Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed
Showing posts sorted by date for query Jharkhand. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Jharkhand. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Did Modi Mislead Parliament on the Number of Fake Ration Cards that Aadhaar Had Exposed?

There is no official data to back up the prime minister’s claim that the use of “Aadhaar and technology” had led to the discovery of nearly 4 crore bogus ration cards.

Nobody in the Narendra Modi government seems to know where the prime minister got the data on the basis of which he told the Lok Sabha that the use of technology and Aadhaar led to the discovery of 3.95 crore bogus ration cards (from 1:19 onwards in the video below), Right to Information Act activist Anjali Bharadwaj on Tuesday claimed at a press conference organised to “expose the false claims of the government about the benefits of Aadhaar”.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

'The Future Of Family Planning Now Goes Digital'

One of India’s most vocal advocates for youth rights to sexual health, Franklin Paul, has been introducing digital technologies to the rural youth.

Online shopping may have its pros and cons, but when it comes to buying products that have an invisible morality tag, it’s the safest possible option, believes Franklin Paul.

One of India’s most vocal advocates for youth rights to sexual health, education and products, Paul has spent over two years studying and introducing digital technologies to India’s rural youths.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Opinion: Lynching The Diversity Out Of India

The new jungle justice system has obviously been given political imprimatur.

Junaid Khan, 15 years young, had gone for Eid shopping with his brothers to Delhi. He was never to return. On his way home to Ballabgarh, a hate-fuelled group of men pounced on him. He was stabbed during the attack and literally bled to death in excruciating pain. His brothers were assaulted too, but escaped with their lives. Beef eaters, yelled the rancorous chorus. No one in the train compartment helped. Junaid is the latest victim of the rising violent culture of cow-related mob lynching in India. It is a Frankenstein's monster on the loose taking giant strides. The ominous predator is out there as you read this.

What Cow-Loving India Should Focus On: Making More Fodder Available To Starving Cattle

With forests overrun by weed and other unwanted growth, free-grazing lifestock face a grim situation.

Much passion is now generated in our country on the subject of protecting cattle. However, a dispassionate narration of the reality about the fodder situation for them seems to be largely missing. There are 108 million adult female cows in a cattle population of 200 million, according to the National Dairy Development Board. In addition, there are about 100 million buffaloes in the country.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Exclusive: Race To Rashtrapathi Bhavan

2019 Calculations May Decide BJP’s Choices For President, Vice President. The unexpected is widely expected. The Modi government likes to surprise, keeping its cards close to its chest until it has to play them. We will know the name of the BJP's nominee for the post of President of India on 23 June and it may be none of the names in speculation until 22 June.

Monday, May 01, 2017

RERA Myths Busted: No Big Relief For Stuck Home Buyers, House Prices Won't Rise

The dust has finally settled on RERA or the Real Estate Regulation & Development Act. From Monday (1 May 2017) it comes into force across India, and the day will be remembered as a special day for home buyers who have been committing the largest chunk of their life savings to an industry which has been free for all.

A press release from the Housing Ministry stated how this day marks the end of a 9-year-long wait; and for the first time 76,000 companies engaged in building and construction activities across the country will become accountable for quality and delivery. Union Minister for Housing Venkaiah Naidu in his tweets called it the beginning of a new era making buyer the king, while the developers benefit from the confidence of a King in the regulated environment.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

From identity to economics: How the BJP is changing Indian politics

After tactically using caste arithmetic, the party has also consciously tried to undermine social justice as casteism and secularism as appeasement.

The Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results are not a one-time anomaly. They are repeat of the 2014 Lok Sabha results. In fact, the Bharatiya Janata Party has improved on its performance in 2014. Because the party seems set to stay in Indian politics for a long innings, it is important to reflect on what its politics means and what it is doing or going to do once in power in such an overwhelming manner.

While the BJP has cynically employed the use of religious identity, it has also consciously sought to downplay identity politics or social justice on the basis of caste or community in the last decade, particularly in the last few years. This is clear from the way the party brought a non-Jat politician to lead Haryana and encouraged a counter-mobilisation against the Jat hegemony. It also appointed a non-tribal chief minister Jharkhand and has persisted with one in Chhatisgarh. The party does not even seem to mind a Gujarati hegemony.

Where the party excels at is to package and present itself as rising above caste and community, decrying social justice as casteism, and secularism as appeasement, as Vandita Mishra points out in the Indian Express, after having carefully and “astutely picking a large number of its candidates from the large scatter of non-Yadav OBC [Other Backward Classes] castes, for instance, to add them to its traditional upper caste Brahmin-Thakur mix”, even while making a pronounced bid for backward caste support.

In fact, the success of the party’s political vision is evident from the fact that what appeared earlier as impossible seems to be the new normal now. For example, in a state like Jharkhand, the party brought in fundamental change by amending the land tenancy laws so as to serve the corporate capital and yet there was hardly any effective resistance to the move.

Most of the BJP’s important leaders also happen to be well-honed cadres of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The party seems to have made an effort to ensure that such candidates are given crucial postings, with a view to a more disciplined and ideologically committed leadership for the governments – at the Centre and in the states.

In other words, the BJP has sought to downplay one of the traditional basis of politics – that of social identities – because it hampers growth and expansion of capital.

The 2014 Lok Sabha results and now the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results have shown how the BJP has created an anti-local, anti-caste, anti-region political ambience by ensuring that a combination of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah become acceptable to people across regions.

The Manifesto of the party for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections began by saying:

“The Party has begun the implementation of aims of social and economic justice through good governance (sushashan) under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi”.

Beyond this point the Manifesto talked in an idiom of class and professions, laying down how the party’s perspective on and vision of development has to reach the youth, poor, business community, women and others.

The party simply does not use the concept of social justice the way other political formations do.

Economic argument
It is in this sense that one can see how the BJP seeks to build a political agenda beyond the social identities. It tries to reach out to all of them through some economic argument or the other.

The party seems to know and understand that gradually it has to be a politics of class, which will allow it to expand because its historical legacy of being a brahmanical political force alienated it for quite some time from the Muslims and Dalits.

In the last three years or so, the party has amply shown how well religion and other social and cultural affiliations can only be used to ensure a very clearly defined rule of corporate capital. However, these affiliations along with that of nation, and other such are only instruments for mobilisation, if at all.

The violence in campuses could be seen as an example of how the party uses the instrument of lumpenism to ensure that voices of dissent can be suppressed by use of collective force.

Social justice is not a term often invoked by the Indian State after 2014. And yet the BJP cannot completely do away with the decades-long practices of positive discrimination in policy making because the move might invite strong counter mobilisation against it. Which is what explains the party’s conscious decision of going slow on its earlier discourse and policy programmes based on social identities. But the so-called slips of tongue on quotas and reservation and demonisation of Dalit activists is a clear indication of what many of the party’s leaders think on these questions.

In days to come, the BJP would rather focus on policy areas that would more proactively bring Dalits and tribals within the fold of the market. The policy decisions of the BJP are aimed at breaking the consensus on the need of taking affirmative action to remove social inequalities among groups.

Social reengineering
The BJP seeks to transform everybody into an individual, concerned only about their own self, while ironically seeking votes from them or expressing outrage in the name of Hinduism. The collective, as noted above, continues to be invoked when needed but only as a mere source of mobilisation to move towards a fragmented/individuated situation.

This thinking, while destroying their social and cultural allegiances, would transform each citizen into somebody who would cease to be concerned about the marginalised, oppressed or discriminated groups and communities. This would also lead to weakening of any opposition to whatever the state would do – from handing over the economy to corporate capital to making education institutions into skilling centres among other things.

​The BJP campaigns in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections mocked the gains that the Other Backward Classes and Dalit political mobilisations have made in these states. The party has routinely sought to underplay that there was any significant historic element of caste based discrimination. In Haryana, for instance, the party has come down heavily on unionisation of workers in the industrial belts of the state.

It has thus sought to delegitimise all movements that claim to represent social or economic justice. Which is why there is hardly any large scale resistance even when, for instance, the Haryana government unabashedly celebrates its foundation year using the symbol of a conch with a chariot embedded in it among other things. The party has thus got away by introducing overtly religious motifs in a secular country. Nor is there any public anger when workers are

The BJP represents a new moment in Indian politics. It understands and knows how to manipulate the social and cultural milieu much better than any other force towards making India fully compatible to the workings of corporate capital and seeking to break down the consensus on community and caste-based concepts of social justice.

If the political forces fail to understand this they would find it difficult to counter the BJP’s winning streak, even in 2019.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Spotlight: Should Hospitals Give Patients 'Unbanked Blood' To Save Lives?.


Unbanked blood transfusion is illegal. But short of blood, rural hospitals in Chhattisgarh say it is not unethical.

In April, a woman walked into a hospital in Baitalpur in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh, bleeding heavily. She was in her thirties, and had ruptured her uterus while delivering a baby at home in a nearby village. She needed urgent medical attention. When a van dropped her off on the highway, she trudged two kilometres to Baitalpur's Evangelical Mission Hospital – only to be turned away.

The hospital had an operation theatre and a gynaecologist, but no blood.

With buses plying only once in two-three hours from Baitalpur to Bilaspur, the district headquarters, getting blood from the blood bank takes at least four to five hours, if not a day. Without a quicker way to access blood, the hospital is not equipped to handle an emergency.

“She had a ruptured uterus and was anaemic," said Dr Kusum Masih, the medical superintendent of the hospital who is also a gynaecologist. "We could not operate without blood."

The doctors sent her to Bilaspur about 35 km away – but she died on her way there.

Eleven districts with no blood banks
There are 16 blood government-run blood banks and 30 private ones across 27 districts of Chhattisgarh.

The deficit of blood in the state is about 48%, said Dr SK Binjhwar, from the State Blood Transfusion Council. According to the World Health Organisation, a country should have a stock of blood equivalent to 1% of its population. By this standard, Chhattisgarh alone needs 25 lakh units of blood at any given point – but it usually collects 16 lakhs units a year.

What's more, 11 out of 27 districts in Chhattisgarh do not have blood banks – the largest deficit in any state in the country. In all, there are 81 districts in the country without blood blanks, according to data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Most of them are concentrated in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and the North East.

For Chhattisgarh, a state with very high rates of anaemia, especially among women and children, the shortage of blood throws up multiple challenges.

According to the National Family Health Survey, more than half of the women of the state – about 57% – suffer from anaemia, as do nearly three-quarters, or 71.2% of children aged 0-5. About 2% of both women and children have severe anaemia, with a haemoglobin level below seven grams per decilitre of blood, for which most patients need blood transfusions.

Apart from this, about 60,000 children are estimated to have sickle cell anaemia, a severe form of the condition caused by a genetic blood disorder.

Anaemic women additionally face a higher risk of postpartum haemorrhage, which is a leading cause of maternal mortality in India. The maternal mortality rate of Chhattisgarh is 230 deaths for every 1,00,000 live births, as compared to the national average of 178.

Unbanked blood
For a rural hospital in Chhattisgarh, there is just one option in case of emergencies where blood is required – to refer a patient to a bigger facility. This often means that the person reaches the hospital in a critical condition, or dies on the way, as in the Baitalpur case.

Some hospitals are countering this by opting for an illegal way of giving blood, called unbanked direct blood transfusion. Under this, the blood of a willing donor’s that matches with the recipient’s group is collected, tested for infection with a rapid blood kit and then transfused without roping in a blood bank.

Take the case of a 40-year old woman from Shahdol district in Madhya Pradesh, who had been having extremely painful menstrual bleeding for nearly four months.

“Khoon girat rahe [I was bleeding all the time],” she said. “But, I would still have to work in our fields. How can I stop?” She was also not able to eat or walk and had severe chest pain.

On June 28, she somehow made it to a rural hospital in Chhattisgarh, which shares a border with Madhya Pradesh, travelling more than 200 km by train and bus with her husband and son.

When the doctors examined her blood, they saw she had a haemoglobin count of 4.6 – the normal range for women is between 12.1 and 15.1 – which meant she needed immediate transfusion. She also required an abdominal hysterectomy, as she had a large fibroid in her uterus.

In all, she needed three units of blood.

“I do not know how she managed to travel so far,” said a doctor at the hospital. “There is barely any oxygen reaching the organs. We have patients coming in with haemoglobin count of one as well. We can't direct such patients to other hospitals as their condition is already critical.”

The names of the hospitals and the doctors have been withheld because it is illegal to get blood from any other establishment other than a blood bank.

In this case, her son gave one unit of blood through unbanked direct blood transfusion, while two other units were arranged legally.

Doctors have been arrested in the past for using unbanked blood in other states.

Hospitals that practice unbanked blood transfusion usually have a list of donors in the community who can come and give blood when required. These donors are usually not paid – unless they demand payment and the situation is dire.

Insufficient blood
In 1996, the Supreme Court outlawed professional blood donation – that is, donating blood for money – and ordered the establishment of National Blood Transfusion Council to oversee and strengthen policies and systems governing blood transfusion in the country. In 1998, unbanked directed blood transfusion was disallowed.

In 2002, the council allowed the setting up of blood storage centres that were allowed to keep blood from licensed blood banks (but were not authorised to collect it). These storage centres could come up in villages and towns, while the mother blood banks would usually be in the district headquarters or cities.

In Chhattisgarh, there are 60 such storage units, mostly in community health centres, many of which do not use the blood at all and direct patients to go to other healthcare facilities. For instance, the community health centre in Gaurella, attached to the Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences in Bilaspur, has never approached the storage unit for blood. “I am not even sure it [the centre] functions,” said Dr VP Singh, who is in charge of the blood storage centre in the Bilaspur college.

Patients from community health centres often make their way to Jan Swasthya Sahyog, a non-profit in Ganiyari, near Bilaspur city. “Often, we see patients who are bleeding copiously after childbirth and are referred to us in that condition,” said Dr Yogesh Jain, one of the founders of the hospital.

Even hospitals that do use blood storage units, such as Jan Swasthya Sahyog, Shaheed Hospital in Dalli Rajahara in Chhattisgarh's Balod district and the mission hospitals, said they get insufficient units of blood.

“Our storage centre is attached to a mother blood bank in Durg,” said Dr Saibal Jana, chief physician of Shaheed Hospital. “We need about 150 units per month, but have barely about 35 units from the bank. Last month, they gave us only 10.”

Jan Swasthya Sahyog has an understanding with a private blood bank in the city, which gives them blood nearing its expiry date for free. This they use for scheduled surgeries, when the blood requirement is known.

Replacement donation
For every unit of blood taken from the bank, hospitals are supposed to send a replacement donor to the mother blood bank. This unwritten rule holds true even for hospitals that send relatives of patients to collect blood from a blood bank – private or public – for a planned surgery.

This is against the country’s National Blood Policy, which prohibits coercion in enlisting replacement donors and aims to phase replacement donations out.

Dr SK Binjhwar, from the State Blood Transfusion Council in Chhattisgarh, said that the state has 80% voluntary donation. Public health activists, however, said this figure is highly debatable and that more than 99% of the blood is likely collected through replacement donation.

“A hospital that has a blood storage unit organises blood donations camps for mother blood banks,” said Bhinjwar. “This is enough to meet the demands of the districts.”

The demand for a replacement donor for the mother blood bank hangs like a sword over the heads of patients’ family members.

Many donors from the hinterlands are not willing to travel to the nearest blood bank in the city to replace blood. It’s also difficult to find eligible donors in the immediate family – if a patient has anaemia, it’s likely that members of her family would also suffer from the condition.

Many also have an apprehension towards donating blood, fearing it causes weakness.

In such a scenario, touts who can provide ready donors for a price thrive. There are many such businesses in operation near blood banks in the state that provide donors for a sum of money to provide replacement units to the banks.

Rajesh Sharma, who runs the laboratory in Jan Swasthya Sahyog said that touts realise that people are looking for donors for replacement donation when they see an icebox in their hands. To combat this, Jan Swasthya Sahyog sends a patient's relative for replacement donation, they now send a letter (pictured below) that has to be signed by the blood bank.

People who are unaware about the dangers of remunerative blood donation – which has higher chances of infection – are willing to pay for the blood, despite having meagre resources.

In a rural hospital in Chhattisgarh, a 76-year-old was diagnosed with nectrotising fasciitis – a severe bacterial skin infection that spreads to the tissues quickly – on her arm. She had to be operated upon immediately to remove the infected tissues, but her haemoglobin count was just 6.3. During the surgery, the hospital collected blood via unbanked direct blood transfusion. But they were short of one unit.

“I do not know who will donate now...can we buy the blood?,” asked her daughter, who was tending to her.

While admitting that most units of blood are given only after a replacement donation, Dr Singh from the Bilaspur college's blood storage unit said: “We give blood to people who do not have replacements too."

"Usually if someone is an orphan with no family support, or someone comes without attendants, we give the bank without exchange too (referring to replacement donation)," he added.

Dr Singh said he had instituted a rule that no sickle-cell patients should be asked for replacement donors as he found out that the patients' families were bringing in professional donors, especially when the patient needed immediate treatment.

Unbanked blood ethical?
In a scenario where lack of access to blood banks has resulted in deaths that could have been avoided and helped touts flourish, doctors and healthcare activists practicing in rural areas have pushed for unbanked direct blood transfusion to be legalised, even as other activists argue that it shouldn't.

In June, Dr Yogesh Jain and Dr Raman Kataria from Jan Swasthya Sahyog wrotein favour of the practice in Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. They said that unbanked directed blood transfusion, if done by trained and certified healthcare teams, meets ethical standards and helps fulfil emergency blood requirements in rural areas.

In 2014, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare met a delegation from the Association of Rural Physicians that sought to legalise this practice. Though the Drug Technical Advisory Board considered the proposal, it was eventually rejected.

The delegation argued that there the Drugs and Cosmetics Act allows unbanked directed blood transfusion for Armed Forces in border areas and peripheral hospitals, which should be extended to the same in emergency situations in rural areas too.

The Drug Technical Advisory Board, however, said that testing of safe blood requires a lot of infrastructure and trained manpower, without which the blood is likely to be infected. Besides, they said, it would be difficult to monitor them. They also said that the exemption given to Armed Forces cannot be given to rural hospitals.

“Are soldiers' life more important than a woman giving birth?" asked Dr Jain. "The implication of this policy is that either people go to the cities for treatment, or choose to die wherever they are. People who have to handle emergencies have to be equipped with technology and regulations should look into the ethical requirement of safe blood.”

An ideal solution, said doctors, would be to increase blood availability in the country by having a central blood bank in each district, with well-equipped storage centres.

However, activists working towards ensuring voluntary blood donation said that unbanked direct blood donation should not be allowed.

“All hell will break loose," said Vinay Shetty, from Think Foundation, Mumbai and a member of Voluntary Blood Donation Committee of Maharashtra State Blood Transfusion Council. "There will be no control over the blood in this country and we will go back in time."

The state has to take responsibility for the shortage of blood and has to ensure that no bank is short of blood, he said.

“The only answer to this is blood sufficiency," said Shetty. "Organising blood is not the responsibility of the patient. It is the responsibility of society at large. This is happening because there is no value to human life. Somebody in the state has to take charge."

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Opinion: Why 'Goods And Services Tax' (GST) Is Harmful To India?


The Goods and Services Tax will destroy governance and end incentives for states to attract businesses, harming the country in the long run.

It finally happened. Late on Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha approved a bill that will change the way India collects taxes.

The Goods and Services tax, which aims to get rid of the current patchwork of indirect taxes and to improve tax compliances, has been in the headlines for some time now.

Investigation: The Toil Of 20,000 Child Workers Are Behind The Healthy Exports Of 'Illegal Mica Mines'


At least seven child labourers have died in the mines since June, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has found.

In the depths of India’s illegal mica mines, where children as young as five work alongside adults, lurks a dark, hidden secret – the cover-up of child deaths with seven killed in the past two months, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has revealed.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Adivasis: Cheated Of The Constitution


Tribal people who account for 8.2% of India’s population can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people. The Central Indian Adivasis belong to this grouping. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Shocking Revolution: India’s Dalits Strike Back At Centuries Of Oppression By Letting Dead Cows Rot On The Streets


India’s growing band of cow-protection vigilantes and their political bosses may have learnt a lesson in the past few days: Bullying can boomerang.

Politics over the cow, deemed holy by many Hindus, has roiled India for years. In recent times, it has turned nasty, with Indians lynching or humiliating fellow Indians on mere suspicion of having killed cows or eaten beef.

In the latest instance, four young men skinning a dead cow, along with another aged person, were mercilessly thrashed by a group of cow-protection vigilantes in Gujarat’s Una on July 11.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Why Indian Army Needs To Abandon The Colonial Concept Of 'Martial Races'?


It is time to reform recruitment to our armed forces and bring the values of the Constitution into this venerable institution.

In 2012, IS Yadav, a doctor from Haryana, filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of “caste based recruitment” to the Indian Army.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Telugu Desam Party Supremo & AP CM Chandrababu Naidu, Still Loyal To NDA For Now Even As Discontentment With Narendra Modi Grows


TDP Supremo Chandrababu Naidu was rarely seen without a laptop in the last years of his previous term as the Andhra Pradesh chief minister. Once, when I called him 'Laptop' Naidu, he took it as a compliment. He constantly monitored sundry schemes on a laptop and exuded supreme confidence that he would sweep the 2004 elections. He lost. And it took him 10 years to return as the CM.

Naidu is a changed man now. It's not because, instead of a laptop, he now has an iPad as a constant companion and he talks of 'iCloud' and 'file-sharing' to review his government's work.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

India Is Slowly Cleaving Into Two Countries – A Richer, Older South And A Poorer, Younger North


Support to the elderly is fraying in India. But no one appears prepared for this – not families, not companies, not the government.

At traffic intersections, drivers in Delhi tune out the brown-haired, snot-nosed waifs who tap and scratch insistently at their car windows. Sometimes, the children are joined by equally ragged parents, mostly in their 20s, trying to sell cheap Chinese-made junk – from plastic flowers to cellphone and steering-wheel covers. The defining feature of destitution in North India appears to be youth.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cash-For-Votes Scams Are Here To Stay – And The Election Commission Seems Unable To Deal


The Rajya Sabha polls have put the focus back on the urgent need for electoral reforms.

The alleged horse trading in Karnataka, exposed by a sting operation in the run-up to the Rajya Sabha polls has once against brought the focus on whether the Election Commission, despite its best intentions, has the power to take any effective steps to curb the abuse of money power during elections.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Fake Federalism: How 'National Parties' Turned The Concept Of 'Rajya' In Rajya Sabha Into A Farce?


The upper House of Parliament, literally a Council of States, was meant to be a federal chamber to look out for the interests of the states.

The continued abuse of the idea of the Rajya Sabha – or the Council of States – by the so-called national parties continues with the upcoming round of Rajya Sabha elections.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two Years On: PM Narendra Modi's Report Card On Govt And BJP Performance


The performance of Narandra Modi as an individual, the functioning of his government and the narrative of his RSS-backed party during the preceding two years calls for a dispassionate analysis that's done without any fear or favour. But believe it or not, it's too difficult a job for the simple reason that the man of the moment, his government and his party look like three different entities.

And analysing the performances of the three put together would present a confusing, indecipherable picture.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Disowned By Their Own: The Disturbing Pattern About The Murders Of Independent Journalist


When stringers are attacked or killed, the struggle for justice begins with determining whether they are journalists at all.

Last week, television journalist Akhilesh Pratap Singh was shot dead in Chhatra, Jharkhand. Barely than 24 hours later, in neighbouring Bihar, Hindustan journalist Rajdeo Ranjan was gunned down in Siwan.

The murders have exposed the faultlines in the media, not least the most basic, which is the ability to access and swiftly disseminate authentic information.

Journalists scrambled to get information on the two incidents. In the absence of independent information, political parties quickly stepped in and traded allegations on the breakdown of law and order in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Jharkhand and Bihar, where the Rashtriya Janata Dal is part of the coalition government.

Meanwhile, five days on, no clear motives have emerged with regard to either of the killings.

Political games:
Three journalists have been murdered in India this year. On February 13, Karun Mishra, the bureau chief of newspaperJan Sandesh was shot dead by unidentified persons in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Five days after the incident, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ordered a probe and police arrested five persons from the mining mafia.

Akhilesh Singh, locally known as Indradev Yadav, was a journalist with a news channel. Unidentified persons gunned him down at Dewaria in Chatra district of Jharkhand that borders Bihar and where a faction of a Maoist group called the Tritiya Prastuti Committee is active. The group, police said, indulges in extortion of money for petty contractors and local businessmen.

On Monday, police claimed a breakthrough in the case, arresting two persons. On Tuesday, a third person – Suraj Sao, the aide of BJP MLA Ganesh Ganjhu – was detained. The police said the journalist also took up civic works on contract and was killed over a dispute with members of the TMC and the MLA’s aide over the levy of money to be paid in exchange for a contract awarded to him. The police have discounted the involvement of the MLA in the killing.

But less than a day later, when news came in of the murder of Rajdeo Ranjan, the BJP were quick to denounce the “Jungle Raj” in Bihar.

In March, a photograph of jailed RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin sharing snacks with Bihar minister Abdul Ghafoor inside Siwan jail went viral. Rajdeo Ranjan was reportedly behind the leak. According to BJP leader and former Bihar chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Ranjan’s murder was revenge.

While police are still investigating the charge, Ranjan’s wife Asha Yadav has gone on record to say that her husband was killed for a series of news reports against Shahabuddin's interests. She further claimed that Ranjan figured on Shahabuddin’s “hit list”, which police were privy to at least two years ago. Fellow journalists were divided on these claims, but said there was definitely more to the murder than meets the eye.

On Monday, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar announced a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into Ranjan’s death, even as the motive for his murder remains unclear.

Existing gulf:
Almost every time a journalist is murdered in India – 29 since media watch website The Hoot began tracking free speech violations in 2010 – there is the involvement of politicians or local business people or the oil, timber and sand mafias, or those involved in illegal felling of forests, land grabbing, exploiting child labour, chit fund scams, or even cases of medical negligence.

By now, that’s a given.

It’s after the killing that a pattern quickly emerges. When journalists are attacked or killed, the struggle for justice begins with determining whether they are journalists at all, whether they died for their journalism and not owing to any “personal” dispute or business links. Before the crucial questions of who killed them and why can be asked, the case is over.

There currently exists a gulf between the journalists employed on contract in mainstream media and journalists such as Ranjan, who work independently or are associated as stringers with local or national newspapers and broadcast channels. Unprotected and unorganised, the plight of journalists in the regional media is much more precarious.

While the nexus between local politicians and business interests is hardly surprising, what is disturbing is the role of media houses in refusing to acknowledge these footsoldiers. Often, the mainstream media publications they may work for or contribute regularly to, may wash their hands of them, denying completely – even in the face of incontrovertible evidence – their employment, that they worked for them or had anything to do with them.

The dirty secret in the media is the manner in which journalists are constrained to work as advertising agents too. Often, the commissions they earn from advertising may be more than their salaries, points out senior journalist and media analyst Anil Chamadia, who worked for years in Bihar before he shifted to Delhi to set up a media watch organisation, People’s Media Group.

Discredited as journalists for working as advertising agents, they occupy a grey zone in an already fractured mediascape. It becomes far easier to isolate and target them when their journalistic reports ruffle the feathers of local power centres, politicians and businessfolk. Shooting these messengers of unsavoury and unflattering information, who refuse to remain plaint and push invisible boundaries, also serves another purpose – it will silence others as well.

Those responsible also know that they can get away with it. They can easily prevail upon local police and administration to drag their feet in the investigation. Is it any wonder that demands are now routinely made for a CBI probe in almost every instance? Invariably, the poor investigation, compounded by interminable trials, end up in acquittals. In all the killings of journalists so far, there has not been a single conviction.

And the struggle to secure some justice for their killings, left to family members or colleagues, becomes a long and solitary battle.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Shocking Video Reveals How Pregnant Women Are Forcefully Vaccinated In An Open Field In Ranchi

Recently, a shocking video shows the brutality of health officials in Jharkhand state how the open vaccination were given to pregnant women. In Pundag village of Ranchi district, the absence of an Anganwadi Centre in the village means that pregnant women are forced to undergo check-ups and are vaccinated in an open field. “We aren’t comfortable undergoing check-ups in the open. We have to put up curtains to make ourselves comfortable or travel too far,” says a woman who delivered a baby recently.