Supreme Court Stops Bengal Police From Taking Coercive Action Against 5 BJP Leaders On Criminal Cases Registered Against Them

first_imgTop StoriesSupreme Court Stops Bengal Police From Taking Coercive Action Against 5 BJP Leaders On Criminal Cases Registered Against Them LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK18 Dec 2020 12:50 AMShare This – xThe Supreme Court on Friday issued notices on petitions filed by five BJP leaders Arjun Singh, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Pawan Singh, Sourav Singh and Mukul Roy seeking investigation by an independent agency in the criminal cases registered against them by the West Bengal police.A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul also ordered that no coercive action should be taken against the…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Supreme Court on Friday issued notices on petitions filed by five BJP leaders Arjun Singh, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Pawan Singh, Sourav Singh and Mukul Roy seeking investigation by an independent agency in the criminal cases registered against them by the West Bengal police.A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul also ordered that no coercive action should be taken against the petitioners on the criminal cases till the next date of hearing.Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Arjun Singh, MP from Barrackpore constituency, submitted that the criminal cases were “falsely foisted” on his client after he left the Trinamool Congress to join the Bharatiya Janata Party.Advocate  Prashant Kumar, appearing for Kailash Vijayvargia, submitted that cases for minor offences have been registered so that he will not be able to travel in the state ahead of the assembly polls scheduled next year.   Other petitioners also argued that the cases against them were “politically motivated”.The bench also considered another petition filed by Kabir Shankar Bose, who alleged that he was assaulted and attacked while travelling in Bengal.Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Bose, submitted that his client was attacked despite having a protection by CISF(SSG).”I am a person with CISF(SSG) protection which is granted only after IB inputs of threat. I have been attacked and assaulted. I was attacked in the face of CISF(SSG) protection” Jethmalani submitted.After the attack, the Bengal police slapped a criminal case against Bose, he added. He urged the bench to call for the report filed by the CISF(SSG) with respect to the incident and to protect him from coercive action by the police on the case.The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, directed the CISF(SSG) to place before the court the special incident report in a sealed cover.Click Here To Download Petition[Read Petition]Next Storylast_img read more

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NFF Queries Rohr over Incessant Breach of Contract Agreement

first_imgFemi SolajaThere are strong indications that the synergy between the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Head Coach of Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr is no longer smooth following the query the football house issued to the coach yesterday evening.The Franco/German tactician was hired 2016 and the relationship has been very cordial and he went on to qualify the senior national team to the last World Cup final last year in Russia and the AFCON 2019 finals in Egypt both with a game in hand aside the third place finisher at the continental event. But yesterday, the Glass house queried the coach to explain reasons behind several breaches of the contract that he signed with the body, which forbids him to divulge to the public/media information on some aspects of the contract.The NFF’s Technical Director, Bitrus Bewarang said Rohr’s new-found love for disclosing information beyond technical matters to the media is highly unprofessional and against the spirit and letter of his contractual relationship with the football –ruling body.“In as much as we appreciate the work that Mr. Rohr has been doing with the Super Eagles in the past 40 months, his recent penchant for breaching provisions of the contract he signed with the NFF and the Code of Conduct for coaches is not good for the relationship.“The NFF wishes that Mr. Rohr continues in the job because of the team he is building for Nigeria which looks promising and has earned some good results since he took charge, but he cannot continue to nonchalantly cause the NFF as a body, and Nigeria as a nation, reputational damage through his utterances and actions,” Bewarang said.Bewarang, who was assistant to Clemens Westerhof when the Super Eagles qualified Nigeria for her first-ever FIFA World Cup and won the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 1994, pinpointed Clause N of the Code of Conduct for coaches, which states that “coaches must not by their actions or inaction cause NFF or the Federal Government of Nigeria any harm, reputational damage or embarrassment, nor do anything directly or indirectly to undermine their contract with the NFF.”Thisdaysports gathered that the Clause E of the same code says that “coaches must not misrepresent the NFF or distort information to the media. They are precluded from imparting unauthorized information to the media.”While Clause 19 of Mr. Rohr’s contract with the NFF states that “the parties hereto agree that specific contents and especially the financial details of this contract shall be confidential and therefore agree to undertake whatsoever measures are necessary to preserve its confidentiality…,” Clause 11.2.5 was clear that “the coach shall refrain from talking to the press on matters outside his terms of employment i.e he can only talk to the press on technical matters about the Super Eagles. He cannot talk to the media about any confidential subjects or issues other than technical matters only relating to the team and the development or state of Nigerian football, technically.”Bewarang regretted that Rohr has continually and flagrantly disrespected the provisions of his contract and the Code of Conduct for coaches, divulging information at every turn to generate negative reports about the NFF and Nigeria in the public space.“As at today, the only money that the NFF is owing Mr. Rohr is the differential in his new contract (about $30,000) which our financial advisors have to align and interface with AITEO before payment (as the improved contract came into effect in the last half of the year), and which process was concluded on Friday last week. He will soon be paid. Mr. Rohr has talked about bonus from the 2019 AFCON, which is not contractual but discretionary on the part of the Federation. The present NFF started the policy of paying players a percentage of tournament bonus during the 2018 FIFA World Cup just to motivate them, outside their bonuses and allowances.“We did not pay any bonus for the 2021 AFCON qualifying matches against Benin Republic and Lesotho because we are in the process of negotiating with the players on a new template of bonus payments based on performance after qualification for championships. This is still being discussed.“The NFF is very much alive to its responsibilities but will not tolerate disrespect for the body and the country Nigeria by anyone. NFF can never be happy owing coaches in its employ which is the reason why the present administration took the unprecedented step of putting in place a sponsor specifically to pay coaches’ salaries. Last week, we paid all the National Team coaches and we are putting in place mechanism to ensure we don’t owe them going forward. We commend AITEO for its belief in the NFF and for always making funds available to pay the coaches.”The NFF Technical Director expressed deep appreciation to all the partners and sponsors of the football –governing body for their commitment to the letter and spirit of their contracts with the football Federation.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Gernot Rohrlast_img read more

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Another example of vendetta politics Rahul on Shivakumar arrest

first_imgNew Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that D K Shivakumar’s arrest was another example of “vendetta politics” and the BJP government was using probe agencies and a “pliant” media to selectively target individuals. After a long session of grilling, Shivakumar was placed under arrest by the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday in a money laundering case. “The arrest of DK Shivakumar is another example of the vendetta politics unleashed by the government, using agencies like the ED/CBI & a pliant media to selectively target individuals,” Gandhi tweeted. The Congress has hit out at the BJP-led Centre over Shivakumar’s arrest, asserting the opposition party will not be intimidated by the “politics of persecution” and continue to pose “hard questions” to the government.last_img read more

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Weekly Summary Corporate dividends name changes new listings

first_imgNEW YORK — Changes announced in corporate dividends Dec. 17-Dec. 21.INCREASED DIVIDENDSAT&T .51 from .50Abbott Laboratories .32 from .28Alamo Group .12 from .11Albany Intl .18 from .17Andersons Inc (The) .17 from .165Annaly Cap Mgmt .30 from .2217Balchem .47 from .42Boeing 2.055 from 1.71Cantel Medical .10 from .085Community Financial .125 from .10CubeSmart .32 from .30Eili Lilly .645 from .5625Ensign Group .0475 from .045Fifth Third Bancorp .22 from .18Guaranty Fed Bcshs Mo .13 from .12Heico Cl A .07 from .06Heico Corp .07 from .06Investar Holding .05 from .045Lamb Weston Holdings .20 from .19125Limoneira .075 from .0625MGM Growth Properties .4475 from .4375Morningstar .28 from .25Norwood Financial .24 from .22Pfizer .36 from .34Reliant Bancor .09 from .08ServisFirst Bancshares .15 from .11Utd Security Bancshares .11 from .10Washington Trust .47 from .43SPECIAL DIVIDENDSCherry Hill Mtge Inv .15JBG Smith Properties .10Sunstone Hotel Investors .54g- Canadian fundsOTHER CORPORATE NEWS AND LISTINGS:STOCK SPLITS THIS WEEKInvestors Real Est Tr 1 for 10 reverse splitACQUISITIONS AND MERGERSMINIMUM VALUE $300 MILLIONExpress Scripts Holding – Cigma Corp (54B)Mazor Robotics Ltd ADS – Medtronic plc (1.6B)Spectra Energy Partners LP – Enbridge Inc (3.3B)NEW STOCK LISTINGSNASDAQ GLOBAL AND GLOBAL SELECT MARKETSAptorum Group IncSTOCKS REMOVED FROM TRADINGNYSECitigroup Inc warrants 1/4/19LaSalle Hotel Properties 6.375pc pfd ILaSalle Hotel Properties 6.3pc pfd JNavios Maritime Midstream Part LPNASDAQ GLOBAL AND GLOBAL SELECT MARKETSWintrust Financial Corp warrantsCORPORATE NAME CHANGESAvista Healthcare Public Acquis to Organogenesis Hldg Cl A (and warrants)The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Netflix and chill no more – streaming is getting complicated

first_imgStreaming TV may never again be as simple, or as affordable, as it is now.Disney and WarnerMedia are each launching their own streaming services in 2019 in a challenge to Netflix’s dominance. Netflix viewers will no longer be able to watch hit movies such as “Black Panther” or “Moana,” which will soon reside on Disney’s subscription service. WarnerMedia, a unit of AT&T, will also soon have its own service to showcase its library of blockbuster films and HBO series.Families will have to decide between paying more each month or losing access to some of their favourite dramas, comedies, musicals and action flicks.“There’s definitely a lot of change coming,” said Paul Verna at eMarketer, a digital research company. “People will have more choices of what to stream, but at the same time the market is already fragmented and intimidating and it is only going to get more so.”Media companies are seeking to capitalize on the popularity and profitability of streaming. But by fragmenting the market, they’re also narrowing the once wide selection that fueled the rise of internet-based video. About 55 per cent of U.S. households now subscribe to paid streaming video services, up from just 10 per cent in 2009, according to research firm Deloitte.Just as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime tempted people to “cut the cord” by cancelling traditional cable TV packages, the newer services are looking to dismember those more-inclusive options.Disney Plus is set to launch late next year with new Marvel and Star Wars programming, along with its library of animated and live-action movies and shows. It hasn’t announced pricing yet, but Disney CEO Bob Iger said in an August call with analysts that it will likely be less than Netflix, which runs $8 to $14 a month, since its library will be smaller.AT&T plans a three-tier offering from WarnerMedia, with a slate of new and library content centred around the existing HBO streaming app. No word on pricing yet.Individual channels, such as Fox, ESPN, CBS and Showtime, are also getting into the act. Research group TDG predicts that every major TV network will launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service in the next five years.Netflix and others have invested heavily in original movies and TV shows to keep their customers loyal. Netflix, for instance, said Wednesday that 45 million subscriber accounts worldwide watched the Sandra Bullock thriller “Bird Box” during its first seven days on the service, the biggest first-week success of any movie made for the company’s nearly 12-year-old streaming service.That first-week audience means nearly a third of Netflix’s 137 million subscribers watched the movie from Dec. 21 through Dec. 27 — a holiday-season stretch when many people aren’t working and have more free time.But Netflix, Hulu and others may soon have to do without programs and movies licensed from their soon-to-be rivals. In December, Netflix paid a reported $100 million to continue licensing “Friends” from WarnerMedia.Why are media companies looking to get in? Data and dollars. Sure, they get money when they sell their programs to other services like Netflix. But starting their own service allows networks and studios access to valuable data about who is binging on their shows.For services with ad-based options, that data translates into more dollars from advertisers. And services that rely only on subscription revenues, media companies can use the data to better tailor their offerings for individual tastes, helping to draw in more subscribers.“I think all media companies are coming to grips with the reality that you better establish a relationship directly with your audiences,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson at an analyst conference earlier this month.The business model that some networks and content companies are currently using, distributing their TV shows and movies only by licensing them to streaming platforms, is getting “disrupted aggressively” as more companies launch their own services, said Stephenson, whose company acquired WarnerMedia in June.Forrester analyst Jim Nail compares this moment to the “Cambrian explosion,” a historic era when plant and animal species rapidly multiplied after Ice Age glaciers receded.“Big brands like Disney have to evaluate: Are we only going to access this market by licensing our content to Netflix, Hulu and others?” he said. “Or, can we go direct to the consumer with our own service?”But a multiplicity of streaming services could easily overwhelm or confuse consumers. To get a full slate of programming, TV watchers may soon have to subscribe to several services instead of just one or two.Among those options will be services like Netflix and Hulu that offer a wide range of video from a variety of sources; cable-like “skinny bundles” such as FuboTV, Sling and YouTube TV that offer a variety of live channels; and channel- or network-specific services like Disney Plus.Consider just AT&T’s plan to launch a three-tiered service this year centred on HBO. An entry-level bundle will offer mostly movies; a second, slightly more expensive tier will include original programming and newer movies. A third and still more expensive offering would add more WarnerMedia entertainment such as “Friends.”The cost of multiple streaming services could quickly approach the average cost of a cable bill — not counting the cost of internet service. That’s around $107 per month, according to Leichtman Research Group.“It’s unlikely any of the services individually can charge more than $10 per month,” Forrester’s Nail said. “The great unknown is how many individual streaming services people are willing to sign up for.”Companies are already trying to tame this chaos by bundling multiple streaming services together. Amazon Prime customers can add-on subscriptions to HBO, Showtime or Starz. Roku and Chromecast viewers can access their different services from a central place; Roku said Wednesday it will start selling in-app access to Showtime, Starz and other channels as well.How should consumers deal with all the coming change?“Be patient,” said Michael Greeson, president of research group TDG. “We’re in a time of dramatic change for the TV and video business. There’ll be great benefits, and question marks and consequences.”Mae Anderson, The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Alleged illegal dumping

first_imgPEACE REGION, B.C. – The B.C. Conservation Officer service seized a tank truck on Sunday, November 11, 2018.Peace BCCOS encountered what they believed was the illegal dumping of waste, in progress as they arrived. The tank truck has been seized for evidence.Media spokesman for the Ministry David Carn said there are no further details as the investigation is ongoing.last_img

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BSP releases 1st list of 11 candidates, former JD(S) leader gets ticket

first_imgLucknow: The BSP Friday announced its first list of 11 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, fielding former JD(S) leader Danish Ali from Amroha.Ali, who was general secretary of the Janata Dal (Secular), quit that party and joined the Bahujan Samaj Party only last week. The BSP declared Haji Fazulrahman its nominee from Saharanpur, Malook Nagar from Bijnore and Girish Chandra from Nagina, a party statement said. Hazi Mohammad Yakoob has been fielded from Meerut, Satbeer Nagar from Gautam Buddh Nagar, Yogesh Verma from Bulandshahr, Ajit Baliyan from Aligarh, Manoj Kumar Soni from Agra, Rajveer Singh from Fatehpur Sikri and Ruchi Veera from Aonla. Danish Ali, 54, joined the BSP amid speculation that his new party might field him from Amroha in western Uttar Pradesh. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Ali had then said he had the blessings of JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda to make the switch, a claim later confirmed by his old party. A native of Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh, Ali said he was not able to establish the JD(S) in the state. The BSP is contesting 38 of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh under the seat-sharing arrangement with Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.The SP will contest 37 seats and the RLD three. The alliance has left Amethi and Raebareli for the Congress, even though it is not a part of it. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KMayawati recently said the BSP will not have an alliance with the Congress in any state. On Friday, Mayawati posted tweets ridiculing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for calling himself the country’s chowkidar (watchman). Referring to the ruling party’s Main bhi chowkidar’ (I am a chowkidar too) campaign, said the ruling party leaders can do “chowkidari” after losing the polls. She also accused the Modi government of hiding data that revealed the scale of unemployment in the country.last_img read more

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Joining Cong as it is national party in true sense; Lalu advised to do so: Shatrughan

first_imgNew Delhi: Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who has announced that he is quitting the BJP, on Sunday said he decided to go with the Congress as it was a national party in the “true sense” and family friend Lalu Prasad also advised him to do so. He said leaders such as Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal, among others, wanted him to join their respective parties, but he had made it clear that whatever be the situation, the constituency he would be contesting in the Lok Sabha polls would be Patna Sahib. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The actor-turned-politician, who has been criticising the Modi government for long, said it was “painful” for him to leave the BJP with which he has had such a long association, but was disturbed at the treatment meted out by the party to stalwarts such as L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha. The BJP has not fielded party veterans Advani and Joshi in the Lok Sabha polls. In an exclusive interview to PTI, Sinha said he had won from Patna Sahib in 2014 on his own merit, without support from the party and feels that this time he could break his “previous records” in terms of victory. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KHe slammed the BJP’s leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah saying earlier there was “lokshahi” (democracy) and now there is “tanashahi” (dictatorship) in the party. “There used to be collective decision during Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) ji’s time. There was democracy in the true sense. But now, there is the case of one-man show and two-man army,” said the 73-year-old leader, who is in Muscat where he is being honoured as a cinematic legend. Asked why he decided to go with the Congress, Sinha said there were several reasons such as it is the grand old party which has had great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, and those of the Nehru-Gandhi family.last_img read more

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Day after: Lankans still can’t believe it happened

first_imgColombo: As Shantha Prasad carried children wounded in Sri Lanka’s deadly attacks into a Colombo hospital, memories of the country’s deadly civil war flooded back. “I carried about eight wounded children yesterday,” he told AFP on Monday, a day after a string of blasts hit hotels and churches, killing nearly 300 people. “There were two girls aged six and eight, the same age as my daughters,” said Prasad, who helps carry stretchers into the hospital’s triage area and wards. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”Their clothes were torn and drenched in blood. It is unbearable to see this kind of violence again.” For many Sri Lankans, Sunday’s attacks against churches and high-end hotels brought back painful memories of a conflict that lasted three decades and killed as many as 100,000 people. During those years, bomb attacks were a regular occurrence, and left many Sri Lankans on edge in the streets and on public transport. In the capital, street sweeper Malathi Wickrama said Monday he was now nervous doing his job. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”Now we are afraid to even touch black plastic bags with garbage,” he said. “The string of blasts yesterday brings back memories of the time when we were afraid to go in buses or trains because of parcel bombs.” With the lifting of a nationwide curfew early Monday morning, people began to emerge into Colombo’s streets, where security was heavy. Schools and the stock exchange are closed, but some shops opened their doors and public transport was functioning. Imtiaz Ali, a tuk-tuk driver, was looking for customers in the capital, but said his family was in mourning over the death of his nephew in the blast that hit the Cinnamon Grand hotel. “The boy was just 23. He was a salesman at Cinnamon Grand hotel and he was to be married next week,” Ali told AFP. “We had made all the plans to hold the wedding at home, but today it’s a funeral house.” When Ali stopped at a petrol station to get a back-up container of fuel, the attendant said police had banned the sale of petrol and diesel in cans and bottles for fear they could be used to improvise bombs. Elsewhere in the city, some residents were making their way into work, determined to maintain a semblance of normality despite the tragedy. “We are resilient people,” said Nuwan Samarweera, a 50-year-old office worker. “We have seen so much violence during the civil war. For the outside world it may be big, but for us life goes on,” he added.last_img read more

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Oases of happiness

first_imgA few months ago, Naxalites killed an MLA and an ex-MLA for their illegal mining activity that was damaging crops in the tribal area of Araku in Andhra Pradesh. And now, the National Green Tribunal has slapped an interim fine of Rs 100 crores on AP government for its silence in the illegal sand extraction from Krishna river basin. These striking instances are among those routinely happening in the country involving the enemies of the environment – mafias of land, sand, mining, forest, and business, who hobnob with those in governance. Thanks to the pro-rich, Big Brother government, we have hit the rock bottom in performance to save our environment. Also Read – A special kind of bondIn George Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty Four,’ the mysterious Big brother employed his notorious secret agents on his own citizens and used his propaganda machinery to keep them on tenterhooks for an ongoing but non-existing war with an enemy country. The present state of affairs in our country is close to what George Orwell had conjured up. Although Vedic culture envisages living in harmony with nature, under a Hindutva-government, India stands at a shameful 177 out of 180 countries in the Global Environment Performance Index of 2018. It only shows our apathy to environmental health, ecosystem vitality, etc., that determine sustainability. On the contrary, the top scorers like Switzerland, Denmark, etc., exhibit long-standing commitments to issues such as health outcomes related to drinking water and sanitation, preserving natural resources, including marine ecosystems, and decoupling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from economic activity. Also Read – Insider threat managementIn a country where billionaires can quickly become multi-billionaires, but 60 per cent are defined poor, it is not surprising that we are far behind in achieving any of the Sustainable Development Goals. India scored a pathetic 5.75 per cent in air quality as against over 90 by Switzerland and Japan; cities are facing a multi-pollutant crisis. In spite of the Har Ghar Jal Yojana, over 82 per cent rural households have no tap-water connection; and 47 million live on contaminated groundwater. According to CSE’s water and sanitation experts, although 72 million individual household toilets have been built under the Swachh Bharat scheme, funds meant to popularise them have not been spent, rendering the scheme ineffective; and in urban areas, about a million families are still waiting for their construction. Further, as against the 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022, only 9 per cent of the roof-top solar target has been met so far. Even the Centre’s Ujjwala Yojana for LPG distribution has not done any meritorious work. Forestland diversion for non-forest purposes has only increased; Central government cleared an average of six projects a day in 2017. Even money allocated for containing forest-fires is lying unused. With the closure of regional branches of NGT in 2018 due to staff crunch, handling of environment-related crimes – over 20,000 pending in courts and quite many under investigation – has only become casual. As against this dismal performance and other failures, we only keep hearing about the bravado of the Big Brother – tallest statue, surgical strike, Shakti missile, demonetisation, a high figure of GDP, the highest integrity, unity of the nation, etc. Intelligence failure in Pulwama attack and disquiet defence veterans writing to the President against using armed forces for politics, corrode the sheen of surgical strike. It is space scientists who toiled for decades to achieve the results. Demonetisation, apart from the traumatising people, has led to the closure of lakhs of small businesses and industries and loss of millions of jobs. Even the high GDP growth projected is being contested as fudged, since it has not produced any jobs. The tallest claim of integrity is also in question. It appears the Rafale deal is turning out to be a noose for the culprits – the insolvent Anil Ambani and his well-wishers in the political establishment. When it comes to unity in our multi-cultural society, there is a shameful silence of the leadership on communalism and cow-vigilantism. By playing with words, the subtle message of LK Advani, that it is not the ethos of BJP to dub opposing voices as anti-national, is being projected as a compliment. Further, their propaganda machinery trying to foist Modi Biopic and the NaMo TV on the country, and senior IAS officers of PMO seeking shift for the lack of organic relationship with the bureaucrats, only indicate the all-pervading Big Brother atmosphere. And, of late, although Pragya Thakur is a prime accused in Malegaon terrorist violence and is on bail on medical grounds, nominating her to contest elections is an audacious low of BJP in the promotion of communal hatred. People are nonplussed and distressed. In such a state of mind, no one realises that, right now, humanity is standing on a precipice; human health and ecosystems are in grave danger. With the combustion of fossil fuels incessantly pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the globe is getting warmer; even dangerously close to the rise-limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Increase of these molecules abets an addition of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen monoxide, which cause acid rain. This acidity is further supplemented by oceans since they absorb about one-third of all carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to become warm and more acidic. The acid rain changes the pH value of water in rivers and lakes, creating conditions conducive for the growth of algae that not only deprive the aquatic organisms of oxygen but also cause many diseases like gastroenteritis to humans. Moreover, global warming causes melting of ice and a rise in sea level; a rise of two to three feet would displace about 4 million people. If the extreme El Nino event of 2015-16 was any indication, we are in for more natural disasters – storm surges, wildfires, heat waves, severe droughts, say, environmental scientists. Such calamities heighten the risk of pests and vector-borne diseases, like malaria, dengue, etc. Furthermore, the toxins of industrial waste contaminate water for drinking and agricultural purposes, while artificial fertilisers spoil the soil itself. When such grave threats are looming large on humanity, instead of acting in a rush, our mafias calmly continue with their indiscriminate deforestation, illegal mining, sand extraction, etc. No doubt there is unrest among victims, providing fertile grounds to Naxalites. And, in the cross-fire between them and the government forces, it is innocents who are killed. Even then, in their doggedness, the Maoists do not realise that their target of overthrowing establishment through violence would only lead to anarchy or authoritarian rule. As such, without freedoms, East European countries are unhappier than the poorest democracies. And, with strong symptoms of authoritarianism, India is also among the unhappiest countries as per the World Happiness Report. The killings of BJP MLA in Bastar for developing road network and a poll official in Odisha to intimidate voters are thus an anti-thesis of the cause espoused – change the lives of the marginalised and poor, stop corruption and exploitation, and protect the environment. Since they command a mass base, it would be prudent to convert their cause into a peaceful national movement. There are numerous success stories. The Chipko movement, with the tactic of ’embracing’ trees, awakened people and governments to save the Himalayas. In the recent past, once Vizag Central Jail was shifted out, mafias colluded with the government in power to build a commercial complex. But, it was a peaceful agitation and support of court that saved this 25-acre prime land for a park. In the same city, a huge 125-year-old banyan tree was about to be butchered for protecting an old railway guest house that came in the way of widening a road. However, school children and activists saved it through a Chipko-style of agitation; the railway building was demolished. In yet another peaceful mass movement, Medha Patkar and others have apprised the nation about the woes of displacement of tribal and other people, as well as the damage to the environment. The Narmada Valley project, although has high ambitions of providing electricity, drinking water, and irrigation facilities to a large number of people, has compromised on the ecological aspects and the trauma of people. The demand is for alternative methods to provide these facilities, using smaller dams and renewable energy, without destroying the habitats of people and the environment. While forests are health-keepers of our environment, water bodies are no less important, since polluting them and illegally extracting sand affect agriculture, fish and drinking water. We do not wink an eye-lid even to pollute the sea with dumps of plastics, garbage, and debris, which harm marine life. Since we limit ourselves only to praying to river goddesses, ‘Namami Ganga’ has remained mere rhetoric; and Yamuna, Godavari, and other rivers are also crying for help. But, elsewhere, Danube, Thames, etc., are pristinely clean, not because they are revered as goddesses; but because people and the governments alike treat them as precious natural resources. In this context, NGT levying an interim fine of Rs 100 crore on AP government appears to be exemplary. But, given the fact that sand mafias act in nexus with those in government, it amounts to a penalty on the already suffering tax-payer. The culprits are allowed the last laugh. It is time a strong partnership between government and people evolved to save our rivers, forests, and environment, as tried in Sikkim. They have redefined ‘modernity’ and the goals of development, to widen it to a sustainable, just society based on harmonious, non-exploitative relationships. They achieved not only 100 per cent in organic farming, but also commendable afforestation. Justifiably, Netizens call it the ‘Switzerland of India.’ We need such Oases of Happiness across the country. Will the political parties bid for it in these elections? (Dr. N Dilip Kumar is a retired IPS officer and a former member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

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