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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Anna Hazare enters cyberworld attacking government agents

NEW DELHI: Entering the cyberworld with a blog and a twitter account, Anna Hazare today accused "some government agents" of creating an image that it was due to their "favourite ministers" that he gave up his fast in Delhi's Ramlila Maidan in August.

"It was only when my inner voice permitted me I broke my fast after getting assurance from the government. The reason I am clearing the misconceptions here is I came to understand some government agents tried to propagate and create an image that it was the handiwork of their favourite ministers that I gave up my fast.

"I came across articles of self-praise, interviews published by them. This is a false propaganda," Hazare said in his multi-lingual blog

Giving some insight into what transpired before he called off his 12-day-old fast for a strong Lokpal, Hazare wrote that till the last moment, the government tried to break the movement.

As talks progressed regarding calling off his fast, he said the people, who came to meet his team members, the middle-man, the Minister all of them had "different versions, different assurances.

"It was the responsibility of the government that they scrutinies the people they had sent for negotiations whether they were corrupt or had clean image. That was for the Government to think. I held talks with them considering they were Government representatives! The answers lay with the government," he said.

After Harare called off the fast, questions have been raised, particularly in media interviews, over the participation of Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is facing allegations in Adarsh scam, and Bhayyuji Maharaj in mediation.

Anna Hazare enters cyberworld attacking govt agents

NEW DELHI: Entering the cyberworld with a blog and a Twitter account, Anna Hazare on Thursday accused "some government agents" of creating an image that it was due to their "favourite ministers" that he gave up his fast in Delhi's Ramlila Maidan in August.

"It was only when my inner voice permitted me I broke my fast after getting assurance from the government. The reason I am clearing the misconceptions here is I came to understand some government agents tried to propagate and create an image that it was the handiwork of their favourite ministers that I gave up my fast.

"I came across articles of self-praise, interviews published by them. This is a false propaganda," Hazare said in his multi-lingual blog

Giving some insight into what transpired before he called off his 12-day-old fast for a strong Lokpal, Hazare wrote that till the last moment, the government tried to break the movement.

As talks progressed regarding calling off his fast, he said the people, who came to meet his team members, the middle-man, the Minister all of them had "different versions, different assurances.

"It was the responsibility of the government that they scrutinies the people they had sent for negotiations whether they were corrupt or had clean image. That was for the Government to think. I held talks with them considering they were Government representatives! The answers lay with the government," he said.

After Harare called off the fast, questions have been raised, particularly in media interviews, over the participation of Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is facing allegations in Adarsh scam, and Bhayyuji Maharaj in mediation.

Anna Hazare might travel to Manipur soon to meet Irom Sharmila

Veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare is likely to travel to Manipur to personally urge rights activist Irom Sharmila to end her 10-year-old hunger strike.

Sharmila has been fasting since November 2000, demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, (AFSPA) in the North-East.

After the success of the Jan Lokpal movement, Team Anna was flooded with requests from activists from different parts of the country to lend support to their causes. The team had promised to give their decision after consideration.

Sources close to the anti-graft activist told DNA that Hazare had expressed concern about the condition of Sharmila and wants an early end to her marathon fast. The Manipuri activist is being force-fed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital close to her home in Imphal.

During the Jan Lokpal movement, Sharmila had expressed her support for the cause through a letter.

In continuation of Team Anna's decision, two members of the team will be leaving for Imphal soon, possibly Manish Sissodiya and Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan.

Sharmila's demand for repealing the AFSPA will also be studied in detail as Team Anna has expressed concern about the possible implications in other sensitive parts of the country.

Sources close to Hazare told DNA that other than urging Sharmila to end her hunger strike, the Gandhian is keen to visit the North-East for other reasons.

"There exists a mental block in various parts of the country, which has caused a divide between the North-East and the rest of the country. Given the iconic stature of Anna, his visit would go a long way in bridging the divide and to integrate those parts into the greater psyche of the nation," the source said.

Anna Hazare wants to meet Irom Sharmila

Veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare is likely to go to Manipur to personally urge activist Irom Sharmila to end her 10 years long hunger strike.

Sharmila, has been fasting, since November 2000, demanding for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in the North-East.

After the success of the Jan Lokpal movement, team Anna was flooded with request from activists from various parts of the country asking the team to lend its support to their individual causes.

As a follow up of the decision, Sharmila’s case has come in for discussion. Sources close to the anti-graft activist told DNA that Hazare had expressed concern about the condition of Sharmila and wants an early end to her marathon fast. At present she is being force fed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital close to her home in Imphal East.

During the Jan Lokpal movement, Sharmila had expressed support for the cause through letter.

In continuation of the Team Anna's earlier decision, two members of the team will be leaving for Imphal soon. Although the names are yet to be finalised. Insiders have told DNA that Manish Sisodiya and supreme court advocate Prashant Bhushan would be included in the team.

Sources close to Hazare saidother than urging Sharmlla to end her hunger strike, the Gandhian is keen to visit the other North-Eastern parts too.

Applying for driving licence? Agent a must for smooth ride

You may be a staunch supporter of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement, but to get any job done at any of the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) in Mumbai, you will have to see an agent. Two DNA correspondents saw for themselves the complete mess city’s RTOs are in.

Be it getting a duplicate licence or learner's licence, the Andheri RTO has only one option: Catch hold of an agent and just sit in a corner. At any given point of time, there are more agents hovering around the RTO than those who need a license. Also, there is not a single board instructing which form is needed for what and from which window can it be obtained.

When the correspondents decided to track the working of an RTO without taking any agent's help and obviously without revealing they were journalists, the experience was shocking. Andheri RTO was selected as a test case, with one of the two journalists needing a duplicate licence (a smart card) and another needing a learner's licence.

The nightmare began from the first step itself. The employee distributing the forms herself did not have an idea which form should be given. No proper space or a shaded area on the premises was provided where applicants could sit and fill the forms. And worse, basic items, such as glue and stapler needed for clipping documents and sticking photographs, were not available.

There was no mention of any checklist, which would have helped applicants know which documents need to be attached while submitting their licence applications.l

While our correspondents waited mindlessly in queues, and changed from one to another, a number of seasoned people were easily jumping the queues and getting their job done. Needless to say they were all touts. With at least 25 to 30 forms in hand, they were often seen disturbing the officials, who were letting them get their work done faster than others.

The correspondents also found that there were no facilities for handicapped people and women. There was a separate queue for women outside the window accepting applications for learner's licence, but none of the women standing in the general queue were aware of it or informed by officials. Handicapped applicants were also standing in the same queue.

Now, Anna's blog to target the corrupt

MUMBAI: Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare is all set to go online to fight corruption. He will launch his Thursday. He will join the bracket of star bloggers such as Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan. On the portal, Anna stated that people from all over the world were eager to know his thoughts on many issues.

The Marathi and English versions of the blog will begin immediately and will be followed later by Hindi and other Indian languages.Noted commentators Vijay Kuvalekar and Raju Parulekar will help Hazare expressing his thoughts on the blog. During the anti-corruption stir, Hazare's close aides had extensively used SMSs and social media to get their message across. Besides blog, Anna will shortly join Twitter and Facebook, said a close associate of the Gandhian.

Aruna Pendse, associate professor (politics science) of University of Mumbai, said, "If technology is being used to reach out to the people and mobilize the masses then it is a welcome move." Meanwhile, a senior Mantralaya official, said, "The potential of technology to reach out to citizens was realized by politicians only after the successful presidential campaign of Obama."

If technology is being used to reach out to the people and mobilize the masses then it is a welcome move. However, one cannot guarantee that Anna's movement will be successful due to this technology

Jairam to launch rally against govt

Senior minister of the UPA government, Jairam Ramesh, will launch the Jan Samvad Yatra, a yearlong nationwide rally of NGOs, in protest against the government’s failure in bringing land reforms in the country. The yatra supported by Anna Hazare will begin from Kanyakumari on October 2 under the leadership of Ekta Parishad president and Anna aide P V Rajagopal.

The rally, which will cover 350 districts and 80,000 km, will be joined by one lakh landless people at Gwalior on way to New Delhi in October 2012. Also, about 800 grassroot organisations will participate in it.

It was in October 2007, following a dharna by 25,000 landless from various states at Ramlila Maidan, that the UPA 1 announced setting up of a national council for land reforms under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. A gazette notification had also come in January 2008. But the council never met.      

“It is a matter of shame that the Prime Minister did not keep his promise. Our effort now is to make people aware of the injustice meted out to them from decades,” Rajagopal, on his way to Kanyakumari, told HT.

Though a committee on State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task in Land Reforms reported the problems and way forward for land ceiling, distribution of surplus, no progress has been made.

Ramesh, who will be at Kanyakumari on October 1 for the inaugural seminar, said he would try to convene a meeting of the council soon. “Some of the reforms they are demanding are important. I’m writing to the PM explaining need for reforms like control of benami transactions, constitution of land tribunals etc,” the rural development minister said.

The rally will cover flashpoints of land, water agitations like Plachimada in Kerala, Kudankulam in Tamilnadu, Bhavnagar in Gujarat, Singur, Nandigram and even north eastern states, Rajagopal said.

Hazare’s lawyer writes to Moily over statements on RTI

Reacting to an interview of Veerappa Moily about RTI and its effects published in The Indian Express on Sunday, Anna Hazare’s lawyer Milind Pawar has written to Moily stating that his statements were in contradiction to the promise made by Union government to Hazare. Moily had stated that the RTI transgresses into independent functioning of the government. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The interview, which was published on September 25, quotes Moily as saying, “In the context of RTI exposures, people are misreading things. Transparency, yes, but it cannot scuttle the independence of individuals and ministries expressing difference of opinion. It’s time for a national debate on this issue.”

The letter to Moily says Hazare had undertaken a fast in 2007 for RTI, during which the Central government had promised transparency through RTI. “‘The public has a right to know the decisions made by ministers. There is no need to amend the Act or bring about a fresh discussion on the same,” it says. Pawar said the \letter had been sent in consultation with Hazare.

The fat’s under fire

We have always resented how our policemen throw their weight around. But now, it seems there will be a lot less to fling about. The Delhi Traffic Police has issued an ultimatum to a number of its personnel to shape up or ship out. At stake is their very jobs on the road and that isenough to make the most slothful of us get going with a few push-ups. Some have said they will go the Anna Hazare way and shun food while others will take the more sensible option of going to the gym.

While we are all for this drive for a lean and mean figure, we think that it should be extended to other professions where it is required of the person to be in good shape.

Take our politicians for example. Barring a few exceptions, we would not say that many of them could be poster boys or girls for slimmers anonymous.

In fact, the venerable president of the BJP had to staple his stomach to try and get his weight under control, and we really are weighting and watching on whether he succeeds. True that our politicos have to put themselves out come elections, but for the best part of their lives, they live from air-conditioned transport to office to home to salubrious foreign climes.

Just so you don’t feel that we are singling out any profession, we would like to turn the tape measure inwards.

Our esteemed colleagues in the electronic media cannot afford to slip in that extra doughnut unless you are anchoring the food show. So we note that they are all fighting fit while reporting breathlessly from the ground or engaging in verbal calisthenics with their panelists in studios.

We print journalists, especially editorial writers, are far more fortunate. We are rarely seen and seldom heard. So we can afford to be dipping into our chips even as we craft these bits and pieces for you.

And we do know that you will weigh in on our side on this.

ICA Banquet to Honor Anna Hazare, Prashant Bhushan, Paul Polak

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Indians for Collective Action will honor anti-corruption activists Anna Hazare and Prashant Bhushan as well as social innovator Paul Polak at its 2011 Annual Banquet Oct. 15 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

“Imagine a world free of hunger, corruption and hatred. When others think it’s a dream, we believe in it and we get to work. Chanakya, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela all realized their dreams. They all did it because common people like you and me heard their voices, understood their wisdom and followed their visions. Now more than ever, 1.2 billion people have begun to hear the voice of Anna Hazare,” stated an ICA press release.

Leaders like Hazare, Bhushan and Polak inspire people across the globe to join in the improvement of people’s livelihood and to stand against injustice to humans, said the release. Hazare has dedicated his life for social service and for humanity. A social activist, he is the leader of the anti-corruption movement in India.

Although Hazare was initially expected to attend the banquet in person, Unmesh Sheth, an organizer of the event, told India-West that the septuagenarian has had to cancel his plans to travel to the U.S.

“We had a meeting with Kiran Bedi (Delhi’s former police chief who has been a very active participant in the anti-corruption movement) and determined that there were clearly some roadblocks for passage of the Jan Lokpal bill,” said Sheth, adding that the activist has decided to stay home and pressure politicians running for election to pass his strong anti-corruption measure.

“We are of course disappointed that Annaji will not be attended but very excited that Prashant Bhushan will be here to share his vision,” said Sheth.

Bhushan is a social activist and senior advocate who helps society through higher judicial system and public interest litigations. He is the prime member of the Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement.

Polak is the founder of the International Development Enterprise, which develops practical solutions to combat poverty. He is also the founder of D-Rev. Design Revolution.

“Paul is my hero,” stated Sheth. “I left my corporate work to focus precisely on the type of work that he does.”

“We want to demonstrate to the innovative Bay Area community the power of one person’s innovative thinking,” said Sheth.

ICA is a San Francisco Bay Area non-profit group. Since its inception in 1968, it has nurtured social activists, spawned numerous initiatives, including the Asha for Education and Foundation for Excellence, and supported innovative community-led development projects in over 20 states of India and disbursing over $5 million.

Ramdev sit-in, Anna fast did Ramlila one good turn: Maidan all laid out

Ramdev’s protest and Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption fast have done Ramlila organisers one big favour. Because of their sit-ins, the Ramlila grounds are in a much better shape than previous years.

Preparations are on in full swing and security has been stepped up at the venue as organisers gear for the upcoming Dussehra festival.

According to police, CCTV cameras have been installed and additional security forces have been deployed around the venue, before Ramlila begins on September 28.

“The demos of CCTV cameras are complete. We will also have door frame metal detectors and channelisers at each gate of the venue, apart from police personnel for manual frisking. We have requested for additional companies of CRPF, who will be working in two or three shifts,” said Aslam Khan, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central).

The route of the Ramlila procession, which begins from the Gauri Shankar temple and culminates at the Maidan everyday, will have stringent security measures.

“Policemen will accompany the procession. This year, we have also lessened the number of licences given to contractors for holding fair at the Ramlila Maidan. Only three people have been given licences for the mela,” Khan said.

Meanwhile, preparations are on at Ramlila Maidan, with labourers and contractors working full-time to get the ground ready for the Ramlila. Colourful pandals have come up on the grounds, being levelled by the MCD.

Pradeep Gupta (40), a member of the Ramlila Committee said the authorities have been extremely co-operative.

“The ground needed serious repairing after hosting the two anti-corruption fasts. The MCD has been leveling the surface with the help of red sand and stones. Later, they will line the boundaries with white powder, giving the whole place an immaculate look. Preparations will also be made for sanitation and drinking water,” Gupta said.

The main Ramlila stage is divided into three parts — the Ravan Durbar, Ram Durbar and Ashok Vatika. Elaborate sets, including props such as trees, palaces, jungles, waterfalls, wells, huts and demons are being prepared to “give a feel of the scene”, Gupta said.

The stage is double storied and all the “sky scenes” will be enacted from the upper floor, done up in navy blue drapes.

The sitting area is covered in bright red, pink, purple and yellow curtains, with rows of lights dotting the venue. Backstage, it is a volley of colours as Shyam Sunder Daksh, the set decorator from Mathura, decorates the stage with his 20-member team.

Daksh, who learnt the art from his ancestors, has been decorating the Ramlila stage for the past 35 years. “We come to Delhi from Mathura every year and try to do something innovative each time,” he said.

The other half of Ramlila Maidan — dotted with swings and stalls, which were put up three days ago — will be removed two days after Dussehra. Organisers said 25,000-30,000 visitors are expected to visit the mela everyday.

From mouthing Anna slogans to passionate kiss, I&B gets worried

From over-hyped broadcasts of Anna Hazare’s fast to beach shots in a travel show that focus on “buttocks”, from “passionate kissing” in Hollywood cinema to “denigration of women” in TV serials — all these qualify as “objectionable programming”, according to the UPA’s moral police.

Chaired by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, an inter-ministerial panel will discuss these in a meeting this week. The I&B Ministry’s agenda note for the meeting, accessed by The Indian Express, red-flags a slew of such programmes.

According to the note, a news-based programme on IBN7 telecast the Anna fast showing bold mid-screen scrolls with voice-overs, “Ram lila maidan par jao”, and “chashmadeed bano pure inquilab ke” (be an eyewitness to the total revolution). The note says that the programme carried a voiceover, “Dekho safed poshon ko benaqab hote” (those who claim to be honest, watch them get exposed) with visuals of the Prime Minister, the home minister and the parliamentary affairs minister.

Calling the reporting “instigating people”, the I&B note says that the language appears to “foment anger and resentment” in people, which may lead to violence.

NDTV Good Times broadcast ‘Life’s a Beach’ and, according to the government’s note, the programme exposes the form and figure of a woman’s body with visuals focusing excessively on “her bosom, pelvic area and buttocks”. The note says that in some of the visuals, “the nudity of breasts is explicit”. These visuals, the ministry says, appear to “degrade and denigrate women”.

The channel, in response to the showcause notice, said it had moved these programmes to after 11 pm after receiving the notice and since it covers beach destinations, the anchor “naturally dresses up in beachwear”. For activities where the human form was exposed, the channel said (according to the note), like getting a tan or a massage, great care has been taken that “the erogenous parts of the human body were covered and there was no nudity”.

Sony Pix has shown films containing “adult and obscene” content despite Censor Board’s cuts, the note said. The channel said that the ministry’s show-cause notice has described the alleged scenes as “passionate kissing” and “lip-sucking” that accentuate sensuality in the content which are otherwise normal kissing scenes in Bollywood and English movies. The channel said that out of the seven films, four were critically acclaimed and won international awards like the Golden Globe.

The note said that Star World has telecast serials which appear to denigrate women and are also not suitable for children. In response, the channel said that shows explore a wide gamut of relationships “ranging from that between a husband and a wife to that of a superior and a subordinate and even between man and the Almighty and the portrayal of these relationships is done in as realistic a manner as is possible and all facets of the psychology of the characters are explored”.

Radio City FM aired a “couplet” on the programme, “Babbar Sher”, which said, “Nurse jise pakadti hai use nus bolte hain, aur doctor jise pakadta hai use nurse bolte hain”. This, according to the ministry’s note, was objected to by the All India Government Nurses Federation. The radio station, according to note, said that the content is not obscene and is not intended to hurt the sentiments of nurses and doctors but is meant to be seen in a “humorous manner” and can be, at best, be “satirical”.

Right to live comes before curruption, Irom Sharmila comes before Anna Hazare

A peaceful sit in protest, signature campaign and
procession were held successfully today at Cubbon
park, opposite Chinnaswamy stadium, MG Road,
Bangalore in support of the 11 years fasting "Irom Sharmila"
to repeal Armed Forces special powers act (AFSPA)

BANGALORE,September 25: A sit and protest supporting Irom Sharmila took place at Cubbon Park, Bangalore, from 1pm to 5 pm, today. The sit and protest was preceded by a peace procession along the M.G road, Brigade road, Cubbon Park and Chinnaswamy stadium, Bangalore. This sit and protest was participated by Manipuris and other north east people of India. With the help of security personnel, Bangalore, the sit in protest and the peace procession turned into a successful procession. Local media channels specially T.V 9 and Janasri supported this protest.

India claims to be the world largest democracy. But the question here is, in what context democracy is defined? What is this sacrosanct word “democracy” meant? Modern society is abided by the democratic values of liberty and equality. Infused with such democratic principles, India adopted democratic republic in 1950. Parts of country are fighting against India’s self inflicted demon. There are economic inequalities, socio-political exclusion, and decades of militarization in certain territories. Such lingering issues allow to question and scrutinize the nature of India’s democracy critically.

The Armed Forces Special Power Act has been operated in the North east India, especially in the state of Manipur since from more than five decades. Under this Act, several forms of human rights violations have been witnessed over the years. Arrested without giving warrant, or arrested if suspicious, or killing innocent people become very common in the state of Manipur.

Regarding all the human rights violation, today the sit and protest supporting Irom Sharmila took place. The protesters carried play cards with different demands. A few of the demands are we support Sharmila, release Sharmila from custody, dilute the power of AFSPA, and save democracy etc.

The main objective of today’s protest was demanding right to live, remove AFSPA says Athenthem Peter Singh. Anna Hazare fasted only for a few days but Irom Sharmilla has been fasting for 11 years. Yes the demands are different. Anna fights for corruption and Sharmilla fights to remove AFSPA, one is for whole country and one is for a state, but both the ways of fighting are for the betterment of a state or a country. Media has highlighted Anna to a great extend but national channels have never done the same for Sharmila. Ahanthem Peter says right to live comes before corruption. Military armies are assigned to take care and protect the people of the state, not to take their lives. “We are not asking to protect or preserve the underground people of the state, we are asking to give us the right to live” continued Ahanthem Peter Singh.

The protesters were fully against the publication of Irom Sharmila in the recent “Telegraph”. They said that, it was just made an issue to meet the propaganda of politics and media. “If we count the number of UG personnel in the state of Manipur, it’s too less comparing to the number of military armies in the state then why these armies are not able to control them, this only shows that the system itself has a defect”, they continued. It is only made to meet the government’s agenda.

The Armed Forces Special Power Act has been declared as “an act which does not allow, right to live”. This declaration was made by BB Jiwan Reddy, formal lieutenant general, supported by journalist from different areas. But Indian government never tried to discuss about the declaration. The protester appealed to Indian government, to discuss about the act again.

At last the protester revealed that, the sit and protest is being organized to wake up the people of Manipur staying at different states. It’s high time that people should open their eyes and should be able to take immediate action. They said Manipur is a state of India and we are Indians, Indian government cannot ignore us or cannot ignore our demands. In one voice they said “We support Sharmila”.

Politics, cinema at Delhi literature fest

New Delhi: Politics, Anna Hazare, new wave cinema and changing trends in contemporary writing will be on offer at the daylong 'The Hindu Lit for Life' festival on Sunday.

The Delhi edition of the festival, which will lift the curtain on the two-day literature extravaganza and the awarding of the Hindu Literary Prize Oct 29-30 in Chennai, will begin 9 am at the India Habitat Centre, a spokesperson for the festival said.

The Delhi edition of the festival will be presented by Siyahi, a literary forum.

One of the high points of the festival is a session on 'New Wave Cinema', sponsored by Om Books International, which features the award-winning director of 'Rang De Basanti' (2006) Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in conversation with cinema writer Jai Arjun Singh.

"It is a celebration of the country's rich visual literature. India has produced a world class writers across all genres. Cinema holds a very special place in my heart and I am delighted to get Mehra on board to deliberate on the new trends of cinema and his contribution to Indian cinema," Ajay Mago, publisher of Om Books, said in a statement.

The literary spotlight will be on Esther David, who discusses her work in a session 'Are You Going to Eat All That'.

David won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2010 and the Prix Eugenie Brazier in France for her book "Rachel", which is now being adapted in a French film.

She has documented Gujarat's Bene Israel Jewish community for the Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel. She has also authored 'The Walled City, By the Sabarmati', 'Book of Esther', 'My Father's Zoo', 'Shalom India Housing Society' and the "Man with Enormous Wings". Her novels are based on the Jewish ethos.

Life in theatre will come up for discussion between playwright Mahesh Dattani and Sanjna Kapoor, while Left leader Sitaram Yechury and Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot will try to probe the brand of politics which India will see after Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement with journalist Siddharth Varadarajan.

A workshop on children's writing will be anchored by writer Anushka Ravishankar and illustrator Atanu Roy.

Anna for President? Rumours rife as activist receives string of politicians in just a week

Aides of anti-graft crusader rubbish speculation, say rumours may be political gimmick on part of government

In the backdrop of many politicians visiting noted anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare in his village Ralegansiddhi in the last eight days, rumours are rife that the activist has been offered the post of the country's president by the UPA government as the term of the incumbent is set to end next year.

No politics, please: Activist Anna Hazare, who his aides say has stated many times he does not intend to join politics.

Referring to a meeting of Congress leaders in Delhi, at least one major local vernacular newspaper stated the party might be able to tame Hazare by offering him the country's highest post. The meeting referred to took place after the thumping response Hazare got during his fast last month at Ramleela Ground in Delhi for a Jan Lokpal bill. Reportedly, a veteran Congress leader also objected to the idea of making the offer to Hazare, saying the activist would not accept it.

Sanjay Pathade, a teacher from Ralegansiddhi who is close to Hazare, said there was no truth in the rumours. "It's all rubbish. Anna won't accept such offers," Pathade said. "The president's post shall not be used as a bribe by any party."

Ralegansiddhi Sarpanch Jaysingh Mapari, who was with Hazare during both the indefinite hunger strikes in Delhi, said he was confident Hazare would not "fall prey" to any offer of the kind. "Hazare knows the ministers very well after his two big stirs. I don't think any Union minister shall dare make such an offer," he said.

Among the politicians who visited Hazare recently were Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, former PWD minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, MP Bhausaheb Waghchaure from Ahmadnagar, MLA M D Bhegde from Maval and Bacchu Kadu from Sangamner. They discussed several issues with him.

There were also non-politicians lining up to meet Hazare. Raj Gopal Deora, the secretary from the State Cooperative Department, visited him and discussed the new law on the Cooperation Rules approved by the state government. Pune region information officer Vijay Kuvlekar and former divisional commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh also met Hazare.

Medical check-up

w A TEAM of ENT doctors from Nashik visited Hazare to conduct a medical check-up on him. Ganesh Bhosale, a villager who was there during the check-up, said: "Anna has some hearing problem. The team did a thorough check-up and went. A report will be sent soon."

Unlike Anna Hazare, Pakistani’s hunger strike gets lukewarm response

SLAMABAD, Pakistan – Last month Indian activist Anna Hazare’s hunger strike sparked protests across India and garnered attention from international media before forcing the Indian parliament to take up an anti-corruption bill.

Last week, when Pakistani activist Raja Jahangir Akhtar completed his nine-day hunger strike against corruption here, only a few hundred people showed up and Akhtar lamented the lack of media coverage. All he got for his effort were some vague promises from local parliamentarians.

Resting on his hospital bed two days after breaking his fast with a glass of mango juice, Akhtar expressed disappointment over the lukewarm response, and he put the blame squarely on his compatriots.

“In India people are politically more conscious, and they have a history of making their demands accepted through agitation,” he said. “People here feel that whatever they do the ruling elite won’t [accede to their demands].”

Akhtar insists he is no Hazare copycat. He says he announced his intention to fast in July — before Hazare went on his latest hunger strike — but postponed his own hunger strike until after the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan requires Muslims to abstain not only from food but also from water, which Akhtar consumed during his fast.

The 68-year-old businessman also said he is a veteran hunger-striker, having gone on six previous hunger strikes. His last effort in 2007 helped secure the release of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s family.

When he embarked on his latest “hunger strike till death” on Sept. 12, Akhtar had two main demands: that Pakistan’s parliament pass an anti-corruption bill and that Pakistan reduce its military expenses and create a welfare state for its citizens. A third, less publicized demand was that Pakistan’s military move its facilities out of residential areas to avoid civilian casualties in case of attacks.

Aitzaz Ahsan, a leader of the popular lawyers movement that contributed to the fall of military strongman Pervez Musharraf, said Akhtar’s hunger strike was a “heroic gesture” but that his demands were too broad and too ambitious to be met with success.

“If you go on a hunger strike till death it has to be a very specific issue,” Ahsan said. “The objective is very laudable, but you are not going to achieve it in the 45 to 50 days that you can survive on a hunger strike.”

Ahsan said the success of the lawyers movement, which lasted two years and gathered thousands of supporters, was due mostly to its narrow objective of restoring the rule of law and reinstating the chief justice.

Despite its relatively slow momentum, Akhtar’s hunger strike succeeded in attracting a small group of parliamentarians to his camp set up near one of Islamabad’s shopping centers. The parliamentarians assured Akhtar that an anti-corruption bill would be presented to parliament. That promise and Akhtar’s friends’ concern for his health convinced the activist to put an end to his fast after nine days.

Syed Adil Gilani, former chairman of the Pakistan chapter of Transparency International, said he doesn’t believe the parliamentarians’ promise will amount to anything.

“The government does not have the political will to tackle corruption,” he said.

In any case, Akhtar said he is ready to fast again if there is no progress within three to four months.

His fight may also receive a significant boost. This week a group of Pakistani activists visited Hazare in India and asked him to take his anti-corruption fight to Pakistan.

I wish we had Anna Hazare in Pakistan: Veena Malik

If Hazare initiates campaign against corruption in Asia or in some countries,
nothing can be better than this

Actor-cum-model and participant of Indian reality TV show Bigg Boss 4 Veena Malik says that she wishes Pakistan had a social activist like Anna Hazare, who could inspire people to stand up against corruption.

Malik made the statement during an interview on Thursday while shooting for her upcoming Bollywood flick ‘Daal Mein Kuch Kala Hai’.
She said:
“Like I said before, I wish even we had a person like Anna Hazare in Pakistan. This is the reason that people, who were a part of that delegation, must have thought that if Anna Hazare stands for their cause, then it would be good for them. Because corruption is prevailing in Pakistan and the situation of the country is worse and we need a hero, whom we can follow.”
“If Anna Hazare initiates the campaign or the cause that he would uproot corruption in Asia or in some countries, then nothing can be better than this”.
Earlier, a two-member delegation ― former Supreme Court judge Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid and peace activist Karamat Ali ― visited Anna Hazare in his hometown Ralegan Siddhi to invite him to visit Pakistan.
(Read: Fighting corruption: Anna Hazare agrees to visit Pakistan)

Hazare accepted the invitation and said he would “like to visit Pakistan if it helped the anti-corruption movement there.”

Hazare had earlier carried out a 13-day ‘peaceful’ hunger strike against corruption in India. His protest focused on the anti-graft legislation known as the “Lokpal” (Ombudsman) Bill. Hazare broke his fast on the request of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also gave in to his demands.

The social activist’s footsteps were followed by businessman turned social activist Raja Jahangir Akhtar and he also began a nine-day ‘fast unto death’ against the corruption in Pakistan.

Anna Hazare figures in Inter-School Debate Competition in Bangalore

It was a war of words as students vied for top positions at the finals of the Frank Anthony Memorial All-India Inter-School Debate Competition 2011 held on Monday.

Seven teams from classes XI and XII, from schools across the country, debated on ‘We live in an interesting age where the power of information and internet and the balance of power rests entirely with the youth.’ Almost all participants quoted Anna Hazare and his campaign.

Many participants said the Internet would not empower youth and Gen X did not have a cool mind or experience to wield power. They said many youth were also misinformed about issues. But critics of this view said most successful people started off from their youth.

“If I were to leave a status message on the face book saying that I am against corruption and will hold a protest, I will get a million messages supporting me. However, no one will come out on the streets and really support me. They won’t be ready to face baton-charging police for a noble cause. However, due to the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, many youth are aware of this social evil and they at least show their support to campaigns against it,” said one of the debaters.

“We want to encourage youth to be more creative and articulate while speaking and writing. Debating contests like this will help them in boldly expressing their thoughts on diverse topics. The debaters have shown rare maturity. The quality of essays and creative writings has become more refined,” said Gerry Arathoon, additional secretary and officiating chief executive secretary of ISCE, New Delhi.

Justice MN Venkatachaliah, the chief guest, said the future of India looked bright. “It is a long time since I heard such arguments. And these students expressed themselves brilliantly. Although the subject was a tricky one, they used the right language effectively to put across their points,” he said.

On a lighter note, he added, “I’m glad I won’t be the judge in the court hall, when they become lawyers.”

RSS dismisses claims it was behind movements by Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev

AMRITSAR: Alleging that "those in power" had tried to divert attention from "real isssue" by claiming that RSS was behind the movements by Anna Hazare and Ramdev, the saffron outfit today said its workers had supported the activists "just as other ordinary people of the country".

"The impromptu support that common people have offered to social reformers like Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev is the direct result of their frustration," RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said here.

Delivering a lecture, he said, "The people in power have behaved in a predictable fashion. In an attempt to pass the buck and divert the attention of people from real issue, they started to blame RSS for these movements.

"RSS workers supported Anna and Baba Ramdev just as other ordinary people of the country," said, adding that the workers will also support L K Advani during his upcoming Rathyatra.

He said that political corruption needed to be investigated at all levels beginning from the top and thus a strong Lokpal was the need of the hour.

Batting for inclusion of Prime Minister in the ambit of Lokpal, Madhav said as a member of the cabinet the prime minister was just first among equals and "thus like any other minister the office of PM naturally fell within framework of Lokpal".

On electoral reforms, he said the two key issues of provision of right to recall the elected representative and government funding of the elections needed to be debated and could go a long way in checking corruption during and after elections.

He also said that unlike in western democracies where elected representatives "were all powerful in the House and on par with common man outside it, in India members of parliament or state assemblies enjoyed little political freedom and were bound party whips.

"This whip system in parliamentary democracy also needs to be debated," he said, adding political reforms are needed to address atmosphere of gloom in the country.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

RSS to actively support Advani's yatra against corruption

NEW DELHI: RSS on Wednesday said its volunteers will "actively participate" in BJP veteran L K Advani's proposed yatra against corruption.

"The Sangh has already asked its Swayamsewaks (volunteers) to actively support all initiatives and actions against corruption. They had earlier extended support to Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare in their campaigns against corruption. Similarly, Swayamsewaks will actively participate in L K Advani's campaign," RSS leader Ram Madhav told reporters here.

He was asked to comment on the meeting between Advani and RSS Sar Sanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur this morning. Madhav said Advani spent some time at the RSS headquarters and discussed the situation in the country as also his proposed yatra against corruption.

Advani earlier claimed he had met RSS chief Bhagwat to seek his blessings for the yatra.

"I met the RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat and asked for his blessings. He gave me his full support and blessings and wished me all the best for the yatra," Advani said.

Making light of his meeting with Bhagwat, Advani said he keeps talking to him "informally". "We meet whoever can make a big contribution to the yatra," he said.

He also met BJP President Nitin Gadkari recuperating after undergoing a bariatric operation on September 12 to enquire about his health.

"The BJP President will come to Delhi on September 24. I have asked him to make the announcement about the yatra. By then, the plan details will also be chalked out," Advani said.

Giving details of his proposed Yatra, Advani said it is likely to start on October 11, the birth anniversary of veteran socialist leader Jaiprakash Narayan from his village Sitabdiara in Bihar's Saran district.

Advani said he was prompted to take out the yatra due to the 2008 cash-for-vote scam and the washout of the Winter Session of Parliament in 2010 over opposition demand for a JPC probe into the 2-G spectrum scam

Hazare’s suggestion for recall of MP impractical: Quraishi

Terming as “impractical” Anna Hazare’s suggestion for right to recall an elected MP, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi on Wednesday said such a move will lead to “destabilising” the entire system.

“Right to recall in a big country like ours is impractical. It is not easy in a country where candidates are voted by lakhs of voters,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the IIMC convocation function here.

He feared that if the right to recall is put in place, “elections will go on happening and the entire system will destabilise.”

Mr. Quraishi felt the emphasis should be rather on cleansing the election system, barring criminals from contesting elections and encouraging more and more people to come out and vote for the best candidates.

He also did not favour a suggestion for the right to reject candidates in elections saying it is a “difficult task” to implement.

The CEC had earlier said the right of people to reject candidates required a “bit of debate” because a situation of majority of the people rejecting all candidates also has to be considered.

Asked about EC’s preparation for the forthcoming elections in Gujarat, he said it has not yet come into their “radar” as polls in the western state are due only next year.

With exit polls already banned, the CEC also recommended banning opinion polls as they affected poll prospects of political parties.

Talking about electoral reforms, the Chief Election Commissioner suggested a ban on Government advertisements appearing in dailies six months before election dates.

“We have a suspicion that this also could be a modus operandi of paid news. Few months before elections, full page Government ads comes in paper highlighting achievements. That is the misuse of Government funds. It is a political propaganda in the garb of activities of the department,” he said.

Paid news is something to be very “embarrassed about” and media must be very “honest and truthful” in the context of elections because people trust it, he told the convocation.

“The silver lining, however, is that all political parties are adversely affected (by paid news) and feel something needs to be done about it,” he said.

He said 95 per cent of the media is against this and professional journalists don’t like it but “it is only some owners in some cases who sell their conscience which is playing havoc. We need to do something about it.”

Mr. Quraishi also favoured a ban on door-to-door campaigning as that this is the time when “money and liquor change hands.”

Anna Hazare gets a written apology from Manish Tewari

PUNE: Congress MP Manish Tewari has tendered a written apology to activist Anna Hazare, saying he regretted his remarks accusing him of indulging in corruption.

Tewari's written apology came in response to a legal defamation notice, dated September 8, 2011, sent by Hazare's Pune-based lawyer Milind Pawar.

In the written communication addressed to Hazare, the copy of which was released by Pawar, Tewari said he had already expressed his regrets on the issue on August 25, while urging the anti-corruption crusader to withdraw his fast at Ramlila Maidan.

"I do not stand on any prestige or ego, especially when it comes to giving due regard and respect to people elder to me in age. In all sincerity, I reiterate my regrets," Tewari said.

"I do not wish to give legal responses or want this matter to be prolonged. I hope you would treat the matter as closed," he added.

The advocate, who had slapped a legal notice on Tewari under Section 500 of IPC for defamation proceeding, told PTI that Hazare had decided to close the matter.

Before Hazare launched his indefinite fast from August 16, Tewari had criticized him saying he was "involved in corruption from top to bottom."

A page from Manmohan Singh’s dateless diary

The PM’s daily jottings—full of doom, despair and dyspepsia

"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace...
   ...It's a tale told by an idiot, full
Of sound and fury, signifying nothing"
     —Macbeth, Shakespeare


Ah William, Bill the Bard, Bill the Bald, Master Shakespeare, genus genius-you wrote five hundred years ago and yet how beautifully you describe the state of my mind.

Everything is dark. Inflation; an economy beginning to downslide; stock markets plunging like the necklines of third-rate actresses; Anna Hazare; an angry middle class. And an heir to the throne—the less said about him, the better.

Corruption everywhere; cases in court, monstrous avarice coupled with the intelligence quotient of the classical village idiot; the wanton and senseless destruction of Air India, one of India's iconic assets.

The 2G scam was the worst. Why, for Heaven's sake why, did those lowbrows choose to meddle in an area which could have yielded one lakh seventy five thousand crores to the exchequer? We could have wiped out a large part of the national debt, cleaned up the Budget so that it does not look like a bankrupt's balance sheet, reduced deficits and still have had quite a bit left over for rural development and employment.

But no. These fellows had to meddle to make a few thousand crores of black money. And they did not have the intelligence to cover up their tracks; they had to leave wide-open trails that even the CAG could follow.

There is a new corruption scandal erupting every day. And it looks as if everybody in government and Parliament and the Assemblies will have to wear the noose of the Jan Lokpal around the neck forever.

I wish I could be like Amma Jayalalithaa. She is arresting people by the dozen for land-grabbing and other economic crimes. But I can't do that either. She is arresting her political opponents; I have to arrest my own party-men and alliance partners!

No, no, this is becoming too much. I am a gentle man who never interfered with what my fellow man was doing. I assumed that everyone is as honest as I am.

I want to quote Woody Allen: "God is dead; Marx is dead and I am not feeling too good either". (Or was it graffiti in a New York subway?). And the Ayurvedic kashayam (potion) doesn't help either. I want to quit; the whole beggar's breakfast of a political situation was not of my making, anyway.

Got to meet Soniaji Amma Madam, now that she is back from Sloan Kettering or wherever she went.


Back from meeting Soniaji Amma Madam. Not a very good session. She looked pale, wan and tired. I asked her about her trip abroad. She made a cryptic statement: "I have made all the necessary arrangements." For what, I asked. She twisted her face into what she thought was an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile.

She agreed the political situation was tough. Everybody in the UPA was feathering his nest—and what huge nests they were. "We should not have allowed it. Something has to be done."

I asked her whether she wanted me to resign. "What!" she screamed, "and leave my son in the cesspool?"

"No, no," I said. "I have not been feeling well recently. The pressure and stress of the job are taking their toll. I don't think I will live very long."

"Manmohanji," she said sternly. "This kind of talk will get us nowhere. Look at my family. See how much we have sacrificed. We have always been ready to die for our country."

"But, Madam Soniaji, I prefer to live for my country."

Pakistani team to meet Anna Hazare for tips on anti-graft crusade

NEW DELHI: Social activist Anna Hazare, who led one of India's biggest mass movements against corruption, will receive a Pakistani delegation at his home in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra, on Wednesday to seek his opinion on starting a similar drive in their country.

The delegation constitutes three legal experts, including former Pakistan law minister Iqbal Haider. The meeting has been organised by the NGO Sarhad.

"The delegation will meet Anna Hazare at 1 pm and discuss starting a similar movement in their country because both have similar problems of corruption and terrorism," Sanjay Nahar, who heads Sarhad, said.

"We want to take his views on how this movement can be started in Pakistan," he added.

Hazare went on a 12-day fast in the capital last month demanding a strong anti-graft bill, attracting the support of massive crowds.

SCB docs at hunger strike

CUTTACK: Taking a cue from Anna Hazare, agitating doctors of SCB medical college and hospital have launched a hunger strike from Tuesday to increase the pressure on the state government to concede to their demands.

Sporting the Gandhi cap, at least four medicos were on hunger strike, the agitating junior doctors claiming they were left with no other option to put forth their demands more firmly before the state government.

"Since the last six days we are agitating and sitting on a dharna at the medical college campus. But the state government is not paying any heed to our demands. Finding no other way out to make our demands heard, we have resorted to the hunger strike," said Dr Satyanarayan Rao, member of a joint action committee.

The agitating junior doctors said a meeting of the joint action committee will be held on Tuesday where the future course action of the agitation will be decided. "Until and unless the state government agrees to take stringent action against Sisir Dandia, we will not call off the hunger strike. It will continue for an indefinite period," said N K Tripathy, an agitating doctor.

Meanwhile, health services at the hospital remained crippled due to the junior doctors' strike.

A generation has not seen Congress rule in UP-Bihar

Can you guess the dilemma of the Congress candidates in Uttar Pradesh nowadays? Not Anna Hazare. Not his campaign against corruption. Instead, it’s the disturbing realisation that a generation has grown up in this politically crucial state without experiencing a Congress rule.

The last when the Congress was in power in Uttar Pradesh was in the late 1980’s. Those born even in mid 1980’s have no clue how the Congress rule was like – better or worse than the political regimes they have grown up with.

Little wonder they mention names of Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav every time discussion on future chief minister crops up. Even the BJP rule they don’t seem to remember as the party changed the leadership thrice – Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh. Yes, they do remember the divisive politics of mandal and mandir though.

And even as chief minister Mayawati is busy despatching letters to the prime minister demanding quota for minorities, economically backward upper castes and now Jats, quota in admissions in educational institutions as well as in jobs appeared to be the major concern of youth during campus adda that HT had organised across UP and Uttarakhand. Our idea was primarily to gauge the mood of the youth, how far it is gearing up to cast its vote and what are the poll issues that concern them.

Imagine Congress leaders expect that generation to vote for the party that had not only messed up Anna’s anti-corruption movement but is also favouring extension of quota on religious grounds. We thought quota was meant for socially and economically backward classes irrespective of the faith they follow.

The scenario has been no different in neighbouring Bihar.

I am sure this is not going to be music to Congress ears. With elections not very far off, the Congress will have to do some miracle to break the 20-odd year long vanvas. There is growing feeling that the party trump card Rahul Gandhi can’t ride them to victory. Some concerned voices from the Congress are already suggesting an extensive campaign by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in whom people find the political acumen of her grandmother Indira Gandhi besides the looks. To believe that there was an undercurrent in its favour as people were fed up with the ‘misrule’ of regional parties would be living in fool’s paradise.

A Congress leader in Agra, planning to contest election from an urban seat, confided the other day, “What should we do? People who know us are polite. But they do convey their anger over the soaring prices while reminding us about the scams tumbling out of Congress cupboards.”

The fact is, Anna is not merely haunting the Congress leaders, all other parties stand scared. At a dinner meet recently, politicians virtually rained abuses on Anna while insisting that caste alone would be the driving force in the coming elections. Then why worry?

As the election scenario perks up in the states heading for polls in early 2012, the picture in Uttar Pradesh continues to be hazy, more so about the Congress prospects.

Team Anna in Uttarakhand to suggest on Lokayutka bill

Dehra Dun, SepTeam Anna members arrived here today on the invitation of Uttarakhand Chief Minister B C Khanduri to give their suggestions for a tough and effective Lokayukta bill against corruption.
"We have come here at the invitation of Khanduri, who wanted us to provide him suggestions for enacting a tough and effective Lokayukta in the state against corruption," Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, close aides of social activist Anna Hazare, told reporters here.

Soon after taking over as Uttarakhand Chief Minister on September 11, Khanduri had declared that his government would bring a fresh Lokayukta bill where suggestions of Jan Lokpal draft bill of Anna Hazare would also be incorporated.

"There is a provision of Lokayukta in our state but we want to make it an effective and strong Lokayukta," he had said.

Giving a time frame of two months for bringing the new bill, Khanduri had said the new measure would help remove difficulties being faced by the common man.

In this regard, Kejriwal and Bhushan said that a draft bill of Jan Lokpal was also given to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar six months ago but a response from his side is yet to come.

To a question, they said their crusade for a strong Jan Lokpal would continue even after the end of Anna''s fast and that efforts were on to make the Jan Lokpal a poll plank during the Assembly elections in half a dozen states due next year.

"We will launch an active campaign against those political parties who opposed the Jan Lokpal in Parliament," they said.

Regarding Ramdev''s yatra against corruption beginning tomorrow from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Kejriwal said there was no talk between Hazare and the yoga guru on it.

Court asks cops to file fresh Anna report

NEW DELHI: A trial court on Monday asked Delhi Police to file a fresh status report with documentary proof on a complaint against Anna Hazare and his team for "instigating" people against the government during their recent anti-corruption campaign.

The court, which was scheduled to pass an order on the complaint filed by Haryana's Satbir Singh against Anna and his team, felt the status report filed by the police on September 16 was not backed by any documentary evidence and, therefore, sought the fresh report. Metropolitan magistrate Tyagita Singh asked the police file the report on October 3.

"Notice be issued to the station house officer (of Kamla Market police station) along with a copy of this order to file a fresh status report along with documentary proof of permission and the recorded cassettes of speeches of respondents (Anna and his team) and also to file documentary proof regarding death of the youth Sandeep for further consideration of the court," the court said.

Quoting a news report, Satbir Singh had alleged that Sandeep (21) had participated in Hazare's hunger strike and died of pneumonia, for which he had held Team Anna responsible.

Delhi Police had on September 16 told the court that no criminal case is made out against Hazare and his team. Regarding the plea in the complaint that Hazare had instigated the people to lay a siege of the houses of Members of Parliament and ministers to press their demands, the police had said they have not received any complaint in this regard.

Kangana Ranaut desires Anna Hazare!

MUMBAI: "I desire Anna Hazare!" Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut surprised her host Simi Garewal with this candid admission on the show India's Most Desirable.

Apparently when Kangana was asked by Simi who she thinks has redefined their status to become a symbol of desirability? She replied, "Well desirable has its own definition you know. If I have to give you a really honest answer you know and that that might just put you off, you would say you're crazy, I want to name a person, you're going to slap me on my face. I desire Anna Hazare."

On being asked how she feels about having a sense of fashion, Kangana said, "Honestly I still don't know I'm that fashionable. May be people around me just dress up bad! You know trust me, when I came to Mumbai, now today I have money I can buy the biggest brands, now it will be very sad if I dress up bad, but when I came new I hardly had money and I would just pick up anything and wear it and I would be written about. Every where. Oh we like this girl, she is so fashionable and all that. So that was a surprise for me. But sometimes I cannot understand why people dress up, it's amazing you know, they dress up so bad! Even the richest people, they wear the most expensive clothes and they dress up bad. So I've come to this conclusion that people around me dress up bad."

This Week Haryana

Bhajan lal seat is must-win for cong’s jai prakash

The Hisar byelection, scheduled on October 13, will be the Congress’s first test following the government’s standoff with Anna Hazare, and it has asked its state unit to ensure the victory of its candidate, Jai Prakash. The three-time MP has a tough fight ahead; the other contestants include two former Chief Ministers’ sons, Ajay Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Kuldeep Bishnoi of the Haryana Janhit Congress. Bishnoi, son of Bhajan Lal, is an MLA from Adampur, one of the nine Assembly segments that form the Hisar parliamentary constituency, and is expected to ride a sympathy wave following the death of his MP father which led to the seat falling vacant. Chautala, an MLA from Dabwali, is banking upon anti-incumbency and a tie-up with the BJP.

Blow to Lobby for Haryana’s own SGPC

Elections to the 11 Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee seats in Haryana saw the rout of those demanding a separate SGPC for the state. Eight of the 11 winners were Shiromani Akali Dal candidates supported by the Indian National Lok Dal. The self-professed president of the Haryana Shiromani Gurudwara Prbandhak Commitee (HSGPC-ad hoc), Jagdish Singh Jhinda, and all the candidates he fielded lost. Jhinda had been a member of the SGPC for seven years and was the lone voice within on this issue.

Clean-up drive in tehsil offices

The government has directed all deputy commissioners to collect information on the functioning of tehsildars and naib-tehsildars in the districts. The exercise has been undertaken to ensure that tehsildars facing disciplinary inquires are not posted in such offices. A list of all such officers will be submitted to the CMO shortly. Additional principal secretary to the Chief Minister R S Doon said the aim was to ensure only persons who are above board be allowed to have an interface with the public. It is often alleged that tehsil offices are dens of corruption.

Few takers for engineering seats

The Haryana State Counselling Society counselled students ahead of admission to engineering colleges and reported that most seats in these colleges are still vacant after its interactions. The society was able to fill only 4,377 B Tech seats in engineering colleges, less than one per cent of the total of almost 54,000. The colleges have now been asked to fill these seats on their own. The last date of admissions is September 30. Most of these engineering colleges are finding it difficult to get students.

Anna-inspired NGOs enter political ring

Inspired by Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement, non-government organisations (NGOs) and civic organisations in the city have formed an alliance, Pune Nagrik Sanghatana (PNS), to offer the electorate a viable alternative for the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)election in 2012.

President of Sajag Nagrik Manch (SNM), Vivek Velankar, told reporters on Monday the federation of civic organisations was launched on the back of the unprecedented anti-corruption movements by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev.

The formation of PNS is inspired by Hazare. "The social awareness created due to the agitation by Anna and Baba should not be frittered away," he said.

Trupti Desai of Bhumata Brigade, Pritesh Laad of Bharat Swabhiman Trust, Vinod Bodhankar of Jal Biradari and Girish Deshpande of the Professionals Party of India addressed the press conference to declare the formation of the alliance.

Nagri Hakka Samiti, Sarvatmaka Parivar, Vanjari Yuvak Sanghatana, Tatvaseva Pratishthan, Maharashtra Military Foundation, Manavi Yuva Vikas Sanghatana, Jansamanya Manch and Abhinav Yuva Manch have also joined the federation.

Velankar said voting percentage in a city like Pune is very low and citizens complain there are no good candidates to vote for.

Anna-inspired NGOs enter political ring Hence, PNS has come forward to provide an alternative with capable educated candidates with clean character for the PMC election in February 2012. Civic activists Budhajirao Mulik, Maruti Bhapkar, Manav Kambale, RV Krishnan and Arun Bhatia would guide the federation.

Stating that Hazare has been informed about the formation of the front, Velankar said PNS would request him to campaign during the PMC election. However, so far he has not promised anything.

Velankar said citizens would have the right to recall elected PNS candidates, and to facilitate this candidates' written resignations would be secured in advance. If elected PNS corporators would hold 'Area Sabhas' every two months to solicit the opinion of citizens in their respective wards, in order to take decisions about development.

A youth wing of the federation would also be launched for registration of young voters. Political activists may be given candidature by the PNS if they do away with their political affiliations and accept the policy of the PNS. Funds for contesting elections would be collected from the public in a transparent manner and audited reports of the funds utilisation would be submitted to the people, Velankar added.

The federation would have collective leadership. All participating organisations would send one representative to the working committee, which would lead the federation.

Swami Agnivesh pleads to Anna Hazare for forgiveness

Activist Swami Agnivesh, who fell out with Anna Hazare's team during the agitation over Lokpal Bill, Tuesday sought forgiveness from the Gandhian and the others "who felt hurt" through his "unintentional acts".

"I am turning 73 tomorrow. The Jain Samaj is celebrating forgiveness week. I seek forgiveness from those who I unintentionally hurt," Agnivesh said on the eve of his birthday.

"If anybody has felt that I hurt them, please forgive me. Incidentally, my birthday also comes on the same day when International Day of Peace is observed," he said.

He said his appeal is specifically to Hazare, the anti-corruption movement and Arya Samaj organisations.

Agnivesh, once a close associate of Hazare, was in the eye of a storm after a video purportedly showed him talking to a minister asking him to take strong action against the Gandhian for not withdrawing his fast over the Janlokpal Bill despite an appeal from Parliament.

Anna inspired Pak anti-corruption campaigner ends fast

Islamabad, Sep 20 A Pakistani businessman who was inspired by Indian anti-graft campaigner Anna Hazare to begin a fast unto death against corruption ended his protest today after parliamentarians assured him of action on his demands.

Raja Jahangir Akhtar, who owns a shop in Islamabad''s Super Market and is affiliated with the ruling Pakistan People''s Party, had begun his fast on September 12.

He ended his eight-day-old protest after a group of lawmakers assured him that they would take up his demand for an anti-corruption bill in the next session of parliament.

The lawmakers who met Akhtar included PPP spokesperson Farahnaz Ispahani, Anoosha Rehman of the PML-N, and Aitzaz Ahsan and Safdar Abbasi of the PPP.

A large number of people from different political parties and civil society groups also met Akhtar and expressed solidarity with him.

Akhtar ended his fast by drinking a glass of mango juice offered to him by former minister Aitzaz Ahsan.

He was taken to hospital shortly after he ended his fast.

People who spoke on the occasion said corruption was a genuine issue for society that can be tackled with the support of the public.

Akhtar thanked the parliamentarians for showing solidarity with him.

Efforts to get Akhtar to end his protest got underway after his condition began deteriorating.Islamabad, Sep 20 (PTI) A Pakistani businessman who was inspired by Indian anti-graft campaigner Anna Hazare to begin a fast unto death against corruption ended his protest today after parliamentarians assured him of action on his demands.

Raja Jahangir Akhtar, who owns a shop in Islamabad''s Super Market and is affiliated with the ruling Pakistan People''s Party, had begun his fast on September 12.

He ended his eight-day-old protest after a group of lawmakers assured him that they would take up his demand for an anti-corruption bill in the next session of parliament.

The lawmakers who met Akhtar included PPP spokesperson Farahnaz Ispahani, Anoosha Rehman of the PML-N, and Aitzaz Ahsan and Safdar Abbasi of the PPP.

A large number of people from different political parties and civil society groups also met Akhtar and expressed solidarity with him.

Akhtar ended his fast by drinking a glass of mango juice offered to him by former minister Aitzaz Ahsan.

He was taken to hospital shortly after he ended his fast.

People who spoke on the occasion said corruption was a genuine issue for society that can be tackled with the support of the public.

Akhtar thanked the parliamentarians for showing solidarity with him.

Efforts to get Akhtar to end his protest got underway after his condition began deteriorating.

History in transition

Of late, following Anna Hazare's agitation, the Congress has become the favourite punching bag of the media and a section of intellectuals. Columnists are declaring not just the beginning of the dec-line of India's Grand Old Party (GOP), but also the fading lustre of Rahul Gandhi, the youth icon projected by the Congress as the face of the future. So much so that a normal, political initiative - in the form of a fast - by Narendra Modi is being represented as a game-changer of sorts.

Recently, two articles in the national media compared Rahul's present situation to that of Rajiv Gandhi during the Bofors controversy, and - in an amazing leap of fantasy - to Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor. Even a neutral observer can see that, if nothing else, both these comparisons are unfair. A little reality check and historical account taking, begin- ning from the 1990s, will perhaps put issues in perspective.

The last decade of the previous century began the rollback of a left-of-centre, pro-people, secular-reformist agenda in Indian politics. It culminated in the right-wing NDA government coming to power in the late 1990s. Class disparities, rule of the rich and communalism solidified under NDA rule. It was the Congress campaign slogan of the 2004 elections that brought the aam admi theme back to Indian politics.

During the UPA-I regime the Right to Information Act was followed by NREGA and other reforms. Besides checking misuse of power by elites, these measures redistributed wealth earned by the nation during a decade of reforms amongst the poorest of the poor.

No major communal riot took place during the tenure of UPA-I. In fact, the late Hemant Karkare exposed the involvement of RSS-type forces in bomb blasts. Brakes were applied to the persecution of innocent Muslims in the wake of terror attacks. It was because of the firm adherence to secularism by UPA-I and the Congress party under Sonia Gandhi that even after repeated blasts affecting places of Hindu and Muslim worship, and a 26/11 type condition of extreme communal polarisation, the body politic remained secular.

Indian people reposed their faith again in the Congress in 2009. But just when UPA-II was about to introduce - in the form of right to education and right to food - the next set of distributive reforms, a conspiracy of a very high order became operational.

It seems that, at this point, right-wing, reactionary socio-political forces realised that the Congress president and Rahul are attempting a revival of the left-of-centre secular agenda, albeit in a modern, 21 {+s} {+t} century form. Political parties like the BJP were anyway unhappy with the way RSS-related forces got caught in 2010 for the Ajmer and Samjhauta Express blasts. In fact, the name of a top RSS functionary emerged as a possible driving force behind terror attacks.

In alliance with a section within the establishment nurtured during the RSS-led infiltration of the bureaucracy, corporate sector, security services, judiciary and the media in the 1980s and 1990s, the sangh parivar masterminded the cons-piracy. In villages, it got the support of old and new landed elites who seethed with fury as they saw the wages of the rural workforce rise like never before due to NREGA. In cities, strong proponents of Indian-style crony capitalism - angling for economic privatisation that would directly hit the poor - also saw their interests threatened by the Congress's proactive, pro-poor measures.

Since a direct attack on pro-poor policies would have favoured the Congress, real issues were sought to be obfuscated by raising the anti-corruption bogey. This was a convenient slogan around which the criminal and the corporate, the corrupt and the communal, the hoarder and the zamindar, the dalal and the executive, could all coalesce in an anti-Congress front. In this, care was taken to fire with the guns kept on the shoulders of idealist elements disillusioned by the very system Sonia and Rahul were trying to reform.

Rahul became the enemy of the Indian status quo because he sided with farmers against the builder-corporate mafia. To guarantee the rights of adivasis over forests and forest produce, he locked horns with corporate forces. Keeping away from the builder mafia, he sympathised with the urban poor. To give relief to the rural poor, he encouraged independent Left forces in UP to take on corruption in central Acts and schemes like NREGA under Mayawati's regime.

Thus, pro-rich, right-wing forces banded together to demean and attack Rahul. He has been called a man without his own views, a dumb scion and now, of course, Bahadur Shah Zafar. But the pro-rich element forget that when Indira Gandhi first became the prime minister she too was derided as a 'goongi gudiya' - a dumb doll with no views of her own - by a powerful pro-big business faction within the Congress, termed 'the Syndicate' by the media. This faction comprised formidable leaders and regional satraps like Morarji Desai, S Nijalin-gappa, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, S K Patil, Atulya Ghosh and K Kamaraj. Even Sonia, till she proved her mettle by making her opponents bite the dust in the 2004 elections, was called - besides a foreigner - a dumb widow et al.

For distinctly class reasons, a large, powerful section both within and outside the Congress does not want to see Rahul rise as a leader. But with the help of the Indian people, pro-poor, Left-secular intellectuals, and grounded leaders, Rahul will beat this new syndicate.

Even Anna is afraid of Maya

Alleging rampant corruption in BSP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party on Tuesday said even Anna Hazare did not dare to launch his anti-graft campaign in the state, due to fear of "autocratic" Mayawati government. "Corruption is at its peak in UP but it seems Hazare is afraid of

starting an anti-corruption campaign here due to fear of autocratic Mayawati government," SP UP head Akhilesh Yadav told a gathering in Fatehpur.
"Whosoever has initiated any campaign during the Mayawati regime has been lathicharged. The government has tried to curb agitations using force," he said.

Yadav, on the second leg of his Kranti Rath Yatra, came down heavily on the BSP government terming it as "anti-Dalit and anti-Muslim".

Aruna Roy opposes Hazare's Lokpal

HYDERABAD: Social activist and member of the National Advisory Council Aruna Roy opposed Anna Hazare's views on the Jan Lokpal bill and described formation of a single Lokpal to make public servants accountable as a "disastrous affair". She said such a model could work for nation states such as Singapore but not a huge country like India.

Roy was speaking at a seminar organised by Progressive Forum State Committee in the city on Monday.

"If power corrupts then absolute power will lead to absolute corruption and we cannot let one body be responsible for the corruption and the grievances all over India," Roy said, adding that there should be different anti-corruption bodies for different public service units. Talking about the highlights of the draft that the National Campaign for People's Right to Information had presented in the parliament on August 4, she said that there have to be different lateral bodies fighting corruption so that work does not pile up with one institution.

According to this draft, a National Anti-corruption Commission will be devised to tackle possible corruption by all the elected representatives including the PM, MPs and senior bureaucrats. Central vigilance commission will be made independent and will be empowered to investigate corruption at the mid level bureaucracy. Judicial Accountability Commission will strengthen the existing judicial accountability without compromising with its independence along with a Grievance Redress Commission which will be time-bound decentralized system to address the grievances of the public.

This draft also has the provision for the protection of whistle blowers under the clause for Whistleblower Protection. This will ensure appropriate protection to whistleblowers in all government and non-government departments.

Roy said "arbitrary use of power and denial of rights to the public is also corruption and to curb this the public has to take the first step by demanding accountability."

Significant corrupt deals now happen virtually (with internet banking making transactions discreet) and only those people can be eligible to look into such matters who have knowledge about international banking and economics. And thus there is a need for various institutions each specialized in a specific area, to check corruption.

Anna Hazare to visit Ahmedabad October 1

Crusader Anna Hazare will visit the state and interact with people about various issues next month. He will begin his weeklong visit from Ahmedabad on October 1.

He will visit most major cities of the state, including Surat. Anna and his team will reach Ahmedabad on October 1. From Ahmedabad, they will move to other cities. The main purpose of the visit is to mobilise people against corruption and related issues.

The core members of his team will accompany Anna.
"Annaji is going to visit Gujarat and will be also coming to Surat. The city has a large number of his supporters, who want him to address them. The tour is fixed and dates have been confirmed. The route of Anna's tour and time schedule are being finalised now," said Deepak Patel, head of India Against Corruption Movement (Surat Wing).

According to Patel, Anna's tour plan will be finalised in the coming days, after which the official declaration of the visit would be made. This will be Anna's second visit to the state and first to Surat.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Anna's 'right to recall' idea impractical: Experts

New Delhi: Terming it "impractical" and "not feasible" in the current Indian political context, constitutional experts reject activist Anna Hazare's idea of the right to recall a member of parliament.

"The idea is impractical as constituency sizes in India are too large. It would be practically difficult to collect signatures of voters opting for a right to recall and verify the same," former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap said.

Senior Supreme Court advocates PP Rao and Kamini Jaiswal also expressed similar views.

Defending the idea, Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said it needs to be set in motion. "It is not unusual," Prashant said. "Right to recall operates in many countries."

He said voters should have a right to recall an MP "if he does not perform according to the wishes of the people, disrupts House, takes bribe for voting or remains absent".

"A rule can be made requiring a minimum of 33 percent voters for any right to recall to become operative," said Bhushan.

However, experts said the right to recall is more suitable for Panchayat and Zila Parishad elections where the size of the constituency is smaller than assembly or Lok Sabha constituencies.

Hazare went on a 12-day fast in August at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi to demand a strong and more inclusive Lokpal

Bill. He has announced that his next campaign will be for a right to recall erring elected representatives.

Senior Supreme Court advocate P.P. Rao too believes the idea is not feasible as it throws up many unanswered questions: "How to recall? Who will do it? On which issues? And under what mechanism?"

These would have to be addressed first, he felt.

"Illiteracy among voters will affect the success of the right to recall," he added.

The idea did not find favour with another senior Supreme Court advocate, Kamini Jaiswal.

"It is not practical," Jaiswal said. "The process of implementing such an idea in a large country with a huge electorate will be very expensive."

According to experts, technically, a right to recall means if voters are unsatisfied with their elected representative, they are able to recall the person before his/her tenure ends.

At present, there is no such provision in the Indian constitution or in the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Recall procedures vary around the world. In Canada, under the Recall and Initiative Act, 1995, the requirement is over 40 percent of the voters.

In the US, the number varies in different states, where recall attempts have been largely ineffectual with only two governors- Lynn J. Frazier (North Dacota) in 1921 and Gray Davis (California) in 2003 -- being removed successfully.

Priyanka follows in the foot steps of Anna Hazare

Mumbai: Anna Hazare’s anshan has inspired one and all for sure. Taking a leaf out of Anna’s book, Bollywood hottie Priyanka Chopra chose not to eat food for over three days while shooting for her latest!

Buzz has it that Piggy Chops got into the skin of her character for Ranbir Kapoor starrer `Barfee`, directed by Anurag Basu. The petite actress got so committed to the character that she decided to live the “reel” character in real.

Not only Priyanka, even filmmaker Basu decided to soulfully feel the character. So the actress-director duo isolated from the rest of the cast and crew and locked itself up in a room for over 3 days. Even co-star Ranbir Kapoor couldn’t believe his eyes!

Talking to a tabloid, a source revealed, "At first Ranbir laughed off Priyanka`s method acting. Tu Marlon Brando hai kya? (Are you trying to be Marlon Brando?). He told her to `just act` the sequence. But PC was adamant. She made it very clear to Anurag that she would actually go through her character`s ordeal for three days."

"To Anurag, who had written the character and the sequence, it seemed unfair that Priyanka should go at it alone. He insisted on going through what the actress` character suffers when confined to a solitary life. Only then did Anurag allow Priyanka to go through the harrowing experience herself," added the source.

Pranab Mukherjee aide gave order to post 'mad' Anna Hazare letter

An alleged defamatory letter calling Anna Hazare "mad" and "communal" was posted on the website of the department of personnel and training (DoPT) on an order from the officer on special duty to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

An RTI reply from the DoPT to activist S. C. Agrawal reveals that out of over 15,000 suggestions received from across the country on the Lokpal Bill, only 22 selected letters were posted on its website under "instructions from the higher authorities". Among these was a letter written by Mohammed Asim Khan, which called Anna communal.

It was chosen by Pradeep Gupta, OSD to Mukherjee.

In its reply, the DoPT said 706 suggestions in the form of hard copies and 14,875 suggestions through email were received.

"In all, 706 suggestions in the form of hard copies and 14,875 suggestions through email were received. Twenty-two suggestions were uploaded on the website following orders from higher-ups," the department said in its reply.

In his letter, Khan said Anna remembers the names of three freedom fighters - Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev - while forgets the names of Ashfaqullah Khan, Bahadur Shah Zafar and Tipu Sultan. This shows Anna is not a Gandhian but is communal, it states.

Khurshid refers to Hazare movement at Nalsar Convocation

Nalsar University of Law conducted its ninth annual convocation here on Saturday. Union Minister of Law and Justice Salman Khurshid presided over the ceremony. Shreya Atrey bagged 11 gold medals while Vikramaditya Mallik was awarded 5 gold medals.

Khurshid in his speech stated that governance process may need redefinition keeping in light the recent Anna Hazare movement and response of Parliament. He urged the youth to design a strong judicial structure within the reach of the common man of the nation. All should come together in response to the new challenges that are emerging due to globalization. He further referred to the report submitted to the knowledge commission which stated that judiciary should play a vital role in the eradication of poverty and equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth.

The Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court and Chancellor of Nalsar University Nissar Ahmad Kakru stated that urgent attention must be given to issues of corruption, illiteracy, caste bias and communal frictions plaguing the country from time to time. He urged institutes of higher learning across the nation to remove the economic barriers for combating the above inequities and issues.

Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N. Kiran Kumar Reddy while addressing the gathering said that his aim is to convert Hyderabad into knowledge and education capital of the country. He asserted that Indian judiciary needs a quick reformation through which the justice delivery system can be changed and disputes can be settled within a fixed time frame.

Others among the participants included vice-chancellor Veer Singh, state home minister P. Sabita Indira Reddy, state minister for law and courts E. Pratap Reddy and registrar of Nalsar Law University Madhubhushi Sridhar.

Civil society mulls challenging the pros

COIMBATORE: Call it the Anna Hazare syndrome or sheer frustration over the state of civic affairs, the coming local body elections, particularly in the city corporation wards, is likely to see a considerable number of independent candidates and nominees from the lesser-known political and social outfits. Many of these groups here are engaged in discussions with various residential associations in the city to finalise the course of action.

"There is a growing resentment among the public in various parts of the city due to the lacklustre implementation of various projects and they are demanding a change from the regular politicians. The recent anti-corruption movements and the Anna Hazare factor are expected to help us considerably," said Raj Kumarr Velu, director, Fifth Pillar, a civil society outfit.

Some of the prominent residential localities in the city are likely to see candidates from these groups in the fray for the post of councillors. These candidates are likely to be from the professional classes, who are likely to come forward and take up the responsibility. Makkal Sakthi Iyyakkam, an alternate political outfit that had fielded candidates in the state assembly election, too have decided to actively participate in the local body election.

"The main issues we are planning to highlight include the deplorable condition of the roads, inadequate water supply and also the frequent hassles faced by the common public while dealing with corporation officials," said K Prakash, a probable candidate on a Makkal Sakthi Iyyakam ticket from one of the wards in Peelamedu locality.

Many people, especially from the middle and upper middle class families residing in organised residential localities in the city, are upset about the corporation's storm water drain and Under Ground Drainage projects. They alleged that the roads dug up for the drainage work are yet to be fully levelled and reconstructed by the city corporation.

"The anger among the residents is at an all-time high as these projects were carried out in an improper manner. There are even discussions to boycott the polls altogether in selected pockets in the city," said Tarun Shah, a member of Siruthuli, an NGO, and a member of Bharathi Park residents association campaigning against the shoddy progress of storm water drain and mindless felling of trees in the city.

Meanwhile, the corporation is trying to implement and complete its projects without irking the city residents further before the local body election. The civic body had even passed a resolution to sanction Rs 15.24 crore for the maintenance of about 49 km of roads dug up for laying under ground drainage network.

The man and his deputy

On the face of it Anna Hazare's refusal to start a political party of his own reflects a much-needed desire to separate the role of the social reformer from that of the politician. The greatest Indian social reformers, from Basavanna to Raja Rammohun Roy to Narayana Guru, may have had an impact on politics but that was always secondary to their impact on the social norms of their time.

When these norms changed, the society would itself force a political transformation . But when the social reformer takes on the role of a politician the task of changing social norms is left unattended to. And as the khap panchayats repeatedly remind us, any change that is brought about entirely in the realm of the legal and the political could quite simply be ignored in social practice.