Budget: After UP debacle – No mood to woo Muslims *500 persons trained to work in overcrowded prisons

March 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Karnataka, National, newsletter-india, Uttar Pradesh

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Pranab MukherjeeNew Delhi, March 16, 2012: After the recent debacle in the UP elections, mainly because Muslim community, which constitute almost 18% of the state, didn’t vote for the Congress party which was almost maddeningly wooing the minority community before the elections, the Rahul Gandhi’s party didn’t appear in the mood to woo minorities (read Muslims) any longer, especially when it comes to taking concrete policy decisions for minorities in the Union Budget.

So the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MMA) had to be satisfied with just two new token schemes with meager allocation and a slight increase of 14% in the total budget of the ministry.

The MMA got Rs. 3,135 crore as its share in the Union General Budget 2012-13 presented by the union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today. This is an increase of Rs. 385 crore over the budget for 2011-12, which stands at Rs. 2,750 crore.

Pranab Mukherjee allocated just Rs. 4.50 crore for a new scheme to provide free cycles to girl students of class IX with the objective of retention of minority girl students from class IX onwards.

Another new scheme: Skill Development Initiatives has been provided meager Rs. 18 crore in the Budget to allow urban and rural livelihoods to improve for inclusive growth by providing skill to the Minority communities who do not posses any, to allow them to gain employment.

It’s important to note here that a vast number of communities belonging to minorities specially Muslims are engaged in occupations embroidery, tailor, zari work, bangle, leather work, which come under the category of skill development programmes, for which only 18 crore has been allocated.

The Budget 2012-13 increases significantly the outlay for educational scholarship schemes being implemented by the Ministry for the students belonging to minorities.

The money for Pre-Matric Scholarship has been increased from Rs. 540 crore to Rs. 810 crore; Post-Matric scholarship gets Rs. 450 crore – up from Rs. 405 crore; Merit-cum-means scholarship scheme gets Rs. 198 crore – as against Rs. 126 crore during 2011-12.

Provision for Maulana Azad National Fellowship for Minority students has been enhanced from Rs. 47 crore to Rs. 63 crore.

Rs. 45 crore each have been provided for i) Scheme for promotion of education in 100 Minority Concentration towns/cities; and ii) Village Development Programme for 1,000 villages not covered under Minority Concentration Blocks/ Minority Concentration Districts.

– tcn

500 trained to work in India’s overcrowded prisons

 

Prison MinistryKarnataka, March 16, 2012: Prison Ministry India, a national voluntary organisation for priests, nuns and lay people, is behind the initiative. Recognised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the ministry works to rehabilitate inmates and ex-convicts. India’s 1,393 prisons are overcrowded with an occupancy rate of 115.1 per cent. More than half of all inmates are awaiting trial.

Prison Ministry India, a national voluntary organisation recognised by the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), is training 500 priests, nuns and lay people to be fulltime volunteers in the country’s prisons. Training will begin in May in Bangalore, Karnataka.

Set up in 1986 by a group of students for the purpose of helping inmates on their way to rehabilitation, the Prison Ministry now has 850 branches and 30 rehabilitation centres around the country for ex-convicts and children at risk. More than 6,000 volunteers work with 370,000 prisoners.

In 2011, it conducted 197 awareness programmes in parishes, colleges, schools and other institutions. “We have invited priests, nuns, brothers and lay people who can devote themselves fulltime to the prison ministry,” PMI national coordinator Fr Sebastian Vakumpadan told AsiaNews. “We give them a month-long intensive training in Bangalore and Kerala. Then we send them two at a time to the various states of India according to their language and choice,” where “they will be guided by a PMI coordinator for the following year.”

“There is a lot to do,” Fr Sebastian explained. “We must change the atmosphere in prisons and turn them into reformative structures to change people’s attitude and improve the reintegration of ex-inmates in society.” India had 1,393 prison facilities according to the 2010 report by the National Crime Record Bureau of India. Overcrowding is a major problem.

Existing prisons can hold up to 320,450 but they currently house 368,998 (115.1 per cent occupancy rate), with 240,098 (65.1 per cent) awaiting trial and 125,789 (34.1 per cent) already convicted. Men represent 95.9 per cent of the inmate population; women, 4.1 per cent.

The state of Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of prisoners (82,673), followed by Madhya Pradesh (31,318) and Bihar (29,700). Prisons in Chhattisgarh are the most overcrowded (237 per cent), followed by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (227.7 per cent).

– asianews

Mayawati responsible for plight of women in UP: Rahul *Being socially relevant in Kerala

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister MayawatiUttar Pradesh, February 12, 2012: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Sunday blamed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for the sorry plight of women in the state.

“Even though this state is ruled by a woman chief minister, there is no one to hear the voice of women,” Gandhi said, addressing a pubic rally in this Uttar Pradesh district where polling is due Feb 15 in the third phase of the seven-phase assembly election.

“With a view to ensuring participation of women right down to the grassroots level, the Congress made it a point to give reservation to women in panchayats, but that is not being implemented in the true spirit in this state,” he alleged.

Citing a examples of injustice to women in the state, Gandhi said: “I was told by an old woman how her agricultural land was forcibly acquired for some builders. When the builder demanded immediate vacation of the plot, the woman complained to the local police station but to no avail.

“Police not only refused to intervene but even went to the extent of setting fire to the standing crop on the poor woman’s land,” he alleged.

Stressing he was not here to make promises like other political parties, he said: “When one has clear intentions, he need not make promises. I have not come here to make promises but to take UP on the path for change and I am sure that we will win this battle.”

“Ask Mayawati and (Samajwadi Party chief) Mulayam Singh Yadav whether they cared to visit any village in the last five years, but when they go about addressing election rallies, they were busy making tall promises,” he said, adding he wondered why they had not done so when in power.

Flaying successive non-Congress governments in Uttar Pradish where Congress had been out of power for 22 years, Gandhi asserted he was committed to the cause of Uttar Pradesh’s development.

“And I will not budge from here. Let me tell you that when I choose to take up something, I do not leave it halfway,” he said.

“Even if only one person from UP stands by me, I will continue to fight for you because you have been duped for 22 years,” Gandhi said.

He blamed the BSP, the Samajwadi Party as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for neglecting the state for “not doing anything to build the future of the state’s youth”.

He also accused all the three parties for fuelling corruption in the state and pilfering funds sent by the central government for various development tasks.

Gandhi later addressed another meeting in Zafrabad town of Jaunpur, followed by one in Kaushambhi and two meetings in Allahabad.

– ians

Being socially relevant in Kerala

 

Being socially relevant in KeralaKerala, February 11, 2012: Recent actions by the communist party has caused fury among the clergy and the ruling Congress. Last week I met John Peter, a Catholic selling tender coconut on the streets of Kochi. His red-colored headgear indicated his leftist sympathies. As he waited for customers, I tried to have a conversation with him and started by mentioning the recent controversy over depictions of Christ as a communist and the Church’s subsequent condemnation of them.

“Nonsense,” the seller said.

Which part was the nonsense, I asked: the Church’s condemnation or the communists’ depictions?

What followed was an hour-long lecture on how people have grown tired of discussing the war of words between the leaders of the Church and communists, how self-acclaimed intellectuals bring to centre-stage issues irrelevant to people’s daily lives.

“These people are a waste, and discussing them we waste time. Do something useful,” he concluded.

I purchased a coconut drink and then left.

Whether Peter is right or not, the history of communists in Kerala has always been marked by the leftists’ tussles with the Church. Nothing has changed in this southern Indian state, where the communists are in the opposition but continue aiming for power. They might well succeed. After all, it is the first place in the world where communists came to power through elections, in 1957.

Their recent expressions of solidarity with Christ, enlisting him among their leaders along with Marx, Engels and Che Guevara, should be seen in the light of political ambition and their struggle to build up losing relevance and cadre support.

Recent actions by the party designed to lessen the gap between Christians and communists has caused fury among the clergy and the ruling Congress Party, and has inspired widespread condemnation.

First, a party leader equated Christianity with communism by saying the religion follows the same ideals that communists embrace. This revelation came from Communist Party of India (Marxist) Central Committee member E P Jayarajan on January 28, ahead of the party’s state meet that began February 6.

A major controversy broke out days before the state-level meeting opened. An exhibition the party organized included a picture of the crucified Christ among those of communist leaders, as if to assert that Christ was among their leaders who struggled for the oppressed.

CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan justified the presence of the crucifix, saying Christ championed the cause of the oppressed just as communists are doing now.

Almost at the same time the party’s confederation of the labor unions sponsored a poster campaign in which they altered an image of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. It replaced Christ with US President Barack Obama and put a motley group of Indian politicians with him at the table. It was subtitled in Malayalam: “The last supper of capitalism…hope only in Marxism.”

They went a step further by also depicting St Sebastian, a popular saint among Kerala Christians, as a martyr who died “fighting oppression” under the Roman emperor Diocletian. The youth wing of the party (DYFI) did it in a poster that greeted a parish celebrating the saint’s feast.

When Church leaders condemned these actions, Vijyan volunteered in a public meeting to explain why his party draws inspiration from Christ. To help Church leaders understand it better, he explained it in terms of Latin American liberation theology and quoted from the Bible.

Vijayan and his cadres are familiar with liberation theology, thanks to some Catholic priests who attempted to practice the Latin American liberation model among the fisher-people on Kerala’s southern coast in the 1980s. That experiment failed when the official Church began to explain it as the “sugar-coated poison” of communists and blacklisted priests who they suspected were communist sympathizers.

But that gave enormous courage to communists to quote the Bible and find similarities with the teachings of Christ and the theories of Marx, causing confusion among ordinary Catholics. A group of devout Catholic youth once told me they were convinced that being a good Christian would mean being a good communist because a Christian is called to struggle for equality and to fight oppression and exploitation. I knew of a Church-going septuagenarian who had Marx’s picture in his scapular. In some huts of fisher-people, I have seen pictures of Marx and Engels alongside the Sacred Heart and Mother of Perpetual Help.

This confused assertion is a worry for the Church, and this confusion is exactly what the communists want because at some stage, they know, it would mean votes for them.

And they know it is time for them to play on the confusion. The state will hold a by-election soon to fill the vacancy created by the death of sitting minister T M Jacob, who won in the Christian stronghold of Piravom. A communist win there would be crucial to pull down the Congress-led alliance government, as the communists already have 68 seats in the 140-seat house.

The communist party badly needs Christian support because its mass base among the “working class” of farm laborers and workers of coir and cashew processing industries in Kerala is almost nonexistent now because of advancements in education, shrinking farmlands and brighter job opportunities overseas. Those now “working” in Kerala are a different “class” that has experienced how communists have been trying to build heaven on earth since 1957, and that experience no longer excites the “working class” to vote en masse for the communists.

However, the electoral fortunes of the communist alliance could be on the rise, as the state has almost never returned the incumbent party to power. Historically, this has meant the communist party’s influence ebbing and flowing in definite intervals, and always giving the Church a reason to fight them.

The communists know the Kerala Church has a substantial following. They have known it since 1958, when Christians protested the communist move to take over educational institutions, which soon emerged as a statewide anti-communist movement and resulted in the federal government dismissing the elected communist government a year later. Since then, the communists have studied ways to make inroads into the Church and have succeeded even beyond their expectations.

Thousands of Communion-receiving Catholics are also now card-carrying members of the party, some publically and others clandestinely. Both the Church and the party tolerate them. The Church tolerates the successful Catholic-candidates of the party simply because of the political influence they bring to the Church. The party allows them to continue in the Church because they offer ways to attract more “faithful party members.”

And why are Catholics, who have received Confirmation, easily confused about the teachings of Christ and Marx? Are they too feeble in their faith? It is surely not the job of communists to teach catechism to Catholics. If someone in the Church takes that basic job seriously, the Church can escape from the perennial worry over Catholics being misled by communists’ posters and preaching.

When the Church teaches that Christ died for all human beings, communists included, there should be nothing wrong in communists getting inspired by him, even if the Church is not preaching him to them. But when they say they are getting inspired, why not verify and strengthen it by inviting them to the Church rather than condemning them?

And will the Church and communist leaders ever offer something relevant to people like Peter? Peter can offer them tender coconut – sweet and cool.

– christopher joseph

UP Phase 1: 51% candidates millionaire & 38% have criminal cases

January 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Election, Government, National, newsletter-india, State, Uttar Pradesh

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Uttar Pradesh ElectionUttar Pradesh, January 28, 2012: In the 2012 Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, there is a clear rise in both the number of rich candidates and those with pending criminal cases across political parties. Compared to the 2007 assembly polls, in the Phase-1 poll due on 8th February, there are about 30% more millionaires and 10% more ‘criminals.’

Crime

Uttar Pradesh Election Watch on Saturday released a study report on the candidates of Phase-1 in Uttar Pradesh. The group studied affidavits of 284 candidates out of 867 in the Phase-1, and found that 109 out of 284 (38%) candidates have admitted criminal cases pending against them. In 2007, only 28% had pending criminal cases.

All main parties have fielded candidates with pending criminal cases but SP leads others.

Congress: 15 out of 54 (28%)
BSP: 24 out of 55 (44%)
BJP: 24 out of 55 (44%)
SP: 28 out of 55 (51%)
JDU: 5 out of 20 (25%)
Peace Party: 12 out of 42 (29%)
RLD: 1 out of 1 (100%)

Wealth

According to the report, the Phase-1 is seeing more millionaire candidates compared to the 2007 polls.

Some 144 out of 284 (51%) candidates are crorepati. In 2007, only 22% crorepati were candidates. While only 6 candidates have declared assets worth less than Rs one lakh. In terms of average wealth per candidate, ruling BSP leads other parties.

Avg wealth per candidate in parties:
SP: 1.74 Cr
BSP: 3.83 Cr
BJP: 1.56 Cr
INC: 1.34 Cr
Peace Party: 1.01 Cr
JDU: 32.09 Lakh

Education

Besides, 163 out of 284 candidates whose affidavits were studied are graduate or higher degrees.

Women candidates

While in debates on the floor of Parliament each party was trying to score more points over other by supporting the 33% women reservation in legislatures, when it comes to the ground, hardly any party has fielded more than 10% women candidates.

In the Phase-1 poll of UP, there are only 65 women candidates out of total 867 (7%).

BSP: 5 out of 55 (9%)
BJP: 6 out of 55 (11%)
INC: 4 out of 54 (7%)
SP: 4 out of 55 (7%)

Await more such info from states going to polls.

– tcn news

Rahul Gandhi woos Muslims with quota promise

December 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Inter-Religious, National, newsletter-india, State, Uttar Pradesh

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Muslim ReservationUttar Pradesh, December 11, 2011: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Saturday tried to woo Uttar Pradesh’s Muslim population ahead of the 2012 assembly elections by assuring them that a new reservation policy would soon be in place for them.

“We will keep our commitment of providing reservation to minorities in the state,” Gandhi told a gathering of party office-bearers at the state Congress headquarters here.

“We will do it soon,” he declared amidst applause.

Gandhi is on a two-day visit to the state capital to interact with party functionaries as well as candidates handpicked for the forthcoming polls.

“You must understand that the Congress was getting back to the main arena of elections in the state after a gap of nearly two decades; we were virtually out of the political battleground between 1991 and 2007, after which we got down to re-building the party from a scratch,” he said in a reminder of his active involvement in state affairs in 2007.

He called upon party members to work hard for victory in 2012. “If you all take a vow and have the determination to win the coming election in Uttar Pradesh, I am sure nothing can stop you from attaining your goal,” he said.

Gandhi also warned against infighting. “We must fight the election unitedly,” he said.

“Let it be very clear that action would be taken against those who fail to work together – no matter how high and mighty the person be, he would not be spared,” he said.

He described the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) as the potential opponents and dismissed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a spent force.

“Successive governments of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party were largely responsible for the rampant corruption and crime in the state, so we have to go all out to fight them,” he said.

Criticising the opposition parties’ objection to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, he said: “We wanted to bring in FDI as a solution to the unabated price rise; but the entire opposition – the BSP, the BJP and the SP – joined hands to stall the move.”

Gandhi would be in Lucknow till Sunday evening before returning to Delhi. He would be back in Uttar Pradesh for a five-day mass contact programme commencing Dec 13.

Demand for Muslim quota gathering momentum in UP

 

Demand MuslimUttar Pradesh, December 11, 2011: Giving a new twist to the ‘letter politics’ between Chief Minister and Prime Minister over reservation to Muslims, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh declared that if his party comes to power in UP it would give reservation to dalit Muslims akin to dalit Hindus.

“If Congress comes to power in UP our government will give reservation to dalit Muslims,” Singh said while speaking in Dalit Muslim Reservation Convention held at Jyotiba Phule Park here on Sunday.

He said the state governments have the right to give reservation to religious minority. The states like Kerala, Karnataka and Andhara Pradesh have given reservation to Muslims. “Our Government in UP would take a leaf out of these states and introduce reservation for Muslims in UP,” he said.

Mayawati and Dr Mamohan Singh had recently exchanged letters over giving reservation of religious minority – especially Muslims. Prime Minister has clarified that Union Government has no right to introduce reservation for Muslims but states can do if they desire so.

The demand of giving reservation to Muslims is gaining ground in wake of forthcoming assembly elections in UP. It is believed that Union Government might introduce reservation of Muslims within OBC and this declaration could be made before UP elections.

“Dalit Hindus are enjoying the benefits of reservations through article 341 but Dalit Muslims are deprived of it, which is complete injustice with them. This issue will be resolved soon,” he said.

Singh said Congress was committed for welfare of Muslims and therefore the party had mentioned in its Lok Sabha manifesto about implementation of Sachar Committee’s recommendations.

Also present on the occasion, renowned social activist, Teesta Setalvad lashed out the politicians not considering this issue of Social Justice.
She said that today all went to Anti-corruption movement taking place at Jantar-Mantar in New Delhi but none of them came for being part of this cause. This issue of reservation is much bigger than corruption issue.
“The central government has not shown their interest for the betterment of Muslims, that’s why they were not serious about implementation of recommendations made by Sachar Committee, amendment in article 341 and several other issues including security,” she added.

She told that several riots which took place since independence were the root cause for the backwardness of Muslims, yet no strong step was taken over the issue. The central government has prepared the draft of Communal Violence Bill but not presenting it in parliament for discussion, it should be tabled as security is also major concern for Muslims. “After the discussion on bill begins, it will reveal the true face of all those political leaders who call themselves secular,” she said.

Later, President of All India United Muslim Morcha, Dr MA Siddiqui handed over a memorandum to Digvijay Singh addressing Prime Minister.
“We have been agitating since past 18 years for reservations of Dalit Muslims and Christians due to which National Minority Commission, Constitution Review Commission, Sachar Committee and other commissions recommended for the reservations.

“Not only commissions but in year 2000 Bihar’s Legislative assembly and legislative council, in year 2006 Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Andhra Pradesh’s Government in year 2009, after passing proposal for reservation of dalit Muslims has sent to Central Government,” he added.
– faisal fareed

Protection of minority rights a political necessity: Justice Siddiqui

November 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Government, National, newsletter-india, State, Uttar Pradesh

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Minority Rights in Vision and RealityUttar Pradesh, November 15, 2011: “Protection of minority rights is no longer viewed as a virtue but it is seen as a political necessity that strengthens modern plural society” said Justice M. S. A. Siddiqui, Chairman National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), Government of India. He was addressing a national seminar on Minority Rights: “Vision and Reality” organized by the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University on 14t November.

Mr. Siddiqui said that the article 30 assures special rights to the minorities which is absolute and can be regulated only on two counts. First it has to be reasonable and second the interest of minority must be kept in mind. “Indian Muslims have been given full right to establish and run their academic institutions. The Commission is committed to protect the minority rights duly granted by the Constitution of India. Using its adjudicatory powers, the Commission has declared Jamia Millia Islamia a minority institution” he added. He pointed out that the salvation of Muslims lies in modern education and they must adopt information technology.

Speaking at the seminar, Syed Shahabuddin, President of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, said that Muslims should strengthen their relationship with the majority community and draw their attention towards their social, educational and political problems. He urged the government to ensure that the benefits of all minority schemes are made available to the minorities.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Faizan Mustafa, Vice Chancellor, National Law University Orissa, said that the democracy could only become fully functional if minorities are provided with special rights. He made it clear that the rights do not symbolize appeasement and instead are essential for the growth of pluralistic society. “The Indian Constitution grants special rights to minorities for fulfilling their cultural aspirations; by safeguarding the cultural and linguistic aspirations, the minorities can be actively associated in the process of nation making” he added. Maulana Fazlurrahim Mujaddadi, Rector, Jamiatul Hidaya, Jaipur, made a PowerPoint presentation and regretted that minorities are not being benefited by the welfare schemes of the central government.

In his presidential address, AMU Vice Chancellor Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis said that education is the key to empowerment and Muslim enjoined by the Quran must rigorously pursue the education. Emphasizing on minority character of AMU, he said: “No one can doubt the minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University as it fulfils all conditions of a minority institution.”

– tcn

Centre to promote tourism in Ayodhya

November 7, 2011 by  
Filed under National, newsletter-lead, Persecution, State, Uttar Pradesh

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AyodhyaUttar Pradesh, November 7, 2011: The central government has said that it would spend rupees 10 crore for the financial year 2011-12 for promoting religious tourism in Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Ram.

Union Minster for Tourism Subodh Kant Sahay yesterday said that rupees 5 crore have been sanctioned for development of the city on the basis of proposal submitted by the state government.

He said that the remaining was still pending because the state government didn’t submit any proposal.

The minister said that Ayodhya had the potential of attracting international tourists.

“I want to develop Ayodhya – birth place of Rama – as major tourism hub,” he said.

Sahay also said that in the 12th five year plan, rupees 200 crore has been allocated for development of tourism in UP.

He said that the Centre was ready to fund development work in Ayodhya, but for that, the state government would have to file proposals.

– times of india