BEING A GOOD CITIZEN: THIS IS WHAT I WROTE TO OBAMA FOUNDATION

This is what I wrote in response to the Obama Foundation mailer on what “I think about being a good citizen.” And on what the Obama Foundation should be? Well, anything that can bring smile to the majority of this planet, something that other honest organizations working in the social sector are trying to do, irrespective of societies, boundaries and countries.

MY RESPONSE

What I am going to write here is based on my experiences in the Indian context and I believe it will stand true for any other society that needs large scale social intervention. India is slated to become the world’s most populous country but its majority is still poor and forced to live a life of misery, something that the government alone cannot address.

The basic needs of life, food, i.e., shelter, health, education, are still not on their radar. And how can it be when they have to go through the grinding of feeding themselves first, day after day, month after month, year after year. Everything else comes later.

We need to accept the ground reality if we have to bring the change here. The process to change a society and undoing its wrongs and malaise can only begin once we have this realization.

And the most important thing is – the government cannot do it alone. The society must contribute. And we must contribute. We all must feel duty-bound with the sense of ‘giving it back to the society’ for our very existence here – in whatever capacity we are. For me, that is all about being a good citizen.

On a larger and more organized scale, someone once had told me that in order to bring empowerment to the needy, one needs to be an activist and not a fighter. A fighting spirit is good but many a times, the trade-off between ‘fighting the system’ and ‘fighting over your way out of the system’ becomes too costly for the people you are fighting for.

An example will be apt here. Natural calamities, if displace many, are also opportunities for the corrupt souls in a system. You know there is corruption but your priority must be rehabilitating those displaced – and you have to work in tandem with the system – even if the system is corrupt. Your integrity and tenacity lie in how you can take work from the system. There is always the time to fight the menace of corruption later.

As always, committed social work needs a committed soul more than anything else, otherwise there is always the chance to drift away, especially when in India, where everything is so political that in order to get things done, one needs to be inside the system, knowing how to take work from it, keeping in mind the fine line between manipulating a system and taking work from it.

I believe this should be the story of every not-for-profit or every individual working in the social sector – no compromise with ethics – and no compromise with patience – because I think we just do not deal with the mindset or the behavioural change here only – but more importantly, we also deal with the exterior of a person – the society he lives in – with all sorts of good and bad people and institutions.

THE OBAMA.ORG MAILER

We’re so glad you’re a part of this startup for citizenship. Working together, we’re going to build a working, living center for developing the next generation of active leaders all over the world. We have a lot of work to do, and we’re going to count on your ideas to inform our efforts.

That’s why we’re asking you to add your voice today, and that’s why we’ll continue asking you to share your ideas in the months and years ahead. Let us know what’s on your mind, what good citizenship means to you, and what you want this Foundation to be.

©SantoshChaubey

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EUROPE IS SHUTTING ITS DOORS ON MIGRANTS, NUMBERS PROVE THAT

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations’ migration agency, has said in its latest release* that the number of migrants and refugees that entered Europe by sea routes has seen a drastic reduction this year. Data compiled till June 11 says 73,189 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 whereas the corresponding figure for January-June 11 was 211434, almost three times.

Deepening anti-migrant and refugee sentiments in the wake of terror attacks in many European countries and the US can be attributed to this drastic reduction second year in a row.

Britain has seen three terror attacks in last four months, in March, May and June in which dozens of people lost their lives. There have been two major terror attacks in France and one in Sweden in 2017.

The series of terror attacks in Europe that began with Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January 2015 has continued unabated in France, Britain, Germany, Belgium and other European countries. Same is the story of the US where San Bernardino attack in 2015 left 14 dead, Orlando nightclub terror attack in 2016 left 49 dead and other bombings, stabbing and vehicle attacks left many injured. And the sad truth is migrants and refugees and their dependents have been found involved in most of them.

Something that is reflecting in the drastically reduced number of refugees and migrants. 2015 was a crisis year when over a million refugees from civil war ravaged countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria. According to the European Union (EU) claims, 2015 saw 1,321,560 asylum claims.

The rush of migrants and refugees in 2015, said to the biggest wave of human crisis since the Second World War, created a pressure on many European countries, especially the smaller and economically weaker ones. Though the hostile signs were visible quite early with countries like Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic showing strong reservations, the European Commission settled down with a plan to distribute and relocate refugees among the European countries and set September 2017 as deadline keeping in line with the European spirit. But, so far, only 21000 asylum seekers have been relocated even if the EU is threatening legal action against the erring countries.

But coupled with terror incidents being attributed to migrants and refugees and thus a rising hostility, 2016 saw a steep decline with 364000 people seeking asylum in Europe in 2016. Many European countries erected fences to prevent migrants. The Balkan route was closed down. The EU made a deal with Turkey to monitor and block the Aegean Sea route, the main route taken by asylum seekers to reach Europe via Greece. Turkey that happened to be the gateway for Syrian migrants to entry in Europe sealed its border with Syria. Brexit in the UK in 2016 saw emergence of Theresa May, who is blamed by her rivals to have ‘poisonous propaganda about immigrants’.

2017, it seems going to bring it further down. The first six months of the year has just over 70000 asylum seekers in Europe by sea route and by this rate, we can say the number is not going to be more than 150000 and can even be substantially lower than this, given the surge of recent terror attacks in Europe by Islamic militants.

Emergence of right wing and far right in many European countries and governments hostile to migrants and refugees have further exacerbated the crisis. France’s far right politician Marine Le Pen has emerged as the main political opposition in the country with 34 per cent vote where far right was almost non-existent in France some years ago. She is a strong critic of immigration. Germany’s right wing termed asylum seekers ‘compost’. British PM Theresa May is also not interested in refugees welfare. And to cap all of them, US President Donald Trump is a strong anti-immigration voice and has been trying hard to stop migrants and refugees entering from the US. And he is a vocal supporter of Theresa May and Marine Le Pen.

©SantoshChaubey

SO WHAT IF RURAL EXODUS IS ADDING TO URBAN POVERTY

According to the 2014 World Urbanization Prospects, released by the Population Division of the Department of Social and Economic Affairs of the United Nations, India is going to add 404 million of people to its urban population by 2050, ahead of the projected additions by China (292 million) and Nigeria (212 million).

That is expected to add to the poverty problem of India, slowing down the rate of poverty reduction in urban areas of the country. The Global Food Policy report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in March said that the trend is bound to bring more poverty to urban agglomerations.

But it is a double-edge sword.

Why are people migrating to cities or urban agglomerations?

Because they are not able to find a sustainable livelihood back home, if they can call the place they come from as home.

The primary reason to move to cities is the additional source of income by finding jobs in the booming infrastructure sector in India. And small jobs that these big urban agglomerations support. Even if they will pay a heavy price. They will have to live on streets, in slums, with no quality of life. Education, health, shelter and amenities like piped water, electricity and roads will remain out of bounds for them. But they will, at least, be able to feed themselves and their families, that was not possible back there in their villages. Even if malnutrition becomes an urban problem with this rural exodus, it is, at least, saving lives.

They were poor back there, in villages. And they will remain poor even if they migrate to cities.

Because the sole aim of such migration is survival and not uplifting the scale of life.

So, if we see from a sociological perspective, it is a fruitful migration, as long as we keep on failing our agriculture that still supports some 45 crore Indians, if we go by an NSSO report which estimates the number of agricultural households in India at 9 crore. It is an established practice that for statistical calculations, we take the average size of an Indian family of five members. The number goes even further if we count the population dependent indirectly on agriculture.

Because the farming distress is very real. It, in fact, has been there for decades. Since 2001, over 2.30 lakh farmers have committed suicide, i.e., 2 farmers per hour, and these are as per the officials records of the government of India (NCRB figures). It is that during the years of crisis, i.e., drought and overproduction years, the problem becomes so intense that it starts spilling over on our conscience.

And it is always a chain reaction, an eco-system built on all of its constituents with faming at the core, be it rural markets, daily wage earners, transportation workers or even service professionals like lawyers and doctors, farming sustains the flow of money in the local eco-system by regulating the purse strings of majority of its stakeholders.

India has to grow and fine tune its process with this reality. It has to find solutions within the existing framework of its problems because it cannot generate millions of jobs, even in coming years, to support and sustain the chunk of population dependent on agriculture.

©SantoshChaubey

FEELING HEAT, UP CM ADITYANATH DIRECTS OFFICIALS ON FARM LOAN WAIVER

After questions are being raised over delay in the disbursal of the farm loan waiver, Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has given instructions to the Finance Department of the state to take measures to effectively implement the crop loan waiver scheme. There are numerous report on how farmers of the state are still clueless about their loan waiver even after two months of its announcement by the UP CM. Farmers are making rounds of banks but banks haven’t got any order yet and as their previous loan amount is still due, they are not able to get new loans.

The directives issued by Yogi is also being seen as an attempt to avoid farmers unrest in Uttar Pradesh after raging farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur and other districts of Madhya Pradesh and farmers’ protests and clashes with administration in states like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Protests in Madhya Pradesh have reached to its capital city Bhopal. And its flames further have reached to Punjab and Haryana where farmers held protests in support of the farmers of Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh farmers are also going to start their protest movement.

According to the Twitter account of the UP CM office, Yogi Adityanath has directed the state officials that the loan waiver amount of the small and marginal farmers be made available to banks immediately after the state budget is passed. The Yogi government is finalizing its budget and it is expected to be presented by June end. Yogi’s predecessor Akhilesh Yadav had presented the state’s interim budget for April-August on December 21 last year as the state was going to polls in February-March.

Adityanath has directed his officials to issue certificates of loan waiver to the small and marginal farmers and has instructed his officials that they must visit the 86 lakh beneficiary farmers to handover the document personally. The outreach is being seen as an attempt by Adityanath so express his sensitivity towards the affected farmers.

He has also asked his officials to direct the banks to not issue notice to the farmers who are beneficiary of this loan waiver scheme till the state budget is passed. For effective implementation of the loan waiver scheme, he has directed the officials to form committees at the district level headed by the district collectors. One of the most important directives he has issued is of linking the beneficiary bank accounts to their Aadhar number. It will ensure transparency and quick flow of funds from the government to the farmers once the funds are made available.

Keeping its campaign promise, the Yogi Adityanath government had waived crops loans worth Rs 36359 crore its first cabinet meeting on April 4. The waiver intends to benefit 2.1 crore small and marginal farmers of the state with loan liability of up to Rs 1 lakh.

Spread of farmers’ agitation to many states, with many of them being BJP run, has sent state governments and the central government in a panic mode. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan first announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the farmers killed in Mandsaur firing, raised it to Rs 10 lakh and then finally to Rs 1 crore, all in a span of just few hours. He also sat on indefinite peace fast to appeal to the farmers. Central government led by Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting on farmers’ agitation and Maharashtra chief minister decided to waive of farmers’ loans in the state worth 30000 crore, a long standing demand even by the Shiv Sena, the BJP partner in the state government.

Because they realize that if the BJP loses the confident of the farmers, it is staring at an electoral loss in the upcoming elections including the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Farming community and its dependents who form over one-third of India’s population are an electoral force that no political party can dare to ignore. Politics over farm crisis and farm suicides tell us the electoral might of farmers even if they are cursed to live a life of misery with a paltry monthly household income of just Rs 6426 a month, the National Sample Survey Office’s report says.

©SantoshChaubey

MADHYA PRADESH FARMERS’ PROTEST: WHY GOVERNMENT CANNOT IGNORE THE KISAN

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified based on new developments.

According to the 70th Round of the National Sample Survey, conducted during January-December 2013, India has 9 crore agricultural households. Now if we take the average Indian family size of five, we can say that can say there are 45 crore Indians dependent on farming for their survival.

The projection increases further the number of population dependent on agriculture in India if we factor in the Census 2011 data. According to Census 2011, India has 26.32 crore farmers, including 11.86 crore cultivators and 14.43 crore agricultural labourers. Taking the average Indian family size of five and multiplying it with 11.86 crore cultivators gives us 59.3 crore Indians who are supported by agriculture.

That is a huge number, when we see the voter turnout in the last Lok Sabha elections. India had 834082814 electors in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and with a turnout of 66.30 per cent, 553020648 of them voted in the polls. In 2009, the number of electors was 716985101 and turnout was 417158969 at 58.21 per cent.

It becomes even more important to weigh the political consequences when seen the context of the vote share of the winning parties in elections that is much less than the overall number of farmers in India.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP won 282 seats and a full majority for a single party after the 1984 Lok Sabha election with just 31 per cent vote share, i.e., 171436400 votes, much smaller than the population segment dependent on agriculture, the 45 crore Indians based on the projection made on NSSO findings or 59 crore Indians as per the Census 2011 findings.

Congress emerged as the largest party in the 2009 Lok Sabha election winning 206 seats with a vote share of 28.55 per cent, i.e., 119098885 votes and continued its alliance government in the centre that had come to power by defeating the BJP in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. The Congress led United Progressive Alliance government had defeated the BJP led National Democratic Alliance government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004 to form the government in the centre.

India had 671487930 electors in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. 389948330 of them voted with a turnout of 58.07 per cent. Congress got 145 seats and 26.53 per cent votes, i.e., 103453291 votes. Though it got just 7 seats more than the BJP’s 138 seats, it could stitch a viable political coalition and went on to form the government.

In the 1999 Lok Sabha election, 371669104 voters of the 619536847 electors exercised their voting rights. The BJP formed the coalition government by winning 182 seats with a vote share of 23.75 per cent, i.e., 88271412. Though the Congress could win just 114 seats, it got greater share of voters’ pie at 28.30 per cent, i.e., 105182356.

If we go by these figures, it is clear that farmers can swing electoral outcomes if they are mobilized. We have seen that with 2007 Nandigram and 2008 Singur land acquisition protests in West Bengal. Both were farmers’ agitations mishandled by the Left Front government of the state. 14 farmers were killed in police firing during the Nandigram agitation. Mamata Banerjee realized the political opportunity it gave and she successfully exploited it by leading the farmers’ agitation. Though farmers, too, are divided across community and caste lines, but agitations like Nandigram and Singur which present a survival threat have the potential to unite them to unseat the governments. West Bengal confirmed this when riding on the success of these farmers agitations Mamata Banerjee formed the government in the state in 2011, unseating the 34-year long unbridled run on the Left Front. And she has become only stronger since then, winning election after election while the Left Front is almost dead politically in the state.

That is what galvanized and united farmers can do. If it can happen in a state, it can happen in India if it spreads to too many states.

Drought or rains, the farmer in India is cursed to live a life of misery even if he has been at the core of the political discourse in our country. In last 15 years, over 2.30 lakh farmers were forced to commit suicide, i.e., two farmers committing suicide every hour, as per the latest publication of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) . Either a drought year damages their standing crops or a normal rainfall causes overproduction that makes their produce much cheaper than the prevailing market prices and thus a burden as they are not able to recover even their input costs.

Raging farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur and other districts of Madhya Pradesh and farmers’ protests and clashes with administration in states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu tell us their patience is finally waning. Protests in Madhya Pradesh have reached to its capital city Bhopal. Also, in a worrying development for two state governments and the central government, farmers of Punjab and Haryana held protests today supporting farmers of Madhya Pradesh. That has sent state governments and the central government in a panic mode. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan first announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the farmers killed in Mandsaur firing, raised it to Rs 10 lakh and then finally to Rs 1 crore, all in a span of just few hours. He has also announced to sit on indefinite fast from tomorrow. Central government led by Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting on farmers’ agitation and Maharashtra chief minister decided to waive of farmers’ loans in the state worth 30000 crore, a long standing demand even by the Shiv Sena, the BJP partner in the state government.

Because they realize that if the BJP loses the confident of the farmers, it is staring at an electoral loss in the upcoming elections including the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Farming community and its dependents who form over one-third of India’s population are an electoral force that no political party can dare to ignore. Rahul Ganduhi’s visit to Mandsaur or politics over farm crisis and farm suicides tell us the electoral might of farmers even if they are cursed to live a life of misery with a paltry monthly household income of just Rs 6426 a month, the National Sample Survey Office’s report says.

©SantoshChaubey

ACTIVIST LOUJAIN AL-HATHLOUL WHO DEFIED SAUDI ARABIA’S WOMEN DRIVING BAN ARRESTED AGAIN

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Amnesty International has said Saudi Arabia’s women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been arrested again. The Amnesty release said that no reason was given for her arrest and she was not allowed to contact her lawyer and family but added that it might be due to her rights activism.

Loujain al-Hathloul, 27, is one of few women voices in a conservative country with one of the most regressive societies for women where they are cursed to live a life of second class citizens.

They are not allowed to travel alone. They are not allowed to drive and they were now allowed to vote and stand in elections until the local polls of December 2015.

They survive under the strict glare of male guardianship and before last month, they were not allowed even to go to a doctor or have their studies without the approval of their male guardians. An order by Saudi Arabian king Salman last month gave them limited freedom to access education and healthcare on their own.

There has been a growing voice against these atrocities but treatment meted out to Loujain says nothing much has changed. Amnesty International’s Campaign Director in the Middle-East Samah Hadid said Loujain was arrested on June 4 at King Fahad International Airport in Dammam in Saudi Arabia and she is due for interrogation in Riyadh by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution.

Before it, Loujain was arrested on November 30, 2014 for violating Saudi Arabia’s driving ban imposed on women and was in jail in 73 days. To further choke women voices and probably to make her case an example to deter others, her case was transferred to a terrorism court. Loujain has a wide following on Twitter and the Saudi government found her social media posts dangerous enough to crack down.

According to a Washington Post report, she holds a driving license that allows her to drive in every other country of the Arabian Peninsula and when she was arrested in November 2014, she was trying to enter Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates. Since then, she has not tried driving.

Loujain also stood in 2015 civic polls but Saudi authorities didn’t allow her name on the ballot papers. The pain of being treated like second class citizens with borrowed lives echoes in Loujain’s words.

Last month, US President Donald Trump was in Saudi Arabia along with his daughter Ivanka Trump who found Saudi Arabia’s progress on women’s rights encouraging but Loujain questions such events involving a close circle of influential Saudi women who trace their success thanks to their male guardians. She questions the system where the success achieved by a handful of Saudi women is not theirs but due to the opportunities provided by men.

©SantoshChaubey

….HOW HISTORY IS MANIPULATED

The Holocaust is the biggest example of our recent times that shows how history is manipulated.

The world, more or less, is in agreement that the Holocaust was one of the most horrific genocides of humankind and ran though an unparalleled regime of brutality in our modern times which killed millions of humans.

They were simply wiped out from the face of the earth – as they should have never existed.

The world believes in this Holocaust and observes remembrances to revisit the horror, so as to remain on the path of sanity.

Yes, on the path of sanity – but for them only who want to remain humans. It is good for our habitat that majority of us are ‘humans’ in that sense.

But not all of us are.

Naturally, they are from the insane breed that has reddened the earth in every generation.

And has derived its sanctity by manipulating history – in order to get that high pedestal in society first – that would enable them to perpetrate terror in the garb of legitimacy and would further push them to rewrite history – as Adolf Hitler did – as his sycophants did – and as Benito Mussolini did.

We all know that a wide cross-section of Germany was complicit in Hitler’s crimes against humanity. They all benefitted from bodies and ashes of Jews and others who their mad warlords didn’t like. But when it came to trials and punishment, almost of them were let off – in order to begin the process of reconstruction. To a lesser extent, but the same was the case with Mussolini’s Italy.

True, prosecuting hundreds of thousands of Germans would be unwieldy (and time and resource consuming) for a geopolitics that was interested in slicing and dicing the world that would give us the Cold War and geopolitical camps in the future. A war gives winners and losers and winners can rewrite everything as they wish.

Those Germans (or Italians) who were let-off, yes many of them had a conscience crisis for what they had done, but many of them still justified or tried to justify their stand, going as far as to deny the whole Holocaust history as mere propaganda of winners, as some Nazis then and neo-Nazis now, among them have been doing.

Holocaust deniers have had a consistent presence for decades and their propaganda has been there all along, and they have significant number of takers, especially in non-Christian societies, or in the generation that doesn’t care to read history.

As Hitler had got the upper hand in Germany, exploiting the humiliation that Germany faced at hands of the winners of the First World War, manipulating history and records, any autocratic power would do, if it gets the throne. Yes, that is the first thing power gets autocrats to do – they scramble to capitalize on their efforts to rewrite history that they had been trying for years – in order to further legitimize their stay and further consolidate their grip on power.

Nazis, Fascists, neo-Nazis, Neo-Fascists and all other like them have revered the likes of Hitler and Mussolini and they would do all to install them on the highest pedestal of societies when they get a chance to do so. History tells us so.

©SantoshChaubey

HUMAN COST OF SYRIAN CIVIL WAR

On March 15 this year, Syrian civil war completed its sixth year, and going by the state of affairs now, even after the first ever direct US missile attack on a Syrian regime airbase, no end looks in sight.

The result is the human cost – the biggest human crisis since the World War II.

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, around 5,00,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war, some 7,00,000 are trapped in various conflict theatres and over 6 million are internally displaced.

To cap it is the number of Syrian refugees. According to the UN, at the end of March 2017, the number of registered Syrian refugees, scattered in different countries, stood at 5.1 million. It is more than ten times the count of Syrian refugees in 2012. And the actual number may be even higher. Unofficial figures quote over 7 million Syrian refugees and over 12 million internally displaced.

Dependent and helpless, children are the biggest losers in any civil war. According to UNICEF, 23 million Syrian children had to flee the country while another 3 million are living in conflict theatres and cut-off regions and they need immediate help. According to the website http://www.iamsyria.org, the Syrian civil has killed around over 50,000 children.

12 million human lives, including millions of children, dead, trapped in conflict theatres, forced to flee their homes and even their country, that is the human cost the Syrian civil war and it is still unfolding.

According to a report from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, the ongoing Syrian civil war has wiped 11.5 per cent of the Syrian population.

Thousands have died in their desperate rush to cross the Mediterranean Sea to find refuge in Europe, 5000 of them alone in 2016.

Thousands of them have been killed in chemical attacks. Though under international pressure, in 2013, Syria signed the Convention on Chemical Weapons that bans production, storage, use and transportation of chemical weapons, it has been alleged that Syria never disclosed its full chemical arsenal for international inspection and destruction.

And these allegations are not baseless. A recent ABC News report, quoting the White House, speaks about at least over a dozen chemical attacks in Syria since 2012. These include the chemical attack of August 2013 in Aleppo which killed around 1500 people and left thousands others crippled with symptoms of nerve gas attack. There was an international hue and cry but the responsibility could not be affixed.

Yesterday’s US missile attack on a Syrian airbase was in response to a chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib city which killed over 100. It was the first direct US military attack on Syria and was targeted at a Syrian airbase that was reportedly used to launch the Idlib chemical attack. Syria has denied its hands and its ally Russia has strongly defended it. On the contrary, it has blamed the Syrian rebels for the attack, like it does every time.

The never ending Syrian crisis has forced the biggest migration of people since the Second World War – a wave that countries, especially the European ones are feeling too difficult a crisis to handle. Syrians are the biggest migrants group in Europe – those who have got asylum – those who are still waiting in the ‘nowhere’ zone – and those who lost their lives while trying to reach those elusive borders of the European continent.

©SantoshChaubey

WHEN KEJRIWAL, SISODIA, NADDA AND OTHERS FAILED AN 80-YEAR OLD DISABLED, HELPLESS WOMAN

A lady, around 80 years, wheelchair bound, in an old-age home, with no one to take care of her in desperate medical emergencies – should the state ignore such cases – especially when they are tagged and tweeted multiple times about it – especially when they tweet and retweet multiple times a day – showing their social media alertness and connect to the world?

If that happens so – it tells how insensitive our political class has become – and in this case, it exactly came out like this!

And the ‘very aam aadmi-esque Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the claimed harbinger of change in Indian politics, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) are to share the blame here.

The grandma in question here is 80 year old Mrs. Phool Mehta, an old-age home resident from Delhi’s Mayur Vihar Phase 1. She lost her husband some years back and has no son or daughters or any other immediate family. She has no regular source of income apart from some savings, barely enough to sustain her life in the old-age home. She finds it hard to meet her routine medical needs, that are many, so managing finances for medical emergencies, that require huge sum, is out of question. Anyway, somehow, it has been managed so far somehow, like it is going to be this time.

She has multiple health issues. She is diabetic. She takes blood-pressure pills. She met an accident some years ago that has left her wheelchair bound. She has plates and rods in her thighs and hands, one of which she cannot use properly. She has ulcer and continuous internal bleeding leads to periodic Haemoglobin reduction. Her Hb at the moment is 5.2. Her both legs and left hand are swollen and it is spreading to other parts of the body. Yesterday, we took her to a nearby hospital but it refused to take her referring her to some higher centre for specialized care. They said her heart was enlarged, had oedema and they could not take the risk of blood transfusion in this case. We spoke to some Delhi government hospitals, including LBS and GB Pant but they, too, refused, saying they did not deal with such cases.

Doctors told us that the window of time that she had was very limited and so we very trying hard to get her hospitalized in some big hospital yesterday only but no headway was coming in. She was in imminent danger of a renal failure. Out of desperation, I tried to use social media to reach out to the Delhi government and Union Health Minister JP Nadda. Though I did not have much hopes, because I know politicians use social media selectively, going by the content that furthers their agenda, I did try. And I tried multiple times.

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (@arvindkejriwal), Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) and Union Health Minister JP Nadda (@jpnadda) were tagged in all ten tweets that I shot yesterday, hoping they or someone from their team would respond to at least one of them. I also tagged @pmoindia, @sushmaswaraj, @atishimarlena, @raghav_chadha and @drkumarvishwas. But all of them, who are quite active of Twitter, couldn’t find time to look even once at my tweets. A friend even tagged Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain (@satyendarjain).

In an ideal situation, based on the founding principles of these parties, or the values they claim to live and die for, they would rushed to help. But I had expected, the help did not come. It reminded me of another ‘social media savvy’ Union Minister who never responds to uncomfortable or critical tweets – Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Here are those tweets that I shot for Mrs. Mehta, the tweets that could find an alert from anyone in the Delhi Government or the Central Government. I do not want to go into a running commentary on moral obligations and ethical behaviour of our politicians because the episode is self-explanatory.

@SantoshChaubeyy
@msisodia : a 80 yr old old-age home lady in desperate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph 1. Can some1 help?
12:29 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda : a 80 yr old old-age home lady in desperate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph 1. Can some1 help?
12:59 PM – 18 Feb 2017

@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80 yr old oldage hom lady in desprate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph1. Can some1 help? 3rd tweet.
2:44 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80 yr old oldage hom lady in desprate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph1. Can some1 help? 4th tweet.
3:27 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@PMOIndia @ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need of medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 6th tweet.
4:35 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @SushmaSwaraj 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need of medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 7th tweet.
6:11 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @DrKumarVishwas 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 8th tweet.
9:25 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @AtishiMarlena 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 9th tweet.
9:49 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @raghav_chadha 80yr oldage home grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 10th tweet.
9:49 PM – 18 Feb 2017

So it was all for us to try – and we had no option here to fail.

Thankfully, I was also trying my alternate network – of social workers and volunteers. And it was finally this network that came to our rescue – with timely intervention and help from Sai Padma, Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Sailesh Mishra, Abha Khetarpal, Rajeshwar Devarakonda, Dr. AB Dey of AIIMS and many others. With the coordinated help of these dots, the guiding lights here, from different parts of India, Mrs. Mehta was finally admitted to the Geriatric Ward of AIIMS this afternoon.

The doctors have put her on Oxygen. They will treat her for oedema next and then will go for her blood transfusion, some three units minimum that she needs to come to a sustainable level of Hb in her blood. Then she needs some time to stabilize. Hope all will go well now.

©SantoshChaubey

EXECUTED MAN PROVEN INNOCENT AFTER 21 YEARS: JUDICIARY’S TRIUMPH OR CHINESE PROPAGANDA?

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is a bit modified.

In China’s Hebei province, a man convicted and executed for rape and murder of a woman in 1995 has been found innocent 21 years after his sentence was upheld.

China’s Supreme People’s Court has found that evidence in the case was never sufficient and gross miscarriage of justice was done in sending the man, Nie Shubin, to the gallows. The verdict by the apex court of China is being seen as historical in China as its state run media is vigorously reporting about it.

IRONICAL OR HISTORICAL?

A man was arrested in 2005 in rape and murder cases of some women and during the interrogation, he revealed that the crime for which Nie Shubin was executed was in fact committed by him. That man was also executed in 2007.

That means Nie Shubin’s innocence was proven way back in 2005 and as China’s apex court decided to review the Nie Shubin’s verdict in the light of the 2005 revelation only, who will account for the unacceptable delay of 11 years since 2005? Nie’s mother Zhang Huanzhi and his family has been campaigning hard since then.

What about closure for the family after it lost its son at the young age of 21? What about that mother who broke in China’s Supreme People’s Court when the verdict was read out?

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IN CHINA

Global Times, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) writes, “It is an implementation of rule of law and a demonstration of social progress and judicial justice, showing that China attaches great importance to human rights.”

‘China attaches great importance to human rights’ – but incarcerates the voices of dissent. Its most notable contemporary example is Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Peace Nobel Laureate who is still in jail as he has called for political reforms and an end to single party rule in China.

When we see the world view about independence and transparency of the judicial system in China, this verdict that is being much touted by the Chinese state machinery, looks ironical.

The report on judicial independence in China from the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China says, “China’s judiciary continues to be subject to a variety of internal and external controls that significantly limit its ability to engage in independent decisionmaking.”

Another report in Huffington Post analyzing judicial independence in China says, “In China, law is a mechanism for the exercise and safeguard of the Party’s power and legitimacy.”

China will dismiss them as the US propaganda but what should we say when voices from China’s judiciary oppose any reform measure based on the universal norms of human rights.

According to a report in The Guardian last year “China’s top court urged officials from the ruling Communist party to shun western-style judicial independence and reject “erroneous western thought”. Bizarre!

The Huffington Post report says that former President of the Supreme People’s Court, Xiao Yang, had said in 2007 that “the power of the courts to adjudicate independently doesn’t mean at all independence from the Party (CPC). It is the opposite, the embodiment of a high degree of responsibility vis-à-vis Party undertakings.”

China’s judiciary is not seen as independent and it wants to maintain the status quo it seems. The world view about the China’s judiciary is that it is subservient to the interests of the state and has been heavily compromised.

WHAT ABOUT THEN CASES LIKE NIE SHUBIN?

China, the world’s second largest economy and the most populous nation, is a closed country run by an autocratic party which never shares the information that can show it in some negative light, even if it is the basic need of a just society. It only highlights a matter when it serves its vast propaganda machinery.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has been declared only the third ‘core leader’ Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, has emerged as the strongest political leader in China’s recent history. And he is on an image enhancement exercise with his ruthless anti-corruption purge that many say is targeted at purging voices critical of him. Allowing a judiciary that is independent enough to look pro people may be another extension of his outreach tools.

Much like Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade which has seen many high profile purges well publicized or this case as it also follows up a decision taken by the Communist Party of China during its Fourth Plenary Session in October 2014 to ‘set a new blueprint for rule of law’, as another Global Times report on Nie Shubin’s case says.

Immediately after the October 2014 Plenary, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court took cognizance of Shubin’s case in December 2014 and assigned it to a provincial higher court, started its own retrial in June 2016 and came up with the verdict by December 2016.

Chinese courts boast a conviction rate of almost 100% and though China refuses to provide data, it is believed that its judicial system executes maximum number of people in the world. Corruption runs deep in China and then there is also the pressure from authorities to provide impressive data that looks clean on paper – a practice that results in forced confessions, almost non-existent defence in criminal trials and unjust verdicts like this in China’s criminal justice system.

In jurisprudence, it said that no innocent should ever suffer even if 10 guilty persons walk away. It will be interesting to know how the Chinese judicial system interprets this.

©SantoshChaubey