International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Given the current situation, suddenly there is seems to an increase in public lynching, police versus the commoner situation. So maybe today is the right day to see where we are on this one.

In 1997 UN launched the international day in support of torture victims this is a result of the UN convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This convention is binding according to international law

Torture could be infliction of physical or mental pain through violence, fear or massive humiliation. The UN also includes governmental torture like police or interrogative procedures to extract confessions, but pain or suffering caused by legal penalty is not considered torture.

In India the use of torture is quite widespread and predominant it is quite unchallenged and unopposed that it has sadly become normal and legitimate practise in investigating crimes or extracting confessions. Women face custodial rape, molestation and other form of sexual harassment, this is not just inflicted on accused but legitimate petitioners, complainants or informants are also subjected to inhuman degrading treatment that violates human dignity.

The constitution of India provides for life , dignity and honour in the chapter of fundamental rights, that makes it the primary obligation of the judiciary to ensure that its dignity is maintains. Article 5 of UDHR 1948 specifically proclaims, “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.  Article 7 of ICCPR (International covenant on civil and political rights) adds an addendum that no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experiment.  The Human Rights Commission has been delegated the responsibility of implementation of the above decree under the Article 40v-4 of ICCPR,..as the purpose of this article is to maintain human dignity, it is applicable even in situations of public emergency.

The Human rights committee includes corporal punishment at educational institutes and patients in medical institutions.

The Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment,(CAT) adopted on Dec.10th 1984 aims to prevent and prohibits acts of torture  in the

Article 1     it defines torture.

Article 2     says torture cannot be justified even during war or public emergency

Article 3     forbids states parties to expel or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he could be in danger of being tortured. It also allows the extradition of people accused on torture.

The implementation of this is monitored by a Committee Against Torture which consists of 10 experts elected by the state parties to the convention and they serve in their personal capacity.

India has signed the convention against torture but not ratified it, India has expressed concern over Art.20 and Art.22 of the convention.

Victims of torture tend to feel a lot of rage and focus on revenge and very defensive.  Torture survivors tend to get angry at the slightest provocation resulting in people staying away from them, social isolation and loneliness has tremendous impact on the person’s physical and mental health. Anxiety disorder triggered by recurring nightmares and flashbacks could happen. Sounds and sights associated with the torture could trigger the anxiety episode. Post torture anxiety victims tend to avoid social situation where they fear being judged, embarrassed or humiliated. Depression is wide spread in torture survivors and could experience recurring thoughts of death and suicide.  There are victims who go to great lengths to avoid thoughts, conversations, activities and places that could trigger a recollection of the trauma, leading to social withdrawal and isolation this is Emotional Numbing And Avoidance. Some torture survivors are suffer from hyper arousal, this is a condition where they are very vigilant and alert and are easily startled, this is a constant state and does not need a trigger. This in turn makes them stressed and angry many times they are not able to handle day to day activities. They tend to have outburst of angers. About 51% of the people suffering from post torture tend to exhibit sexual dysfunction particularly if they have suffered sexual torture or rape.  This at times is linked to depression or PTSD this in turn could affect the person’s confidence and the way he or she interacts socially.

The psychological effect varies with each individual so it becomes necessary to plan the treatment also case by case.

 

With The Refugees

World Refugee Day commemorates the obstacles that Refugees face each year. It also honours their courage and strength, on June 20th the United Nations observes the World Refugee Day.

The United Nations High Commission has set up #WithRefugees petition to create an action plan to bring about solidarity and global responsibility on behalf of refugee. Asylum seekers differ from Refugees as they are individuals who have sought international protection and their claim for refugee status has not yet been determined.

According to the UN-refugee body as of 2015 there are about 2,07,861 persons of concern  and 6,480 asylum seeks.  India has offered sheltered to Tibetans, the chakmas the Afghans and ethnic Srilankan Tamils.  Despite of one of the largest refugee population in South Asia we are yet to enact an uniform law that addresses the issue of asylum.

Interestingly  none of the domestic laws speak in reference to the term “refugee” India has not signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention on the status of Refugees nor has the 1967 protocol dealing with rights and services the host state must provide the refugees been signed.  Though there is an informal refuge regime, parallel to the international one, no formal asylum policy is devised; the decision for granting of asylum is ad hoc and case-to-case basis. In 2015 the congress MP Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member bill called the asylum bill 2015 it is to provide for the establishment of a legal framework to harmonize India’s refugee policy, this has not yet been taken up for consideration.

The Tibetans who came seeking asylum in 1959 along with the Dalai Lama were treated as refugee’s and given land and housing, it since been discontinued.  They can avail all the privileges of an Indian citizen though they cannot vote or take government jobs provided they have a registration certificate (RC) the RC a prerequisite to live in India is issued by the passport office Delhi on recommendations of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Delhi.

The Sri Lankan Tamil refugees could be either camp refugees or non-camp refugees  this depends on the socio-economic parameter. They cannot vote or own property though they can own cattle and purchase things for domestic use. The identity card is issued either for the family or to individuals, and it would document details of the names, age, relationships, gender, date and location of arrival in India their education background and the address in SriLanka, the camp revenue inspector also issues a refugee certificate which is required for them to return to SriLanka.

Since July 2016 the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jains Parsis and Christians refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan staying in India on Term Visa’s have been regularized, they are allowed to open bank accounts, purchase property for self occupation and suitable accommodation for carrying out self employment, take self-employment and obtain documents like driving licenses, PAN cards and Aadhar numbers. They are also given privileges like free movement within the state or union Territory; transfer fo visa paper from one state to the other, waiver of penalty on non-extension of short-term or long term visas on time.

Bangladeshi’s and Pakistani’s who belong to minority communities and have entered India on or before Dec.31,2014 have exempted from relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport Act 1920 (Entry into India) and the Foreigners Act 1946 with respect to their entry and stay in India without documents or after the expiry of those documents.

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Missing Children

I met Mrs.Nirgudkar after a long time, she still looks angry not that I blame her, her son was kidnapped at the age 7 or 8, fortunately he was rescued, now twenty years later he was reported missing from an army expedition, he went on.  she had received a letter from the army asking her to tell her son to return or he would have to face consequences, she just shot back a letter to the army chief and the defence minister that the last she saw of her son was when he left for the expedition, so the army owed her an explanation as to what happened to her son.

About 180 children go missing every day in India. Many of them never found. From 2013 to 2016 there has been a 84% raise in missing children.

May 25th is dedicated to Missing children internationally. It is a public awareness drive to create awareness about missing children and spread a message of hope to their families.

This commenced when in 1979 a 6yr old boy Etan Patz was kidnapped and killed, his father Stan Patz resorted to all means to find him, including put a picture of the boy on milk cartons.

1998 the US national centre for missing and exploited children and international centre for missing and exploited children launched a global venture, and this network now connects 22 nations.

The first event in 2001 spotlighted the problem of child abduction and some steps parents could take to protect their child. The event annually honours the missing children and celebrates the recovered ones.

What worries me, is the raise in missing daughters of India, there is a huge increase in female foeticide, this is causing a imbalance in the male female ratio, there are states, that put hoardings like,”pay now, save later”  to advertising for gender identification and female foeticide.

The missing daughters, particularly in northern states where dowry and expensive marriages are an issue, brides being imported from other places, religion, caste all social boundaries do not matter, the girls are actually bought off from their impoverished parents, despite dowry being the norm in these states and the only criteria is having a male child.

The missing daughters have resulted in an association of bachelors emerging and they are asking the politicians to eradicate unemployment, and female foeticide or yes, find ways to get bachelors married. I do wonder if these bachelors will go on to father daughters and send their to be born daughters to a prenatal grave!

The symbol of this event is the Forget-Me-Not-Flowers, so that people spare a minute for the missing person and spread a message of hope.

 

https://www.facebook.com/International.Missing.Children.Day/

Paying Cinderella

Its Pay Time — Cinderella

All my commitments and targets are not really met, simply because a large chunk of my time goes in playing spider solitaire and I play solitaire whenever I have to get back into a working frame of mind. Housework I realized did eat into a chunk of my time.

of course I did reorganize my work schedule to optimize my efficiency but new challenges like travelling, in-laws moving in I was getting overwhelmed and having temper tantrums, fuelled by menopausal mood swings it was time to call the cavalry. Or rather hire help.

Growing up in feudal environment I never really I just took things and the domestic help for granted, as I did when I set up my own house. but the last 5yrs I have been without domestic help, (the family accused me of not being able to retain help), never mind I had one before, when my daughters were young it was full time help, and then part time.

Yet when people did show up for the job, I was clueless how to handle it, I actually sat down to figure out what was the core issue here, it was I did not want to someone to do my work, ironically on one hand I cribbed that my vagina did not come with a I’ll do the housework clause yet   I was reluctant to hire a maid.

The first step was for me to figure out what were my priorities I realized I wanted to have a house that was running, and lets me honest my command being obeyed I did not want to relegate command.

Once the decision to hire help was taken the next step was finding one, the best possible way to do it, is to seek help from our community and people we know. They are the most reliable way of finding good help. The people who introduce become referrals,  usually a person working in a friends house is looking for a job and that is how most people connect. We left the informal “wanted info” with the watchman, the milkman the fish and vegetable vendor.

We also looked up reliable placement agencies based on the recommendations online, while www.quikr.com did get back to us with their referrals quickly the vendors they referred to us did not get back.

When the chief of security got the person, he told us that she was Nepal and her background check and police verification was done, I was quite taken aback for never in my 50yrs of life have I heard of a background check done for domestic help since most of them came by referral through mutual friends or connects.  But now it is mandatory to have this check done.

Most of them asked me what are the jobs to be done, again I was a little agitated, then I realized that unless I told her what I expected she would not know. Before I spoke to the maid I had to create my check list

  • What are the working hours, day off etc.
  • What are the jobs that I delegate to her.
  • How do I want it executed.
  • What are the rules of the house regarding phone
  • What about food and tea.

Like I mentioned before in the feudal system we did not worry, it was assumed that food was taken care by the employer, sometimes the help took home left over too. so were medical expenses either the employer paid it outright or if it is was too large then it was an interest free loan. They were part of the family, I remember we got two of the girls working in our house educated, one learnt tailoring and “Delhi cooking” so she has a “Delhi durbar” a small wayside restaurant at a village where lot of truckers travel.  The other did her graduation is a pharmacists assistant. Another maid we had, was an impoverished semi-educated lady, so my parents got her daughter married and as per the Indian custom took care of her entire first delivary. Actually last month her daughter built a house and my mother sent in the gifts as if it were for her own daughter.

This kind of bonding may no longer be there, but yes we do need to give them respect and treat them the way we would like to be treated. When my last help quit I was quite upset because there was a bit of flare up with the other house she worked, then I realized I was so caught up with my illness that I had failed to recognize that the maid was diagnosed grade one cancer and had to go for therapy the other lady did recognize and support her. We need to be involved a little bit in their lives too.

Sometimes there might be work beyond the designated time, it should be adequately compensated for, how you do it is between the two of you, but it has to be acknowledged and dealt with.

Working with Mr. Roland Martins in the consumer awareness and women’s forum I was aware though domestic help is unorganized sector and it is rather not very practical to cover them, there are certain guidelines to be followed.  For example we never really discussed the medical expenses. I still don’t intend to.

Anyway, coming to the domestic workers in India, the Domestic Worker act was introduced in 2008 – it deals with registration, social security and welfare. This is applicable to both men and women, though as the presence of women is larger it becomes more significant to women. The state government governs its implementation as it is subjected to the state legislation.

Applicability:

  • Applicable to whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Not applicable to domestic workers who have immigrated for employment to any other country.
  • Employment of child is prohibited under any law for the time being in force as a domestic worker or for any such incidental or ancillary work.
  • Implementing authority under the act will be Central Advisory Committee, State Advisory Committee And District Board.

As per the act any person older than 18yrs, but less than 60yrs, and is engaged in any domestic work for not less than 90 days, in the preceding 12 months can be registered as a domestic worker under Section 16.

Any domestic worker registered under the Act who lives in the premises where workplace is situated is entitled to 10hrs of rest between the ending and recommencing of work. Also workers living in the house are entitled to 15 days paid leave annually. Section 22—Working Hours And Leave With Wages.

All registered domestic workers should be paid minimum wages as per the minimum wages act 1948

The Act has specific safety and Penalty provision (Section 23) in cases where any person knowingly sends, directs or takes any girl or woman domestic worker to any place for immoral purpose or a place where she is likely to be morally corrupted or in manner sexually exploited. Such a person can be subjected to imprisonment for a period of 6 months which may extend up to 7yrears, and fine up to 50,000 Rs. month or both

Any service provider who contravenes the provision of the act can be punished by 3 months imprisonment  or/and 2000/Rs. fine.  Obstructing the inspection by an authorized person or refusing co-operate faces the same penalty.

Anyone knowing abetting trafficking of domestic workers, faces a penalty of 3 -7 yrs imprisonment and/or Rs.2000/- as fine.

States like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Jharkhand have included domestic workers in the schedule employment with hourly, daily, monthly wages fixed by the states. For example Andhra has a minimum per hour wage as Rs.12.5/hours, Rs.107/day or Rs.2800/month.

With the passing of the Domestic Workers Act 2008, domestic workers are slated to receive pension, maternity benefits and paid leave that is a weekly off.  Workers living on premises are entitled to 15 days paid leave annually, and 15days otherwise throughout the year. Constituting a district board has been proposed to ensure the proper implementation of the act.

http://blog.localcircles.com/how-to-hire-and-retain-household-help/

Athiti Dev(il)obhava

Athithi devo bhava…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee5Bq_eBlYM

Really?

What about the responsibility of tourists, nobody talks about that, not even the effervescent travel bloggers.

Yesterday we went Basilica Bon Jesus at Old Goa, the place was swarming with tourists.

The guidelines to tourists are placed all over the Basilica, “Do not photograph people” being the most prominent one. yet the tourists, were blatantly clicking pictures of themselves, using selfie sticks. When the security personal objected, they would steal the selfie and gloat about it.

There was one particular crowd standing right in front of the board that said do not click people and went trigger happy. So Mr.Aamir Khan do you have something to tell the tourists? About responsible behaviour?  This is just some stuff to help you with the script.

Tourism  no doubt plays an important role in the economy of Goa, that does not mean that tourists are “Devo” or gods, they people we welcome into our homes, it is an interaction of mutual respect, there are certain norms to be followed.

There is a concept called responsible tourism, this was defined in AITR’s 2005 resolution it goes like this == responsible tourism complies with the principles of social and economic justices and exerts full respect towards the environment and its cultures. It recognizes the centrality of the local host community and its right to act a s a protagonist in developing a sustainable and responsible tourism. Responsible tourism actuates to foster a positive interaction between the tourist industry, local community and the travellers.

Here is what probably most local host communities look to

To minimize environmental damage caused by the carelessness of the tourist and growing destruction to environment corresponding to the growing tourist influx.

To give the local population a central role in the tourist development of their own territory.  That the involvement of the local community through a participatory democracy and in decision making process is essential for sustainable touristic development.

To respect the local culture by including its essence in the overall touristic experience by focusing on and creating awareness of the local culture , its traditions, the lifestyle, the gastronomy, the handicrafts etc.

Maybe next time any of you decide to travel to a terrain, you could keep an open mind, particularly when you come to Goa, yes we are different from rest of India, but we are not very different from the west coast culture.

Respect human rights particularly privacy and decorum in public places.

Help to preserve the natural environment that you have come to see, there are wildlife and habitats that need to be safe guarded.

Each place has its own cultural resources that are the document of the history of the people, please respect it, selfie in a Basilica, or loud hooting is Salarjung Museum is disrespectful.

When you buy something you do contribute to the economic and social development of the place, try to see that you can pick something that is truly local.

In your Google search do look at the cultural expectation at a place, like not wearing run down shorts into a temple or church, not clicking pictures within the prayer houses,  not scratching the edifices, along the way.

These are just small gestures that reflects you culture and your upbringing to the host community. It is about your dignity…

I hope soon the Basilica will come with deposit your mobiles rule like the Thirupathi Temple.

Honoring the Victims and Preventing the Future

Honoring the past victims and preventing the future,

Is what the international day against chemical war fare is there to remind us.

Serious efforts towards preventing chemical warfare were launched a century ago. When the world first witnessed the disaster of chemical warfare.

France was the first country to use chemicals in warfare, ethylmoboacetate and chlorbromacetone.

However it was Germans who used chlorine and mustard gas who brought home the horror of it all. it was the 22nd of April 1915.  This was despite the agreements of no chemical warfare, the loophole that the Germans used was very legal, they did not deploy a explosive or weapon, they just opened the canister and let the fumes waft.

1,124,000 were used in the first world war and the race for the deadlier chemical weapon began.

Over the years the world has seen really scary effects of chemical warfare, like 1919 British deployed adamsite through a summer to village in Russia that was held by the Reds, the civilian causalities are not accounted.

1988 saw the Iraqi’s deploy mustard gas on the Kurds of Halabja, it was rather scary, the day had begun with routine rocket barrage that sent the civilians into hiding into the basement, allowing the Iraqi’s to achieve their target for the poisonous gas is heavier than the air in the atmosphere and sediments bellow causing death, and maiming people.

In 2011 when the fights in Syria took to streets the Assad commenced the use of tear gas and chlorine, from there they eventually graduated to mustard gas and nerve gas in 2013, the US and Russia then stepped in threatening to take action.

Which is why Organization for the prohibition of chemical warfare has classified it as customary international humanitarian law?

Chemical warfare agents are classified as per their potency, there are persistent agents are added to ensure persistency.  Choking, blisters and effects on blood and nerves are the intensity of these chemical agents on human body.  they are dispersed through air, thermal activation.

India declared a stockpile of 1044 tons of sulphur mustard in 1997, and entered the chemical weapons convention formed in 1993, India is one of its original signatories. By 2006 about 75% of the weapons were neutralized and May 14 2009 India declared to United nations that it had completely destroyed its stock pile of chemical weapons.

Could we take a minute honor the dead, and hope to prevent future deaths by chemical warfare? More importantly can we visualize an India where chemical warfare does not turn domestic?

Earth Day

April 22nd it is Earth day again.

Each Earth Day we faithfully put out the power for an hour, I really wonder who we do this farce for.

Anyway let’s get back to the “celebration of the day” I was looking up the events, it is an absolutely America oriented climate law. The theme for the year is March of science, and science has become euphemism for Pharma and computers, gone are the days when Science emcampassed the botany, zoology, and the bio-cycles.  Oh! Yes it is also about climate literacy, maybe we should start with climate defining climate, then go with the factors that influence climate, once we reconnect to the roots we might take stock of the damage and go for damage control.

By the way if I were to quote the Earth Day 2017 theme and event then it is March for Science, Climate literacy, to create Green Voters, this to me creates a image of a humoid with chlorophyll in the their cells, green technology, green environment.

Let’s start with greenery, green leafy vegetables, well nature has leaves of various hues, if you doubt me, have a look at the crotons, and the Bougainville’s you will can see the hues for yourself.  This entire Earth Day was created in 1970 as a peace vending event there are 193 countries today negotiating loopholes through the climate laws, and America safe guarding her interest.

Let’s look at Goa, this entire creation of fly-over’s which is unnecessary we are only going to have more tourists zooming and more accidents, trees have been mercilessly chopped, the Goankars who keep talking about “Indians ” have not bothered about the massacred trees, which was one of the things that brought people to Goa. There is not a single PIL or RTI about this issue, Goa as has very little agriculture land, the existing little has been grabbed by the Land sharks from Delhi and Bombay the land being pimped by Goans. We will be dealing with increased Pepsi bottles, coke bottles, and lays wrappers.

Airtel has popped up its towers all over the state, this disturbs the birds, their flights and even their very existence, I do not know who authorizes these installation, neither do I see any RTI or PIL with regarding to this, all the environment groups seem to happy that their Airtel network is working.

Turn on the television, and you have the over-exposed irritatingly monotonous Mr.Bacchan talking about composting… well Mr.Bacchan that has also been your way out of dealing with Shit…yes the biologic waste because that is the carrot dangled in the rural areas for building toilets. While I do agree with this, my point is simple,

Earth or nature has what is called as a chain, the bio-waste of one species feeds another, when it comes to seed dispersion the bio-waste is a vehicle, it no doubt also disperses pathogenic components like maybe worms and cholera, we were so focused on those that we forgot about this. Now with compost it is not the natural one, we talk about collecting wet waste and processing it, when we go overboard what next? Someone has come up with a bus that runs on Human-waste and I thought Naravahana was the epithet of Kubera the chancellor of the Gods.

With all this anguish vented, I wonder if

  • we can plant more trees than people for a change,
  • if we can do away with the concrete layer around our buildings and quench the earth’s thirst
  • If we could revive the old rainwater harvesting instead of ripping the ocean and river bed?
  • We could go back to those architectural techniques that did not violate the environment?

I guess to this we need to be Earth citizens who in their mind and heart know the Earth is the foundation of everything they do, and they care for the earth like they care for their own bodies.

What I found interesting is a citizens group in Hyderabad, has taken on the reforestation of a public park space, they do not have any architect or landscape person there, they have the urban re-forestation department, which educates children on the natural plant habitat they let the children choose the plant from the natural habitat and plant and nurture it, the child has to take the onus of digging planting and rearing the urban reforestation department does not assist in labour or they are the knowledge partners this is hands on learning process.

I had assumed that the Earth, the spirit of the earth, noticed exceptions, those who wantonly damage it and those do not, but the Earth is wiser, it has given itself into the keeping of all and that makes all of us accountable.