INDIANS ABROAD – WHERE THEY ALL ARE

STATALES

13327438: NON-RESIDENT INDIANS (NRIS)

17905796: PERSONS OF INDIAN ORIGIN (PIOS)

31233234: OVERSEAS INDIANS

COUNTRIES WITH LARGEST INDIAN DIASPORA (ABOVE 1 LAKH)
(NRIs+PIOs)

USA – 4460000
Saudi Arabia – 3255864
Malaysia – 2975000
UAE – 2803751
Myanmar – 2008690
UK – 1825000
Sri Lanka – 1614000
South Africa – 1560000
Canada – 1016185
Kuwait – 919354
Mauritius – 894500
Oman – 783959
Qatar – 697500
Singapore – 650000
Nepal – 600000
Trinidad & Tobago – 556800
Australia – 496000
France – 456470
Bahrain – 316175
Fiji – 315198
Guyana – 297793
Netherlands – 235000
New Zealand – 200000
Italy – 197301
Thailand – 195000
Germany – 169602
Suriname – 154471
Philippines – 120000
Indonesia – 107500

HOW THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA DEFINES THEM

NRI: An Indian citizen who is ordinarily residing outside India and holds an Indian Passport

PIO: A person who or whose any of ancestors was an Indian national and who is presently holding another country’s citizenship/nationality i.e. he/she is holding foreign passport

Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Cardholder: A person registered as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Cardholder under section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955

HOW CAN THEY ACQUIRE INDIAN CITIZENSHIP?

NRI: He/she is an Indian Citizen

PIO: As per section 5(1)(a) & 5(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, he/she has to be ordinarily resident in India for a period of 7 years before making an application for registration.

OCI Cardholder: As per section 5(1)(g) of the Citizenship Act,1955, a person registered as an OCI cardholder for 5 years and who is ordinarily resident in India for twelve months before making an application for registration is eligible for grant of Indian citizenship.

INDIAN DIASPORA ACCORDING TO UN SURVEY – AS IN 2015
Trends in International Migrant Stock – conducted by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

16 Million: India (Largest diaspora population in the world)
12 Million: Mexico

244 MILLION – POPULATION OF INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS IN 2015 – IT INCLUDES 20 MILLION REFUGEES

WHERE THEY ARE HOSTED

76 Million: Asia
75 Million: Europe

Countries with largest number of international migrants: Asia (11 countries), Europe (6 countries), Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Northern America (1 each).

*Data from Government of and United Nations resources

©SantoshChaubey

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2017 WAS COSTLIEST YEAR FOR NATURAL DISASTERS IN THE US

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Natural disasters cost the United States $306 billion in 2017 says the country’s scientific agency National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), making it the costliest year for natural disasters in US history.

2017 has been a year of extreme weather events in the US, including hurricanes, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, drought and freezes and the wildfire season is expected to continue in 2018 as well.

The assessment released by NOAA for 2017 says the US experienced 16 weather and climate disasters, with each of them costing more than $1 billion.

The disasters included 1 freeze, 1 drought (affected multiple areas), 1 wildfire (affected multiple areas), 2 floods, 3 major hurricanes (Harvey, Irma and Maria) and 8 severe storms and took at least 362 lives.


Following graphic shows natural disasters that cost the US 16 billion dollars. (Photo courtesy: NOAA)

The ongoing wildfire season in many western US states has caused dozens of wildfires in the country and their smoke has been visible from the space. They so far have cost $18 billion in damages.


This satellite image shows the wildfires that took place in US in 2017. (Photocourtesy: NASA)

But the three hurricanes cost the US most in damages, totalling around $265 billion with Hurricane Harvey becoming the costliest hurricane in US history in terms of the destruction it wreaked.

Hurricane Harvey lashed many states of the US in August, caused widespread flooding and displaced thousands.

NOAA estimates say the hurricane cost $125 billion, $17 billion more than the cost of estimated damage by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that had inundated 80 per cent of New Orleans.

Hurricane Maria that made landfall in September cost US $90 billion, becoming the third costliest hurricane in US history.

Hurricane Irma, that just followed Hurricane Harvey, cost the US $50 billion, the fifth costliest in US history of natural disasters, the NOAA assessment says.

Like 2017, the 2005 hurricane season including Katrina had left huge destruction behind killing over 1,000 people.

Information from the US National Hurricane Centre shows Dennis, Cindy, Ophelia, Rita, Wilma were other hurricanes of the season that cost US $211.2 billion.

But the deadliest hurricane season in US history has been 1,900 when Galveston killed 8,000 people and caused damage worth $104.3 billion.

Since then, advances made in predicting hurricanes and in fact, other weather phenomenon, have been able to reduce loss of lives to a greater extent as evident from the 2017 hurricane season, which though caused second most widespread damage in US history, the human cost was limited to 103 deaths.

©SantoshChaubey

THOSE OPPOSING TRIPLE TALAQ BILL: HAVE THEY FORGOTTEN WHAT RAJIV GANDHI’S ILL-CONCEIVED SHAH BANO MOVE DID?

Tamil Nadu’s ruling party AIADMK says it will not support the Triple Talaq Bill brought by the government in its present form.

They are demanding to remove the clause from the bill that criminalises instant triple talaq and has provisioned a jail sentence for three years.

In addition, the proposed bill, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, also makes the practice of instant triple talaq non-bailable and cognisable offence.

BJD, the ruling party in Odisha, is opposed to the bill as its feels there are several flaws and internal contradictions and needs amendment. The party like many others in the opposition camp including Congress, are questioning the provisions on criminalisation and jail term.

CPI-M says the move by the government is ‘unwarranted and politically motivated.” Its MP Mohammed Salim said, “When the Supreme Court has already banned the triple talaq, there is no need to bring such a law. If divorce has not happened in the first place, where does the need to criminalise the act arise?”

AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi is outrightly dismissive of the bill saying it violates the Fundamental Rights and is also legally inconsistent. He even moved a notice in the Lok Sabha to oppose the bill.

Parties like SP, BSP and RJD are also opposed to the criminalisation provision, a principal demand of Congress, the largest block in the Rajya Sabha, along with the BJP. Both parties have 57 RS MPs each.

And they all are doing so to address their political constituencies. But does it really help? History tells otherwise.

THE SHAH BANO CASE

Shah Bano was 62 when she filed a court petition in Indore in April 1978 demanding maintenance from her divorced husband, a well-to-do lawyer, for herself and her five children, two daughters and three sons. The divorce was not final yet as per Islamic law. Shah Bano demanded her right to alimony, Rs 500 a month, for subsistence under the Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1973 which deals with maintenance issue of wives, children and parents.

Her husband had thrown her out and was staying with his second wife. After he stopped giving the promised monthly maintenance sum of Rs 200, Shah Bano was forced to approach the court in April 1978. Irked by the move, the husband made the talaq irrevocable in November 1978 and claimed he was not liable to pay any monthly subsistence as per the Muslim personal law and what all he owned to Shah Bano was Rs 5400, the amount according to their marriage contract or Mehr.

Shah Bano won, both from the Indore local court in August 1979 and from the Madhya Pradesh High Court in July 1980. After the local court found that a meagre sum of Rs 25 a month was enough for her and her five children, she filed a petition in the high court to revise it. The high court upheld the lower court order and raised the monthly maintenance to Rs 179.20 a month. But it was still a mere pittance, much lower than Rs 500 a month demanded by Shah Bano.

Shah Bano’s husband immediately moved to the Supreme Court against the high court order. The first hearing in the Supreme Court took place in February 1981. They referred the case to a larger bench. Soon the case acquired a much larger social canvas with Muslim bodies like the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind joining the case intervenors.

The matter was finally heard by a five judge bench of the Supreme Court. The Justices included India’s 16th Chief Justice Y V Chandrachud, Justice Jangnath Misra, Justice D A Desai, Justice O Chinnappa Reddy and Justice E S Venkataramiah.

They delivered a landmark ruling on 23 April 1985 that not only upheld the high court verdict but also opened the way for awakening among the Muslim women, to raise voice against their commoditization and secondary status, in nuptial agreements, in family and in society. The long fight that has resulted in the Supreme Court banning the practice of instant triple talaq and the government coming up with bill to make it a criminal offence is a testimony of that awakening as the fight was spearheaded by individual Muslim women and Muslim women organizations.

RAJIV GANDHI’S SURRENDER

As was expected to happen, the Supreme Court verdict created a storm. The Muslim clergy vehemently opposed it. They took to streets terming the judgement an encroachment upon their personal laws governed by the Shariat. Political overtones of the protests were so strong that the Rajiv Gandhi Government had to surrender finally. It enacted a law in May 1986 that overturned the Supreme Court decision.

THE PRICE CONGRESS PAID – BUT HAVE OTHERS LEARNT FROM IT?

The way Rajiv Gandhi surrendered before the compulsions of appeasement politics and overturned the Supreme Court ruling on a social malaise that was affecting and afflicting millions of Muslim women, it sent out a message that the government of the day was ready to go to any extent to save its votebanks.

The move by Rajiv Gandhi sent a powerful message that the Congress government that was totally appeasement centric and if it could overturn a historic decision of the top court of the land to appease the minorities, it could never be friendly to the interests of the majority. And there were many takers for this perception.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani, deposing before the Liberhan Commission on Babri Mosque demolition, in fact counted the Shah Bano case as one of the three factors that led BJP to launch the movement for Ram Mandir construction in Ayodhya, “If the Shah Bano episode had not taken place, if the Government had not actively participated or facilitated the shilanyas or opened the Ram temple gates, may be this would not have weighed with us when we were thinking of the Ayodhya Resolution in 1989.”

The step that Rajiv Gandhi believed would pay political dividend, in fact, proved a major drag on his legacy and the political dividend instead went to parties like BJP and Shiv Sena. Congress started shrinking and BJP started growing. And the consequences are there for everyone to see today. BJP is now in 19 states while Congress has shrunk to just four and the party has come down to a historical low in its Lok Sabha representation. It could win just 44 seats in the 2015 General Election.

And Rajiv Gandhi did it for a social malaise that that had made lives of Muslim women a hell. 95 per cent of the arbitrarily divorced Muslim women don’t get any compensation or maintenance from their husbands, a survey by the BMMA reveals. The BMMA survey also says 92 per cent Muslim women want triple talaq banned.

The Lok Sabha where BJP and its allies are in absolute majority passed the bill to ban instant triple talaq on 28 December. Now the Rajya Sabha will take it up on 2nd January for discussion and passage. If BJP and Congress can reach to a compromise, then opposition by any other party will not matter.

And history says Congress would not do so, reflecting in the fact that it was, in fact, a poorly calculated decision by Rajiv Gandhi, even if under the pressure of Muslim clerics, that became one of the rallying points for Hindutva politics.

Congress, it seems, has learnt its lessons after paying a heavy price. But can we say that about others?

©SantoshChaubey

SHAH BANO CASE: WHEN SUPREME COURT RULED THAT RELIGION IS IRRELEVANT IN DIVORCE MAINTENANCE CASES

The proposed bill to outlaw the instant triple talaq (most used way by the Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering talaq-talaq-talaq in one go), the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, that was passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday may have unnerved male dominated Muslim organisations, religious scholars and political leaders who are calling it anti-Shariat (hostile to the Muslim personal law) and un-Islamic, the fact is, the country’s apex court, had clearly ruled over three decades ago that religion is irrelevant for practices like divorce and the subsequent issue of maintenance for subsistence.

While delivering a landmark verdict in the Shah Bano case in 1985, Justice Y V Chandrachud, the 16th Chief Justice of India, observed that the Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) 1973 that deals with the issue of subsistence maintenance of wives, children and parents with provision of monthly payment included every wife irrespective of her religion, “Clause (b) of the Explanation to section 125 (1) of the Code, which defines “wife” as including a divorced wife, contains no words of limitation to justify the exclusion of Muslim women from its scope. Wife, means a wife as defined, irrespective of the religion professed by her or by her husband. Therefore, a divorced Muslim woman so long as she has not married, is a wife for the purpose of section 125.”

The former CJI emphasized that such provisions are objective and prophylactic in nature and were enacted to give protective cover to the aggrieved party, “Neglect by a person of sufficient means to maintain these and the inability of these persons to maintain themselves are the objective criteria which determine the applicability of section 125 and therefore such provisions, which are essentially of a prophylactic nature, cut across the barriers of religion.”

Countering the arguments that the verdict encroached upon the Muslim personal law, the former CJI said “true such provisions do not supplant the personal law of the parties but, equally, the religion professed by the parties or the state of the personal law by which they are governed, cannot have any repercussion on the applicability of such laws unless, within the framework of the Constitution, application is restricted to a defined category of religious groups or classes.”

Further elaborating his counter argument, Justice Chandrachud wrote in the landmark verdict, “Whether the spouses are Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Parsis, pagans or heathens is wholly irrelevant in the application of these provisions. The reason for this is axiomatic, in the sense that section 125 is a part of the Code of Criminal Procedure, not of the Civil Laws which define and govern the rights and obligations of the parties belonging to particular, religions like the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, the Shariat or the Parsi Matrimonial Act.”

And ruled that “the liability imposed by section 125 to maintain close relatives who are indigent is founded upon the individuals’ obligation to the society to prevent vagrancy and destitution” is the moral edict of the law and morality cannot be clubbed with religion.

Shah Bano was 62, with five children to look after, when she filed a court case for maintenance from her divorced husband in 1978. In 1985, after seven years of struggles, the Supreme Court finally upheld the verdict of the high court, recognizing her right to alimony irrespective of her being a Muslim womam as the Muslim personal law doesn’t provide for a maintenance post divorce. Instead, what it provisions is sort of one time package that the husband needs to pay for “Iddat” or the waiting period before the woman can remarry again, usually a period of three months in divorce cases.

The verdict created social storm in the Muslim community and political storm in the country. Muslim clerics were dead against it and their pressure worked when the Rajiv Gandhi government brought in the Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act), 1986 next year to overturn the Supreme Court ruling. The bill, though claimed to protect the Muslim women in divorce cases, let erring Muslim husbands go scot-free again. Primacy of the ‘Iddat’ period and thus the superiority of the Muslim men were restored. And instead of giving any direct remedy to the aggrieved woman, she was forced to take a circuitous route, from her close relatives to the Waqf Board to beg for subsistence maintenance.

©SantoshChaubey

TRIPLE TALAQ BILL PASSED: WHY INDIA NEEDED TO GET RID OF THIS SOCIAL MALAISE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

If Muslim countries including Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt have banned the practice of triple talaq, then how is banning triple talaq in India an anti-Shariat and un-Islamic activity?

The Triple Talaq Bill or the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 that was passed in the Lok Sabha has divided the political class and Muslim organisations, even if the legal fight against it was spearheaded by many aggrieved Muslim women and their organisations like the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA).

The proposed bill aims to outlaw the practice of Talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq and criminalises the practice, making it a non-bailable and cognizable offence and inviting a jail term of three years for erring husbands. This provision has been objected by many parties and they are demanding its removal.

The government says, doing so was necessary as even after the landmark Supreme Court verdict on August 22, 2017 that banned instant triple talaq, the social malaise continued unabated. The top court in its verdict had put a six month ban on the practice and had asked the government to frame a law on it.

If we see available data, the government stand looks logical, the data which says the Supreme Court ruling has failed to deter the erring Muslim husbands from divorcing their wives by saying ‘talaq-talaq-talaq’ in one go.

Before the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in August, 177 triple talaq cases were registered, i.e., 22 cases a month.

The situation has become worse since then. As Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad revealed in the Parliament today, around 100 triple talaq cases have been registered since the Supreme Court verdict, i.e., 25 cases a month.

POOR LITERACY LEVELS, NEGLIGIBLE WORKFORCE PARTICIPATION

Data show Muslim women are worst of all social groupings of women in India.

According to the Census 2011, Muslim women at 52 per cent are least educated among the women in India. Among those who are educated, only very few reach the graduation level as the overall share of the Muslim community among graduate students is just 2.75 per cent.

Something that reflects in poor representation of Muslim women in workforce. In 2001, there were just 14.1 per cent Muslim women doing some kind of job which only marginally rose to 14.8 per cent in the Census 2011.

A study by the Indian Institute of Public Administration quoting 2007-08 NSSO data found that there were just 1.5 per cent Muslim women who possessed qualification above higher secondary while majority of them were educated till the upper primary level (around 42 per cent).

UNDERAGE MARRIAGES AND INSTANT DIVORCE: TRIPLE TALAQ IS A SOCIAL MALAISE

Census 2011 also reveals that 13.5 per cent of Muslim women are married before 15 years of age and 49 per cent between 14 to 19 years.

Overall, around 80 per cent of Muslim women are married by the age of 21 and most of them are either illiterate or barely literate to build independent careers.

Also, Census data shows we are staring at a social anathema where more than 50 per cent Muslim girls are forced in underage marriages. It seems as if they are raised only for this exclusive purpose, i.e., get married, become a housewife and spend the whole life under the threat of a husband who can divorce you at his mere whim.

Almost 80 per cent divorced among the Indian Muslims are women, i.e., four divorced Muslim women for every divorced Muslim man, IndiaSpend reports.

Most of them were divorced orally, an instant ‘talaq-talaq-talaq’ was spoken to almost 66 per cent of them.

7.6 per cent were sent letters by their husbands proclaiming divorce while 3.4 per cent were given the shock of their life over phone, the data available shows.

Around 1 per cent of Muslim men also used SMS and email to reveal their designs.

95 per cent of these arbitrarily divorced women don’t get any compensation or maintenance from their husbands, a survey by the BMMA reveals. The BMMA survey also says 92 per cent Muslim women want triple talaq banned.

The Supreme Court, while delivering its landmark decision in the Shah Bano case in 1985, that recognised a Muslim woman’s right to alimony, had commented, “Whether the spouses are Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Parsis, pagans or heathens, is wholly irrelevant in the application of the provisions on maintenance given to wife who is unable to maintain herself.”

Though the Supreme Court decision was overturned by the Rajiv Gandhi government within a year by enacting he Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act), 1986, the case became a rallying point for women voices from within the Muslim community for their rights.

©SantoshChaubey

CBI’S DAMP SQUIBS: CASES THAT PROVED TOO DIFFICULT TO PROVE IN COURT

2G Spectrum Allocation Scam that kept the nation boiled for almost a decade but ultimately proved too difficult for investigators to prove in the court is not the first case that has dragged on for too long before turning into a damp squib. There are cases that directly question the sincerity and credibility of India’s central investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the cases that have shaped the direction of Indian politics but ultimately failed to convince our judicial system, cases that tell us they were more about designs of political masters than about concerns on probity and integrity.

FODDER SCAM – OVER TWO DECADES AND STILL ONGOING

Reports of the scam appeared in January 1996. The Rs 900 crore fodder scam was about siphoning off government money in the name of companies that existed only on papers. The case was transferred to CBI in March 1996. After CBI raided then Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s residence in June 1996, he stepped down the next month but not before installing his wife Rabri Devi in the chief minister’s office. CBI subsequently slapped Lalu and Rabri with disproportionate assets case in August 1998.

The whole case since then since has seen Lalu being jailed, getting bail and even clean chits many times including clean chit in the DA case. Finally, Lalu was convicted in one of the fodder scam cases by a CBI court in Ranchi in September 2013 that disqualified him for six years from political office but he got bail in December 2013. In November 2014, the Jharkhand High Court ruled in his favour by removing conspiracy charges but in a jolt, the charges were reinstated by the Supreme Court in May 2017.

Since the trial is ongoing in the CBI court, Lalu and other convicted in the scam have avenues open in higher courts to challenge their conviction and it will be some time before the final conviction, or for that matter, acquittal, is upheld by the Supreme Court. Given that it is already over two decades in the case, no one can say for how long the case will drag on before any final conclusion.

BOFORS – 1986 TO 2011

The came case to public knowledge in April 1987 after the Swedish Radio claims that bribes worth Rs 64 crore were paid to Indian politicians and defence personnel in the Rs 1437 crore deal between Swedish manufacturer AB Bofors and Government of India for 400 155mm Howitzer guns signed in March 1986.

What followed was over two decades of labyrinthine probe that cost Rajiv Gandhi his government. CBI registered FIR in 1990 but it took nine years for the agency to file first chargesheet in the case when it did so against Win Chadha, an AB Bofors agent, in October 1999. Letter Rogatories were sent and Interpol Red Corner notice was issued. But nothing could help and CBI was forced to wind up its case against lone surviving accused, Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, in January 2011. Before it, CBI had tried to get Quattrocchi extradited to India for years but always failed. Quattrocchi died in 2013.

The case that dragged on for 25 years and created storm in Indian politics, saw no convictions and it fact the judge, while deliberating on CBI’s closure report, commented that the agency had already spent Rs 250 crore on investigating a kickback of Rs 64 crore and the whole exercise was a sheer wastage of public money.

DENEL ARMS DEAL SCAM – 2003 TO 2013

India signed deal with South Africa’s state owned firm Denel in 2003 to get 1,200 bunker-buster anti-material rifles through a British agent. But the deal was mired in controversy with kickback allegations of Rs 20 crore paid to gain confidential documents from the Ministry of Defence. Denel was supposed to provide 1,200 rifles but it ended up providing only 300.

CBI started its probe in July 2005 but couldn’t make much headway apart from sending routine Letter Rogatories and was forced to file closure report in September 2013 where it accepted it could not find any evidence to prove allegations of corruption in the deal.

COFFIN SCAM – 2002 TO 2015

The scam came under scanner in 2002. A CAG report found the coffins bought for the Kargil War martyrs too expensive and indeed they were, at $2500, each coffin was 15 times more than the price of $172 paid earlier.

CBI was asked to probe the scam in June 2005 but could register a case only after a year, in June 2006, against George Fernandes, the Defence Minister in during the Kargil War in 1999, three army officers and the US supplier.

The agency filed its chargesheet in 2009 where it did not name George Fernandes giving him clean chit. The three army officers were also given clean chit by a Delhi court in December 2013 citing lack of evidence and in October 2015, the Supreme Court, too, gave the NDA government clean chit in the case under which the alleged scam had taken place.

BARAK MISSILE SCAM – 2001 TO 2013

The scam came to light in 2001 through Tehelka sting operation that alleged kickbacks in many defence deals signed by the government of India. The government had signed a deal worth Rs 1150 crore with Israel in 2000 for Barak missiles.

CBI took over the case and registered FIR in October 2006 accusing George Fernandes, former naval chief Sushil Kumar, Jaya Jaitley, Samata Party leader, RK Jain, Samata Party treasurer and businessman Suresh Nanda.

But while the case created political storm, CBI could not do much beyond sending letters of request to concerned countries from where it could not any worthy information. So the agency that had claimed huge bribes were paid and a conspiracy was hatched for the deal while registering the case, was forced to file closure report in December 2013.

©SantoshChaubey

CLIMAX….AND HOW IT CLIMAXES….CLASSIC INDIAN MASALA CINEMA WAY

In a palatial mansion, well-fortified, with guards and otherwise, there is a wall, unplastered, wall made of single row of bricks, looking ugly and totally out of place, waiting to be razed down….like it happens.

Inside the wall, the villain, clad in a polo outfit, is vigorously trying to rape a woman….like it happens.

The woman is crying for help, in the oversized mansion, secluded by the poor wall, and guarded by plenty of goondas….like it happens.

Anger is simmering….like it happens.

When it reaches to the helping ears, it starts boiling. And the helping ears rush to help. A big bang!!!! Like it happens.

And the ugly, out of place bare bricks wall is suddenly down, receiving its freedom, away from this palace that is phony for its standards, making its very existence in the frame a sham.

And, the helping ears are in, with body, with soul, with emotion and with anger – all on simultaneous display.

(Specifics of characters are interchangeable here with the sole distinction that the premises always remain the same – they may be of any age – of any sex – of any social class – even of any species.)

Soon we see the protagonist(s) of the frame on rampage in the mansion, throwing goondas here and there. The scene takes some time before collars of the villain is grabbed so that the fighting spirit and skills can be shown in totally, with mandatory bulldozing to overdose levels….like it happens.

Though the goons are still trying to give him a fight, like they were trying from the very first moment, he is outmatching them, making whirlwind rounds of the hall and in fact the overall mansion premises, its rooms, even jumping up and running down stairs, with impeccable somersault moves and acrobatic skills….like it happens.

As the good vs evil fight progresses, more and more goondas are seen biting the dust. There reaches a point when the boiling point of anger is right there with its intensity sending goondas packing, broken and aching….like it happens.

And after an epic fight, the frame cut to the next one where we see the main protagonist (of all) chasing the rapist owner of the mansion. He is the saviour of the moment and soon he is there, to melt the core.

Now desperate and running, the rapist reaches to his gun somehow (or for that matter any other weapon as per the script) somehow and is now taking aim.

There is pin drop silence in the ambience….like it happens.

The watchers have left their munching-grazing midway….like it happens.

But, but, while taking aim, the daddy goonda had not seen the other protagonist who was just behind the rapist, like even the viewers had not seen him in the frame for a long time. We don’t see him charging but all of a sudden, the other protagonist comes between the villain’s aim and the main protagonist, as the routine is, that the other protagonist is sacrificed by the script.

The anger, the tension, now starts spilling over….like it happens.

The main protagonist of all, the saviour of filmmakers and viewers alike, is up on the habitual murders and serial rapist now, ready to snatch the gun and take over the scene in finality.

And lo and behold! Flash and smash!

Like the situation has been conceived, the gun is either snatched and thrown away by the saviour who then shows his martial arts once again or the weapon’s is acted upon in such a way that its aim does the course correction to find its ultimate target – the rapist (or the villain).

Most of the times, the weapon is retired so that viewers can see some ‘real action’, in flesh and blood, in a syrupy cocktail of emotions. And the very next moment, the daddy goonda is in iron grip of our hero. He punches him, kicks him, tosses him up and away, he applies every trick of regulated and free style fight. To the credit of the rapist goon, he is a sturdy fellow who can weather the just excesses committed by the hero till it meets the appetite of viewers….like it happens.

How the climax climaxes!

Bang again!

A glass wall here, a door there, and furniture’s all around in the room get smashed down and we find the daddy goonda on the floor. From that point, he paces out, saving his life from the ongoing wrath of the saviour but fails miserably. He wishes to be a Jamaican sprinter but the script curses him to be an Indian one….like it happens.

It’s the finality – the finality that releases tension. And viewers are back to their normalized ways – grazing, munching while watching the emotional reunion of the caller and the called – the saviour and the saved.

It’s time for some garnishing, some dessert, the cherry on the top of the cake!

Tears are in free flow mode. Many of the viewers in the theatre are clapping, sobbing, and some even crying. The chatter, that had gone silent suddenly, is alive again. The job is well done. Filmwallas have performed their duty. And viewers have paid it back by reacting dutifully.

🙂 🙂 The Way It Is….The Classic Indian Masala Cinema…. 🙂 🙂

©SantoshChaubey

MEET THE INDIAN-AMERICAN AT CENTRE OF US MOVE TO REPEAL NET NEUTRALITY RULES

The article originally appeared on India Today on 15 December.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the telecom regulator of the United States of America, has repealed a landmark law the country passed in 2015 to ensure net neutrality in the US and Ajit Pai, a son of immigrant Indians, is at the centre of the debate. He heads the US FCC.

Pai is a Republican, the same party as American President Donald J Trump, and was made the FCC chief in January 2017, the same month the Trump administration took over the White House.

The FCC, the US equivalent of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has voted in favour of repealing a 2015 law enacted by itself under the Barack Obama government. The FCC is overseen by the US Congressional chairs and currently, like the US Congress (the American equivalent of Parliament), the Republicans are in majority in the FCC, a fact that helped the proposal moved by Pai score a 3-2 victory. Incidentally, Ajit Pai was appointed a commissioner in the FCC in 2012 by then president Barack Obama.

The move by Pai, whose FCC bio states that “consumers benefit most from competition, not pre-emptive regulation and regulators should be skeptical (sic) of pleas to regulate rivals”, has sharply divided America with critics saying repealing the net neutrality law will kill the spirit of free internet.

Critics argue that the repeal plan will benefit only few big telecom players who wield immense power over the flow of internet and telecommunication channels. Opponents of the repeal bill, named Restoring Internet Freedom Order, say it will effectively shut down or marginalise small players and will start a rush of predatory discriminating practices where one telecom company will try all to disadvantage a rival company’s data flowing through its cables.

And above all, internet users will be the ultimate losers with their freedom to get unrestrained access to all content and data gone, the critics add. Net neutrality, they say, ensures that no service provider will speed up or throttle a particular service because of its business interests.

IN INDIA

India has also been through this important debate. The country saw a major controversy over services such as Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero plans. These differential pricing plans were alleged to be discriminatory in nature as they would have given preferential treatment to content and data of a particiular telecom company or internet service provider (ISP).

Citizens here were up in arms over this and a public outcry forced the government and the TRAI to initiate consultations on building a framework to ensure net neutrality in the Indian market. And, its outcome has been positive so far with TRAI vouching to uphold the principles of net neutrality in recommendations it released last month.

Ajit Pai’s move is threatening to undo that in America, the world’s largest free market for the internet. Pai’s move has also unnerved the internet’s founding fathers Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf and many other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker.

They wrote an open letter to US Congress calling on it to cancel the proposed vote yesterday. They called the repeal plan flawed and an imminent threat to the internet.

But Pai was unnerved. He tweeted this morning to let the world know that there would be no change in his plans, “U.S. @SenateMajLdr supports @FCC plan to restore Internet freedom, saying our Internet economy is the “direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement-one that utilized a light regulatory touch.”

Ajit Pai’s parents were doctors. His mother was from Karnataka and father from Andhra Pradesh. They migrated to America where Pai was born in 1973 in Buffalo, New York.

A graduate from Harvard and University of Chicago Law School, Pai’s law career includes assignments mostly with the US judicial services and the US Congress in difference capacities as well as stints with private corporations like Verizon Jenner & Block.

©SantoshChaubey

‘SEVERE HEALTH IMPACTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE’: UN STUDY ON E-WASTE CRISIS IN INDIA

A new United Nations study has painted a grim picture for India on e-waste management. The study, Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN University (UNU) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), says as India’s e-waste recycling operations are mostly in the informal sector, it is beset with severe health impacts and causes widespread environmental damage.

India’s formal e-waste recycling industry is still non-existent and the country is dotted with manual recycling operations in the informal sector. Over a million employed here are basically poor people with either no or very low literacy levels. They are either unaware of the hazardous consequences of the work they do or are forced to do their job because they have no other option, the study says.

India’s electronics industry is among the fastest growing in the world and is expected to become a $400 Billion industry by 2020 with a CAGR of 41 per cent during 2017-2020 says a study by ASSOCHAM and NEC Technologies.

That makes India one of the largest producers of e-waste. A 2016 study by ASSOCHAM-KPMG says India’s is the world’s fifth largest e-waste producer generating 18.5 lakh tonnes of discarded electronic waste annually. In Asia, India is third behind China and Japan. According to the UN study, China is Asia’s and the world’s top e-waste generating country producing 7.2 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2016. Japan was second in Asia producing 2.1 MMT of e-waste while India came a close third with 2 MMT e-waste generated in 2016, an assessment that is in sync with the ASSOCHAM-KPMG study.

And it is mostly driven by advances made in telecommunication as around 54 per cent households globally have internet access now. Couple this with the 7.7 billion mobile wireless subscriptions as tallied by Statista, an online research and business intelligence firm and the problem looks critical. The figure tells there are more mobile phones today than the overall global population of 7.44 Billion at the moment. Another assessment by eMarketer says the smartphone penetration globally is to reach to 2.39 Billion this year. All this is going to produce heaps of e-waste as we move to a more digitally connected world.

Due toeEver declining technology and hardware prices, mainly in the telecommunication sector like the mobile phones, computers, computer peripherals and other IT equipment, coupled with decrease in price of services, in voice and internet, the e-waste is expected to increase manifold in India and the world in years ahead. This is in addition to other e-waste from discarded products like televisions, refrigerators, air-conditioners and electronic toys. Such electronic waste, with a battery or plug, is a major health hazard and environment threat the UN warns. They have high levels of poisonous elements like lead, cadmium and mercury.

Reflecting India’s position as the world second largest telecom market which is also the fastest growing one, almost 70 per cent of the country’s electronic waste comes from discarded computer equipment whereas the telecom equipment constitutes 12 per cent of our annual electronic waste. But mobile phones and smartphones are a fast growing category here as almost 25 crore of mobile handsets, or 25 per cent of over 100 crore user base, end up in e-waste each year. Overall, India’s electronic waste is growing 30 per cent annually.

Though India had enacted law to regulate e-waste management in the country in 2011 and made further amendments in it in 2015 to cover producers, it is still a long way to go before a well-laid out mechanism can be put in place given the fact that almost 95 per cent of e-waste collection and handling in the country is done by the informal sector. For the record, the amended e-waste management rule requires producers to collect 30 per cent e-waste generated initially and it will subsequently go up to the level of 70 per cent by the seventh year.

In addition to this, India also imports e-waste from other countries and it makes the crisis even more serious. According to another ASSOCHAM report, India has become a dumping ground for e-waste from developed countries and what should be eye-opening is the fact that 85 per cent of this hazardous waste ends up in the country’s capital and its adjoining areas, Delhi-NCR. The study projected Delhi’s annual e-waste to increase by a whopping 40,000 MT in a year, from 68,000 MT in 2016 to 1,07,000 MT in 2017.

Globally, e-waste generated increased by 8 per cent or 3.3 MMT to 44.7 MMT from its 2014 level and with a more digitally connected and ICT dependent world, the UN study projects it to increase by 17 per cent to reach to the level of 52.2 MMT by 2021.

And only 20 per cent of it or 8.9 MMT of it could be recycled in 2016. But the situation is horrible in India where, according to an ASSOCHAM-cKinetics study released on the World Environment Day last year, just 1.5 per cent of e-waste generated could be recycled. The study cited poor infrastructure and inefficient regulatory framework as the main reasons behind this poor state of affairs that is fast emerging as an health and environmental crisis in the country.

©SantoshChaubey

AJIT PAI, SON OF IMMIGRANT INDIANS, IS AT THE CENTRE OF US NET NEUTRALITY DEBATE

Ajit Pai, son of immigrant Indians, is at the centre of the raging net neutrality debate in the United States. He heads the US body which regulates the internet in America, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He is a Republican and was made the FCC chief in January 2017, the same month the Trump Government was inaugurated in the White House.

The FCC, the US equivalent of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), is bringing a proposal to repeal a 2015 law enacted by it under the Barack Obama Government. The FCC is overseen by US Congressional chairs. The repeal plan is slated for voting today and analysts have projected that it would be approved. Incidentally, Ajit Pai was appointed a commissioner in the FCC in 2012 by Barack Obama only.

The move by Pai, whose FCC bio* states that “consumers benefit most from competition, not pre-emptive regulation and regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate rivals”, has sharply divided America with critics saying it will kill the spirit of free internet. Critics argue that the repeal plan will benefit only few big telecom players who wield immense power over the flow of internet and telecommunication channels. The repeal bill, Restoring Internet Freedom Order, will effectively shut down or marginalize small players and will start a rush of predatory discriminating practices where one telecom company will try all to discredit its rival company’s data flowing through its cables.

And above all, the people will be the ultimate losers with their freedom to get unrestrained access to every content and data gone, something that is at the heart of net neutrality which aims to ensure level playing field for every content, every data flowing through communication channels, be it by the world’s largest service provide or a start-up.

India has also been through this important debate. We should not forget the controversy generated by moves like Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero plans. These differential pricing plans were discriminatory in nature as they would have given preferential treatment to content and data of one telecom company or internet service provider (ISP) over the other. People were naturally outraged at this and their mobilization forced the government and the TRAI to initiate consultations to build a framework to ensure net neutrality in the Indian market. And its outcome has been positive so far with TRAI vouching to uphold the principal of net neutrality in India in its final recommendations on the issue that came out last month.

But Ajit Pai’s may undo all that in America, the world’s largest free market for the internet, and a sort of role-model for the world. And Pai’s move is supported by a lobby of few powerful companies including Verizon, one of America’s biggest telecom services providers and Pai’s former employer, as many media reports* suggest. A Guardian report* writes that Pai is adamant to move ahead with his repeal plan in spite of “members of the public across the political spectrum, be it Democrats or Republicans, supporting the net neutrality rules as revealed in the many polls*.”

Pai’s move has also unnerved the Internet’s founding fathers* Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf and many other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker. They have written an open letter to the US Congress calling on it to cancel the proposed vote today calling Pai’s repeal plan flawed and an imminent threat to the Internet. But Pai, too, is unnerved. He tweeted this morning to let the world know that there would be no change in his plans, “U.S. @SenateMajLdr supports @FCC plan to restore Internet freedom, saying our Internet economy is the “direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement–one that utilized a light regulatory touch.”

Ajit Pai’s parents were doctors. His mother was from Karnataka and father from Andhra Pradesh. They migrated to America where Pai was born in 1973 in Buffalo, New York. A graduate from Harvard and University of Chicago Law School, Pai’s law career includes assignments mostly with the US judicial services and the US Congress in difference capacities as well as stints with private corporations like Verizon Jenner & Block.

©SantoshChaubey