. His ability to connect with people is mesmerizing, he has forged personal relations with all global leaders and has emerged as a global statesman, and his decisive handling of Pakistan and China makes Indians proud that the country is now in safe hands. Doklam stand-off and the “surgical strike” in Pakistan underscored the fact that India is no more a soft state run by spineless and corrupt politicians. A PM who can take BOLD Steps Bold steps like demonetization and stand against “triple talaq” in the Supreme Court have highly endeared Modi among the poor masses (who have remained exploited by the caste and communal politicians thus far) and Muslim women (who remain oppressed by the ossified-brained and backward looking Mullahs).  This must be seen as true national integration.  Implementation of the GST is expected to further integrate the nation and turn it into one coherent market. End of Fake Secularism and Muslim Appeasement Politics Since independence, the poisonous ‘Muslim appeasement’ politics had occupied central stage of the national politics as well as governance of the country. Exploiting the Islam connection and the appeasement politics of power hungry Congressis  Pakistan and its ISI had been wielding unusually high influence in India. Since 1947, India was being run by a Muslim centric agenda by the appeasement politicians.  Since 2002, Sonia Gandhi adopted an openly anti-Hindu rhetoric and her party men did not shy of maligning Hindus to win over Muslim votes. For these so-called mullah loving ‘secular’ clowns of Indian politics, Yoga is communal and Ramzan is secular; the Kashmiri Hindu massacre/displacement and 1993 Mumbai serial blasts by Muslim terrorists are non-issues. Congressis like Digvijay Singh called the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack a handiwork of RSS! For him, Osama bin Laden is a hero andKasab and his jihadigang were only performing their religious duty of killing Hindu Kafir. His buddies – Chidambaram and Sushil Shinde – tried to create a fake narrative of ‘saffron terror’ after letting go of arrested Pak suspects of Samjhauta Express blast. News channels like the ‘Times Now’ have evidence of their conspiracy. Now they are coining ‘Hind terror.’ In reality, these so-called ‘liberals’ and ‘seculars’ are reminders of ‘Jai Chands’ of Indian history who betrayed their nation for personal greed. Pakistan loves them particularly because both have the same common enemy: Modi and BJP Assembly Elections The BJP got impressive majorities in UP, Uttarakhand, HP and formed governments in Goa and Manipur while retaining Gujarat.  Punjab chose the Congress, since the Akalis had shamelessly turned the state into a “drug-state” and because AAP still remains a ‘media party’ of noise makers.  In UP, people decisively defeated the long time gang of fake-seculars and appeasement politics of the Congress-SP-BSP brigade. Proud Hindu hater Mayawati’s could bag only 19 seats for her party and the Mulla-yam’s family owned SP got limited to 48. Sonia-Rahul kitchen Congress achieved another brilliant mile-stone, by winning just 7 seats!! In 2018, Karnataka is the first major state to go for electionsinmid 2018 after which Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh will see elections. Let’s see what kind of dirty tricks Rahul and his kitchen cabinet would come up with. The new lord of Congress party has already started visiting temples and declared himself a “Janeu Dhari” Hindu!!  This power hungry clown can play any drama for votes. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) created history after winning 67 seat out of 70; now 20 stand disqualified for Kejriwal’s ‘office of profit’ gimmick. Another 13-16 may face similar fate soon. Kejriwal has emerged as the Kim JongUn of AAP who can’t think beyond his own narrow interests; he sold 2 RajyaSabha tickets to rich elites ignoring an apt founder leader like Kumar Vishwas. He came to do alternate politics but turned out to be yet another unreliable and power hungry political joker. Through his incompetence and dishonesty he has systematically betrayed his own party men and Delhiites who gave him unparalleled majority. 13b)  MODI  ENDS  TRIPLE  TALAQ! August 22 Brought Dignity and Freedom For Muslim Women August 22, 2017 will be remembered by all Indian Muslim women as a day when they got freedom from the oppressive practice of sudden and arbitrary out-of-court ‘triple talaq’ deliberately sustained by the maulavis in the name of ‘Islam’.  Modi government’s stand on ‘triple talaq’ has endeared the 9 crore Muslim women of India. Although not fully out of the oppressive patriarchal shadow, they are now emboldened to demand for legal ban on Halala marriages and polygamy. It was something political pundits have never thought feasible given the deep rooted cult of maulvi appeasement politics in the political establishment. Where the appeasement politics failed Shah Bano in 1985 end of appeasement helped Saira Bano won justice in 2017. The SC verdict also gave a severe blow to the patriarchal stranglehold of Maulavis over the women, sustained in the name of Islam. After the legislation make triple talaq a cognizable offense, victimized women would have the option for legal recourse. Why Shah Bano Failed in 1985 If a Muslim man could just walk out of the marriage so easily in a secular country like India, even after several decades since independence, it speaks for the political clout of the ossified brained Mullahs. The ugliest face of ‘appeasement’ was on display in the mid 1985 when the Supreme Court ordered maintenance for a triple talaq victim, Shah Bano. It brought furious radical Mullahs on the streets in protest as if the Supreme Court of secular India has attacked their religion. The Congress government buckled under pressure and went to the extent of negating the SC verdict through Constitutional amendment in order to placate angry maulvis! Too Rigid Patriarchy with Irrational Mindset The biggest enemy of the Muslim community is the ossified brained and backward looking clergy that mentally remains stuck in the 7th century pre-Islamic Arab desert. Just listen to any maulavi talk and you would soon see that all rights and freedom belongs to Muslim men alone. As per their Sharia Law, women are no better than commodity or cattle owned by men. Before August 22, many maulanas have been proudly declaring that even if the man is drunk and uttered talaq three times the marriage is instantly over. In fact, these maulavis can sell any injustice and irrationality citing Islam or Sharia. Nikahhalala is another of their favorite practice. It comes in the picture if the divorced woman has to remarry her previous husband. As per ‘their’ Islam she has to first marry another man who will ‘purify’ the lady by having sex with her and then will divorce her! Thus ‘purified’ now she can remarry her ex husband! Isn’t it an ingenious way to enjoy sex without going to some streetprostitute and even get paid for being one night husband for sexual favor? What a pathetic mindset. If it sounds like an unethical sex racket you still have the ability to think like a normal man! Be convinced that like jihadi terrorists these stuck brain maulavis are the biggest enemies of their own people.  The human civilization has crossed the 20th century and is preparing for the global challenges of the 21st century. But these maulavis appear hell bent to take the community backwards, in the name of Sharia, towards the 7th century when women were mere sex commodities, breeders and confort providers. Such stuck brain maulavis are represented by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). It argued in the Supreme Court that women are only as mature as children; hence, their words should not be taken seriously!! Congratulations to all those who took the matter to the Supreme Court and emerged winners. Next step should be the fight against halala, polygamy and short term marriages – all designed for sexual pleasure of Muslim men. There is nothing religious about them. Finally the ultimate target should be the uniform civil code. Ending hajj subsidy and allowing groups of women going for hajj with male escort were other progressive steps taken by Modi government, highlighting the end of dirty appeasement politics that revolved around the Muslim clergy and empowering women folks instead.   Source:- https://socialissuesindia.wordpress.com/about/
 

Serious Concerns on the Indian Drug Industry

Serious Concerns on the Indian Drug Industry DEPARTMENT-RELATED PARLIAMENTARY STANDING COMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE FIFTY-NINTH REPORT ON THE FUNCTIONING OF THE CENTRAL DRUGS STANDARD CONTROL ORGANISATION (CDSCO) (PRESENTED TO THE RAJYA SABHA ON 8TH MAY, 2012) & (LAID ON THE TABLE OF THE LOK SABHA ON 8TH MAY, 2012
  Drug Regulation 1.1 Drugs are an integral and inseparable part of medical care. As per the directory of pharmaceutical manufacturing units in India brought out by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority in 2007, more than 10,500 drug manufacturers are operating in the country with estimated turnover of just over Rs. 50,000 crore for domestic sale alone. 1.2 Medicines apart from their critical role in alleviating human suffering and saving lives have very sensitive and typical dimensions for a variety of reasons. They are the only commodity for which the consumers have neither a role to play nor are they able to make any informed chokes except to buy and consume whatever is prescribed or dispensed to them because of the following reasons: •           Drug regulators decide which medicines can be marketed;   •           Pharmaceutical companies either produce or import drugs that they can profitably sell;   •           Doctors decide which drugs and brands to prescribe;   •           Consumers are totally dependent on and at the mercy of external entities to protect their interests.   1.3 It is because of these typical dimensions that the state’s responsibility to regulate the import, manufacture and sale of medicines so as to ensure that they are both safe, effective and of standard quality acquire almost sacrosanct dimensions. Under the circumstances, effective, transparent drug regulation free from commercial influences is essential to ensure the safety, efficacy and quality of drugs with just one objective, i.e., welfare of patients.   1.4 Taking into account the immense importance and impact of drug regulation on humanity, the Committee examined the functioning of The Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO), the agency mandated with the task of drug regulation in India to determine if rules and laws were being implemented efficiently and honestly in the interest of patients. It did not go into the scientific Issues such as merits of medicines being sold in the country. As the successive narrative would unravel, the drug regulatory system in the counhy suffers from several deficiencies and shortcomings, some systemic and severa] manmade.   1.5             Drug regulation covers many functions, namely:   •           Marketing approval of new medicines based on safety and efficacy studies,   •           Licensing and monitoring of manufacturing facilities and distribution channels,   •           Post-marketing adverse drug reaction (ADR) monitoring,   •           Quality control (QC),   •           Periodic review and re-evaluation of approved drugs,   •           Control of drug promotion   •           Regulation of drug trials.   1.6 While most functions pertaining to drug regulation come under the jurisdiction of Central Government and are carried out by the Central Drug Standards Conhol Organization (CDSCO), others viz. licensing and monitoring of manufacturing units and distribution channels; quality control etc. are carried on by state level drugs authorities under the administrative control of State Governments.   1.7           Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945, Drugs & Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 as amended from time to time are the principal legislations that govern the functioning of CDSCO and state drug authorities.   1.8 Drugs belonging to various systems of medicine (Allopathy, Homoeopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani) as well as cosmetics are regulated by CDSCO. However the present Report is confined to the aspect of regulation by the CDSCO and related agencies of drugs used in modem medicine only.   OBSERVATIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS  — AT A GLANCE MANDATE AND STRUCTURE OF CDSCO The Committee is of the firm opinion that most of the ills besetting the system of drugs regulation in India are mainly due to the skewed priorities and perceptions of CDSCO. For decades together it has been according primacy to the propagation and facilitation of the drugs industry, due to which, unfortunately, the interest of the biggest stakeholder i.e. the consumer has never been ensured. Taking strong exception to this continued neglect of the poor and hapless patient, the Committee recommends that the Mission Statement of CDSCO be formulated forthwith to convey in very unambiguous terms that the organization is solely meant for public health.    (Para  2.2) The Committee notes with serious concern that CDSCO is substantially under-staffed. Of the 327 sanctioned posts, only 124 are occupied. At this rate, what would be the fate of 1,045 additional posts that have been proposed is a moot point. If the manpower requirement of the CDSCO does not correspond with their volume of work, naturally, such shortage of staff strains the ability of the CDSCO to discharge its assigned functions efficiently. This shortcoming needs to be addressed quickly. Consideration can also be given to employ medically qualified persons as Consultants/Advisers (on the pattern of Planning Commission)  at  suitable  rank.    (Para  2.19) The Committee also gathers that the average time taken for the completion of recruitment process is approximately 12 to 15 months. The Committee, therefore, recommends that to overcome the staff shortage, the Ministry should engage professionally qualified persons on short-term contract or on deputation basis until the vacancies are filled up. Due to the very sensitive nature of regulatory work, great care will need to be taken to ensure that persons employed for short periods did not and will not have Conflict of Interest for a specified period.    (Para  2.20) At the same time, the optimal utilization of the current staff in the best interest of public is the responsibility of those who run the CDSCO. In a resource- constrained country like India, it is extremely difficult to meet the demands, however, genuine, of all the State entities in full. Hence, prioritization is the key. For example, work relating to an application for Marketing Approval of a New Drug that will be used by millions and thus have an impact on the well being of public at large in India for years to come, is far more important and urgent than giving permission to a foreign company to conduct clinical trials on an untested new patented, monopoly drug.    (Para  2.21) The Committee also observes that the strengthening of drugs regulatory mechanisms cannot be achieved by manpower augmentation alone. A host of issues involving capacity-building of CDSCO like upgradation of existing offices, setting up of new offices, creation of new central drugs testing laboratories and equipping them with the state-of-the-art technology to enable them to carry out sophisticated analysis of drugs, upgradation of the existing 6 Central Drugs Testing Laboratories, skill development of the regulatory officials, implementation of an effective result-oriented pharmacovigilance programme drawing on global experience, increased transparency in decision-making of CDS CO etc. will have to be addressed before the desired objectives are realized.    (Para  2.22) In the absence of any reasons for unwillingness on the part of medically qualified persons to join CDSCO, the Committee is of the opinion that emoluments and perquisites may not be the main or only reason. It is noticed that minimum prescribed academic qualifications for the post of DCGI is barely B.Pharm. On the other hand for Deputy Drugs Controller (DDC), the prescribed minimum qualification is post-graduation for medically qualified persons. The stumbling block is the requirement that DCGI should have experience in the “manufacture or testing of drugs or enforcement of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act for a minimum period of five years.” This requirement virtually excludes even highly qualified medical doctors from occupying the post of DCGI. Moreover the rule stipulates that doctors with post-graduation should be either in pharmacology or microbiology only, thus excluding post-graduates, even doctorates (like DM) in a clinical subject. Besides, highly qualified medical doctors may be reluctant to work under and report to a higher officer with lesser qualifications in a technology driven regulatory authority set-up. Unless these concerns are addressed, it would be difficult to get the desperately required medically qualified professionals on the rolls of CDSCO.    (Para  2.23) QUALIFICATION AND POWERS of DCGI The Committee fails to understand as to how a graduate in pharmacy or pharmaceutical chemistry (B.Pharm) is being equated with a medical graduate with MD in Pharmacology or Microbiology. Apart from the obvious anomaly, with rapid progress in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical fields, there is urgent need to revise the qualifications and experience as minimum eligibility criteria for appointment as DCGI. The Committee is of the view that it is not very rational to give powers to a graduate in pharmacy, who does not have any clinical or research experience to decide the kinds of drugs that can be prescribed by super specialists in clinical medicine such as those holding DM and PhD qualifications and vast experience in the practice of medicine and even research.    (Para  3.6) On a larger plane, the Committee is disillusioned with the qualifications provided in the age old Rules for the head of a crucial authority like CDSCO. The extant Indian system is nowhere in so far as sheer competence and professional qualifications are concerned when compared with countries like USA and UK. There is, therefore, an urgent need to review the qualifications, procedure of selection and appointment, tenure, emoluments, allowances and powers, both administrative and financial of the DCGI. While doing so, the Government may not only rely on the Mashelkar Committee Report which recommended augmented financial powers to DCGI but also take cue from similar mechanisms functioning in some of the developed countries like USA, UK, Canada, etc in order to ensure that only the best professional occupies this onerous responsibility. The Committee should be kept informed of the steps taken to address this issue.    (Para  3.7) In the considered opinion of the Committee, there can never be a more opportune time than now, to usher in these changes recommended by it. The post of DCGI is vacant as of now, with an official holding temporary charge. They, therefore, desire that the government should take immediate measures in terms of their instant recommendations to ensure that CDSCO is headed by an eminent and professionally qualified  person.    (Para  3.8) ROLE OF THE STATE DRUG REGULATORY AUTHORITIES From an analysis of the above facts, the Committee concludes that shortcomings witnessed in respect of coordination with and between the States as also in implementation of applicable legislations in the States are primarily an offshoot of inadequacies in manpower and infrastructure in the States. Strengthening the regulatory mechanism in the States will remain a far cry unless these infirmities are taken care of.    (Para  4.5) Given the lack of adequate resources in the States it would be unrealistic to expect them to improve the infrastructure and increase manpower without Central Assistance for strengthening drug control system. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare should work out a fully centrally sponsored scheme for the purpose so that the State Drug Regulatory Authorities do not continue to suffer from lack of infrastructure and manpower anymore. The Committee desires to be kept apprised of the initiatives taken by the Ministry in this regard.    (Para  4.6) It is a matter of grave concern that there are serious shortcomings in Centre-State coordination in the implementation of Drugs & Cosmetics Act and Rules. This, the Committee notes, is despite the Ministry’s own admission that Section 33P of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act contains a provision that enables the Central Government to give such directions to any State Government as may appear to it to be necessary for implementation of any of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules made thereunder. The Committee understands that these provisions are meant to be used sparingly. However, there have been several situations which warrant intervention through Rule 33 P. Therefore the committee hopes that in future the Ministry would not be found wanting in considering the option of using Section 33P to ensure that provisions of central drug acts are implemented uniformly in all states.    (Para  4.7) As regards lack of databank and accurate information, the Committee would like to observe that given the information technology resources currently available, developing an effective system of coordination amongst State Drug Authorities for providing quality and accurate data could have been accomplished long back had the Ministry taken any initiative towards encouraging the States to establish a system of harmonized and inter-connected databanks. Evidently, no serious efforts seem to have been made in this regard. The Committee, however, expects that the Ministry would, at least now, playa more pro-active role in encouraging the States to employ modern information technology in the implementation of tasks assigned to them. At the same time a centralized databank (e.g. licenses issued, cancelled, list of sub-standard drugs, prosecutions etc.) may be created to which all the State Drug Authorities should be linked.    (Para  4.8) CAPACITY-BUILDING OF CENTRAL AND STATE DRUG TESTING LABORATORIES The Committee agrees that the capacity-building of the Central Drugs Testing Laboratories is the need of the hour. In this era of newer innovations coming up at rapid pace, equipping the Drug Testing Laboratories with the high-end sophisticated equipments is very essential. However, the Committee is aware that monitoring the quality of drugs is primarily the responsibility of the State Drugs Authorities, supplemented by CDSCO, which play a major role in collection of samples and testing them. Without manpower augmentation and up gradation of State Drugs Testing Laboratories, the objective of ensuring availability of quality drugs to the public cannot be realized. The Committee, therefore, recommends strengthening of both Central and State Drug Testing Laboratories. (Para  5.11) PROVISION OF REQUISITE INFRASTRUCTURE AT AIRPORT AND SEAPORT OFFICES The Committee agrees with the above suggestion and recommends that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare should take initiative towards addressing the shortcomings forthwith in coordination with the Ministry of Civil Aviation at all seaports/airports handling import and exports of pharmaceutical products. The Committee will like to be informed of steps taken to address this problem.    (Para  6.2) NEW DRUGS APPROVAL The Committee is of the view that due to untraceable files on three drugs, it is not possible to determine if all conditions of approval (indications, dosage, safety precautions) are being followed or not. Moreover the product monographs cannot be updated in the light of recent developments and regulatory changes overseas. Therefore all the missing files should be re-constructed, reviewed and monographs updated at the earliest. (Para 7.13) .............This  matter needs  to  be  reviewed  to  ensure  safety  of  patients,  fair play, transparency and accountability.    (Para  7.14) Unless there is some legal hitch, the Committee is of the view that there is no justification in withholding opinions of experts on matters that affect the safety of patients from public. Consideration should be given to upload all opinions on CDSCO website.    (Para  7.15) According to information provided by the Ministry, a total of 31 new drugs were approved in the period January 2008 to October 2010 without conducting clinical trials on Indian patients. The figure is understated because two drugs (ademetionine and FDC of pregabalin with other ingredients) were somehow not included in the list. Thus there is no scientific evidence to show that these 33 drugs are really effective and safe in Indian patients.    (Para  7.16) It is obvious that DCGI clears sites of pre-approval trials without application of mind to ensure that major ethnic groups are enrolled in trials to have any meaningful data. Thus such trials do not produce any useful data and merely serve to complete the formality of documentation.    (Para  7.27) The Committee recommends that while approving Phase III clinical trials, the DCGI should ensure that subject to availability of facilities, such trials are spread across the country so as to cover patients from major ethnic backgrounds and ensure a truly representative sample. Besides, trials should be conducted in well equipped medical colleges and large hospitals with round the clock emergency services to handle unexpected serious side effects and with expertise in research and not in private clinics given the presence of well equipped medical colleges and hospitals in most parts of the country in present times. (Para  7.28) The Committee is of the view that taking into account the size of our population and the enormous diversity of ethnic groups there is an urgent need to increase the minimum number of subjects that ought to be included in Phase III pre-approval clinical trials to determine safety and efficacy of New Drugs before marketing permission is granted. In most western countries the required numbers run into thousands. However since the major objective in India is to determine the applicability or otherwise of the data generated overseas to Indian population, the requirement should be re-assessed and revised as per principles of medical statistics so that major ethnic groups are covered. A corresponding increase in the number of sites so as to ensure a truly representative sample spread should also be laid down in black and white. Furthermore, it should be ensured that sites selected for clinical trials are able to enroll diverse ethnic groups. For domestically discovered drugs, the number of subjects should be revised as well. This can be easily achieved by changes in the Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines. (Para 7.29) A review of the opinions submitted by the experts on various drugs shows that an overwhelming majority are recommendations based on personal perception without giving any hard scientific evidence or data. Such opinions are of extremely limited value and merely a formality. Still worse, there is adequate documentary evidence to come to the conclusion that many opinions were actually written by the invisible hands of drug manufacturers and experts merely obliged by putting their signatures........... Is the Committee mistaken in coming to the conclusion that all these letters were collected by interested party from New Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Secunderabad and handed over to office of the DCGI on the same day? If so, it is obvious that the interested party was in the loop in the entire process of consultation with experts. (Annexure 6)..............It is inconceivable that a letter dated 17-6-2005 from New Delhi will be delivered to the office of DCGI also in New Delhi after more than two months. The conclusion, as in aforementioned cases,  is obvious.  (Annexure 8)    (Para  7.31) If the above cases are not enough to prove the apparent nexus that exists between drug manufacturers and many experts whose opinion matters so much in the decision making process at the CDSCO, nothing can be more outrageous than clinical trial approval given to the Fixed Dose Combination of aceclofenac with drotaverine which is not permitted in any developed country of North America, Europe or Australasia. In this case, vide his letter number 12-298/06-DC dated 12- 2-2007, an official of CDSCO advised the manufacturer, Themis Medicare Ltd. not only to select experts but get their opinions and deliver them to the office of DCGI! No wonder that many experts gave letters of recommendation in identical language apparently drafted by the interested drug manufacturer.    (Para  7.32) In the above case, the Ministry should direct DCGI to conduct an enquiry and take appropriate action against the official(s) who gave authority to the interested party to select and obtain expert opinion and finally approved the drug.    (Para  7.33) Such expert opinions in identical language and/or submitted on the same day raise one question: Are the experts really selected by the staff of CDSCO as mentioned in written submission by the Ministry? If so how can they, situated thousands of miles away from each other, draft identically worded letters of recommendation? Is it not reasonable to conclude the names of experts to be consulted are actually suggested by the relevant drug manufacturers? It has been admitted that CDSCO does not have a data bank on experts, that there are no guidelines on how experts should be identified and approached for opinion.    (Para  7.34) The Committee is of the view that many actions by experts listed above are clearly unethical and may be in violation of the Code of Ethics of the Medical Council of India applicable to doctors. Hence the matter should be referred to MCI for necessary follow up and action. In addition, in the case of government-employed doctors, the matter must also be taken up with medical colleges/hospital authorities for suitable action. (Para 7.35) There is sufficient evidence on record to conclude that there is collusive nexus between drug manufacturers, some functionaries of CDSCO and some medical experts. (Para 7.36) On a more fundamental issue the Committee has come to the conclusion that when it comes to approving new drugs, too much is left to the absolute discretion of the CDSCO officials. There are no well laid down guidelines for determining whether consultation with experts is required. Thus the decision to seek or not to seek expert opinion on new drugs lies exclusively with the non- medical functionaries of CDSCO leaving the doors wide open to the risk of irrational and incorrect decisions with potential to harm public health apart from the possibility of abuse of arbitrary discretionary powers.    (Para  7.37) The Committee, therefore, strongly recommends that there should be non-discretionary, well laid down, written guidelines on the selection process of outside experts with emphasis on expertise including published research, in the specific therapeutic area or drug or class of drugs. Currently, the experts are arbitrarily chosen mainly based on their hierarchical position which does not necessarily correspond to the area or level of expertise. All experts must be made to file the Conflict of Interest declaration outlining all past and present pecuniary relationships with entities that may benefit from the recommendations given by such experts. The consulted experts should be requested to give hard evidence in support of their recommendations.    (Para  7.38) The Committee is of the view that responsibility needs to be fixed for unlawfully approving Buclizine, a drug of hardly any consequence to public health in India, more so since it is being administered to babies/children. At the same time the approval granted should be reviewed in the light of latest scientific evidence, regulatory status in developed countries, particularly in Belgium, the country of its origin.    (Para  7.41) .........DCGI  is  expected  to  take  action  against  those  CDSCO  functionaries  who colluded with private interests and got the drug approved in violation of laws. The drug has since been banned by the Ministry for use in female infertility.    (Para  7.42) The Committee takes special note of this case of gross violation of the laws of the land by the CDSCO. First, in approving the drug for use in case of female infertility and thereafter, in exhibiting overt resistance in taking timely corrective steps despite very strong reasons favouring immediate suspension of use of letrozole for the said indication. Belatedly, the drug has been banned for use in female infertility.    (Para  7.43) The Committee is of the opinion that there must be some very good reasons for Danish Medicine Agency (Denmark) not to approve a domestically developed drug where an anti-depressant drug would perhaps be in greater demand as compared to India. Curiously, Deanxit is allowed to be produced and exported but not allowed to be used in Denmark. (Para  7.45) The Committee feels that the DCGI should have gone into the reasons for not marketing the drug in major developed countries such as United States, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Japan, Australia just to mention a few. United States alone accounts for half of the global drug market. It is strange that the manufacturer    is concentrating on tiny markets in unregulated or poorly regulated developing countries    like Aruba, Bangladesh,    Cyprus, Jordan, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Trinidad instead of countries with far more patients and profits. Many of these developing countries are handicapped due to lack of competent drug regulatory authorities. Instead of examining and reversing regulatory lapses, DCGI has referred the matter to an Expert Committee to look at the isolated and restricted issue of “safety and efficacy” instead of unlawful approval in the first place.    (Para    7.46) The Committee recommends that in view of the unlawful approval granted to Deanxit, the matter should be re-visited and re-examined keeping in mind the regulatory status in well developed countries like Denmark, the country of origin; the United States, Britain, Canada, European Union and Japan etc. It is important to keep in mind that in Europe, there are two types of marketing approvals: Community-wide (cleared by European Medicine Agency) and individual regulators of member nations. EMEA is known to clear drugs after great deal of scrutiny while the competence and expertise of drug regulatory authorities of individual nations is not uniform and varies greatly from country to country. (Para  7.47) The Committee recommends an enquiry into the said letter. The responsibility should be fixed and appropriate action taken against the guilty. The Committee should be kept informed on this case.            (Para    7.49) The    Committee takes    special notice of this    case    of persistent insolence on the    part of CDSCO    and hopes that never again shall the DCGI    approve drugs in violation of laws, that too for use in neonates    and young children.        (Para    7.51) The Committee expresses its deep concern, extreme displeasure and disappointment at the state of affairs as outlined above. The Ministry should ensure that the staff at CDSCO does not indulge in irregularities in approval process of new drugs that can potentially have adverse effect on the lives of people. It is difficult to believe that these irregularities on the part of CDSCO were merely due to oversight or unintentional. Hence all the cases listed above and cases similar to these should be investigated and responsibility fixed and action taken against erring officials whether currently in service or retired. (Para  7.52) DRUGS WITHDRAWN/DISCARDED/BANNED ABROAD The Committee has noted that there are a very large number of alternative analgesics, antipyretics in the Indian market. With so many countries banning Analgin, not to mention unlawful over-promotion by manufacturers, the CDSCO should be directed to re- examine the rationality of continued marketing of Analgin.    (Para  8.4) It is to be kept in mind that a drug becomes a candidate for withdrawal not only due to serious side effects but also when safer, more efficacious drugs are launched. Unfortunately, no attention is being paid to this issue. This principle should apply to all cases and all drugs need to be evaluated periodically. (Para 8.5) The documents submitted by the Ministry show that even in large developed countries with well developed drug regulation such as US the adverse reactions are not detected by spontaneous reports from doctors in practice. All major side effects were detected in large scale controlled, focused Post-Marketing Phase IV trials involving thousands of patients such as SCOUT on anti-obesity drug sibutramine (now banned) and the RECORD trial on rosiglitazone (now banned). Therefore to expect that any spontaneous reports from medical profession, either in private practice or even institutions (medical colleges, large hospitals) will pick up hitherto unknown side effects in India is not realistic. There is hardly any alternative but to take immediate cognizance of serious adverse drug reactions reported from countries with well developed and efficient regulatory systems. The health and lives of patients in India cannot be put to risk in the hope of detecting ADRs within    the    country.    (Para    8.7). The    Committee    feels that since the chances of picking up unknown serious adverse effects    of drugs being    marketed in the country are remote, therefore CDSCO should keep a close watch on regulatory developments that take place in countries with well developed regulatory systems in the West and take appropriate action in the best interest of the patients.    (Para  8.8) In most cases, most of these experts whether appointed by CDSCO or DTAB are from Delhi. The following facts reveal this pattern: 1. Rimonabant was referred to a committee of six experts, all from Delhi. 2. Levonorgestrel: Four out of five from Delhi. 3. Letrozole: Four out of five from Delhi. 4. Sibutramine: All five from Delhi. 5. Rosiglitazone: All five from Delhi. 6. A review of membership shows that one expert sat on 5 of the 6 committees. One wonders whether expertise on drugs is confined to Delhi. (Para  8.10) The Committee strongly recommends that with some 330 teaching medical colleges in the country, there are adequate number of knowledgeable medical experts with experience who can be requested to give their opinion on the safety and efficacy of drugs. The need is to make such consultations very broad based so as to get diverse opinion. The opinions, once received, can be put in public domain inviting comments. Once the experts know that their opinions will be scrutinized by others, including peers, they would be extra cautious and give credible evidence in support of their recommendation.    (Para  8.11) FIXED DOSE COMBINATIONS (FDCs) Unfortunately some State Drug Authorities have issued manufacturing licenses for a very large number of FDCs without prior clearance from CDSCO. This is in violation of rules though till May 2002, there was some ambiguity on powers of the State Drug Authorities in this respect. However the end result is that many FDCs in the market have not been tested for efficacy and safety. This can put patients at risk.    (Para  9.2) To remove such unauthorized FDCs from the market, the Central Government can either issue directions under Section 33P to states to withdraw the licences of FDCs granted without prior DCGI approval or the Central Government can itself ban such FDCs under Section  26A.    (Para  9.3) The Committee was informed that DCGI has been requesting State Orug Authorities not to issue manufacturing licences to new FDCs and suspend licences of unauthorized FDCs issued in the past. However in exercise of powers under Section 33P specific directions have not been issued. The Ministry failed to provide any coherent reason for lack of action under this Rule. The Ministry informed the Committee that even if Section 33P was invoked, there was no provision to take action against States if directions were not carried out. If considered necessary, the Ministry may examine the possibility of amending the law to ensure that directions under Section 33P are implemented. (Para 9.4) It is also possible to ban FDCs, not authorized by CDSCO by invoking Section 26A which empowers the Central Government to ban any drug to protect public health. The Committee was informed that the Government has not evoked Section 26A either so far. No explanation was offered for not using powers under Section 26A. (Para 9.5) The  Committee  was  informed  that  the  issue  regarding  grant  of  Manufacturing Licenses for unapproved FDCs by some State Drug Authorities were first    deliberated in 49th DTAB meeting held on 17 February, 2000 i.e. 11    years ago. It is a matter of great concern that even after a lapse of a decade, no serious    action has been taken.    (Para  9.6) The Committee is of the view that those unauthorized FDCs that pose risk to patients and communities such as a combination of two antibacterials need to be withdrawn immediately due to danger of developing resistance that affects the entire population. (Para  9.7) The Committee is of the view that Section 26A is adequate to deal with the problem of irrational and/or FDCs not cleared by CDSCO. There is a need to make the process of approving and banning FDCs more transparent and fair. In general, if an FDC is not approved anywhere in the world, it may not be cleared for use in India unless there is a specific disease or disorder prevalent in India, or a very specific reason backed by scientific evidence and irrefutable data applicable specifically to India that justifies the approval of a particular FDC. The Committee strongly recommends that a clear, transparent policy may be framed for approving FDCs based on scientific principles. (Para 9.8) DRUGS ADVISORY COMMITTEES The Committee feels that though the Ministry is forming DACs, which are given very important powers, there is no transparent procedure for the selection of experts of such Committees. The Committee also recommends that institutions from which experts are chosen should be from different parts of the country.    (Para  10.2) SIMILAR BRAND NAMES The Committee strongly recommends that all such cases should be thoroughly reviewed in close coordination with State Drug Authorities. Specific procedures may be framed for approval of brand names. The procedure adopted by the Registrar of Newspapers to avoid duplication may be worth emulating. As a beginning, a data bank of all branded pharmaceutical products along with their ingredients should be uploaded on the CDSCO website and regularly updated.    (Para  11.2) POST-MARKETING SURVEILLANCE In order to scrutinize the compliance of this rule, the Ministry was asked to furnish PSURs in respect of 42 randomly selected new drugs. Since files in respect of three drugs were reportedly missing, PSURs should have been supplied for the balance 39 drugs. The Committee is, however, constrained to note that PSURs in respect of only 8 drugs were submitted by the Ministry. The Committee was informed that 14 drugs though approved were not being marketed or were launched lately and hence PSURs would be expected later. There was no explanation for not submitting PSURs in respect of rest of 17 drugs. (Para  12.2) Out of 14 drugs that were reported to be either not yet launched or lately launched, the Committee discovered that, at least, two products (FDC of glucosamine with ibuprofen; and moxonidine) were indeed in the market for some time and concerned manufacturers should have submitted PSURs. But the Committee has not been given any explanation for
non-submission of PSURs for these two drugs.    (Para  12.3) The Committee observed that even, in those cases where the PSURs were submitted, the frequency and/or format was not as per rules. In the case of two drugs of MNCs (dronedarone of Sanofi Aventis and pemetrexid of Eli Lilly), the PSURs were neither India specific nor in the approved format as required by law. Some companies submitted PSURs for the products being marketed in the country but very few PSURs were India-specific. (Para  12.4) The Committee is of the firm view that there is a poor follow-up of side effects in Indian patients both by doctors and manufacturers. The objective of PSURs is to collect information about adverse effects on patients in India which would help to determine ethnic differences, if any and result in dosage adjustment, revision of precautions and warnings, if necessary. The Committee takes strong exception to such rampant violation of the mandatory  requirements.    (Para  12.5) The Committee strongly recommends that the Ministry should direct CDSCO to send a stern warning to all manufacturers of new drugs to comply with mandatory rules on PSURs or face suspension of Marketing Approval. PSURs should be submitted in CDSCO-approved format which would help track adverse effects discovered in Indian ethnic groups.  (Para  12.6) PHARMACOVIGILANCE The Committee feels that the conventional system of locating side effects through spontaneous reporting by doctors to either drug companies or drug regulators has been found to be unsatisfactory. The most effective system is by controlled post-marketing Phase IV studies on a very large number of patients. In the past decade, all the major adverse effects that led to banning of drugs were identified in large scale Phase IV trials. The Ministry may wish to consider the possibility of using this format in the country. (Para  13.3) UPDATION OF INFORMATION ON MARKETED DRUGS The Committee feels that unless information on marketed drugs is continuously updated, there is risk of irrational or inappropriate use of medicines putting patients at risk. The Committee, therefore, recommends that immediate steps need to be taken to address this issue. The CDSCO should be directed to continuously update monographs based on information from regulatory authorities the world over.    (Para  14.3) SPURIOUS/SUB-STANDARD DRUGS A drug can be categorized ‘Not of Standard Quality’ for a variety of both major and minor technical reasons such as not stating the name of the pharmacopoeia correctly, problem with quality of bonding agent, colouring agent, dissolution time, etc. However, there are other more serious cases, where the active ingredient is significantly less in quantity that can harm patients. Therefore, this problem needs to be addressed with all the seriousness that it deserves both by more rigorous checks in procuring bulk drugs (particularly from developing countries with not so stringent quality checks and export controls) and by in-house quality control by manufacturers or solving the problem in transportation and/or storage at Distribution/retail levels.    (Para  15.4) By the time a sample is tested, a large number of packs get sold out with undeterminable injury to patients. There is no effective method of recalling unsold stocks lying in the distribution network. This cannot be allowed to go on.    (Para  15.5) The Committee feels that there should be severe punishment for manufacturing and for allowing sub-standard drugs to enter the distribution chain. Products with severe deficiencies should be penalized the same way as producers of spurious drugs by amending rules. There is also a case to incorporate    penal provisions for    manufacturing misbranded and adulterated drugs.            (Para  15.6) It is known that retail chemists also stock and sell items    other    than drugs including chocolates, cold drinks etc. During summer    these items are stored in    the refrigerator while due to paucity of space temperature-sensitive medicines may be lying outside. When samples are picked up, tested and found to be sub-standard, the State Drug Authorities blame and prosecute manufacturers. Therefore the Committee    recommends that    specifically    in the    case of temperature sensitive products such as insulins, due consideration    should be given to the reference samples of the same batch preserved by    the manufacturers.    (Para    15.7) The Committee is extremely anxious on both counts: such hugely costly imported drugs losing their potency before use and the possibility of fakes entering the chain. It is strange that multinational drug companies that have well staffed marketing offices in India, instead of importing drugs from their overseas affiliates and selling them are using traders to handle this activity. Apart from risk to patients, there is leakage of revenue to income tax. While the promotional expenses on imported formulations are being paid by the Indian branch of MNCs thus reducing income tax liability, there is no corresponding income since traders are paying directly to overseas offices of MNCs. The Committee would like the Ministry to ensure that in cases where MNCs have offices in India, traders are not permitted to import formulations of such companies. The Committee would like to be kept informed of the steps taken on this issue.    (Para  15.9) The Committee recommends that once a batch of a drug is found to be sub-standard and reported to CDSCO, it should issue a press release forthwith and even insert paid advertisements in the newspapers apart from uploading the information on the CDSCO website. Retail chemists should be advised to stop selling unsold stocks and return the same to local Drugs Inspectors as per rules. The Committee understands that at least two State Drug Authorities, that of Maharashtra and Kerala, have taken the initiative to upload information on spurious and sub-standard drugs on their websites on a monthly basis. These are welcome measures worth emulating by other states and the Centre.    (Para  15.11) ADVERTISING OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS IN THE LAY MEDIA The Committee would like the Ministry to take appropriate action against the companies that have advertised the above Schedule H drugs in the lay press. The provisions in the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act are not stringent enough with the result that manufacturers violate them at will. It also recommends that apart from giving sharper teeth to the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, a provision should also be incorporated in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules to ban such practices and penalize offenders. The Committee would like to be informed of the action taken to implement these recommendations. (Para  16.2) CONSUMER INFORMATION The Committee is of the firm opinion that accurate information on drugs for patients is absolutely essential to prevent inappropriate use more particularly in children, elderly, during pregnancy and lactation. The Committee recommends that the matter may be looked into to ensure that consumers have the required information    to use medicines    safely. Given
the widespread internet connectivity, it    is advisable to devise a system where patients can get unbiased information on drugs at the    click of the mouse in    any language.    (Para  17.3) CLINICAL TRIALS ON NEW DRUGS Due to the sensitive nature of clinical trials in which foreign companies are involved in a big    way    and a wide spectrum of ethical issues and legal angles, different aspects of Clinical   trials    need a thorough    and in-depth review. This Committee has, accordingly, taken it up as a subject for detailed    examination separately under the heading ‘Clinical Trials of
Drugs’.            (Para  18.2)
  Source:-  1. 64.100.47.5/newcommittee/reports/EnglishCommittees/.../59.pdf 2. http://ijme.in/articles/standing-committee-report-on-cdsco-hard-facts-confirm-an-open-secret/?galley=html
 

RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT: CHALLENGES

International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention
ISSN (Online): 2319 – 7722, ISSN (Print): 2319 – 7714
www.ijhssi.org Volume 2 Issue 2 ǁ March. 2013ǁ PP.11-22
  RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT: CHALLENGES Since came into force on 15th June, 2005 Right to Information act has been successfully working in most of the Indian states. The act is enacted by the state government of Tamilnadu (1997), Rajasthan (2000), Delhi (2001), Maharashtra (2002), Karnataka (2002), Assam (2002), Madhya Pradesh (2003), and Jammu & Kashmir (2004). Research studies shows that in their operation area the Right to Information act has been facing many severe challenges. These are as follows:- (a) Low level of awareness among people is the major challenge before successful implementation of Right to Information act. People, particularly in remote areas are not concerned with the Right to Information act. The research studies observe that the major sources of awareness are - (1) Mass media like- television channels, newspapers, magazines, journals etc. (2) Word of mouth. The nodal agency specifically the state government has not taken any potential step to promote Right to Information act. (b) Illiteracy and poverty is another major challenge before successful implementation of Right to Information act. Right to Information act has does not have any meaning for a Persons who does not have enough money to live, who is not educated and who does not have freedom. In fact, their first requirement is the right to live (right to eat, right to work and right to shelter) and then Right to Information. (c) Most of the uneducated even educated peoples do not have the proper knowledge about public Information officers, the procedure of paying fees and to get information. (d) Non-availability of user guide is another main challenge before successful RTI act implementation. Absence of user guide creates difficulty on the part of the Information seekers to gather knowledge about the process for submitting a RTI request. (e) Lack of commitment in efficient record management both state and central government instructions posing challenge before successful implementation of RTI act. (f) Due to the lack of efficient record management system, the public Information Officers face difficulty to get accurate and easy access of information from the concerned department, so that it can be provided to information seekers. (g) The non-cooperation from the part of bureaucracy is another major hurdle before RTI act implementation in India. The ―Babu type mentality (colonial mindset) makes them to use information as their own prerogative. Sometimes for their vested interest or to show their superiority, the bureaucrats do not want to disclose the basic information to citizens. (h) Bureaucracy also hides information for fear of criticism and to give a good image of them before public. (i) Lack of effective coordination and cooperation among state information commissioners and the non cooperation of departments with PIO hinder the process of smooth implementation of RTI act. (j) Lack of monitoring and review mechanism also hampers in successful implementation of RTI act in India. (k) The limited use of technology has hindered effective implementation of RTI act. Except in a few states no effective IT system have been establish to monitor and report on the disposal of application by public authorities. (l) The implementation of RTI act is uneven. It is not equally implemented to all the states. Therefore, awareness level also differs from state to state. In states like Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab the awareness level about RTI act is high, on the other hand awareness of people in Gujrat, Madhyapradesh, Jharkhand and UP is not high. Moreover different rules for different states especially on fees and costs make the RTI filing ineffective. (m) Generally, it is observed that retired bureaucrats are being appointed for the post of highest level of RTI officials i.e. the information commission at the central and state levels. These commissions are the independent of the government. Activists are of the opinion that these officials often show sympathetic attitude towards their fellow babus. (n) Non-availability of basic infrastructure is another serious hurdle before RTI implementation. The smooth implementation of RTI act requires the Public Information Officers (PIO) to provide information to the applicant through photocopies, soft copies etc. Though these facilities are easily accessible at districts level, but it is a challenge to get information form the block/Panchayat level. PIO claims that lack of infrastructure blockade RTI implementation at block level. Recommendations/Suggestions for effective implementation of RTI act- (a) As stated above due to ignorance, most of people have not heard about RTI act. To tackle this issue government should allocate huge fund for publicity budget of RTI act. However, this fund should be spent through central Information commission. (b) Publicity is very essential for RTI implementation. NGO‘s and civil society groups can take initiative to make massive awareness campaign to educate citizen about RTI act. This awareness programme may be at national, state and block level. Before making awareness programmes, the NGO‘s and CSC groups must identify the target i.e. vulnerable categories of citizens specifically- women, farmers and families, middle and working class. In this regard media and newspaper can play an effective role. (c) Children are considered resources for the future health of a nation. Therefore, RTI act should be added in the school syllabus to arouse curiosity of children about RTI at the grass-root level. (d) As the nodal administrative authority at the district level, every deputy commissioner and district collectors must be given responsibility of monitoring and implementation of RTI act by various departmental authorities within the respective district. (e) State Administrative Training institute can organize appropriate training intervention for the stakeholders. (f) There should be efficient and scientific record keeping agency so that applicants can get accurate information. Without modernizing and digitizing management of information and record providing information would take several days often exceeding the legal deadlines.  (g) Government departments should be entrusted responsibility to make the implementation of RTI easy for applicants seeking information rather than tough procedures. (h) Inculcation of political will is necessary for judicious working of RTI act. The Bureaucrats must come forward to help the aggrieved citizens. (i) It is the moral responsibility of the government to protect RTI activists and users and to take legal action against the attackers. (j) There is also need strong and robust monitoring and evaluation system. It will help periodically review implementation of the law and provide feedback to government agencies to address the shortcomings. (k) There should be proper coordination among state information commissioner and departments for the effective implementation of RTI act. (l) It is a recognized fact that for enabling and effective implementation of RTI act, the central and state information commissions need to strengthen their technical and IT capability. (m) Fast action to be taken to integrate different websites of all information commissions through a common IT gateway or national portal on RTI. This will prove to be grateful to common citizens. (n) Chief information commissioners should have frequent interaction with all information commissioners so that approach of all information commissioners may be similar in dealing with appeals/complaints before them. (o) According to the act it is mandatory to provide the information in the given time frame of 30 days. Since the information system is not integrated, therefore it becomes difficult to provide information in the given time. Moreover, many departments could not prepare themselves to respond according to the act. (p) Exemption provides under section 24 to the security and intelligence agencies are irrational and contrary to national interest. This exemption should be removed not by amendment of the act but by withdrawing the list of notified agencies in the 2nd schedule of the RTI act. (q) Training of officials of all departments and representatives of public authorities is essentially required so that they are made aware of their duties and obligations under the act. (r) Government of India should set up a National RTI council, which has members, people from various states, so that problems in implementation the RTI can be monitored regularly. (s) Last but not the least, political influence may anomalies in the functions of high level officials, so they have to maintain integrity by ignoring the vested interest. CONCLUSION
Thus it can be rightly mentioned that Right to Information act is an agent of good governance. It makes
administration more accountable to the people. It makes people aware of administration and gives them an opportunity to take part in decision making process. It promoted democratic ideology by promoting openness and transparency in the administration. It reduces the chances of corruption and abuse of authority by public servants. Since the act is prepared for people‘s interest, hence it success also depends on how they exercise the act. Moreover, there is need active participation from people, NGO‘s, civil society groups, coordination among RTI officials, integrity among government departments and political will from government and elected leaders.
 

RTI AND INTERNATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENTS

RTI AND INTERNATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENTS Various international instruments such as treaties, charters etc
have recognized RTI as right that ought to be available to the people.
All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their
representatives, as to necessity of the public contribution, to grant
this freely, to know to what use fix the proportion, the mode of
assessment and of collection and the duration of taxes. i) United Nations
The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation
whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law,
international security, economic development, social progress, human
rights, and achievement of world peace. The UN was founded in
1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars
between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains
multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions. There
are currently 192 member states, including every internationally
recognised sovereign state in the world but the Vatican City. From
its offices around the world, the UN and its specialized agencies
decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings
held throughout the year. The organization has six principal organs:
the General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly); the Security
Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the
Economic and Social Council (for assisting in promoting international
economic and social cooperation and development); the Secretariat
(for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN).
United Nations accepted Right to Information right from its beginning
in 1946. The General Assembly resolved that: ―freedom of information
is a fundamental human right and the touchstone for all freedoms to
which the United Nations is consecrated.‖ ii) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration
adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (10 December 1948,
Paris). The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the
Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights
to which all human beings are inherently entitled. It consists of 30
articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international
treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions
and laws. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional
Protocols. In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the two detailed
Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights;
and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient
number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of
international law.  Article 19 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights of
1948, states that, ―Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without
interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas
through any media and regardless of frontiers.‖ iii) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1968
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General
Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976.
It commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of
individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of
speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due
process and a fair trial. As of December 2010, the Covenant had 72
signatories and 167 parties. The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights,
along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR). The ICCPR is monitored by the Human Rights
Committee (a separate body to the Human Rights Council), which
reviews regular reports of States parties on how the rights are being
implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to
the Covenant and then whenever the Committee requests (usually
every four years). The Committee meets in Geneva or New York and
normally holds three sessions per year. Article 19 of the Covenant states as following:-
(1) Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without
interference;
(2) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression, this
right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information
and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing
or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of his
choice. iv) The Commonwealth
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the
Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is
an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member
states. All but two (Mozambique and Rwanda) of these countries
were formerly part of the British Empire, out of which it developed.
The member states cooperate within a framework of common values
and goals as outlined in the Singapore Declaration. These include the
promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of
law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism, and
world peace. The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an
intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse
social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in
status. Its activities are carried out through the permanent
Commonwealth Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, and
biennial meetings between Commonwealth Heads of Government. The
symbol of their free association is the Head of the Commonwealth,
which is a ceremonial position currently held by Queen Elizabeth II.
Elizabeth II is also monarch, separately and independently, of sixteen
Commonwealth members, which are known as the "Commonwealth
realms". The Commonwealth is a forum for a number of nongovernmental organisations, collectively known as the Commonwealth
Family, which are fostered through the intergovernmental
Commonwealth Foundation. The Commonwealth Games, the
Commonwealth's most visible activity, are a product of one of these
organisations. These organisations strengthen the shared culture of
the Commonwealth, which extends through common sports, literary
heritage, and political and legal practices. Due to this, Commonwealth
countries are not considered to be "foreign" to one another. Reflecting
this, diplomatic missions between Commonwealth countries are
designated as High Commissions rather than embassies.
The Commonwealth- association of 54 countries- affirmed the
existence of RTI by emphasizing the participation of people in the
government processes. The law ministers of the Commonwealth at
their meeting held in Barbados in year 1980 stated that ‗public
participation in the democratic and government process would be
most meaningful when citizens had adequate access to official
information‘ v) The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,
1992 and Access to Information
Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and
Development, 1992 first recognized the fact that access to information
on the environment, including information held by public authorities,
is the key to sustainable development and effective public
participation in environmental governance. Agenda 21, the ‗Blueprint
for Sustainable Development‘, the companion implementation
document to the Rio Declaration, states: ―Individuals, groups and
organizations should have access to information relevant to
environment and development held by national authorities, including
information on products and activities that have or are likely to have a
significant impact on the environment, and information protection
measures.‖ At the national level, several countries have laws which
codify, at least inpart, Article 10 of the Rio Declaration. In Columbia,
for example, Law 99 of 1993 on Public Participation in Environmental
Matters includes provisions on the right to request information.
Likewise, in the Czech Republic, there is a constitutional right to
obtain information about the state of the environment, which has
been implemented in the number of environmental protection laws. In
1998, as a follow up to the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, member
statesof the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
(UNECE) and the European Union signed the legally binding
Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in DecisionMaking and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus
Convention). The Aarhus Convention(named after the Danish city
where it was adopted) recognizes access to information as a part of
the right to live in a healthy environment rather than as a freestanding right. However, it does impose a number of obligations on
States which are consistent with the international standards, for
example, it requires States to adopt broad definitions of
‗Environmental Information‘ and ‗Public Authority‘, exceptions must
be subject to a public interest test, and an independent body with a
power to review a refusal of request for information must be
established. Forty European and Central Asian countries that
ratified this convention have put in place legislative and
administrative mechanisms to provide environmental-related
information to public. Further, The United Nations Secretary-General
Kofi Annan (1997-2006) had said that although regional in scope, the
significance of the Aarhus Convention is global. It is by far the most
impressive elaboration of principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, which
stresses the need for citizens' participation in environmental issues
and for access to information on the environment held by public
authorities. As such, it is the most ambitious venture in the area of
environmental democracy so far undertaken under the auspices of the
United Nations. The influence of the Aarhus Convention also extends
beyond the environmental field. At the Second Internet Governance
Forum, held in Rio de Janeiro on 12-15 May 2007, the Convention
was presented as a model of public participation and transparency in
the operation of international forums. vi) The African Union and Right to Information
The African Union (AU) consists of 53 states. The only African
nations with a law implementing the right to information are Angola,
South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2002, in effect restricts the
flow of information instead of facilitating transparency in government
bodies. However, Article 9(1) of the African (Banjul) Charter on
Human and Peoples‘ Rights, explicitly recognizes the right of people
to seek and receive information and says that ―Every individual shall
have the right to receive information. In 2002, the African
Commission on Human and Peoples‘ Rights reinforced the view that:
―public bodies hold information not for themselves but as custodians
of the public good and everyone has a right to access this
information‖. The African Union‘s Declaration of Principles on
Freedom of Expression in Africa, 2002 also recognizes that
everyone has a right to access information held not only by public
bodies, but also by private bodies when this information is necessary
for the exercise or protection of a human right. Though not binding,
the aforesaid Declaration has considerable persuasive force as it
represents the will of a sizeable section of the African population. The
Declaration lays down the following principles: Everyone has the right
to access information held by public bodies. Everyone has the right to
access information held by private bodies which is necessary for the
exercise or protection of any right. Any refusal to disclose information
shall be subject to appeal to an independent body and/or the courts.
Public bodies shall be required, even in the absence of a request, to
actively publish important information of significant public interest. No one shall be subject to any sanction for releasing in good faith
information on wrongdoing, or information which would disclose a
serious threat to health, safety or the environment. Secrecy laws shall
be amended as necessary to comply with freedom of information
principles. The African Union‘s Convention on Preventing and
Combating Corruption, 2003 further recognizes the role that access to
information can play in facilitating social, political and cultural
stability.37 For this reason, Article 9 requires that every State adopt:
―legislative and other measures to give effect to the right of access to
any information that is required to assist in the fight against
corruption and related offences‖. vii) Organization of American States
The Organization of American States (OAS), or, as it is known
in the three other official languages, is a regional international
organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. Its
members are the thirty-five independent states of the American
Continent. American Convention on Human Rights was adopted by
the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1969. This international
treaty is legally binding in nature. Article 13 of the convention reads as follows;-
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and
expression. This right shall include freedom to work, receive and
impart information and ideas, of all kinds, regardless of frontiers,
either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any
other medium of one‘s choice. Clause 2 states that exercise of such right may sometimes be
subject to liabilities or restrictions if it compromises the national
security or contravenes the right available to others. viii) European Convention on Human Rights
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (formally
the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms) is an international treaty to protect human rights and
fundamental freedoms in Europe, drafted in 1950 by the then newly
formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3
September 1953. All Council of Europe member states are party to
the Convention and new members are expected to ratify the
convention at the earliest opportunity. The Convention established the European Court of Human
Rights. Any person who feels his or her rights have been violated
under the Convention by a state party can take a case to the Court.
Judgements finding violations are binding on the States concerned
and they are obliged to execute them. The Committee of Ministers
of the Council of Europe monitors the execution of judgements,
particularly to ensure payment of the amounts awarded by the Court
to the applicants in compensation for the damage they have
sustained. The establishment of a Court to protect individuals from
human rights violations is an innovative feature for an international
convention on human rights, as it gives the individual an active role
on the international arena (traditionally, only states are considered
actors in international law). The European Convention is still the only
international human rights agreement providing such a high degree of
individual protection. State parties can also take cases against other
state parties to the Court, although this power is rarely used.The
Convention has several protocols. For example, Protocol 13 prohibits
the death penalty. The protocols accepted vary from State Party to
State Party, though it is understood that state parties should be party
to as many protocols as possible. The Council of Europe (COE) is an intergovernmental
organisation, composed of 43 Member States. It is devoted to
promoting human rights, education and culture. One of its
foundational documents is the European Convention on Human
Rights (ECHR), which guarantees freedom of expression and
information as a fundamental human right. Clause 1 of Article 10 of
the Convention states that, ‗Everyone has the right to freedom of
expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions, and to
receive and impart information and ideas without interference by
public authority and irrespective of frontiers‘. However, clause 2
provides that such right is subjected to such formalities, conditions,
restrictions or such penalties as are prescribed by law, and are
necessary in a democratic society, and if it harms the national
interest or territorial integrity. However European Court of Human
Rights interpreted Article 10 strictly That is to say it was held that
freedom to information prohibited the Government from restricting a
person from receiving information. But, at the same time it does not
provide any positive right to a person for obtaining the information.
This interpretation was based on the difference between ‗freedom‘ and
‗right‘ Most of the above discussed international instruments do not
deal with RTI directly. Their role however is not diminished at all by
this fact. Like a first step they showed the world community a
direction to be explored in order to materialize the democratic value of
RTI, thereby making the systems transparent and world more
amicable for the people. ix) The Asia-Pacific and the Right to Information
The Asia-Pacific nations with a specific and functional law
implementing the right to information are Australia, Azerbaijan,
Georgia, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea,
Tajikistan, Thailand and Uzbekistan. Neither Asia nor the Pacific has
an over-arching regional body that sets or monitors human rights
standards in the regions. However, this does not mean that there is
no recognition of the people‘s right to information – it just comes from
different fora. Rather than being recognized in human rights related
treaties, the Asian and Pacific countries have generally recognized the
importance of the right to information in other agreements. One
human rights charter in the region that includes the right to
information is the revised Arab Charter on Human Rights which
was adopted at the Summit Meeting of Heads of State of the members
of the League of Arab States at their meeting in Tunisia in May, 2004. The Charter includes a specific right to information provision in
Article 32(1) which states: ―The present charter guarantees the right
to information and to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as
the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through
and medium, regardless of geographical boundaries.‖ Although the
Charter has been signed by a number of countries, it has not received
the required number of ratifications to come into force. The
Association of South East Asian Nations‘ (ASEAN) 1967 Bangkok
Declaration states in its aims and purposes that it adheres to the
principles of the United Nations Charter, including Article 19 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights which includes the right to
information. The Asia Development Bank - Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (ADB-OECD) Anti-Corruption Initiative
Action Plan, sets out members states‘ commitment to freedom of
information in order to: ―ensure that the general public and the media
have freedom to receive and impart public information and in
particular information on corruption matters in accordance with
domestic law and in a manner that would not compromise the
operational effectiveness of the administration or, in any other way, be
detrimental to the interest of governmental agencies and individuals.
The Pacific Plan, endorsed by leaders of 16 Pacific Island nations,
has a good governance pillar which includes the requirement that
states develop freedom of information mechanism. Recognizing the
importance of sharing information, the Pacific Islands Forum
Secretariat is in the process of developing its own internal
disclosure policy which will provide people access to the information it
holds. CONCLUSION
The access to information is lifeline of a progressive society. Our
Constitution provides for freedom of expression and this freedom is
directly connected with access to information. Even after more than
66 years of Independence, the people of India are largely living in the
darker side of the governance of the Country and are often
uninformed about the public affairs affecting their life and survival.
Though, India a late starter in introducing transparency, yet this bold
initiative needs appreciation. Right to Information Act symbolizes a
revolution, not so much in the way of working, but in the way of
thinking. If implemented successfully, democracy as an idea will
attain a new height and will go in a long way for achieving the
Constitution goals.
 

Right to Information - International Positions

Right to Information - International Positions Right to Information (hereinafter read as RTI) which is the cynosure of this discourse is not something new. In fact there is a long history at international level towards the attainment of this right and mobilization of the masses for achieving it. With development
of human ideals and establishment of democratic governments in most of the civilized countries, this topic came to the fore.
The United States and Sweden constitute the two main models for Freedom of Information. While the Swedish law is a precedent to the American one by 200 years, both are considered important legal precedents that helped shape other Freedom of Information (hereinafter read as FOI) laws around the world. i) Sweden
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, with a king or queen as the head of state (the King or Queen who occupies the throne of
Sweden in accordance with the Act of Succession shall be the Head of State). But like in most liberal democracies, the royal head of state has no real political power. The Swedish system is unique because of a high degree of institutional autonomy underlying power dispersal to various levels of government. The Swedish system is known for ―its ideology of local government, which basically means that local governments enjoy a great deal of autonomy, limited only by the legislative powers of its national counterpart. The father of the Swedish Freedom of Information Act (hereinafter read as FOIA), Chydenius, was a member of the Captions party who introduced freedom of information as a means of ―promoting social reforms and opposing the supremacy of the nobility.‖ Chynedius was inspired by John Locke among other political philosophers during that era (which is known in Sweden as ―the age of Liberty).‖ John Locke saw ―the supreme power of the State residing in a legislature and behind the legislature in the people. The people would govern, but ―they were not the government.‖ Chydenius considered the introduction of the right to access for citizens as his greatest lifetime achievement. The Swedish parliament passed the legislation in 1766, and established the world‘s first parliamentary Ombudsman (the word itself is Swedish for delegate and has been imported directly into the English language). Birkinshaw observes that ―a very large degree of Swedish public administration is depoliticized in so far as many, sometimes important, decisions are not taken by political overlords.‖ The principle of openness ―Offentlighetsgrundsatsen‖ (in Swedish public sector) has been long enshrined in Swedish politics. The major underlying incentive for adopting the FOIA in Sweden, was ―an information-starved political opposition that was given a rare chance to pass legislation that would grant them and all citizens access to government-held documents and information‖. The
introduction to the Swedish Constitution describes a time of great change: ―the death of Carl XII in 1718 brought to an end not only
Sweden‘s great power status but autocratic rule as well. The pendulum now swung back in the other direction. A new form of
government took shape, which became significantly known as the Age of Liberty government‖ Swedish FOI system is found in the Swedish Constitution (in the basic principles of the form of government): ―All public power in Sweden proceeds from the people. Swedish democracy is founded on the free formation of opinion and on
universal and equal suffrage. It shall be realized through a representative and parliamentary polity and through local self government. Public power shall be exercised under the law.‖ This premise resulted in four fundamental laws found in the Swedish Constitution. One of these laws is the ―Instrument of Government and the Freedom of the Press Act,‖ which specifically provides for freedom of information and the right of citizen‘s access. Chapter 2, Article 1 of ‗the Instrument of Government‘ guarantees that all citizens have the right of: ―freedom of information: that is, the freedom to procure and receive information and otherwise acquaint oneself with the utterances of others.‖ Specific rules on access are contained in the Freedom of the Press Act, which was first adopted in 1766. The current version was adopted in 1949 and amended in 1976. Sweden was the first to enforce the policy of openness in administration. There all governmental information is public unless certain matters are specifically listed as exemptions from the general rule. They have provided for a system of appeal against the wrongful withholding of information by public officials, as long ago as 1766. It provided constitutional safeguards under Freedom of Press Act, 1766, the oldest and probably still the most liberal of its kind in the world. It has been revised and modernized a number of times, most recently in 1978. Sweden has proved that legitimate national interests can as well be safeguarded under conditions of  administrative openness. Sweden has established cultures that access to government department and documents as a right and non-access an exception. The principle gives any one, actually even aliens, the right to turn to a State or municipal agencies and ask to be shown any document kept in their files, regardless of whether the document concerns him personally or not. Officials are legally required to comply and even to supply copies of the document requested if this is feasible. In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries documents dealing with national security, foreign policy and foreign affairs can be withheld from public scrutiny but the government is bound to give a written statement quoting legal authority for withholding the document ii) United States of America
The US constitutional fathers created the three arms of government legislative (Congress), executive (President) and judiciary
(the Courts); the separation of powers accounts for a system of checks and balances. At the heart of the US political system is the concept of the ‗balance of power.‘ According to some sources, the US is indeed an important role model for FOI worldwide. Lidberg (2006) notes that, ―the US FOI model grew out of a global move towards more open government following World War II.‖ America and democracy are generally synonymous. America apparently proclaims it to the torchbearer of the plethora of democratic rights that ought to be the part of a true democratic framework. The same applies on the dispensation of information too. Antipathy towards the inherent secrecy is therefore not a surprising attribute exhibited by the Americans. Schwartz observes, ―Americans firmly believe in the healthy effects of publicity and have a strong antipathy to the inherent secretiveness of government agencies.‖ The Freedom of Information Act, 1966 and The Administrative Procedure Act, 1946 are two main statutes which confer RTI. The Constitution of America does not deal specifically with RTI. However, such right is considered to be corollary of the First Amendment freedoms. A provision of a statute was held to be a restriction on the unfettered exercise of First Amendment Rights and hence was declared invalid by the Supreme Court. Similarly in Stanley v. Georgia it was observed that freedom of speech necessarily protects the right to receive information. In America there are three Acts which upheld the freedom of press and information. (A) Freedom of Information Act was made in 1966, which was amended in 1974 to make it more effective, (B) The Privacy Act, 1974 protected individual privacy against the misuse of federal records while granting access to records concerning them which are maintained by federal agencies and (C) The Government in the Sunshine Act, 1976 provided that meetings of government agencies shall be open to the public. The US Supreme Court has recognized the right to know more than fifty years ago. The right to freedom of speech and press has broad scope. This freedom embraces the right to distribute literature and necessarily protects the right to receive it." First Amendment contains no specific guarantee of access to publications. The basis of right to know is the freedom of speech,
which is protected under Bill of Rights. The policy behind the Freedom of Information Act is to make disclosure a general rule and
not the exception, to provide equal rights of access to all individuals, to place burden on the government to justify the withholding of a
document, not on the person who requests it, to provide right to seek injunctive relief in the court if individuals are denied access
improperly. Right to know is the cornerstone of citizen participation. Under the Information Act any person, nor merely an affected individual or
group, is eligible to ask for information because what is aimed at is not merely redressal of grievances but encouragement of an informed citizenry. The 1966 Freedom of Information Act requires executive branch agencies and independent commissions to make available to citizens, upon request, all documents and record except those, which fall into the following exempt categories:
1. Secret national security or foreign policy information.
2. Internal personnel practices.
3. Information exempted by law.
4. Trade secrets or other confidential commercial or financial information.
5. Inter agency or intra-agency memos.
6. Personal information, personnel or medical files.
7. Law enforcement investigatory information.
8. Information related to reports on financial institutions.
9. Geological and geophysical information. But there are major problems. They are: Bureaucratic delay and cost of bringing suit to force disclosure, and excessive charges levied by the agencies for finding and providing the requested information. To meet these problems, Act was amended in 1974. Main provision of amendment is allowing federal judge to review a decision of the government to classify certain material. Another provision set deadlines for the agency to respond to a request for information under the law. Another amendment permitted judges to order payment of attorney's fees and court costs for plaintiffs who won suits brought for information under the act. Other Countries like Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Australia, Canada, Uganda, the United Kingdom,261 New Zealand and South Africa have also enacted similar legislations to enforce a measure of accountability and transparency on the agencies of the State. To say in the spirit of a democratic world order, it is necessary that each one of us everywhere on this earth under the Sun has a
right to know and a duty to shape the course of things, on a national also as on international level. The philosophy of freedom of
information and open government has been well described by the U.S. House Committee on Government Operations, which approved the Feedom of Information Act, in 1966, "A democratic society requires an informed, intelligent electorate, and the intelligence of the electorate varies as the quantity
and quality of its information varies. A danger signal to our democratic society in the United States is the fact that such a truism
needs repeating....". The root truth is that freedom without information is meaningless and liberty without light will perish because "all governments are obscure and invisible." There is a burden on the government to justify secrecy. Failure on this front is bound to spell dangerous consequences. In a democracy, citizens' right to know is assumed rather than guaranteed. This right is derived from the accountability and answerability of the government to the people. In the period of analysis immediately after the war, he US and several other members of the newly formed United Nations concluded
that too much secrecy in too many countries had provided fertile soil for conflict. The case of the US displays is a struggle of maintaining the principle and practice access to public records. One expert on US FOIA explains why this is a struggle, the legacy acquired from the British Empire is for bureaucracies to be secretive; since those times knowledge and information meant power; and trading information was ―power trading‖ among bureaucratic agencies. Today, standards should allow for power sharing. Everyone, everywhere has the right to know. In the 1970s in the US, the Department of Defense showed high compliance to FOIA because the military were used to obeying legal orders. Whereas, the Department of Agriculture struggled with the newly adopted practice of power sharing and exercised high levels of secrecy; the bureaucrats were simply not used to openness.‖ In addition, Court records and legislative materials have been open to the public for a long time. In 1946, Congress enacted the Administrative Procedures Act. It required ―that government bodies publish information about their structures, powers and procedures and make available all final opinions or orders in the adjudication of cases (except those required for good cause to be held confidential and not cited as precedents) and all rules.‖ During the 1950‘s both Congress and media groups started to advocate for a more wideranging and assertive law.
The first effective attempt for a FOIA came in 1958 in the form of an amendment to the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which
made it mandatory for government agencies to ―keep and maintain records.‖ FOIA forced agency compliance and required that proof of justification be given when denying access to records. Following a long period of hearings based on the 1958 amendment the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted in 1966 and went into effect in 1967. The US FOIA is inspired from and based on the First Amendment of the Constitution. Before 1966, statutes had existed but only allowing the public ―access to government documents if a need to know was established,‖ this also allowed agencies the prerogative to hold withhold information for a good cause. A comprehensive ―Citizens Guide to FOIA‖ published in 1966 points out the paradigm and practice shift that the enactment of this legislation caused; ―the need to know has been replaced by the right to know.‖ Thomas Susman served as Chief Counsel and General Counsel to the Antitrust and Administrative Practice Subcommittees and to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Susman was the principal Senate staff lawyer responsible for development of the 1974 Freedom of Information Act Amendments. He explains that ―prior to 1974 FOIA was ineffective and in fact the real road to change in US government transparency began with the 1974 amendments. In the 1966 version the ability to obtain court reviews was difficult for example.‖ Susman noted that ―the 1974 amendments responded to the failures in the 1966 FOIA but placing fee restrictions for instance.‖ The original 1966 Act only allowed occasional disclosure while after 1974 Americans enjoyed broader maximum disclosure. All information available today was made available because of the successful lawsuits that employed the 1974 Act. FOIA became a long term strategy for advocates,
industries, businesses, lawyers, journalists, NGOs and citizens to participate in government processes. The Act was amended most recently in 1996 by the Electronic Freedom of Information Act (which allows any person or organization,
regardless of citizenship or country of origin, to ask for records held by federal government agencies). The Act‘s objective is ―to provide public access to an agency‘s records.‖ The applicant does not have to demonstrate a specific interest in a matter to view relevant documents – an idle curiosity suffices. Agencies covered within the Act include ―executive and military departments, government corporations and other entities which perform government functions except for Congress, the courts or the President‘s immediate staff at the White House, including the National Security Council.‖Each agency or public body that is included within the FOIA has to publish in the ‗Federal Register‘ the details of its organization as well as the rules and policies of its procedures. There are nine categories of discretionary exemptions: ―national security, internal agency rules, information protected by other
statutes, business information, inter and intra-agency memos, personal privacy, law enforcement records, financial institutions and
oil wells data.‖ The US FOIA is similar to the Swedish FOIA in that it emphasizes that ―the request for documents should have priorities; that real avenues for citizen appeals should exist, and that legally binding rulings would ensure repercussions for the public servants that refuse to comply.‖ It differs from the Swedish FOIA because freedom of information in the United States is not a constitutional concept. Moreover, the cost of processing a request and photocopying documents is much higher in the US. Appeals of denials or complaints about extensive delays can be made internally to the agency concerned. The federal courts review
appeals and can overturn agency decisions. The courts have heard thousands of cases in the 40 years of the Act. Alongside, FOIA the Sunshine Act (also known as an ‗open meeting‘ law) allows―access to the meeting of those agencies within its scope. Its aim is to open up to the public portions of the ‗deliberative processes‘ of certain agencies.‖ A week‘s notice is required of the time, date, topic and location of the meeting. In addition, ―a named official with a publicized telephone number must be appointed to answer queries.‖ The US FOIA mode of management is characterized by decentralization; The US Justice Department (DOJ) provides some
guidance and training for agencies and represents the agencies in most court cases. The 1996 E-FOIA amendments require agencies to create electronic reading rooms and make available electronically the information that must be published along with common documents requested. In 2000, the U.S. federal government received more than two million FOIA requests from citizens, corporations, and foreigners.According to Banisar‘s 2006 survey, the American FOIA ―has been hampered further delay. Many international organizations and regional groups recognized this right to be part of their systems. Swedish Freedom of Information Law (a literal translation of the native term indicates the Freedom of Printing Act) passed in the year 1766 is considered to be the oldest and earliest legislative recognition of RTI. This law was passed by Sweden. A large number of countries have followed the same line and have enacted access laws after it. For example, Finland in 1950, Denmark in 1950, Norway in 1970, and United States of America in 1966 enacted such laws in order to facilitate information access. Before discussing the various international instruments, let us first analyse the status of RTI in the two most developed democracies of the world U.S.A and England. iii) Position in England
Democracy has been the basic tenet of England since ages but ‗secrecy‘ is emphasised rather than openness. This is due to the
innate tendency of legislature and executive to enshroud policies instead of making it transparent. England has enacted Freedom of
Information Act, 2005. But basically, the present law is contained in the Official Secrets Acts of 1911, 1920, 1939. Judiciary in
England has approved of openness in Government. The same is reflected in the decision of House of Lords where it established its
jurisdiction to order the disclosure of any document. However, it was also emphasized that balance between conflicting interests of
secrecy and publicity should be maintained. Importance of freedom of expression in English law can be ascertained by the observation of Lord Steyn in a case which goes as following: ―Freedom of speech is the lifeblood of democracy. The free flow of information and ideas informs political debate. It is a safety valve;
people are more ready to accept decisions that go against them if they can in principle seek to influence them. It acts as a brake on the abuse of power by public officials. It facilitates the exposure of errors in the governance and administration of justice of the country….‖ In Britain, the campaign for reduction of secrecy was going on. They have rule for non-disclosure of sensitive information for about thirty years. When 1957 documents were released, they showed that Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had ordered suppression of information on the Wind scale nuclear accident. It was a startling revelation because it was the worst known nuclear disaster before Chernobyl. But the nation came to know only after thirty years. Under their Official Secret Act some documents could even be blocked for a hundred years. Even in America the tendency is to increase the items under the list of exemptions to freedom of information. When some documents were released under the Act revealed that FBI and CIA illegally harassed Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and several other things like illegal surveillance of dozens of writers and political groups for over a period of 30 years. In 2000, the Freedom of Information Act came into existence. Australians are amongst the world's most avid media consumers and there is legislation protecting their rights of access to Federal Government documents of interest to them. In December 1982, Australia enacted Freedom of Information legislation, which gives its citizens and persons entitled to permanent resident status in Australia a free access to various Federal Government Records. Main features of this Act are the creation of public right of access to documents, the right to amend or update incorrect government records, the right of appeal against administrative decisions barring access and the waiving of any need to establish interest before being granted access to documents. iv) Public Charter of Official Documents in Finland
Finland has a law on the Public Charter of Official Documents in 1951. Norway and Denmark have also statutorised public access to
official information sources. Canada and Australia also made useful legislation on this subject. A French Commission on Access to
Administrative Documents has been formulated. French Constitution recognizes the free communication of thoughts and opinions as
among the most precious rights of man. v) Open Democracy Bill in South Africa
The South African Law on this right is a unique example of principle of open governance. The South African Open Democracy Bill
provides for public access as "swiftly inexpensively and effortlessly and reasonably possible to information held by governmental and
bodies without jeopardising good governance, personal privacy and commercial confidentiality. It also empowers the public to effectively scrutinise and participate in governmental decision making that affects them. It also provided a mechanism to correct the inaccurate information possessed by the government about them and protects individuals against abuse of information about themselves held by the government or private bodies. Canada made Access to Information Act, 1980, and New Zealand enacted the Official Information Act, 1982
 

Important State Initiatives

Important State Initiatives Inspired and encouraged by the exercises taken up by the
central government, many state governments yielded under popular
pressure and prepared draft legislations on the right to information. A
number of states introduced their own transparency legislations
before the Freedom of Information Bill was finally introduced in the
Lok Sabha on July 25, 2000. i) Goa: One of the earliest and most progressive legislations, it
had the fewest categories of exceptions, provision for urgent
processing of requests pertaining to life and liberty, and a penalty
clause. It also applied to private bodies executing government works.
One weakness was that it had no provision for pro-active disclosure
by government. ii) Tamil Nadu: The legislation stipulated that authorities must
part with information within 30 days of it being sought. Following this
legislation, all public distribution system (PDS) shops in the state
were asked to display details of stocks available. All government
departments also brought out citizens charters listing information on
what the public was entitled to know and get. iii) Karnataka: The right to information legislation contained
standard exception clauses covering 12 categories of information. It
had limited provisions for pro-active disclosure, contained a penalty
clause, and provided for an appeal to an independent tribunal. iv) Delhi: This law was along the lines of the Goa Act, containing
standard exceptions and providing for an appeal to an independent
body, as well as the establishment of an advisory body, the State
Council for Right to Information. Residents of the capital can seek any
type of information -- with some exceptions -- from the civic body,
after paying a nominal fee. It was also clearly stated that if the
information was found to be false, or had been deliberately tampered
with, the official could face a penalty of Rs 1,000 per application. v) Rajasthan: After five years of dithering, the Right to
Information Act was passed in 2000. The movement was initiated at
the grassroots level. Village-based public hearings, jan sunwais,
organised by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), gave
space and opportunity to the rural poor to articulate their priorities
and suggest changes. The four formal demands that emerged from
these jan sunwais were: i) Transparency of panchayat functioning; ii)
accountability of officials; iii) social audit; and iv) redressal of
grievances. The Bill when it was eventually passed, however, placed at
least 19 restrictions on the right of access to information. Besides
having weak penalty provisions, it gave too much discretionary power
to bureaucrats. Despite this, the right to information movement
thrived at the grassroots level in Rajasthan, following systematic
campaigns waged by concerned groups and growing awareness about
the people‘s role in participatory governance. It was the jan sunwais
that exposed the corruption in several panchayats and also
campaigned extensively for the right to food after the revelation of
hunger and starvation-related deaths in drought-ravaged districts. vi) Maharashtra: The Maharashtra assembly passed the Maharashtra
Right to Information (RTI) Bill in 2002, following sustained pressure
from social activist and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. The
Maharashtra legislation was the most progressive of its kind. The Act
brought not only government and semi-government bodies within its
purview but also state public sector units, cooperatives, registered
societies (including educational institutions) and public trusts. Public
information officers who failed to perform their duties could be fined
up to Rs 250 for each day‘s delay in furnishing information. Where an
information officer had wilfully provided incorrect and misleading
information, or information that was incomplete, the appellate
authority hearing the matter could impose a fine of up to Rs 2,000.
The information officer concerned could also be subject to internal
disciplinary action. The Act even provided for the setting up of a
council to monitor the workings of the Act. The council comprised
senior members of government, members of the press, and
representatives of NGOs. They were expected to review the functioning
of the Act at least once every six months. ..It needs to be noted that
not only is the Right to Information Act, 2005 a landmark legislation
in the Indian context, it also places India among a group of some of
the more evolved democracies of the world, to have enacted such a
law in an effort towards deepening democracy. It also needs to be noted that the RTI Act is in keeping with the
provisions of some of the path-breaking international covenants.
However, progress on the part of public authorities towards effective
implementation of the Act in right earnest, and the Act‘s large scale
acceptance and use by the people, as an instrument for pressing
transparency and accountability of public bodies or officials – will be
the true indicator of the success of the Act. In order for the Act to
achieve its objectives, all the stakeholders concerned with
implementation of the Act – both from supply and demand sides – will
have to work in partnership and in a mission mode.
 
 

Movement of Right to Information in India

Movement of Right to Information in India The right to information movement in India can be broadly
classified into three phases. In the first phase, from 1975 to 1996,
there were sporadic demands for information from various sections of
the society, culminating in a more focused demand for access to
information from environmental movements in the mid 1980s, and
from grassroots movements in rural Rajasthan in the early 1990s.
This phase ended with the formation of the National Campaign for
People's Right to Information (NCPRI), in 1996. This phase also saw
various judicial orders in support of transparency, and the judicial
pronouncement that the right to information was a fundamental right.
The second phase starts in 1996, with the formulation of a draft
RTI bill, spearheaded by the NCPRI, and its subsequent processing by
the government and the Parliament. Various state RTI laws are passed
during this period, including in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Maharashtra,
Karnataka, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, and Goa, as is the national
Freedom of Information Act in 2002. This phase also marks the rapid
growth in size and influence of the RTI movement in India, and
culminates in the passing of the national RTI Act in 2005.This is
also the period that sees a large number of countries across the World
enact transparency laws. The third phase, from the end of 2005 to the
present, has been mainly focused on the consolidation of the act and
on pushing for proper implementation. Part of the effort has also been
to safeguard the RTI Act from at least two efforts to weaken it, and to
push the boundaries of the RTI regime and make it deeper and wider
in coverage, participation, and impact. Objections to the Official Secrets Act have been raised since
1948, when the Press Laws Enquiry Committee recommended certain
amendments. In 1977, the government formed a working group to
look into the possibilities of amending the Official Secrets Act.
Unfortunately, the working group did not recommend changes, as it
felt the Act related to the protection of national safety and did not
prevent the release of information in the public interest, despite
overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In 1989, a committee was set
up which recommended limiting the areas where government
information could be hidden, and opening up all other spheres of
information. However, no legislation followed from these
recommendations. In the last decade or so, citizens groups have started
demanding the outright repeal of the Official Secrets Act and its
replacement by legislation making the duty to disclose the norm, and
secrecy the exception. It‘s taken India 77 years to transition from the repressive
climate of the OSA to one where citizens can demand the right to
information. The enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 2002
marks a significant shift for Indian democracy, for the greater the
access to information by citizens, the greater the responsiveness of
government to community needs. Interestingly, in India, the movement for the right to
information has been as vibrant in the hearts of marginalised people
as it is in the pages of academic journals and in the media. This is not
surprising since food security, shelter, the environment, employment
and other survival needs are inextricably linked to the right to
information. In the early-1990s, in the course of the struggle of the rural
poor in Rajasthan, the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) hit
upon a novel way to demonstrate the importance of information in an
individual‘s life through public hearings, or jan sunwais. The MKSS‘s
campaign demanded transparency of official records, a social audit of
government spending, and a redressal machinery for people who had
not been given their due. The campaign caught the imagination of a
large cross-section of people, including activists, civil servants and
lawyers. The National Campaign for People‘s Right to Information
(NCPRI), formed in the late-1990s, became a broad-based platform for
action. As the campaign gathered momentum, it became clear that
the right to information had to be legally enforceable. As a result of
this struggle, not only did Rajasthan pass a law on the right to
information, but, in a number of panchayats, graft was exposed and
officials punished. The Press Council of India drew up the first major draft
legislation on the right to information, in 1996. The draft affirmed the
right of every citizen to information from any public body.
Significantly, the term ‗public body‘ included not only the State but
also all privately-owned undertakings, non-statutory authorities,
companies, and other bodies whose activities affect the public
interest. Information that cannot be denied to Parliament or State
Legislatures cannot be denied to a citizen either. The draft also
provided for penalty clauses for defaulting authorities.
Next came the Consumer Education Research Council (CERC)
draft which was, by far the most detailed proposed freedom of
information legislation in India. In line with international standards, it
gave the right to information to anyone, except ―alien enemies‖,
whether or not they were citizens. It required public agencies at the
federal and state levels to maintain their records in good order, to
provide a directory of all records under their control, to promote the
computerisation of records in interconnected networks, to publish all
laws, regulations, guidelines, circulars related to or issued by
government departments, and any information concerning welfare
schemes. The draft provided for the outright repeal of the Official
Secrets Act, 1923. This draft didn‘t make it through Parliament
either. Finally, in 1997, a conference of chief ministers resolved that
the central and state governments would work together on
transparency and the right to information. Following this, the Centre
agreed to take immediate steps, in consultation with the states, to
introduce freedom of information legislation, along with amendments
to the Official Secrets Act and the Indian Evidence Act, before the end
of 1997. Central and state governments also agreed to a number of
other measures to promote openness, including establishing
accessible computerised information centres to provide information to
the public on essential services, and speeding up ongoing efforts to
computerise government operations. In response, the Government of India set up a committee,
known as the Shourie Committee, after its chair, Mr. H.D. Shourie.
The Shourie committee was given the responsibility of examining the
draft right to information bill and making recommendations that
would help the government to institutionalise transparency. The
committee worked fast and presented its report to the government
within a few months of being set up, though it did succeed in
significantly diluting the draft RTI bill drafted by civil society groups.
Once again, the government was confronted with the prospect of
introducing a right to information bill in Parliament. Clearly the
dominant mood in the government was against any such move, but it
was never politically expedient to openly oppose transparency. That
would make the government seem unwilling to be accountable, almost
as if it had something to hide. Therefore, inevitably, the draft bill,
based on the recommendations of the Shourie committee, was
referred to another committee: this time a Parliamentary
committee. These Government committees which serve many purposes
such as they examine proposals in detail, sometime consult other
stakeholders, consider diverse opinions, examine facts and statistics,
and then to come to reasoned findings or recommendations. However,
these committees could also be a means of delaying decisions or
action, and for taking unpopular, or even indefensible, decisions. The
tyranny of a committee is far worse than the tyranny of an individual.
Whereas an individual can be challenged and discredited, it is much
more difficult to pinpoint responsibility in a committee, especially if it
has many honourable members, and it becomes difficult to figure out
who said what and who supported what. Inevitably, around this time various sections of the government
started becoming alarmed at the growing demand for transparency.
This also marked the beginnings of organized opposition to the
proposed bill and to the right to information. Interestingly, the armed
forces, which in many other countries are reportedly at the centre of
opposition to transparency, were not a significant part of the
opposition at this stage. This might perhaps have been because they
assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that any transparency law would
not be applicable to them. More likely, it was the outcome of the
tradition in India, wisely nurtured by the national political leadership,
which discourages the armed forces from meddling in legislative or
policy issues apart from those relating to defence and security.
Characteristically, the Indian State was a divided and somewhat
confused house. There were many bureaucrats and politicians who
were enthused about the possibility of a right to information law and
did all that they could to facilitate its passage. However, many others
were alarmed at the prospect of there being a citizen's right to
information that was enforceable. Undoubtedly, some of these
individuals were corrupt and saw the right to information act as a
threat to their rent-seeking activities. Yet, many others opposed
transparency as they felt that this would be detrimental to good
governance. Some of them felt that opening up the government would
result in officers becoming increasingly cautious. Already, there was a
tendency in the government to play safe and not take decisions that
might be controversial. It was felt that opening up files and papers to
public scrutiny would just aggravate this tendency and reinforce in
the minds of civil servants the adage that they can only be punished
for sins of commission, never for sins of omission. Another group of
bureaucrats and politicians feared that the opening up of government
processes to public scrutiny would result in the death of discretion. The government would become too rigid and rule-bound as no
officer would like to exercise discretion which could later be
questioned. In the same spirit it was also thought that the public
would not appreciate the fact that many administrative decisions have
to be taken in the heat of the moment, without full information, and
under various pressures including those of time. There were
apprehensions that many such decisions would be criticized with
hindsight and the competence, sincerity and even integrity of the
officers involved would be questioned. There were also those who felt
that too much transparency in the process of governance would result
in officials playing to the gallery and becoming disinclined to take
unpopular decisions. Some elements in the government feared that
transparency laws would be misused by vested interests to harass
and even blackmail civil servants. Others felt outraged that the
general public, especially the riffraff among them, would be given the
right to question their integrity and credentials. There were also those
who felt that the Indian public was not yet ready to be given this right,
reminiscent of the British on the eve of Indian independence who
seemed convinced that Indians were not capable of governing
themselves. There were even those who objected on principle, arguing that
secrecy was the bedrock of governance! As was inevitable, these
internal contradictions within and among different levels of the
government had to, sooner or later, come to a head. They did, in
1999, with a cabinet minister unilaterally ordering that all the files in
his ministry henceforth be open to public scrutiny.This, of course,
rang alarm bells among the bureaucracy and among many of his
cabinet colleagues. Though the minister's order was quickly reversed
by the Prime Minister, it gave an opening for activists and lawyers to
file a petition in the Supreme Court of India questioning the right of
the Prime Minister to reverse a minister‘s order, especially when the
order was in keeping with various Supreme Court judgments
declaring the right to information to be a fundamental right. By now it
seemed clear that a large segment of the bureaucracy and political
leaders were not eager to allow the passage of a right to information
act. On the other hand, the judiciary had more than once held that
the right to information was a fundamental right and at least hinted
that the government should ensure that the public could effectively
exercise this right. The third wing of the government, the
Legislature, had not yet joined the fray as no bill had yet been
presented to Parliament. However, in certain states of India, notably
Tamil Nadu, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka,
Rajasthan, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, and even Delhi, the
legislature proved to be sympathetic by passing state RTI acts (albeit,
mostly weak ones) much before the national act was finally passed by
Parliament. Perhaps the happenings in India around that time very
starkly illustrate the contradictions present within governments in
relationship to the question of transparency. As was done in India,
even elsewhere such contradictions can be used to weaken and divide
the opposition to transparency laws and regimes, and to drive a wedge
in what might initially appear to be bureaucratic unity in opposition
to transparency Passing of the Freedom of Information Act, 2002
Meanwhile, a case had been filed in the Supreme Court
questioning the unwillingness of the government to facilitate the
exercise of the fundamental right to information. This case continued
from 2000 to 2002 with the government using all its resources to
postpone any decision. However, finally, the court lost patience and
gave an ultimatum to the government. Consequently, the government
enacted the Freedom of Information Act, 2002, perhaps in order to
avoid specific directions about the exercise of the right to information
from the Supreme Court. It seemed that the will of the people,
supported by the might of the Supreme Court of India, had finally
prevailed and the representatives of the people had enacted the
required law, even if it was a very watered-down version of the original
bill drafted by the people. Unfortunately, this was not really so. The
Freedom of Information Act, as passed by Parliament in 2002, had the
provision that it would come into effect from the date notified.
Interestingly, despite being passed by both houses of Parliament and
having received presidential assent, this act was never notified and
therefore never became effective. The bureaucracy had, in fact, had
the last laugh! In May, 2004, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the
Congress Party, came to power at the national level; displacing the
BJP led National Democratic Alliance government. The UPA
government brought out a Common Minimum Programme (CMP)
which promised, among other things, ―to provide a government that is
corruption-free, transparent and accountable at all times…‖ and to
make the Right to Information Act ―more progressive, participatory
and meaningful‖. The UPA government also set up a National Advisory
Council (NAC), to monitor the implementation of the CMP. This
council had leaders of various people‘s movements, including the right
to information movement, as members. This was recognised by the
NCPRI and its partners as a rare opportunity and it was decided to
quickly finalise and submit for the NAC‘s consideration, a revamped
and strengthened draft bill that recognized people‘s access to
information as a right. As a matter of strategy, it was decided to
submit this revised bill as a series of amendments to the existing (but
non operative) Freedom of Information Act, rather than an altogether
new act. Accordingly, in August 2004, the National Campaign for
People‘s Right to Information (NCPRI), formulated a set of suggested
amendments to the 2002 Freedom of Information Act, These
amendments, designed to strengthen and make more effective the
2002 Act, were based on extensive discussions with civil society
groups working on transparency and other related issues. These
suggested amendments were forwarded to the NAC, which endorsed
most of them and forwarded them to the Prime Minister of India for
further action. Passing of Right to Information Act, 2005
Reportedly, the receipt of the NAC letter and recommended
amendments was treated with dismay within certain sections of the
government bureaucracy. A system, that was not willing to
operationalise a much weaker Freedom of Information Act, was
suddenly confronted with the prospect of having to stand by and
watch a much stronger transparency bill become law. Therefore,
damage control measures were set into motion and, soon after, a
notice appeared in some of the national newspapers announcing the
government‘s intention to finally (after two and a half years) notify the
Freedom of Information Act, 2002. It sought from members of the
public suggestions on the rules related to the FoIA. This, of course,
alerted the activists that all was not well, and sympathizers within the
system confirmed that the government had decided that the best way
of neutralizing the NAC recommendations was to resuscitate the old
FoIA and suggest that amendments can be thought of, if necessary, in
this act, after a few years experience! The next three or four months
saw a flurry of activity from RTI activists, with the Prime Minister and
other political leaders being met and appealed to, the media being
regularly briefed and support being gathered from all and sundry,
especially retired senior civil servants (who better to reassure the
government that the RTI Act did not signify the end of governance, as
we knew it), and other prominent citizens. This intense lobbying
paid off and after a tense and pivotal meeting with the Prime Minister
(arranged by a former Prime Minister, who was also present and
supportive), in the middle of December 2004, the Government agreed
to introduce in Parliament a fresh RTI Bill along the lines
recommended by the NAC. Consequently, the Government of India
introduced a revised Right to Information Bill in Parliament on 22
December 2004, just a day or two before its winter recess.
Unfortunately, though this RTI Bill was a vast improvement over the
2002 Act, some of the critical clauses recommended by the NCPRI and
endorsed by the NAC had been deleted or amended. Most
significantly, the 2004 Bill was applicable only to the central (federal)
government, and not to the states. This omission was particularly
significant as most of the information that was of relevance to the
common person, especially the rural and urban poor, was with state
governments and not with the Government of India. Consequently,
there was a sharp reaction from civil society groups, while the
government set up a group of ministers to review the bill, and the
Speaker of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament) referred the
RTI Bill to the concerned standing committee of Parliament. Soon
after, the NAC met and expressed, in a letter to the Prime Minister,
their unanimous support for their original recommendations.
Representatives of the NCPRI and various other civil society groups
sent in written submissions to the Parliamentary Committee and
many were invited to give verbal evidence. The group of Ministers,
chaired by the senior minister, ShriPranab Mukherjee, was also
lobbied. Fortunately, these efforts were mostly successful and the
Parliamentary Committee and Group of Ministers recommended the
restitution of most of the provisions that had been deleted, including
applicability to states. The Right to Information Bill, as amended, was
passed by both houses of the Indian Parliament in May 2005, got
Presidential assent on 15 June 2005, and became fully operational
from 13 October 2005. Even while according assent ―in due deference
to our Parliament‖, the then President had some reservations which
he expressed in a letter dated 15 June 2005 addressed to the Prime
Minister. Essentially, the President wanted communication between
the President and the Prime Minister exempt from disclosure. He also
wanted file notings to be exempt. The Prime Minister, in his reply
dated 26 July 2005, disagreed with the first point but reassured the
President (wrongly, as it turned out), that file notings were exempt
under the RTI Act. In any case, those who thought that the main
struggle to ensure a strong legislation was over and that the focus
could now shift to implementation issues were in for a rude shock. In
2006 the government made a concerted effort to amend the Act and to
weaken it. Though this move was finally defeated, the danger has not
yet abated, as will be described later. The Government of India introduced the Freedom of Information
Bill, 2000 (No.98 of 2000) in the Lok Sabha on 25th July, 2000. The
Bill, which cast an obligation upon public authorities to furnish such
information wherever asked for, was passed by the Parliament as the
Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2002. However, the Act could not be
brought into force because the date from which the Act could come
into force, was not notified in the Official Gazette. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the
Centre, which came into power in 2004, set up a National Advisory
Council (NAC). The Council suggested important changes to be
incorporated in the FOI Act. These suggestions were examined by the
UPA Government, which decided to make the FOI Act more
progressive, participatory an meaningful. Later, however, the UPA
Government decided to repeal the FOI Act, and enacted a new
legislation, the Right to Information Act, 2005, to provide an effective
framework for effectuating the right of information India recognised
under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
 

Historical Perspective of Right to Information in India

Historical Perspective of Right to Information in India India was a colony for long. Before that it had a feudal culture
and hierarchical social structure. The Maharajas and the Mughals,
the Viceroys and the British Empire defended themselves behind
ramparts of secrecy. The entire freedom struggle was a battle against
colonialism and for independence or self-government. Thus people
became the focus and popular information was used by them as a
weapon to achieve responsible and responsive government. In this
perspective, the conflict between freedom of information and official
secrecy, democratic culture and imperial heritage was formally
resolved in favour of the latter. After the birth of Republic and
enactment of the Constitution, freedom of expression became a
guaranteed fundamental right. That was the watershed of
jurisprudence of human rights. However, decade after decade we find
free India still suffocated by official secrecy laws. There have been
protests and dissents and resistance by the mass media.
The human history is a struggle for rights and moves zigzag
varying from country to country, culture to culture and age to age.
Although the Indian legal system is largely a colonial vintage, yet our
swaraj vintage is also pro-secrecy. Reference may be made to the
Constitution of India, the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952 and the
Atomic Energy Act, 1962. A project on freedom of information as a
locomotive of human progress has to be seriously considered as a
high priority on the agenda of India. The fact that the right to information is included in the
Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and expression has
been recognised by Supreme Court decisions challenging
governmental control over newsprint and bans on the distribution of
newspapers. Liberty of thought is the basis of freedom speech and
expression under Article 19(1)(a), which is an essential component of
a democratic governance. As the information will be at the genesis of
thought and expression, the right to information has to be an invisible
integral part of the right of free speech. As the information is of vital
not only for life of society but also for the life of individual, the Article
21 guaranteeing Right to live includes the basic right to be informed.
In the Constitution of our democratic Republic, among the
fundamental freedoms, freedom of speech and expression shines
radiantly in the firmament of Part III. We must take legitimate pride
that this cherished freedom has grown from strength to strength in
the post independent era. It has been constantly nourished and
shaped to new dimensions in tune with the contemporary needs by
the constitutional Courts. Barring a few aberrations, the Executive
Government and the Political Parties too have not lagged behind in
safeguarding this valuable right, which is the insignia of democratic
culture of a nation. Nurtured by this right, Press and electronic
media have emerged as powerful instruments to mould the public
opinion and to educate, entertain and enlighten the public.
Freedom of speech and expression, just as equality clause and
the guarantee of life and liberty has been very broadly construed by
this Court right from 1950s. It has been variously described as a
'basic human right', 'a natural right' and the like. It embraces within
its scope the freedom of propagation and inter-change of ideas,
dissemination of information, which would help formation of one's
opinion and viewpoint and debates on matters of public concern. The importance which our Constitution-makers wanted to attach to
this freedom is evident from the fact that reasonable restrictions on
that right could be placed by law only on the limited grounds specified
in Article 19(2), not to speak of inherent limitations of the right.
In due course of time, several species of rights enumerated in Article
19(1)(a) have branched off from the genus of the Article through the
process of Interpretation by this apex Court, one such right is the
'right to information' Perhaps, the first decision which has adverted to
this right is State of U.P. v. Raj Narain. 'The right to know,' it was
observed is derived from the concept of freedom of speech, though not
absolute is a factor which should make one wary, when secrecy is
claimed for transactions which can, at any rate, have no repercussion
on public security". It was said very aptly— "In a Government of
responsibility like ours, where all the agents of the public must be
responsible for their conduct, there can be but few secrets. The people
of this country have a right to know every public act, everything that
is done in a public way, by their public functionaries." The next milestone which showed the way for concretizing this
right is the decision in S.P. Gupta v. Union of India in which this
Court dealt with the issue of High Court Judges' transfer. In this case
it was held that "The concept of an open government is the direct
emanation from the right to know which seems to be implicit in the
right of free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a). Therefore, disclosure of information in regard to the functioning of the
Government must be the rule and secrecy an exception..." Peoples'
right to know about governmental affairs was emphasized in the
following words: "No democratic Government can survive without
accountability and the basic postulate of accountability is that the
people should have information about the functioning of the
Government. It is only when people known how Government is
functioning that they can fulfill the role which democracy assigns to
them and make democracy a really effective participatory democracy."
These two decisions have recognized that the right of the citizens to
obtain information on matters relating to public acts flows from the
fundamental right enshrined in Article 19(1)(a)166. The pertinent
observations made by the learned Judges in these two cases were in
the context of the question whether the privilege under Section 123 of
the Evidence Act could be claimed by the State in respect of the Blue
Book in the first case i.e., Raj Narain's case and the file throwing light
on the consultation process with the Chief Justice, in the second
case. Though the scope and ambit of Article 19(1)(a) vis-a-vis the right
to information did not directly arise for consideration in those two
landmark decisions, the observations quoted supra have certain
amount of relevance in evaluating the nature and character of the
right. Then, we have the decision in Dinesh Trivedi v. Union of India.
This Court was confronted with the issue whether background papers
and investigatory reports which were referred to in Vohra Committee's
Report could be compelled to be made public. The following
observations of AHMADI, C.J. are quite pertinent:—
"In modern Constitutional democracies, it is axiomatic that
citizens have a right to know about the affairs of the Government
which, having been elected by them, seeks to formulate sound policies
of governance aimed at their welfare. However, like all other rights,
even this right has recognized limitations; it is, by no means,
absolute." The next decision which deserves reference is the case of
Secretary, Ministry of I & B v. Cricket Association of Bengal. Has an
organizer or producer of any event a right to get the event telecast
through an agency of his choice whether national or foreign? That was
the primary question decided in that case. It was highlighted that the
right to impart and receive information is a part of the fundamental
right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. "The right to impart and receive information is a species of the
right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article
19(1)(a) of the Constitution. A citizen has a fundamental right to use
the best means of imparting and receiving information and as such to
have an access to telecasting for the purpose. However, this right to
have an access to telecasting has limitations on account of the use of
the public property..... Jeevan Reddy, J. spoke more or less in the
same voice: "The right of free speech and expression includes the right to
receive and impart information. For ensuring the free speech right of
the citizens of this country, it is necessary that the citizens have the
benefit of plurality of views and a range of opinions on all public
issues. A successful democracy posits an 'aware' citizenry. Diversity of
opinions, views, ideas and ideologies is essential to enable the citizens
to arrive at informed judgment on all issues touching them."
A conspectus of these cases would reveal that the right to
receive and impart information was considered in the context of
privilege pleaded by the State in relation to confidential documents
relating to public affairs and the freedom of electronic media in
broadcasting/telecasting certain events. Right to information in the context of the voter's right to know
the details of contesting candidates and the right of the media and
others to enlighten the voter. For the first time in Union of India v.
Association for Democratic Reforms' case, which is the forerunner to
the present controversy (petition challenging the constitutional
validity of Amendments to R.P. Act invalidating the Supreme Court's
May 2, 2002 judgment, the right to know about the candidate
standing for election has been brought within the sweep of Article
19(l)(a). There can be no doubt that by doing so, a new dimension has
been given to the right embodied in Article 19(1)(a) through a creative
approach dictated by the need to improve and refine the political
process of election. In carving out this right, the Court had not
traversed a beaten track but took a fresh path. It must be noted that
the right to information evolved by this Court in the said case is
qualitatively different from the right to get information about public
affairs or the right to receive information through the Press and
electronic media, though to a certain extent, there may be
overlapping. In Association for Democratic Reforms v. Union of India
and another, In this case it was held that the right to information of
the voter/citizen is sought to be enforced against an individual who
intends to become a public figure and the information relates to his
personal matters. Secondly, that right cannot materialize without
State's intervention. The State or its instrumentality has to compel a
subject to make the information available to public, by means of
legislation or orders having the force of law. The information is currency that every citizen requires to
participate in the life and governance of the society. In any democratic
polity, greater the access, greater will be the responsiveness, and
greater the restrictions, greater the feeling of powerlessness and
alienation. Information is not private property. If at all it is the
property, it is the national property. Especially the property the
Government has the hold over is the information generated for
purposes related to the legitimate discharge their duties of office and
for the service of people and hence the people as ultimate beneficiaries
or sovereign, are entitled to know and benefit from it. Thus the
government and public officers who are supposed to serve the people
on the payment from public purs, are none else than the trustees of
this national resource-information. Besides moral and legal obligation
it is their constitutional obligation also based on the philosophical
foundation of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a)
of the Constitution. As the transparency is the culture required for
good governance, secrecy directly means disempowerment.
Whenever, the executive interfered with the freedom of speech
and expression through its executive orders or legislative measures,
the press knocked the doors of justice in apex court and the resultant
judgments paved way for the jurisprudence of information rights (le
development of the right to information as a part of the Constitutional
Law of the country started with petitions of the press to the Supreme
Court for enforcement of certain logistical implications of the right to
freedom of speech and expression such as challenging governmental
orders for control of newsprint, bans on distribution of papers, etc. It
was through the following cases that the concept of the public's right
to know developed. The landmark case in freedom of the press in India was Bennett
Coleman and Co. v. Union of India in which the petitioners, a
publishing house bringing out one of the leading dailies challenged
the government's newsprint policy which put restrictions on
acquisition, sale and consumption of newsprint. This was challenged
as restricting the Petitioner's rights to freedom of speech and
expression. The court struck down the newsprint control order saying
that it directly affected the Petitioners right to freely publish and
circulate their paper. In that, it violated their right to freedom of
speech and expression. The judges also remarked, "It is indisputable
that by freedom of the press meant the right of all citizens to speak,
publish and express their views" and "Freedom of speech and
expression includes within its compass the right of all citizens to read
and be informed." The dissenting judgment of Justice K.K.Mathew
also noted, The freedom of speech protects two kinds of interests. There is an individual interest, the need of men to express their
opinion on matters vital to them and a social interest in the
attainment of truth so that the country may not only accept the wisest
course but carry it out in the wisest way. Now in the method of
political government the point of ultimate interest is not in the words
of the speakers but in the hearts of the hearers. This principle was even more clearly enunciated in the case of
Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India, in
which the court remarked, "The basic purpose of freedom of speech
and expression is that all members should be able to form their
beliefs and communicate them freely to others. In sum, the
fundamental principle involved here is the people's right to know.
Another development on this front was through Manubhai D. Shah v.
Life Insurance Corporation, case in which it was held that if an
official media or channel was made available to one party to express
its views or criticism, the same should also be made available to
another contradictory view. The facts of this case, briefly, were: One
Mr. Shah who was also a Director of a voluntary consumer rights
organization and had, incidentally, worked extensively on the right to
information, including drafting a model Bill, wrote a paper
highlighting discriminatory practices by the Life Insurance
Corporation which is a government controlled body. The Corporation
published a critique of this paper in its institutional publication, to
which Mr. Shah wrote a rejoinder which the LIC refused to publish.
The Court held that a state instrumentality having monopolistic
control over any publication could not refuse to publish any views
contrary to its own. In the area of civil liberties, the courts have built up the right to
have a transparent criminal justice system free from arbitrariness. In
Prabha Dutt v. Union of India the Court held that there excepting
clear evidence that the prisoners had refused to be interviewed, there
could be no reason for refusing permission to the media to interview
prisoners in death row. Repeated violations of civil rights by the police and other law
enforcement agencies have compelled the courts to give, time and
again, directions to the concerned agencies for ensuring transparency
in their functioning in order to avoid violations like illegal arrests and
detention, torture in custody and the like. In cases concerning the
right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution the Courts
have stressed the need for free legal aid to the poor and needy who are
not either aware of the procedures or not in a position to afford
lawyers, and therefore unable to avail of the constitutional guarantees
of legal help and bail. The Courts have said, that it is the legal
obligation of the judge or the magistrate before whom the accused is
produced to inform him of the that if he is unable to engage a lawyer
on account of poverty or indigence, he is entitled to free legal aid.
'Right to know' has been given status of fundamental right by the
highest Court of the land in S.P. Gupta v. Union of India (Judges'
Transfer Case). The Apex Court held that the right to know is implicit
in the right of free speech and expression guaranteed under our
Constitution in Article 19(1)(a). Right to know is also implicit in Article 19(1)(a) as natural
concomitant to free press which right is deducible from fundamental
right of freedom of speech and expression. In S.P. Gupta's case the
Apex Court also recommended change in century-old provisions of
Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 so as to be conducive to
the republican form of government and the open society which, we the
people of India, have established. Section 123 relates to immunity
from production of documents and was enacted to suit the needs of
the empire builders. The Supreme Court has reaffirmed this legal position in its
subsequent decisions in Reliance Petro Ltd. v. Indian Express and
Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v. Cricket
Association, Benga. In Reliance Petro's case, the Supreme Court
has observed that the right to know has reached new dimensions and
urgency and is basic right which citizens of a free country aspire in
the broaden horizons of the right to live in this age on our land under
Article 21 of the Constitution. The people at large have a right to know
in order to be able to take part in a participatory development in the
industrial life. In Secretary, MIB's case, the Apex Court has given a
very broad definition to the right to receive and disseminate
information through any media including air waves and electronic
media. Right to information is inherent in right to live as enshrined in
Art.21 and freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under
Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution. Right to information thus
emanates from the fundamental right to life and fundamental freedom
of speech and expression. These freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution have to be
enjoyed subject to some reasonable restrictions. But these restrictions
can never outweigh and dominate the freedoms. After all what is
fundamental is the freedom and not the restriction.
Under the mantle of Welfare State, the Government today is
engaged in variety of activities which cannot be termed as sovereign
functions of the Government. These activities do not constitute 'Affairs
of the State' in strict sense. The Government, especially of a welfare
state, is responsible for socio-economic development and uplift of the
people, besides maintaining routine law and order. One of the
Directive Principles of the State Policy says: "the State shall strive to
promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as
effectively as it may, a social order in which justice, social economic
and political, shall inform all institutions of the national life. The
State shall in particular strive to minimize the inequalities in Income
and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in facilities and opportunities
not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people
residing in different areas or engaged in difference vocations." In an
independent, democratic and welfare state, the citizens occupy quite
an important position. They are the ones who are not only being
governed but also govern by way of exercising their right of franchise
and electing their representatives, who in turn formulate policies in
accordance with which the administrators are supposed to govern for
the benefit of the society. The benefits are to be accorded to or
conferred on the citizens by the administration in a manner whereby
most optimum position is attained and no one is favoured or deprived
of at the cost of or for favouring the other one. In such a system, it is
expected of the administration to provide to all the members of the
society a reasonable dignified standard of life in which there is no
risks of insecurity or stagnation on the economic front. No
individual should have any fear of suspicion and mistrust towards the
system in his mind. This is possible only by disseminating proper
information, of course, without leaking out the vital secrets. More
than fifty per cent of the citizen's problems could be sorted out
promptly through a proper communication between different channels
in the administration. Administrative India puts the greatest weight on keeping
happenings within its corridors secret, thereby denying the citizens
access to information about them. Such orientations produce deep
contradictions in the larger socio-political system of the land which
itself is in a state requiring nourishment and care. As the latter is
still relatively new and in its infancy, its growth processes inevitably
get retarded for want of information about the government, which
means from the Government. Over- concealment of governmental
information creates a communication gap between the governors and
the governed, and its persistence beyond a point is apt to create an
alienated citizenry. This makes democracy itself weak and insecure.
Besides, secrecy renders administrative accountability unenforceable
in an effective way and thus induces administrative behaviour, which
is apt to degenerate into arbitrariness and absolutism. This is not all,
"The Government, today, is-called upon-to make policies on an ever
increasing range of subjects, and many of these policies must
necessarily impinge on the lives of the citizens. It may sometimes
happen that the data made available to the policy makers is of a
selective nature and even the policy-makers and their advisors may
deliberately suppress certain viewpoints and favour others. Such
bureaucratic habits get encouragement in an environment of secrecy;
and openness in governmental work is possibly the only effective
corrective to it, also raising, in the process, the quality of decision making. Besides, openness has an educational role in as much as
citizens are enabled to acquire a fuller view of the pros and cons of
matters of major importance, which naturally helps in building
informed public opinion, no less than goodwill for the Government."
Justice Krishna lyer while commenting on the public functionaries
remarked, "Be you ever so high, the law is above you". The public
power must not hide its heart in a welfare State and open system. The
normal rule in the Government of India is secrecy and openness the
exception. There is the Official Secrets Act, 1923 which makes
unauthorized communication of information including documents, an
offence punishable with imprisonment which may extend upto three
years. This Act covers all documents and information and makes no
distinction of kind or of degree. A blanket is thrown over everything.
Nothing escapes. By secrecy system the government safeguards its
reputation, buries its mistakes, manipulates its citizens, maximizes
its powers and corrupts itself. In the backdrop of judgement of the
Supreme Court in the Judges' Transfer case, the provisions of the
Official Secrets Act, 1923 and of Section 123 of the Evidence Act 1872
suffer from the stigma of unconstitutionality. These colonial
provisions need to be pensioned off. "Secrecy in government is
fundamentally anti-democratic, perpetuating bureaucratic errors.
Open discussion based on full information and debate on public
issues are vital to our health". Woodrow Wilson has rightly said, "A democratic Government
ought to be all outside and not inside". Unbridled freedom is not
possible in our world of perils and evils designs. Truth may have to be
withheld in moments when a nation's survival is in imminent danger.
In Churchill's words: "In time war, the truth is so precious that it
must be escorted by a bodyguard of lies". No State should adopt the
mendacious methodology of Goebbels and mislead its subjects,
whatever the crisis. However, quite often the right to information is
denied and a seemingly authentic diet of official lies is served with a
view to condition the minds of men and they are expected to consume
government's version. Free speech is sabotaged from within by
fouling the fountains of information. The bureaucracy itself is banned
from telling the truth by forced statutory secrecy. Administrative
secrecy relating to classified documents concerning national security
and foreign policy is justified. But routine claim to secrecy or privilege
by the government and public bodies may jeopardize the very survival
of democracy in India because this immunity is anti-democratic.
Therefore, no government should think that people must be told only
that much which it thinks to be good for the people and safe for
itself. Dangers of burying truth have been very powerfully put by
Emile Zola: "When truth is buried underground it grows, it chokes, it
gathers such an explosive force that on the day it bursts out, it blows
up everything with it". Equally forceful are the views of Kurt Eisner, who says that the
truthful information must not be withheld because:-"Truth is the
greatest of all national possessions. A state, a people, a system which
suppresses the truth or fears to publish it, deserves to collapse.
The overall impact of these decisions has been to clearly
establish that the right to freedom of information, or the public‘s right
to know, is embedded in the provisions guaranteeing fundamental
rights under the Constitution. Various Indian laws provide for the
right to access information in specific contexts. The system of
governance in India has traditionally been opaque, with the State
retaining the colonial Official Secrets Act (OSA) and continuing to
operate in secrecy at the administrative level. The OSA, enacted in
1923, still retains its original form, apart from some minor
amendments made in 1967. The poor flow of information is
compounded by two factors -- low levels of literacy and the absence of
effective communication tools and processes. In many regions, the
standard of record-keeping is extremely low. Most government offices
have stacks of dusty files everywhere, providing a ready excuse for
refusing access to records, on the specious excuse that they have
been ‗misplaced‘. The rapid growth of information technology, on the
other hand, has meant that most states in the country are now trying
to promote technology, primarily to attract investment. This is
indirectly contributing to an improved flow of information.
 
 

Evolution of Right to Information in India.

Evolution of Right to Information in India. In Ancient India, traditionally man is inquisitive and from the
time immemorial he has been busy in his mission of knowing and
discovering the truth in whatever field his aptitude and imagination
ventured. In this context there is ample evidence in this context in
our great Vedic erudition where it is written- ― Life is a perennial
search for the truth. The restless swan (soul) is on journey infinite to
find the truth. The Indian history starts right from the post glacial
epoch i.e. from about 8000 BC, ―The Rig Veda is considered to be
the first recorded utterance of mankind.‖ Indians from the time
immemorial, worshipped knowledge in the form of Saraswati‘, the
Goddess of knowledge, Let noble thoughts come to us from every side‘
is the eternal message of the Rig Veda given several millennia ago
signifying the freedom to inform and be informed. The Upanishads
also expound a fearless quest of free and frank exchange of views. The Rig Veda states: 'ekam sat viprah bahudaa vadanti'
meaning truth or god is one but learnt men describe it in many
ways. Hinduism is based primarily on the Vedas. 'Veda' literally
means knowledge or wisdom. It is also called 'Shruti' which means
'what is heard or revealed'. All other scriptures go under the omnibus
term of 'Smriti' ('what is remembered'). Shruti being divinely revealed
to the great Rishis of yore in the depths of their mystical experience,
its authority is supreme. Smritis are the secondary scriptures which
derive their authority from the Shruti. Their business is to explain,
elaborate and illustrate the fundamental teachings of the Shruti. Hindu scriptures state, ―Sathya meva Jayathe‖ meaning ―Truth alone
triumps never falsehood.‖ So Hindu scriptures allow free flow of
thoughts and actions. Hindu authors knew that by allowing
absolute freedom of expression of thoughts and actions, everyone will
finally end up attaining truth. They preached, "Ignorance is the root
cause of all evils and knowledge eradicates ignorance.
Since the beginning of human civilisation, the need to
communicate with each other has brought the homosapines into
cohesive groups. Communication is not only an exchange of news and
information, it lies in sharing facts, ideas, thoughts and message and
other social activities. The desire to communicate has resulted in the
birth of language the basic mode of communication.
During the middle ages in Europe the concept of the divine right
of kings developed. This right held that because kings were
answerable only to God, they were exempt from criticism from the public. Freedom of information generally means access to information about any governmental entity involved in the operation of government. This includes access to reports, budgets, correspondence, and other documents related to the operational
aspects of a governmental body, whether it is legislative or executive.
In the early twenty-first century the concepts of freedom of
information and access to information are closely aligned with
democracy. Throughout history democracy and freedom of
information have been limited. Public discourse and exchange of
information and ideas about government were common in the
development of Greek democracies beginning in the fifth century (BC).
Greek citizens were welcome to attend open forums, debate issues,
make proposals, and hear about matters of public debate. Around the same time the Roman Senate was a public body. Originally it was
composed of the 100 leading citizens of Rome who advised the
executive authority. Neither the Greeks nor the Romans practiced
democracy in the modern sense, and neither society recognized
equality among its citizens. Nonetheless, each saw the need for
public participation in government and, in order for that government
to prove effective, for citizens to be aware of the issues of the day and
understand the workings of government, with kings enjoying such an
exalted position and insulation, public participation in government
was limited. Because kings did not answer to the public, there was
little necessity for them to communicate information to the public or
respond to public requests. Laws prohibiting criticism of the
government or government officials, known as insult laws, still exist in
many countries around the world. Although these laws are not always
enforced, their existence, which limits speech and information, is
considered a major hindrance to freedom of expression and freedom of
information. Ideas related to freedom of information are freedom of the press
and freedom of expression. Shortly after Johannes Gutenberg
invented printing in the mid-fifteenth century, the Catholic Church
imposed censorship on any books not approved by the Church. In
England, beginning with 1530, censorship and the repression of ideas
and information were common. English poet John Milton in his famous essay argued
passionately for freedom of ideas and information and against the
licensing and printing monopoly common in England at that time. In
some of the most famous lines in Western literature Milton wrote:
"And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the
earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and
prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple;
who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open
encounter. The concept of the marketplace of ideas was thus born,
one in which people would have access to all information and
individuals would be free to publish their own ideas and opinions
without fear of retribution. The fundamental belief behind the
marketplace of ideas is that the people, not government, the church,
or any other group, should decide what is the truth. The founders of the U.S. Constitution were inspired by the
marketplace of ideas in the eighteenth century and sought to include
it in the formation of a representative democracy and guarantee the
free flow of information. James Madison (1751–1836) was the
primary author of the Bill of Rights, in an frequently quoted letter to
W. T. Barry (1785–1835) written in 1822, Madison said: "A popular
Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring
it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both.
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be
their own governors must arm themselves with the power which
knowledge gives" Although general openness and access to information were
traditions early on in the United States, laws in the twentieth century
made the process more formal and outlined specific procedures for
securing information. The Federal Freedom of Information Act was
passed in 1966 and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–
1973). During that time period many individual states enacted open
records and open meetings acts, part of a so-called sunshine law
movement. "Government in the sunshine" became an expression of
openness and accessibility to government just as the United States
was making major reforms in civil rights and improving opportunities
for women. The access to information law in Sweden is the oldest in the
world, dating from 1766. Freedom of the press and freedom of
information received a major push from various international
organizations during the mid-twentieth century. Article 19 of the
United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, adopted in
1948, states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without
interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas
through any media and regardless of frontiers." As of 2004 more than fifty countries around the world had laws
specifying access to information.That number continues to
increase, as there is an active movement to enact such laws. Among
those countries enacting access laws in the early twenty-first century
is India, the world's second most populous country. Access to
information laws are common in Europe, and about half the
countries in Latin America have some type of law regarding citizens'
right to information. Mexican President Vicente Fox (b. 1942)
signed such a bill into law in 2002. In the first year of its existence the
law in Mexico was used by thousands of citizens and journalists
seeking specific types of information from the government. Sweden was the first country to grant to its people the right of
access to government information. In Sweden, all governmental
information is public unless certain matters are specifically listed as
exemptions from the general rule. This right is made formal by a
provision for a system of appeal against the wrongful withholding of
information by public officials. What is more, this law dates back to
the year 1766. Sweden has thus been practising openness in its
public administration for an uninterrupted period of 215 years,
apparently without any harm occurring to it or loss suffered by it.
This only proves that legitimate national interests can as well be
safeguarded under conditions of administrative openness.
Swedish legal culture treats access to government departments
and documents as a right and non-access as an exception. In this
context, Donald C. Rowat writes as under:- "To my amazement, all incoming and outgoing documents and
mail were laid out in a special press room in each department for an
hour every morning for reporters to examine. If any reporter wanted
further information on a case, he simply walked down the hall to look
at the departmental files. No special permission was needed. Such a
system of open access is so alien to the tradition of secrecy elsewhere
as to be almost unbelievable. Sweden's long experience with the
principle of openness indicates that it changes the whole spirit in
which public business is conducted. It causes a decline in public
suspicion and in distrust of the officials, and this in turn gives them a
great feeling of confidence. More important, it provides a much more
solid foundation for public debate, and gives citizens in a democracy a
much firmer control over their government.
 

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