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editorial : WE INDIANS CAN BUILD A STRONG INDIA BY 2020
As Indians we must have one motto: “One People! One Nation ! One India!” Now, let us look back at the Indian society. In villages where 81% of Indians live untouchability is practiced. Do untouchables get drinking water? Do they socialize like others? Have their Human Rights violations- rapes, beatings, and cold blooded murders stopped? Will they get justice in their lifetime?
The fact is that although a Dalit has made it to the post of the President of India Mr. K. R.Narayannan (1997-2002), but the condition of Dalits remains unchanged. The scourge of untouchbility prevails in India. (60 Minuties the CBS story was anchored By Christine Amanpour in 1999.)
No matter how many Lok –Sabha seats (122 SCs and STs) are reserved, it doesn’t do much good if a Dalit cannot drink from public water taps and is condemned to live in the outer fringes of society. It is with a heart full of love, gratitude, and trust that I take up my pen to write for the Dalit cause. The Indian National Congress Party and Bhartiya Janata Party – led by National Democratic Alliance( NDA) is toying with the idea of job reservation in the private Sector for SCs/ STs’. I believe that for SCs/STs’ jobs are the only route to socio-economic empowerment as they do not own any means of production, like land! President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said, “Our greatest enemy is poverty and not human beings, and if we want progress, we will have to fight poverty.” Eradicating poverty, illiteracy, and reducing inequalities within upper caste and Dalits is the challenge we must face as a nation.
It is crying shame that after 60 years of the Independence, 350 Millions of our people live in poverty. The UNDP Report shows that in India 23crore and 30 lakh people live in starvation. I am sorry to state that after India gained Independence we have no social justice, social security, health care, sanitation, education, infrastructure, drinking water, food, and socio-economic empowerment of all its citizens. We have less cars in on the road but more accident. Train accidents have become more frequent and also India Air Force MIG 21 crashes. Is anyone thinking about it?
India stands highest in the world for blind people, HIV positive, and illiteracy and poverty. As Indians become more educated we will be more productive. Mostly, Indians also lack sense of humor. Our strength, however, lies in our family values.
In India politicians, such as M.Ps’ M.L.As, Ministers, Governors, and Civil Servants from services like IPS, IAS, IFS, and IRS and several other officials of the country consider themselves above the law. Corruption is deeply rooted each and every department of public service and Ministries. Corruption has become the way of life in India and people have learned to respect it. Many top public servants are under CBI investigation after being arrested on the charge of corruption.
Our Politicians must think about health care, education, and infrastructure development. Our politicians must have vision, courage and ideology to make a real difference. Dr. BabaSaheb Ambedkar wanted to do more for his country, but in the existing set-up, he observed, it was difficult to maintain one’s interest in its affairs when the people were not prepared to give a hearing to any view, which did not agree with that of the Prime Minister of India. “It is Sin,” he sighed,” To take birth in such a country whose people are so prejudiced. Anyhow I have done a lot in spite of the words of abuse hurled at me from all sides. I will continue to do so till my death.”
We have been living in this country for thousands of years, in a hopeless system, which lacks enthusiasm. So long as the present system continues, there is no scope for progress. Under the Hindu religion, which is founded on inequality and injustice, we can achieve nothing. Manusmriti describes the chaturvarna.
Chaturvarna is disastrous for the progress of mankind. Under this system, shudras are restricted to perform menial jobs only. They have nothing to do with education. Who would be Interested in ameliorating their lot? Brahmins, Kshatriyas and vaishyas benefit alike from the slavish condition of shudras. The shudras have nothing but slavery to share. Chaturvarna cannot just be blown away. It is not only a part of tradition; it has become a religion.
There is no equality in Hinduism. Narrating an incident that happened with Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar said, ” I once went to see Gandhiji. Gandhiji told me that he believed in chaturvarna. ‘What kind of chaturvarna’? I enquired, pointing towards my hand with the little finger in the bottom and thumb on the top or this way – with the palm lying flat on the surface of the table and fingers lying side by side. What do you mean? By the Chaturvarna? Where does it begin and where does it end?’ I asked Gandhiji. Gandhiji could not reply.”
Commenting on the contribution of the so-called lower castes, Ambedkar further stated, “The Hindus wanted the Vedas and they sent for Vyasa, who was not a caste Hindu. The Hindus wanted an epic and they sent of Valmiki who was an untouchable. The Hindus wanted a Constitution, and they sent for me.”
I hope all political parties must think big. Otherwise there is no future left for future generations. All leaders must forego their egos and work together for the development of India. It is my hope and prayer that we will always live a happy, and peaceful life based on non-violence, truth, equality, love, and compassion as taught to us by Buddha.
India has the men and women to rise to the challenge and ensure a future of racial harmony. A clever person cannot achieve self-realization, which comes only to a wise person. Wisdom and compassion is the way forward. Jai hind . vande mataram.
Stop the human rights meltdown: make human rights real
Message from Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, on the occasion of
International Human Rights Day 2007
As we approach the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we have cause for both celebration and challenge.
We celebrate the impressive development over six decades of international human rights standards, laws and institutions that have improved the lives of many around the world.
The Universal Declaration reflects global values of equality and justice. It inspired the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, and to promote democracy in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. It has led to progress to end the death penalty, to outlaw torture, to promote the equality of women, to protect the rights of children, to turn the tide against impunity. Above all, it has moved a worldwide community of ordinary men and women to join in the fight for justice and equality for all.
But this is not only a moment for celebration and self-congratulation. It is also a time of challenge – the challenge of making rights real, of closing the gap between the promise of the Universal Declaration and the performance of governments and others.
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, human rights are being violated, neglected and eroded with audacity and impunity by governments, big business and armed groups. Renewed commitment is needed by governments as well as civil society to convert rhetoric into reality, disillusionment and despair into hope and action.
In Darfur, murder, rape and violence continue unabated. It is not enough for world leaders wring their hands in horror. We call on them to resource the UN/ AU peacekeeping force properly so that it can protect people effectively.
In Zimbabwe, human rights defenders and political dissidents are being attacked, tortured and thrown into prison without a fair trial. Amnesty International’s recent mission to the country has reinforced our worst fears. We call on governments like South Africa that have influence on President Mugabe to use their influence to bring an end to the violations.
In the Middle East impunity, injustice and human rights abuses are a major obstacle to peace and justice, yet world leaders in Annapolis paid scant attention to them. We call on the international community to put human rights at the centre of the political dialogue.
Today, the International Olympics Committee is meeting to assess progress towards the 2008 Olympics in China. The Committee must not overlook the repression by the Chinese authorities of activists who are protesting forcible evictions to clear land for the Olympics and other projects, or the restrictions on Chinese journalists and internet users. The Olympics Committee must use its influence with the Chinese government to end these practices, which are both contrary to human rights and to the spirit of the Games.
In Myanmar, crimson-robed monks courageously marched to protest the repression and impoverishment of their people but were brutally crushed by the military junta. The neighbouring governments of Myanmar are major trade partners of the military regime. They have power and influence that they must use to pressure the military regime to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other prisoners of conscience and bring about change.
In Pakistan, dark suited lawyers who took to the streets to demand the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary fared no better than the Burmese monks – because like the Myanmar junta, the Pakistani General too has powerful allies. The allies must prioritize human rights over political expediency and misguided security strategies. The failure to do so risks aggravating both human rights and security problems.
A global strategy of counter-terrorism, led by the world’s most powerful government, has undermined fundamental principles of human rights, while extremists and armed groups have unleashed a downward spiral of violence that has endangered the lives of ordinary people everywhere. Parliaments, courts and civil society must call for respect of human rights and the rule of law as the path to greater security.
More attention and resources must be allocated to tackle the hidden or forgotten human rights scandals that destroy millions of lives and livelihoods. While the atrocities of wars make the newspaper pages, very few people are aware that violence against women causes more casualties than armed conflicts.
While world leaders remind us daily of the threat of weapons of mass destruction, the sale and transfer of small arms and conventional weapons, which kill a thousand people a day continue unchecked.
While the advantages and opportunities of economic globalization are evident, there is far less understanding of the failure to respect economic, social and cultural rights that is marginalizing and impoverishing millions of people.
In Bali today the international community is debating the dangers of global warming. The human rights meltdown around the world today is no less a threat to the future of humanity, the call to action no less urgent.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights began as an initiative of governments but today it is the common endeavour of people everywhere.
Every human has rights. That is the essence of our humanity. It places on each of us the duty to stand up, not just for our own rights but also for those of others. That is the spirit of international solidarity. That is the true meaning of universal, indivisible human rights.
As citizens of the world:
We believe human rights abuses anywhere are the concern of people everywhere.
We pledge to harness the power of individuals to galvanize action for justice and equality for all.
We are outraged at the betrayal of our leaders, and are determined to hold them to account.
We commit ourselves to creating a global culture in which every person can realise their human rights.
We will carry the message of hope of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to every region of the world in the 60th anniversary year.
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Believe It Or Not
Mr Rajkumar Basantani promoter of Soundcraft Industries Ltd., is an Ex SBI employee, he got various Bank Managers, to give him Rs 1000 Crores and then he fled from India on 4th April 04…Surprisingly, he has so good relations with the police, that he continues to communicate with them, through his original cell no 98200 60781, If any bank manager is in some trouble, he intervenes and saves him….. He is a white collared Dawood.
I got loan from Greater Bank of Rs 30 lacs against flat 201,202 at Pinky Panorama, Khar. The fraudster received Rs 16.5 crores against flat 501,502 Pinky Panorama, Khar, from 2 banks (PNB & BOBL) … same size flat, same building….This Greater bank tried all means legal & illegal to throw me out of the flat, when I defaulted for Rs 19 lacs only (though morgaged property was worth Rs 80 lacs) … basically so that their officers could get a cut from selling my flat … at the same time even GB had given Rs 5.7 cr to this fraudster, with almost nil security.
This is the same man, who got me arrested on a false charge, because I bought property, he left behind…. he left behind Rs 5 Cr worth property only, which the banks dutifully seized, and were interested in selling to his proxy’s at a very low price.
While farmers commit suicide, when they are unable to repay amounts as low as Rs 25,000/-. the bank managers, loot Crores through their friends
How the managers looted the Banks that employed them:
Punjab National Bank Ltd.
against a flat of 398 sq ft. gave a loan of Rs 8 crores (sanctioned Rs 11.5 cr)
(the flat was not on the moon it was at Khar, 502, Pinky Panorama)
to a company Soundcraft Industries Ltd., promoted by Mr Rajkumar Basantani that has disappeared in thin air.
This flat was valued at Rs 2.04 crores, when they gave the loan.
Have they taken any action against the managers, who cleared this loan. NO.
Have they filed any case against the valuer. NO..
Any Shareholder interested in taking the Directors of PNB to task,
can get full details from me.
Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police is aware of all this,
but no action is initiated against bank officials or the valuer.
(Corrupt Bank Officials and EOW believe in Bhaichara)
The top management must be making Crores of Rupees from these kind of deals,
the amount illegally received must be invested somewhere, in the form of properties, land or jewellery… Let me know, in case you have any information…. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bharat Overseas Bank Ltd.,
Similiar is the story of Bharat Overseas Bank Ltd.,
this bank has also given a loan of Rs 4 crores (sanctioned Rs 5cr) against a flat of 641 sq.ft., 501, Pinky Panorama, Khar.
the valuation of this flat while giving loan, was Rs 2 Crore.
No action taken against managers who sanctioned the loan.
No action initiated against valuer, who provided such a report.
EOW of Mumbai Police is aware of this transaction too.
Again brotherly feelings prevail.
Greater Bombay Co-Operative Bank
This bank has advanced Rs 5.7 crores . Security they have taken is shares worth Rs 25 lakhs .
This bank has advanced Rs 15 crores. Security they have taken is a Rs 1 crore leased property in New Mumbai.
This bank has advanced 27 crores. Security they have taken is a Rs 2 crore office in new Mumbai.
Canara Bank, Vijaya Bank, Punjab Sind Bank, Bank Of India, Oriental Bank Of Commerce, Small Industrial Devevelopment Bank and atleast 30 other banks have advanced sums between Rs 5 Crores and Rs 20 crores to this company, without any security.
Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police is aware of all the bank names and names of managers, who gave such loans, so is the RBI.
An RTI application made to Mumbai police, got me a reply “Information forwarded to RBI… Contact RBI”
Surprisingly RBI has refused to give me info, in my RTI enquiry “What action is taken against the Bank Managers” … Stating “Action taken is confidential, info cannot be given”.
Is Mumbai Police supposed to take action against all the Bank Managers ? Or are they supposed to become their friend ? So that some share can be received … This is called Bhaichara ?
PIL will be filed shortly, to force Police / RBI to initiate action.
Corporate Crime Condoned
On November 26, 2003, 150 people were poisoned when chlorine gas leaked from Mangalam Drugs and Chemicals, an infamous chemical factory near Sangamner town on the Nashik-Pune highway. The incident took place roughly a week before the 19th anniversary of the Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, but caused barely a stir outside the small industrial town where the incident occurred.
For years before the incident occurred, residents had complained to regulatory authorities and the district administration about the pollution from the factory. Emissions from the chemical plant had made life unliveable for the communities. Last year, the company was given closure orders by the Pollution Control Board. But the High Court set aside the order, and allowed the plant to operate until the tragedy occurred where 150 were injured and 18 seriously poisoned.
A day later, in an unrelated incident in Gaya, Bihar, Satyendra Dubey was murdered by “unidentified assailants” for blowing the whistle on the corrupt contracts that characterised the project. Dubey had conveyed the details of irregularities in the project through a confidential letter to the Prime Minister’s Office. A leak, allegedly from the PMO, alerted corporate interest(s) who set their goondas to silence Dubey.
The Dubey murder and the Sangamner poisoning share a common thread. Both are instances of corporate crime – of a crime perpetrated by a business interest against workers, consumers, the government, communities or shareholders.
Corporate crime results from a business house’ motive to profit at any cost. In the Mangalam case, the company has chosen to save on costs for maintaining safety and environmental quality. With Dubey, the company acted in revenge or to prevent the engineer from leaking any more information about their wrong-doings. In both cases, earlier warnings – and in Dubey’s case, requests for confidentiality – by the victims were ignored by the authorities.
Depending on the stakes, corporations deploy various tools to ensure the security of their businesses. Some of the favourite tools corporations use to neutralise threats include paying bribes, issuing counter-threats, harassment (transfers, suspension, false cases against community or labour activists), police action, political pressure, physical violence or even murder. This is by no means an exhaustive list of tools available at the corporation’s disposal.
A limited liability corporation is the perfect vehicle for a crime. A company can poison an entire reservoir or river, or wipe out a town, run away with your grandmother’s term deposit, or convert corporate crimes the sacred lands of native people to radioactive wastelands. For the worst of these, the liability is limited to civil damages not exceeding the assets of the company. And, any creative accountant will tell you how to manage your assets in times of liability.
Corporations usually have other powerful allies on their sides – the law, the law-makers and the law-enforcers. The courts have had a difficult time coming to grips with the corporation as a criminal. The company’s criminality is seen to arise from the criminal acts of those who manage or direct it.
“[S]ince company is a legal abstraction without a real mind of its own, it is those who in fact control and determine the management of the company, who are held vicariously liable for commission of statutory offences. The directors of the company are, therefore, rightly called upon to answer the charge, being the directing mind of the company,” clarifies the Supreme Court in the 1985 Shriram Oleum gas leak case.
Rather than creatively explore the prospect of criminal liability for companies, the companies’ directors are the only ones left with the responsibility of discharging criminal liabilities. “[T]he corporation has been above the law by the simple device of not being squarely in it,” sums up New Delhi-based legal researcher Usha Ramanathan.
In a 2:1 decision on September 16 (Criminal Appeal No. 142 of 1994 Asst Commr, Assessment II, Bangalore & Ors v. Velliappa Textiles Ltd & Ors), the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation cannot be charged with crimes that carry mandatory sentencing of imprisonment and fine. Because a company cannot be imprisoned, the Supreme Court reasons that it can only be charged with crimes carrying sentencing of a fine even if graver offences are committed.
Ramanathan writes that the observation of the two judges “can be seen by some as a failure of legal imagination. If imprisonment means drawing a convicted offender into a pre-set confined space as a prison, it is arguable that an offending corporation cannot be imprisoned. But, the constituents of imprisonment include detention, restriction of certain liberties and, more recently, it has been held to be about productive work while in prison the wages for which would go to repair the victims’ lives. These are certainly capable of being imposed on a corporation. The notion of imprisonment clearly needs to be re-visited. So too do other possibilities of sentencing of a convicted corporation.” [Ecologist Asia, December 2003]
Unfortunately, Dubey’s death and the poisoning of the Sangamner residents will both go unavenged, with no lessons learnt from the tragedies, and with no insights gained into the insidious menace of corporate crime. Evidence to convict a corporate criminal is not easy to come by, especially if people like Dubey don’t speak out for fear of losing their job or life. In Dubey’s case, the highest offices in the country are charged – with or without intent to cause him harm – with leaking Dubey’s identity and sealing his fate.
The law offers no protection to “whistleblowers” – those who risk their jobs and even lives – to alert the authorities or the public about criminal dealings within an institution. The absence of such laws prevents any but the most courageous from exposing wrong doings in high places.
Even worse, awareness about or acknowledgement of the seriousness of corporate crimes is yet to permeate the corridors of power. The National Crime Records Bureau, for instance, has little data on white-collar or corporate crimes. Such crimes, however, represent a monumental loss of public money – the bank scams, the bankrupt NBFCs, the non-performing assets in public sector banks, illegal lockouts, and the numerous violations of food, product, environmental and workplace safety regulations.
Ralph Nader, an American consumer activist and candidate in the last US presidential polls, identifies corporate crime as one of the most pressing issues facing society. Citing various governmental and industry sources, Nader establishes that white-collar and corporate crimes in the US are far more damaging than street-level crimes.
Health care fraud, for instance, costs the US some $100 million; anti-trust violations about $250 million. “By comparison,” Nader writes, “the FBI estimated that in 2002, the nation’s total loss from robbery, burglary, larcenytheft, motor vehicle theft and arson was less than $18 billion – less than a third of the estimated $60 billion Enron alone cost investors, pensioners and employees.”
In India, this pattern is not likely to be vastly different. Efforts to tackle such crime are grossly inadequate. Only 4 percent of the white-collar criminals get convicted in the Supreme Court, according to a PTI report of November 2003 that quotes C.L. Ramakrishnan, former director of Vigilance and Anti- Corruption. The report also notes that “criminals escape with fines of few thousand rupees for offences running to several hundred crores.”
Criminal charges seldom reach the stage of sentencing. The Union Carbide case in Bhopal presents a classic example of corporate crime gone unpunished. Union Carbide Corporation’s status as a US multinational, no doubt, added a further complicating factor. Immediately after the disaster, the US courts refused to hear the plaints for compensation filed by Bhopal victims on grounds that the forum (in the US) was inappropriate given the robustness of the Indian judicial system. The US court, instead, exhorted Carbide and its officials to cooperate with Indian authorities.
The company and its chief executives did nothing of that sort. They fled to seek refuge in their home country to escape liability that could arise from their crimes in Bhopal if convicted.
Both Union Carbide and Warren Anderson, the chairman of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster, are proclaimed absconders by the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal for their failure to honour summons issued by the court.
Both Carbide and Anderson face charges of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” and other crimes. A notice of extradition for Warren Anderson was served more than 10 years after the order seeking his extradition was given. The US Government is yet to respond to the request.
In the meantime, Carbide has added insult to injury by reappearing in India, albeit in proxy. In February 2001, the company merged with US-based Dow Chemical. Although Dow acquired Carbide with full knowledge of the latter’s pending criminal and civil liabilities in India, Dow has made clear that it will not address any of Carbide’s Bhopal liabilities. So certain is it about its position and security of its assets that Dow has opened several offices in India, including the manufacture and marketing of Dursban (chlorpyriphos), a deadly pesticide, in collaboration with National Organic Chemcials Industries Limited (NOCIL). Meanwhile the Indian Government seems in no hurry to challenge Dow’s version of law.
At least part of the blame for the predicament we find ourselves in lies with the fact that our society sees a corporate criminal as undeserving of the strict punishment meted out to common criminals.
Senior corporate executives, like Warren Anderson, who make decisions that kill, poison or rob people often pass off for respectable law-abiding citizens. Unlike the stereotypical common criminals, the top directors of corporate criminals – even convicted criminals – often smell good, drive expensive cars and can legitimately gain access to the policy-making circles of the world governments.
When corporate crimes involve premeditated murder, as in the case of Dubey, the law is clear on the fate of at least the human perpetrators.
But what about poisoning that results from wilful negligence? Not all corporate criminals set their goons to murder those who stand in the way of their money.
Some like Mangalam still exhibit the same depraved indifference to human life and environment in their pursuit for money that they subsidise their production by feeding off the health of the communities and the environment.
The courts are clear about murder, but seem confused about whether or not a little poisoning is inevitable and should be allowed in the interests of “development.”
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