Monthly Archives: January 2011

Images of the Original Constitution of India

Cover page of the Constitution of Indiaa

The Preamble to the Constitution of India

The Preamble to the Constitution of India

Satyameva Jayate- The national emblem the four lions

The national Emblem Of The republic of India

First Page of the Constitution of India

First page of the Constitution of India

Signatures of some of the Founding fathers on the Constitution

Signatures of some of the Founders of the Constitution of India

Images are from a scanned copy of the Photolithographic reproduction of the original constitution of India. Courtesey World digital Library

Description

This book is one of 1,000 photolithographic reproductions of the Constitution of the Republic of India, which came into effect on January 26, 1950, after being approved by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949. The original of this elaborate edition took nearly five years to produce. It is signed by the framers of the constitution, most of whom are regarded as the founders of the Republic of India. The original of the book is kept in a special helium-filled case in the Library of the Parliament of India. The illustrations represent styles from the different civilizations of the subcontinent, ranging from the prehistoric Mohenjodaro, in the Indus Valley, to the present. The calligraphy in the book was done by Prem Behari Narain Raizda. It was illuminated by Nandalal Bose and other artists, published by Dehra Dun, and photolithographed at the Survey of India Offices.

Calligrapher: Narain Raizada , Prem Behari
Contributor: Ambedkar, Bhimrao Ramji (1891-1956)
Illuminator: Basu, Nandalāla (1883-1966)

Jai Hind

26th January 2011: India’s 62nd Republic Day

The (Indian) Republic is governed in terms of the Constitution of India which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 and came into force on 26th January 1950.

A republic is a state under a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, retain supreme control over the government.

Take a moment to read some of the best about Republic day and what it means

Are we republicans or democrats : Harsh gupta on the Republic of India.

http://swaraj.nationalinterest.in/2008/09/07/republicans-or-democrats/

You can download a pdf copy of a photolithographic reproduction of the Constitution of India from the World Digital Library [PDF]. Pages from the book are shown below.

January 26 was selected because it was the day the Purna Swaraj declaration (Declaration of the Independence of India) was promulgated by the Indian National Congress at Lahore in 1930. In fact, the Congress had then asked the people of India to observe January 26 as Independence Day. Moreover, Republic Day is also about the Indian constitution, which was a wholly Indian enterprise.

Republic Day, on a date we ourselves chose, ought to be the more solemn occasion — a day of promises to make and pledges to keep.

If Independence Day is about the remembrances and retrospection, Republic Day ought to signify how we can preserve and improve the fate of the country, and how that task falls upon us, each one of us.

You could read more at Pragmatic Euophony on the Republic day

And as the author suggests, remember that the Republic day is for renewing the fire inside to fight for a free, equal and truly republic-an India.

You could take up this year to learn more about how the problems in india can be solved, and I would say there is no better book than Breaking free of Nehru, and no better company than the Freedom Team of India to keep.

To a Free India.

Jai Hind

Dr. Ilina Sen Booked by Anti terrorism Squad


In a move that reeks of police-harassment, Dr. Ilna sen (Dr. Binayak Sen’s Wife) was booked by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism squad under Foreigners Act, 1946. The Case was registered in wardha.

Earlier this week some delegates to XIII IAWS National Conference on Women’s Studies protested against the Life imprisonment given to Dr. Binayak.

The police alleged that the participants, including eight foreign nationals from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the UK, organised protests against the conviction of Dr Sen.

Some of these delegates had not filed their C forms, which the hotels/lodges they stay in are supposed to file. The connection between the protests, which are perfectly legal, the forms, and Dr. Ilina, who has no responsibility as per law about the C forms, is murky to say the least.

Section 7 of The Foreigners Act, 1946, under which Ilna sen is booked is applicable to hotel owners and suchlike, not to organisers. When asked this, the ATF replied that they booked her under section 14, which, it turns out, has nothing to do with who can be booked under the act. From what I can see the act has no provision unless the accused “attempts to contravene, or abets or attempts a contravention of this Act” Non filing of form C is a crime by the hoteliers, and the attendees. How can it mean she abetted in contravening the law?

Read the law yourself at Indian Kanoon, Foreigners Act 1946

Photo: V.V. Krishnan, The Hindu

Update on Binayak sen bail hearing 25th jan

Dear friends
I have been informed by Kavita Srivastava from Bilaspur High Court that in the appeal against conviction, the lawyers for Dr. Binayak Sen and Piyush Guha have concluded their arguments on bail. The High Court has now posted the matter for 9th February when the State counsel will reply to their arguments. One of the Judges on the High Court Bench is on leave in the interim period.

As the hearing was ending, Advocate Shailesh stood up in the High Court and moved an application before the Bilaspur Bench seeking to intervene in this case on behalf of Ranjana Chaubey (wife of deceased Vinod Chaubey – S.P. of Rajnandgaon who is alleged to have been killed by Maoists) and Lata Yadav (wife of deceased Inspector Sanjay Yadav). Advocate Shailesh has moved an application under section 391 Cr. P.C seeking enhancement of sentence given by the trial court to Dr.Binayak Sen and other accused persons. He argued that post the conviction of Dr. Sen and 2 others in this case there was a protest shut down in Bastar which revealed their links with the Maoists. Advocate Shailesh has also moved an application stating that they want to place some additional material on record in the case against Dr. Sen and others.The High Court while accepting the application has directed that Advocate Shailesh cannot directly address the Court in the case. However
he may assist the State and the Advocate General in the matter. Copies of these applications have now been given to the lawyers for Dr. Binayak Sen and others. The lawyers will examine the same and reply whether they are tenable and maintainable according to law.

The matter is now posted for 9th February before the Bilaspur High Court when the State will reply to the arguments made by the lawyers fro Dr. Binayak Sen and Piyush Guha.

The Art and Craft of insinuation- A reply to Swapan Das Gupta by Imrana Qadeer

The day the eminent lawyer Soli Sorabji told the listeners of a TV programme in no uncertain terms that the interpretation of the term sedition in the case of Binayak Sen belonged to a bygone era and is no more legally valid, there were others who were trying to preach otherwise. One of these assertive voices came from journalist Sawapan Das Gupta (SD ji) who chose to tell us “How Binayak Sen became a cause celebre”; while, in the same paper and on the same day, economist Amartya Sen said that the verdict “smacked of political motivation” (TOI Jan 9th, 2011). Thus we hear two sets of voices, one giving reasons for the fallibility of the verdict and thereby questioning the wisdom of the Sessions judge, and the other asking us to have blind faith in the judicial process and not use our reason nor raise doubts about it.

One may ask, if the debate around Binayak Sen is a fabrication of the minds of a handful of cause-hungry intellectuals, then why has it spread so wide? Why has SD ji too joined it and is now emphasising the “image make over”of Binayak Sen? Is he just angry that Binayak Sen, “did not fit the (read ‘his’) mental image of a dangerous man”, or, is he now contributing to theory by introducing such innovative categories of social analysis as bearded men, men without jhola, and men who sport both? He perhaps thinks that through this rude, flippant, and callous articulation (which he well recognises), he will add some weight to the judgement and thereby contain the emerging trend where the judiciary is being questioned and accountability demanded of it, because it is unable to show that it respects the law that it practices.
Let us look at the game SD ji is playing.

According to him Binayak Sen’s crime is:
(a) shaving off his beard (that amounts to destruction of evidence!);
(b) transforming from a relatively unknown activist (only known to the unknown of Chhattisgarh);
(c) choosing to highlight the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act in a state that is “the rotten apple”; and
(d) being deserving of defence by Amartya Sen (who is chided for his “arrogance”).

Since SD ji is not inclined to look at the “technical issues” such as the evidence, the authenticity of legal procedures, or the interpretation of conflicting evidence and evident failure to establish association – all of which makes the judgment unfathomable – he unilaterally acquires the right to assert that “to assume that any alternative perspective implies a bent and biased system is rash”.

The story of Chhattisgarh is no secret. It is best told by its HDI rank, based on achievements in health, education, income, and gender development, where it is ranked among the worst performing States. To address these critical issues the State can think of nothing better than to set up an Army training centre there that would “naturally” require heavy security measures. Is this the alternative perspective that SD ji is hinting at? Where it is natural and justified that judges should be influenced by the seriousness of the overall situation? And where the basic principle of justice, that the more severe the punishment the more careful should be the assessment of evidence, can be easily belied?
Such a perspective attempts to reduce the gap between reason and unreason by making light of the goings on in States like Gujarat and Chattisgarh. It values the glamour of annual Prabasi winter meets, but disapproves of NRIs going beyond the set boundaries to see and experience their own country. It is a perspective that, in its effort to influence “the young and impressionable” thinking people, attacks all liberal intellectual thought attempting to protect a judicial system, and all institutions that represent the liberal dimension of Indian democracy, which is gradually curtailing all rights and freedoms.

SD ji says nothing about all this but he does claim a wide following amongst those who disagree with the perception that there is a concerted programme of expropriation, “governed by the political first cousins of those who administer Gujarat, heavy-handed policing, law of the jungle, capitalist iniquity and the brutal suppression of tribal rights”. He altogether misses the point that majority assertion and reasoned arguments are two different domains, and that he has failed to offer any reason for the susceptible to shed their understanding and join his ideological brand of paranoia. He also misses the point that undermining criminal law amounts to undermining of constitutional provision of fundamental rights. The lower courts cannot be callous towards principles and procedures of justice just because correctives are possible at higher levels of appeal.

SD ji dubs all those who disagree with him as unthinking and providing “unintended” legitimacy to Maoist insurgency. One may be grateful for his generosity in using the word unintended, but will he tell us which India does he cherish? – the one where people have a right to demand reason from governing structures or one where rules, however unreasonable, must dominate?

Imrana Qadeer is a retired Professor From the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU

This Post is in reply to Swapan Das Gupta’s Article in Times of India How Binayak Sen became a cause celebre

On Banning Of burqas

A guest post by the wife – One of her assignments was to write a critique of an Op-ed and she chose to Critique Linda chavez’s piece on banning burqas.

arpitha jacob, editorial on burqa liberalsim, conservativism, islamophobia

Image by Ranoush

Linda Chavez in “banning the veil” supports the French/European trend to ban burqas and supports banning them in the united states also. She makes three of the commonest objections against burquas, but fails to present any real evidence apart from personal experience and broad generalizations to back her statements. Her main argument seems to be that burqas are a sign of oppression, and so must be banned, by which she confuses something that has a potential for abuse with absolute evil, not to say takes a patronizing stance towards all Muslim women.

She begins by stating that the question of Religious freedom vs. Security of “others” is a complicated issue, however, her arguments and conclusion show none of the dilemmas she alludes to and are simply one sided. By her opening statement, she also creates an “us vs them” divide, as if burqa wearers are in no need for security and are separate from those whose security they compromise. This is the first indication that her batting for oppressed women is more politically motivated than genuine concern.

Her first argument is that since burqas conceal the whole body, they are a security risk. To support this she refers to a couple of instances of burqas being used to conceal weapons and evade detection. There is no doubt that this does happen, but then, a long trench coat, a loose sweater or practically any loose clothing can be used to hide weapons. Also, criminals use all sorts of methods from face paint to stockings to hide their faces. A majority of crimes committed, terror included are done by people wearing jeans, t shirts and other forms of clothing, so an argument from statistics makes burqas the least of the threats. Clearly, banning clothing all together is the only solution, if one were to ban all clothing that has ever been worn to hide weapons. (remember the underwear bomber?) Interestingly enough, the perpetrators of both the crimes she alludes to were later caught.
It is also good to note that Muslim women are not the only ones who wear body-covering clothes. Khasi women in India, Buddhist monks, a large number of African traditions and more have clothes that can be considered “security risks”.

She then goes on to say that burqa is worn by a minority, and the Koran does not stipulate its use. To begin with that is a misrepresentation. Burqas have always been more common in certain geographic regions and among certain religious sub groups among Muslims, and among these, majority are burqa wearers. Furthermore, I am not sure what she is saying here, because clearly a religious stipulation is no defence against something that is a serious threat to security. She also forgets to mention that the Koran is clear that women should dress modestly, a point that she takes an exception to in her next and most elaborate objection against burqas. People of all faiths choose what they wish to follow from their religious teachings, and being allowed to choose what one wishes to follow is the absolute basis of religious freedom, or freedom it self. So an argument from theology does not serve an purpose here at all.

Her final and most elaborate argument is that Burqas are a sign of male oppression. Sure burqas can be sign of oppression, but then, any clothing can be. In a patriarchal society, anything, from clothing to posture can be used as a tool for oppressing women, and this can happen in any part of the world. But then, it can be argued that women who wear high heels- shown to be bad for their backs- are being oppressed by a society with narrow views on beauty and are being oppressed. Should shoes made in sweat shops or clothing made by underpaid workers in china also be banned? The greatest tragedy of this argument is the generalization, and the authors ignoring of the fact that women are increasingly choosing, by their own free will to don the burqa. She mentions that the burqa is increasingly available in the west, indicating that more women in the west are wearing burqas, but implicit in this argument is the belief that western women are increasingly being oppressed by men. An argument that is unsubstantiated and frankly absurd. Universities in the US are full of burqa/hijab wearing young women pursuing careers in everything from medicine to philosophy, if the authors generalization were to be accepted, it would mean that all these women were in fact oppressed and helpless.
She goes on to imply that since burqas are hot and uncomfortable, women would not wear it by their own choice, by this argument, all clothing worn by women in the east would be oppressive, Indian women wear saris in higher temperatures, yet no one questions their volition or freedom.

Just because something has a potential for abuse does not make it evil and more, does not warrant banning or disapproval. It is clearly more important to reduce the potential for abuse by ways that have been tested and proven over these last decades of womens emancipation- helping women with education, dignity and freedom.

In conclusion the author tries to build a case for women, against burqas, and her lack of paying any attention to the facts of the matter betray her underlying political bias, not her passion for womens emancipation.

—–

In conclusion, I, the husband agree with my wife, clearly demonstrating the patriarchal need to be in control.

Let’s talk about shit

By the time you finish reading this sentence at least one child would have died in india of diarrhea. The most important cause of diarrhea is  contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation.

Rose George is a British journalist [wikipedia] and author whose book “The big nessecity [amazon]” addressed the issue of lack of sanitation as one of the greatest killers of the modern world.

This is her on Shit and India.

How/when did you get interested in sanitation?
It was a long story. I used to work at a magazine called COLORS, owned by but left alone by Benetton. The editor was Oliviero Toscani, famed for the scandalous Benetton ads. One day he decided to do a coffee-table picture book about shit called CACAS. I researched some of the very short texts that accompanied the pics and thought them fascinating. I was astonished that I could consider myself well-educated and not know, for example, that a quarter of the world’s population has no toilet. But I also learned that the topic of sanitation could be entertaining, and that urine can change the colour of your wallpaper, and that sewage in the streets probably led to the invention of high heels, and that kings used to defecate in public and eat in private. It is a rich, wide, deep and endlessly fascinating topic.

After the book, how do you keep being involved in the sanitation world-if you do
Yes, I do. I keep a blog about mostly sanitation matters at www.rosegeorge.com and still write op-eds here and there about sanitation.

I also do a lot of lectures about sanitation. In the last month, I gave a keynote speech to 2500 freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania, who had been assigned my book as part of the Penn Reading Project; then flew to Stockholm to hand out awards to journalists writing about sanitation and water; then to Hong Kong to talk at a conference of 1500 investors, to persuade them that shit is a scandalously underexploited resource, both as fertilizer and as energy.

What are, if there are, your most memorable experiences in India?

You don’t forget three days in a slum in a hurry. I originally intended to stay overnight in a slum but chickened out. I wouldn’t have been worried about the accommodation; all the houses I visited were pristine. But as soon as you step foot outside you are overwhelmed by filth. And of course, there are hardly any toilets. On the other hand, I met some fabulous people in India who I think of as sanitation footsoldiers. Milon Nag, who runs a plastics factory outside Pune and who has developed a low-cost plastic sanitation slab that is now regularly used in emergencies; Dr. Mapuskar, a doctor near Pune who arrived in his village – now a town – to find no toilets and became a sanitation evangelist, persuading 100% of people to install toilets and even human shit biogas digesters (a miracle in India); or the wonderful staff of Gram Vikas in Orissa, who are attempting to get villages to install 100% Total Sanitation. In one village they went to, it took 162 meetings for people to agree but they did and now disease has been dramatically diminished and the village school teacher told me 80% more girl children go to school. People think a toilet is a symptom of development but actually it can trigger it.
What are 3 easy-to-solve problems that governments and other agencies should tackle immediately?
1. Stop focusing on clean water at the expense of sanitation. There is no point installing one without the other.
2. Switch mindsets: Expensive wastewater utility systems are not always the solution. There is innovation in sanitation: use it.
3. Stop thinking that development has to cost a fortune. Invest in software like human behaviour change-makers. Persuasion doesn’t cost much but it can reap so much.

What are 2 of the knottier issues?
There is only one knotty issue: Diarrhoea. It is astonishing in 2010 that children die of something that is easily curable, and that they die at the rate of one every fifteen seconds. Astonishing and disgraceful.

How can the behavioural change be brought about rapidly- it happened within a generation in most of the world- why are some parts lagging behind so much?
Because often the investment goes to hardware and not to the software. Humans are complicated creatures. They can be persuaded but it takes marketing psychology. People have to want to use a toilet, and that is not always a straightforward thing to bring about, to someone who has been shitting in the bush quite happily for generations. There has to be investment in persuasion.

Some practical technological solutions?
Far too many to list. Practical Action does good fact-sheets on sanitation solutions. Akvopedia has a great database of technology.

We dont like talking about shit, its considered boorish and uncouth. But of all times now, we need to start talking about shit seriously. The sanitation challenge india faces is not going away anytime now, and is getting worse in some places like big cities.

I will be talking about shit in 1 or 2 more follow-up posts at the end of which I hope to have converted you into a fellow foot soldier for shit. In the mean time, do look through the Akovopedia portal on sanitaion for some great technologies that can radically reduce cost and improve outcome in implementing sanitation. Viva la revolution!

On belief and disbelief

One of the issues that makes people in the agnostic range stay on in the hinterlands of “have not made up my mind” is that going over to either sides creates new problems.

To choose to beleive in a being/force/purpose bigger than oneself and Super-natural naturally means having to accept the existence of the inherently un-comprehensible. So when the new problems from believing in God arise, the answers or solutions often are just more mystery. For example, irrespective of what system of belief you subscribe to, It is really difficult to give a satisfactory aswer to the problem of human suffering, to the evil done in the name of good. Worse, to explain these things, from within the framework of belief, one is forced to accept some fundamental presuppositions, that are basically more mysterious than the problem in itself.

On the other hand to embrace random chance as the ultimate reason raises its own issues. Among others, it brings up questions of ultimate purpose, and morality and other frameworks and their need. You cant justify drawing lines if there is no fixed point of reference. There is also the problem of moving from having a point of reference, as most ppl do, due to childhood indoctrination, to a position of no accountability. It stands to reason that such a point of view would ultimately lead to pure hedonism and lack of purpose and ultimately a purposeless life.

An entirely different factor in this equation is that fact that the majority of those who beleive, as well as those who do not, do not descend into the extreme outcomes. The average theist is not likely to turn an acetic or a mystic any more than the average atheist is likely to turn a suicidal hedonistic maniac.

In conclusion, it is fairly obvious to the thinking person that much of the man-made evil we see in this world today comes in one way or other, due to belief, or in spite of professed belief, from the war on terror, to the terror itself. This fact will and has been the biggest bane of those who preach belief, that their own actions declare them hypocrites.
Religiosity and torture

Image: ‘Religiosity and Torture‘ From Flickr.