The Tale of Bengal – By Esha Meher

By | Blogging, Esha Meher | No Comments

Once upon a time, she was the glory of the crown. The majestic jewel, the lovingly spoilt one. As the days went by, tales of her valor and glory traveled far and wide, wayfarers from the distant lands sang her praises, a curious yet brave bunch amongst them reared a dream, and armed with ambitions, they crossed the 7 oceans and 13 rivers to catch a glimpse of the undeterred beauty. And then, it happened.

The land of Bengal which took great pride in her riches and fortunes gave in to a momentary lapse. A lapse of judgment induced by an exalted sense of superiority with immense faith in destiny, which apparently claimed that she was destined to rule Hindustan forever, and ages after forever. The Great Battle of Plassey proved them wrong, as Mir Jafar turned against his brother in faith, to give away Nawab Sirajuddaulah of Bengal, while Dewan Mohanlal fought swearing by the Khatriyapurana, doing his dharma of protecting his Ruler before the British army. 

Bengal is the land of Goddess Durga, it is the land of many pirs and imams who pray five times a day facing the Mecca. This is their holy place, as faith resides deep in their hearts hand in hand with love and devotion to our golden land. It is often said, in the Gita and Quran alike, that God only inflicts so much suffering as what one can bear. And this land has borne, more than others. It has cried tears of humiliation at Plassey, the sons of Durga and the followers of Mohammed alike, suffered centuries of imposed servitude as the British ruled the country headquartered in this state, The Brahmins and the Maulavis standing by each other, starved by the great famines – watching mothers in their black burqas and their red and white sarees beat their chests in sorrow, in unison. When history and nature couldn’t break her spirit, policy tried its hand. The bloodsoaked partition of the state, on the nonexistent lines of religion. And behold! That worked. It created the country of Bangladesh. But it failed to divide the hearts of the dwellers of this land, who were Bengalis by birth, by the soul. 
We Bengalis, are different from the rest of the country. We are ruled by our emotions and united by our love for art and culture. We Bengalis, are the most righteous of them all. We ask them questions. We stood firmly behind Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, and Surendranath Roy when they questioned Sati and a ban on widow remarriage when the Vedas were made to play the devil. We lent our ears to Kazi Nazrul Islam, when he revolted against the social ills, christening him the “bidrohi kobi” (the revolutionary poet). We were there when Binay, Badal, Dinesh challenged the British Crown for trying to divide us. We were there when Master Da Surya Sen inspired a generation of teenagers to challenge the powers and break down the Chittagong armory. The Crown divided our land, but they failed to fragment the pieces of our souls. 
We are all who listened to the great poet, Tagore. He was taught by his motherland to believe in a soul which stood without traces of fear, he called upon his brothers and sisters to march alone, if no one came along. And we heard. And we believed. And we lived by it. 
From housing the glorious erstwhile capital of British India to being called a city which lives in an era behind the country, we saw it all. Today in the year 2017, when the nation faces grave crises in the name of religious divisions, once again Bengal stands at the crossroads of witnessing history. The modern cynic says we won’t escape. The cow politics and the skull cap fanaticism will finally tear us apart. And yet the old and wise, smile. We’ve withstood the Conspiracies of the most dreaded colonizers of the world, the sons and daughters of Bengal have refused to cower under the terror of the known devils and the unknown ones. Distortions of democracy can never shake our roots.
Yes, the old and the wise smile. They smile with the memories of yesteryears on their eyelids, the sound of the counch of an evening puja reverberates on the tall white walls of the old building, slowly diffusing into the call of azaan of the neighborhood mosque. Cause Bengal is not just a State. It is a feeling.

About the Author: 

Esha Meher is a post graduate student of the London School of Economics and Political Science. She nurtures a keen interest in feminism and human fights and can be found painting or reading when not engaged in matters of the day.

Police Reforms – Priority ignored [Republished from Epilogue Press]

By | Blogging, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
In a recent case Dr.T.P.Senkumar (IPS)VS Union of India & Ors Hon’ble Supreme on 24th April 2017 observed:
…“Before detailing the controversy before us it is necessary to refer to the decision of this Court in Prakash Singh v. Union of India and Ors. In that case, this Court dealt with the issue of police reforms in the context of the far-reaching changes that had taken place in the country after the enactment of the Indian Police Act, 1861. It was noted that no comprehensive review had been undertaken in this regard at the national level and therefore, the Government of India appointed a National Police Commission on 15th November 1977 which recommended significant police reforms. It was also noted that subsequently, there were other half a dozen reports on the same or similar subject but no substantive reforms were brought about.”
In the course of its judgment, this Court referred to a research paper titled the Police “Political and Administrative Manipulation of the Police”  published in 1979 by the Bureau of Police Research and Development. The research paper contained a caution to the effect that excessive control by the political executive and its principal advisers over the police had the inherent danger of making the police a tool for subverting the process of law, promoting the growth of authoritarianism and shaking the very foundations of democracy.
We may add that one of the findings in the research paper is “The present predicament of Police is that they have been exposed to a two-pronged pressure vertically from the Administration and laterally from the politicians.” With these two pressures, the independent functioning of the police can and sometimes does get compromised at the hands of very important persons and those claiming proximity to very important persons.”
The crux of the police reform is to secure professional independence for the police to function truly and efficiently as an impartial agent of the law of the land and, at the same time, to enable the Government to oversee the police performance to ensure its conformity to the law. A supervisory mechanism without scope for illegal, irregular or mala fide interference with police functions has to be devised. The commitment, devotion, and accountability of the police has to be only to the Rule of Law. The supervision and control has to be such that it ensures that the police serves the people without any regard, whatsoever, to the status and position of any person while investigating a crime or taking preventive measures. Its approach has to be service oriented, its role has to be defined so that in appropriate cases, where on account of acts of omission and commission of police, the Rule of Law becomes a casualty, the guilty Police Officers are brought to book and appropriate action taken without any delay.
In 1774 Warren Hastings introduced, for the first time under the company’s rule, several measures of police reform. These were the first of the reforms culminating in Act V of 1861, which gave the police of Bengal a modern shape and structure the need for a common pattern of police organization and properly trained and disciplined body of men exclusively devoted to the prevention and detection of crime police system on a provisional basis were employed Inspector General as the head of the provincial police administration provinces were divided into districts who were controlled by the Superintendents of Police who heads of the police administration under the control of Magistrates. Further improvements, recommendations of the Police Commission of 1902-03 enhanced their scope. Indian Police Service took time to acquire the designation 1890s and later known as the Imperial branch of the colonial police service – officers of the Imperial service wore shoulder badges of their Provinces: e.g., “P.P.” for Punjab, “B.P” for Bengal.
In the year 1907 the Secretary of State in London directed officers to wear the “I.P.” epaulettes to distinguish from the Deputy Superintendents of Police new rank, which could be stated as the starting point for Indian Police Service after a span of another 10 years they officially came to be known as the Indian Police Service. Referred for the first time based on designation in the year 1917 Islington Commission Report. Further enhanced their powers. 1932  ‘Service’ dropped from designation as demanded by the Indian Police Association and simpler designation  “Indian Police” – again officially adopted – till independence. After independence Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel the first Union Home Minister stated that no democratic government effectiveness would be ensured without a proper, well-organized, well-educated, well-disciplined, well-paid and independent civil service to carry out its will and to advice it on how to give its policies concrete and practical shape – saw the importance of organizing the civil services on all-India basis.  On October 10, 1949 Constituent Assembly wherein Sardar Patel emphasized the importance of having a ring of services to help the country remain intact under a Federal Constitution – “… the Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you have not a good All India Service, which has the independence to speak out its mind…” And after that the Indian Police Service had born as an All India Service, which can be stated as the successor service to the I.P.
Post Independence  the Constitution of India became the fountain-head of power  and the sovereign power was distributed amongst the three organs of the govt, it becomes imperative to understand the governing principle i.e.,the doctrine of separation, In Ram Jawaya v state of Punjab case Hon’ble Supreme court observed that ‘‘The limits within which the executive Government can function under the Indian Constitution can be ascertained without much difficulty by reference to the form of the executive which our Constitution has set up. Our Constitution, though federal in its structure, is modelled on the British Parliamentary system where the executive is deemed to have the primary responsibility for the formulation of governmental policy and its transmission into law though the condition precedent to the exercise of this responsibility is its retaining the confidence of the legislative branch of the State. The executive function comprises both the determination of the policy as well as carrying it into execution. This evidently includes the initiation of legislation, the maintenance of order, the promotion of social and economic welfare, the direction of foreign policy, in fact the carrying on or supervision of the general administration of the State.
 In India, as in England, the executive has to act subject to the control of the legislature; but in what way is this control exercised by the legislature ? Under article 53(1) of our Constitution, the executive power of the Union is vested in the President but under article 75there is to be a Council of Minister with the Prime Minister at the head to aid advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The president has thus been made a formal or constitutional head of the executive and the real executive powers are vested in the Ministers or the Cabinet. The same provisions obtain in regard to the Government of States; the Governor or the Rajpramukh, as the case may be, occupies the position of the head of the executive in the State but it is virtually the council of Ministers in each State that carries on the executive Government. In the Indian Constitution, therefore, we have the same system of parliamentary executive as in England and the council of Ministers consisting, as it does, of the members of the legislature is, like the British Cabinet, “a hyphen which joins, a buckle which fastens the legislative part of the State to the executive part.” The Cabinet enjoying, as it does, a majority in the legislature concentrates in itself the virtual control of both legislative and executive functions; and as the Ministers constituting the Cabinet are presumably agreed on fundamentals and act on the principle of collective responsibility, the most important questions of policy are all formulated by them.’
Thus, Executive undoubtedly is the most powerful and influential organ of the Government.
Res extra commercium (“a thing outside commerce” is a doctrine originating in Roman law, holding that certain thing may not be the object of private rights, and are therefore insusceptible to being traded. ) is a doctrine introduced by Chief Justice Das of the Supreme Court of India in the 1957 case, State of Bombay v. R.M.D. Chamarbaugwala, which has the effect of constricting the scope of fundamental rights by rendering as constitutional outcasts certain purportedly “immoral” or “noxious” activities. It does this by blocking these activities from falling within the purview of the protection of fundamental rights.  it was the doctrine of “police powers” (the specific conception of the doctrine advanced by Justice Harlan of the U.S. Supreme Court in Mugler v. Kansas), which lies behind Chief Justice Das’s invocation of res extra commercium. Curiously, however, the police power doctrine, now masquerading, as the doctrine of res extra commercium has come to be well ensconced in the constitutional law of India virtually unchallenged for over four decades now though it is incongruous with the scheme of the Indian Constitution.
Police power does not specifically refer to the right of state and local government to create police forces, although the police power does include that right. Police power is also used as the basis for enacting a variety of substantive laws in such areas zoning, land use, fire and building code, gambling, discrimination, parking, crime, licensing of professionals, liquor, motor vehicles, bicycles, nuisances, schooling, and sanitation.
Thus granting the Police ultimate authority and powers to lurge into every aspect of the life of the citizenry.
Obvious powers and tremendous avenues for ill-gotten money made law and order jobs hotly sought after posts. Politicians and people in power are the bestowers of these jobs on favourite few. The result is the desperate concours of police officials of all ranks to agrace politicians and people in power to corner right spots. And the situation leads to law and order functions losing the edge of fairness and objectivity in efforts to keep right people in right side. This is how law and order police become law for themselves or for their political masters against the raison d’etre of a law and order machinery. The situation breeds corruption and encourages partisan policing. Law and order duties being closely interlinked with the everyday life of the people, police on the duties come in contact with them everyday and present the image of the entire police force. The image, corruption, inefficiency, meekness before the mighty, insensitivity, arrogance and impunity to the hoi polloi, these are the cornerstones of the epinosic image, the law and order police spawned for the benefit of the Indian police.
People were forced to pursue illegal and unwholesome means in their dealings with the State and the police for survival. Laws as means of the state power became loathsome objects for the common man.
But as goes the famous quote of Willink The Police have by long tradition a duty to befriend anyone who needs help, and they may at any time be called upon to cope with major or minor emergencies.
According to a study by the Bureau of Police Research & Development, Government of India, 90% of the Police Staff currently work for more than 8 hours a day. 68% of Officers report that their staff works for more than 11 hours a day and 28% report that the staff works for more than 14 hours a day. Nearly half of them report that they are called 8-10 times a month during their off period. To move to a shift system, 68% addition to the current sanctioned strength is needed. India’s current Police to Population ratio is 145 personnel per one lakh population, much below the UN prescribed ratio of 222 personnel per one lakh population.
The study also suggested that invariably most of the functionaries, especially constable, head constable, SubInspectors and SHOs at the police stations, opined that they are asked to put in consistently 16 to 18 hours of duty on a continuous basis. They also reiterated that fatigue caused by long hours of duty is reflected in their general behaviour towards public, thus affecting their public relations. The majority of the functionaries at the police stations have pointed out that they are being denied the weekly off as well. This may, perhaps, be due to a shortage of manpower with reference to situations they have to deal with every day there is no provision of a reliever, which is a normal practice in any shift operation. Poor physical facilities in all most all the police stations are one of the major areas of concern, which is also resulting in a variety of perpetual behavioral consequences of police personnel.Even in those police stations, which are housed in pucca buildings, as some have to manage in tents as well, the facilities such as toilets and drinking water are of sub-standard. In many places,  many of the functionaries at the lower level do not have any office facilities. Even the furniture is inadequate and the stationery items were not provided to the police stations.
While some of the police stations have got housing facilities, these are not available to most of the police personnel. Inadequate housing facilities coupled with low compensation and insufficient House Rent Allowance forces them to hire houses at far away places, which create a serious commutation problem. During the Workshop, especially with the Constables and Head Constables, it was pointed out that the Department also takes advantage of such a situation by continuously putting them on long hours of duty. This affects their normal family life to a great extent and results in behavioural consequences. 6.4 Inadequate Growth Opportunities Majority of the police personnel joining at the Constable level either retire as Constable or Head Constable. Very few reach the level of Sub-inspector or Inspector, this has got serious repercussions on motivation level of police personnel and works as a hindrance factor in the discharge of their normal duties.
It is a fact that most of the police personnel are expected to perform a variety of duties pertaining to maintenance of law and order in different situations. Of late, deployment of police personnel on VIP security and bandobast duties especially in  Cities result in too frequent changes in the nature of duties which not only brings the constraint on them but also affect their normal discharge of duties at the police stations.
Mismatch between Training and Job Responsibility During our interactions, time and again as well as our perception the present training approach is more militaristic in nature having less compatibility with the job responsibilities of the police personnel, particularly in the context of civic society. Also, it was pointed out that the present training especially in certain areas is far short and is unable to keep pace with the type and nature of modern crime taking place in the society. The existing curricula have not been able to effectively address these prime issues. For example, the use of the latest weapons in crime, computer related crime, financial crime and other white collared crimes are not adequately covered in the existing induction training.
The National Police Commission (NPC) was appointed by the Government of India in 1977 with wide terms of reference covering the police organisation, its role, functions, accountability, relations with the public, political interference in its work, misuse of powers, evaluation of its performance etc. This was the first Commission appointed at the national level after Independence. The Commission produced eight reports between 1979 and 1981, suggesting wide-ranging reforms in the existing police set-up.
  • In 1995, Prakash Singh, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh filed a PIL regarding police reforms in India.
  • This led to the government constituting a new committee under the chairmanship of Julio Ribeiro, and the Julio Ribeiro Committee was formed in 1998.
  • This was followed by further committees like Padmanabhaiah, Malimath committee, Soli Sorabjee Committee.
  • In 2006, since there were no movements in the direction of reforms, the Supreme Court made the police reforms a mandatory reform to be taken up by the central and state governments.
The Court put on record the deep-rooted problems of politicization, lack of accountability mechanisms and systemic weaknesses that have resulted in poor all round performance and fomented present public dissatisfaction with policing. The directives can be broadly divided into two categories: those seeking to achieve functional responsibility for the police and those seeking to enhance police accountability. The order states;
“…the following directions to the Central Government, State Governments and Union Territories for compliance till framing of the appropriate legislations : State Security Commission (1) The State Governments are directed to constitute a State Security Commission in every State to ensure that the State Government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the State police and for laying down the broad policy guidelines so that the State police always acts according to the laws of the land and the Constitution of the country. This watchdog body shall be headed by the Chief Minister or Home Minister as Chairman and have the DGP of the State as its ex-officio Secretary. The other members of the Commission shall be chosen in such a manner that it is able to function independently of Government control. For this purpose, the State may choose any of the models recommended by the National Human Rights Commission, the Ribeiro Committee or the Sorabjee Committee, which are as under:
NHRC Ribeiro Committee Sorabjee Committee
  1. Chief Minister/HM as Chairman.
  2. Minister i/c Police as Chairman
  3. Minister i/c Police (ex- officio Chairperson.
  4. Lok Ayukta or, in his absence, a retired Judge of High Court to be nominated by Chief Justice or a Member of State Human Rights Commission.
  5. Leader of Opposition.
  6. Leader of Opposition.
  7. A sitting or retired Judge nominated by Chief Justice of High Court.
  8. Judge, sitting or retired, nominated by Chief Justice of High Court.
  9. Chief Secretary
  10. Chief Secretary
  11. Chief Secretary
  12. DGP (ex-officio Secretary)
  13. Leader of Opposition in Lower House.
  14. Three non-political citizens of proven merit and integrity.
  15. Five independent Members.
  16. DGP as ex-officio Secretary.
  17. DG Police as Secretary.
The recommendations of this Commission shall be binding on the State Government.
The functions of the State Security Commission would include laying down the broad policies and giving directions for the performance of the preventive tasks and service oriented functions of the police, evaluation of the performance of the State police and preparing a report thereon for being placed before the State legislature. Selection and Minimum Tenure of DGP:
(2) The Director General of Police of the State shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force. And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation. The DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the State Government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties.
Minimum Tenure of I.G. of Police & other officers: (3) Police Officers on operational duties in the field, like the Inspector General of Police in-charge Zone, Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge Range, Superintendent of Police in-charge District and Station House Officer in-charge of a Police Station shall also have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years unless it is found necessary to remove them prematurely following disciplinary proceedings against them or their conviction in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption or if the incumbent is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his responsibilities. This would be subject to promotion and retirement of the officer.
Separation of Investigation:
(4) The investigating police shall be separated from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. It must, however, be ensured that there is full coordination between the two wings. The separation, to start with, may be effected in towns/urban areas which have a population of ten lakhs or more, and gradually extended to smaller towns/urban areas also. Police Establishment Board:
(5) There shall be a Police Establishment Board in each State which shall decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The Establishment Board shall be a departmental body comprising the Director General of Police and four other senior officers of the Department. The State Government may interfere with decision of the Board in exceptional cases only after recording its reasons for doing so. The Board shall also be authorized to make appropriate recommendations to the State Government regarding the posting and transfers of officers of and above the rank of Superintendent of Police, and the Government is expected to give due weight to these recommendations and shall normally accept it. It shall also function as a forum of appeal for disposing of representations from officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above regarding their promotion/transfer/disciplinary proceedings or their being subjected to illegal or irregular orders and generally reviewing the functioning of the police in the State.
Police Complaints Authority:
(6) There shall be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Similarly, there should be another Police Complaints Authority at the State level to look into complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above. The district level Authority may be headed by a retired District Judge while the State level Authority may be headed by a retired Judge of the High Court/Supreme Court. The head of the State level Complaints Authority shall be chosen by the State Government out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice; the head of the district level Complaints Authority may also be chosen out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice or a Judge of the High Court nominated by him. These Authorities may be assisted by three to five members depending upon the volume of complaints in different States/districts, and they shall be selected by the State Government from a panel prepared by the State Human Rights Commission/Lok Ayukta/State Public Service Commission. The panel may include members from amongst retired civil servants, police officers or officers from any other department, or from the civil society. They would work whole time for the Authority and would have to be suitably remunerated for the services rendered by them. The Authority may also need the services of regular staff to conduct field inquiries. For this purpose, they may utilize the services of retired investigators from the CID, Intelligence, Vigilance or any other organization. The State level Complaints Authority would take cognizance of only allegations of serious misconduct by the police personnel, which would include incidents involving death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody. The district level Complaints Authority would, apart from above cases, may also inquire into allegations of extortion, land/house grabbing or any incident involving serious abuse of authority. The recommendations of the Complaints Authority, both at the district and State levels, for any action, departmental or criminal, against a delinquent police officer shall be binding on the concerned authority. National Security Commission:
(7) The Central Government shall also set up a National Security Commission at the Union level to prepare a panel for being placed before the appropriate Appointing Authority, for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO), who should also be given a minimum tenure of two years. The Commission would also review from time to time measures to upgrade the effectiveness of these forces, improve the service conditions of its personnel, ensure that there is proper coordination between them and that the forces are generally utilized for the purposes they were raised and make recommendations in that behalf. The National Security Commission could be headed by the Union Home Minister and comprise heads of the CPOs and a couple of security experts as members with the Union Home Secretary as its Secretary.”
As per Seventh Schedule, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the Constitution, and as such the primary responsibility of prevention, detection, registration, investigation, and prosecution of crimes, including the reforms lies with the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. But Supreme Court in its directives have already addressed that issue, which can form the baseline or the necessary skeletal but as David H. Bayley points out in “Democratizing the Police Abroad: What to Do and How to Do it” there are four general principles that ought to be used to establish a democratic police force. These four principals are (quote):
  1. Police must give top operational priority to servicing the needs of individual citizens and private groups
  2. Police must be accountable to the law rather than to the government
  3. Police must protect human rights, especially those that are required for the sort of unfettered political activity that is the hallmark of democracy
  4. Police should be transparent in their activities. This has been a problem that institutional design alone cannot deal with effectively. The Police system reflects the criminal justice system in any country and so it is essential that this agency of the State can deliver to the best of its potential so that it can fulfill the purpose of its formation. In conclusion, we contend that it is a right time for the policy makers to take any strong step for Police reforms in India.
For understanding the urgency of bringing forth the necessary reforms in Police and Policing it is imperative to understand the purposes of Policing and the relationship between Policing and Government.As Cohen and Feldberg put it: “Police work is a form of Public Science…in a modern society, providing police service is a fundamental duty of Government…the moral basis of Police work can be found in the moral basis of Government itself.”
If we analyse there are four broader dimensions of the relationship which are an essential part of any consideration of the formal mission of Policing.
Many authors have seen the morality of policing springing from the lockean concept of the social contract. Locke contrasted the state of nature with that of state of civil society. In the former ,whilst man was free from the constraints of Government, he was also at the mercy of others and beset by such inconveniences as would prompt any rational being to choose the latter. In the civil society ,a legislature, a judiciary and an executive supplement the law of nature. The individual consents to these three as long as they protect life, liberty and property. The executive in particular must only restrict the individual’s liberty as far as is absolutely necessary to secure those rights for all. The three key, inter related concepts that remain highly relevant are those of contract, consent and balance, particularly the balance between state power and  freedom. Good policing, in this dimension ,is carefully controlled and respectful of rights.
Locke’s ideas have been crucial in liberal ideas and government. So are the ideas of Karl Poppers in underlining social democratic thinking. Popper advocated an “open society” which is pluralistic and within which incompatible views are expressed and conflicting aims pursued, in which everyone is free to propose solutions to problems and governments are open to criticism and to change in the light of criticism. From popper one can draw three significant principles: beneficial intervention; problem solving, with an implied reliance on evidence based methods; and tolerance. Good policing involves using evidence to intervene and solve problems, but doing so in a way that is tolerant and unintrusive.
As Reiner puts it ,which provides a limited view of policing, as ‘an aspect of social control processes involving surveillance and sanctions intended to ensure the security of the social order’. Role of Policing is, therefore, an essentially conservative one. This view emphasizes the fact that the policing is not the exclusive province of the police, but a much broader concept embracing individual, collective, private and state policing. Good Policing is therefore, minimal policing-minimally intrusive and carefully controlled in its use of force. Policing has clear moral overtones embedded in the idea of good policing meaning balanced and diverse policing.
The dimension which is critical for defining policing is the relationship between police and citizen. This relationship is the cornerstone of democracy. In the totalitarian states of former Soviet eastern bloc, the prime purpose of the police was to protect the government from the population. In modern democracy the police are both the symbolic of the state’s authority and responsible for protecting individual and collective freedoms and the principles of equity; appropriate service delivery; responsiveness; distributed power; openness of information; redress; participation are the guiding forces.
These four dimensions are rather like the faces of a prism. Each provides a view and the importance of the relationship of policing and the state to ensure that the rights and freedoms of citizens guaranteed by the constitution are upheld.
Would like to conclude with the words of Prakash Singh IPS (Retd.), Person who is fighting for the cause, The state and central police forces are bearing the brunt of insurgents’ onslaught. It is essential therefore that the police have the resources, the capability and the motivation to deal with these challenges. Unfortunately, however, the state police are in shambles. They are saddled with a colonial structure and are completely under the thumb of the executive. The political directions have to be carried out, right or wrong, lawful or unlawful. Transfers have become an industry. Discipline has taken a nose-dive. Morale has touched the nadir. The institution has degenerated into an instrument at the disposal of the political masters to further their agenda. As David Bayley said, “The rule of law in modern India, the frame upon which justice hangs, has been undermined by the rule of politics”.

Article originally published HERE

Root Cause of Crime In India – Lack of Education

By | Blogging, Life, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
Lack of education is a fundamental problem, it marginalizes the people, forcing them to live in depravity. The poor are desperate to move out of depravity, they don’t have much of a choice as such when they decide to walk the criminal path. This becomes evident when one takes a look at the prison statistics provided by National Crime Records Bureau of India for the year 2015, which states that nearly 27% of the convicts are illiterate and 42% of the convicts have studied up till 10th class. While According to the report by Annual Survey of Education Report, a substantial number of students’ up till class 8th in government schools are devoid of skills expected of an average 2nd class child. Further, the infrastructural state and poor qualification of the school teachers is also highly worrisome. 40% of the schools were without electricity and 31% of the teachers not being graduates. All this creates a predicament for the socio-economically deprived groups, who can’t afford a private school to educate their child. While some children get involved in menial labor in order to earn a living, many of them get entrapped within the criminal world as the prison statistics show.

Despite of this the government continues to hold back on financing the education sector in the country, back in 1960s Kothari education commission had suggested that budget allocation for education should be 6%, but even now the budget allocation is just 3.8%, despite the promise made by the government to bring it up to 6%. Along with this right to education (RTE) a fundamental right as provided under Article 21-A of the Constitution of India has not been implemented effectively, presently only 9.5% of the schools being RTE compliant. RTE itself is not completely inclusive in nature, considering the fact that it provides only for children aged between 6-14 leaving the older children to fend for their own. Considering the current employment status, with forty percent of the people being unable to find a full-time job, where even post-graduates are finding it difficult to get a job it seems unfair to take away state-support when the child turns 14.

Children can be easily influenced, making it highly important for them to have positive vibes around them, but the failing education system of India pushes them into working small jobs where they come across agents of exploitation who use them for illegal purposes as depicted quite explicitly in movies like Salaam Bombay and Slumdog Millionaire. It is the responsibility of the state that its people should be provided with adequate support so that they become capable of leading a healthy life and it is the failure of the state if its people have to resort to criminal practices in order to survive. Thus, it becomes important that RTE should encompass all the children up to 18 years of age within its ambit. Although, presently this seems to be a far-fetched expectation, considering that substantial implementation has not been possible of the original program itself. 

Lastly, it is important that the criminal justice system should make attempts to incorporate the nuances of the life of the downtrodden while deciding their case. Considering the fact that most of the acts are born out of a desperate push to survive, it is important that the accused should not be further tormented by being incarcerated. Attempts should be made to maintain adequate rehabilitation centers for such people so that they can get another shot at life. As stated by Prof. Upendra Baxi in his work The Crisis of Indian Legal System, it is important that law should enforce morality of survival by not penalizing the crime born out of destitution and impose a morality of duty and aspiration on the people who are resourceful to protect the underprivileged people.
Works Cited:- 
1) Prison Statistics – 2015  –
2) TCA Sharad Raghavan, The poor state of school infrastructure 
3) Ambarish Rai, Extreme neglect of primary education in budget 2017 
4) Vivek Kaul, Book excerpt: The real story behind India’s low unemployment 
5) Rukmini S, In India, unemployment rate still high 
6) Roger Ebert, Salaam Bombay! 
7) Roger Ebert, Slumdog Millionaire 
8) Thomas Wells, Sen’s Capability Approach 

About the Author:

Ananye Krishna is a third-year law student at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. He has been engaged in teaching underprivileged students since his first year at the University, both independently and as a part of an NGO by the name of IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Awareness).  

The CEO & the Carpenter: What it means to be a Social Entrepreneur

By | Blogging, Campaigns; Public Awareness; Your Voice, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
It always intrigued me to know how every face has a name, and every name has a story. It drew me, like iron chips to a magnet, to know that these stories are bunched up into statistics to report a wrongdoing, or to report a phenomenon. So you often don’t hear how a daughter left home to get her first salary only for a bomb blast to claim her life on the way. You often don’t hear what it feels like for one to wake up in a new land after being driven out of her own homeland thanks to war – to be tagged with the label refugee. You seldom hear of the story of survival, of how a woman fought the burden of stigma and social isolation after surviving sexual assault, to own her life and lead it on her own terms like a true victor.
In December 2012, I turned 25. In the run up to my birthday, I was actively involved in a range of based programs: the Connection Point Dialogues by Peace x Peace, volunteering with the UN Online Volunteering Service, and working as a Commissioning Editor with E-IR among other things. Through these many different platforms, I had the opportunity to interact and learn from some of the world’s most amazing women. Everything I imbibed made a huge difference to me and my life. In the run up to my birthday, I went to sleep each night with thoughts that centred around this one question: what if I could bring all the voices of these amazing people I had interacted with, onto one platform, and take them out into the world so people could be inspired to act, as I was?
Two days after I turned 25, I went to the US Consulate at Chennai to receive the US Presidential Services Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, and presented to me by the then Consul General, Ms Jennifer McIntyre. Later, at the First UNV Partnership Forum, I would talk about my experience as a Volunteer, in successfully helping open up the first college in 30 years, in a village in Nigeria. In a few days, I would also receive the UN Online Volunteer of the Year Award for it in 2012.
Even after all this, call it what you might, the wheel of fortune or whatever, but a chance encounter with a trigger brought all my repressed memories back, and I finally came to terms with a truth I had dissociated with: that I had survived abuse as a child. That night, I remember thinking to myself that I wanted to use my voice in a way that it would be heard, in a way that people would know that my voice would count, too.
I was already doing that – screaming through my own blog and whining occasionally on the kind and bountiful space that another would offer me every now and then. I had friends who shared a similar passion – and needed a little space to get out there. So I decided that I’d tie in my second book with an organisation that would be the voice of girls and women everywhere. That night, the Red Elephant Foundation was born.
Kirthi speaking at the UN Volunteers Forum
As is wont to happen, when you start an initiative, especially in the dead of the night, your mind fills itself with ideas. And since you are the only staff member of the newly founded initiative, you give yourself orders to implement these ideas. Over the next few months, the President doubled up as the Plumber, the CEO donned the cape of a Carpenter, and the Executive Member became the electrician. The nuts and bolts of creating an organization were not easy – but being a lawyer by education helped me choose. For a year or so, the organization ran without anything beyond a platform online. I interviewed survivors and changemakers and told their stories. Then, trusted friends and former co-workers got on board to head different divisions, and my core team soon grew to encompass one of the most inspiring teams I have and will ever work with. Through our stories, we pivoted our key goals around gender equality and civilian peacebuilding. We told stories of women, men and transgendered people who fought and overcame odds and braved through difficult situations. We then built up online visually driven campaigns that took forward the core values of gender equality, that culminated in peacebuilding through dialogue.
By and by, we realized that we had a sustainable readership. But what if the buck stopped there? We wanted the conversation to go on, and so, we kick started dialogue programs and workshops, both online and offline, so as to be able to get in as wide a participatory community as we possibly could. Slowly, we realized that we could build into the space of training and hosting workshops with communities at all levels and ages, to encourage critical thinking. We began to workshop with a series of schools across the world, and built our own community platform for peace and gender-based curriculums called ChalkPeace. Soon, we are growing into a space where we kickstart our revenue model of raising funds through workshops. Until then, my team and I are working on a purely voluntary basis, and effecting change through the power of an equally great investment: Time and Effort.
Assistance to help sharpen my skills were always around, thanks to the benevolent selflessness of several global organizations. I made it to the Vital Voices’ VV Lead Fellowship, and to the World Pulse Voices of the Future program, and more recently, the Local Pathways Fellowship Program.
Today, when I look back, I see that every day involved a learning experience that no university could give me. I had no management skills, no leadership training, no understanding of what a business model should look like. I wasn’t afraid to fall, and I wasn’t slow to get up when I fell – because it was imperative that since I started the journey, that I would continue. The process was not easy: I had hate mail. I had people calling me names for being a feminist. I was labelled a freak and what not. Many laughed at me. Still more thought I was crazy. But what stands out for me, is that I move, every single day.

About the Author:

Kirthi Jayakumar is an activist, artist and writer from Chennai, India. She founded and runs the Red Elephant Foundation, a civilian peacebuilding initiative that works for gender equality through storytelling, advocacy and digital interventions. She is a member of the Youth Working Group for Gender Equality under the UNIANYD. Kirthi is the recipient of the US Presidential Services Medal (2012) for her services as a volunteer to Delta Women NGO, and the two-time recipient of the UN Online Volunteer of the Year Award (2012, 2013). Kirthi is also the recipient of the Global Peace Prize 2016, from WeSchool, and the Rising Star of India Award, 2016, from We The City India. Her second book, The Dove’s Lament, made it to the final shortlist for the Muse India Young Writers’ Literary Award. Kirthi was recently invited to the United State of Women Summit at the White House in Washington DC, as a nominated changemaker. She is also a Zen Doodler, and her works have been commissioned by corporate establishments, non-profits and art collectors world over.

Demonitization Plus: Financial Inclusivity in India

By | Blogging, Demonitization, YOUR VOICE | 5 Comments
November 8, 2016, shall be remembered as the day the lives of Indians changed, temporarily at least. Overnight, our economy was put in a position where over 80% of the money in circulation was not accepted as legal tender and the queue at ATMs became never-ending. Post offices had never been as populated. Amidst all the drama of black money, opposition partys rants and conspiracy theories, there might have been an aspect that we as observers of this charade missed out on. Demonetization, as uncomfortable as it was, can also be a step to increase the financial inclusivity of our system. By definition, financial inclusion refers to the pursuit of making financial services accessible at affordable costs to all individuals and businesses, irrespective of net worth and size respectively. Financial inclusion strives to address and offer solutions to the constraints that exclude people from participating in the financial sector.

 In the year 2005, our then RBI governor DR YV Reddy spoke about financial inclusion and the term has since been doing rounds in government offices, even becoming a priority in the Eleventh Five Year Plan. However, no move can be deemed as successful as the one on November 8th to push for financial inclusion of various strata of our society. The extent of financial exclusion in our nation is staggering and until recently 600,000 villages in our nation collectively had only 30,00 commercial bank branches with over 50% of the population not having a bank account of any sort and 50% of the total farmers not seeing any institutional or non-institutional source of credit.
However, these statistics are a far cry from todays scenario as reports state that a total of 30 lakh bank accounts were opened as of 30th November, with the State Bank of India alone accounting for 11.8 lakh accounts and opening around 50,00 bank accounts a day in its 17,097 branches, with half of these accounts being for rural and semi-urban areas. This goes on show that although not by choice, the move has helped include a greater percentage of the population in the financial system which could be a step towards a truly cashless economy, which despite current policies is a far off dream due to the number of people still outside the financial system, the apprehensions people of this country have in relation to e-wallets and plastic money and the acute lack of financial literacy in our nation even among the urban population. True financial inclusion can only be achieved through mutual benefit and trust between the citizens of this country and the providers of financial services, it is imperative to find a balance between providing affordable and accessible financial services to the people while also ensuring that the providers do not run into losses and are sustainable. Its a very difficult scale to manage and the role of the government in this equation has never been as important as it is today when lakhs of Indians open their first bank accounts.
But the question that we need to ask is why have these Indians never opened a bank account before the 8th of November? Why did they have to be presented with a situation of having no choice in order to open a bank account? The answer lies in the lack of reach of the banking sector along with a heavy cloud of distrust associated with it among the layman who preferred cash transactions as cash was simple, didnt involve complications and was accessible.

The impact of these bank accounts on the economy will be magnanimous as the banking sector will now cater to a larger section of the society, this in turn means that their policies now have to be more accommodating and ensure that these citizens are provided with the same ease as cash-based transactions but the banks now also have an additional responsibility of educating these citizens who are unaccustomed to the concept of ATMs, Debit cards, and chequebooks while bettering their reach and distribution system. In the case of SBI where 66% of the branches are situated in rural areas, it becomes even more vital to push for greater financial inclusion while providing banking services at economical rates and convenient time slots. It also becomes imperative to hire and train local talent while constantly training existing employees in order to connect better with the people. All in all, a move meant to curb black money has only helped achieve a small step towards financial inclusion which could result in greater and accelerated development in some rural states which now have access to banking facilities and better growth opportunities.

About The Author:
Alekhya Madiraju is a first year bba student at symbiosis centre for management studies , Pune. Her various interests include poetry , debating , reading , dancing and human resource management. She is someone who believes in standing up for her ideas and is not afraid of voicing her opinions.

Reviving the Snow Lion: The Indo-Tibet Relation

By | Blogging, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
It was my recent trip to Dharamshala which acquainted me closely with the plight of Tibetans living under forceful Chinese occupation. Sitting in a café overlooking The Dalai Lama’s Temple, made me wonder what His Holiness endured during the siege of the Norbulingka Palace, in the onslaught of which, he fled his land disguised as a border guard. The siege eventually resulted in the massacre of the nearly eighty-seven thousand people and the ultimate Chinese control over Tibet. In continuation of these thoughts, I came to ponder upon another horrible reality – that, this was the first-time India shared a boundary with the dreaded “Chinese Dragon”. The following article highlights the implications of the Chinese invasion of Tibet on our country, the dire consequences of a non-existent policy on Tibet followed by commentary on a possible route that can be opted in framing India’s Tibetan policy.
        The first and obvious implication, as I have already mentioned above, is the common boundary issue. With the invasion of Tibet, China had renounced the McMahon Line drawn by the British as part of the Shimla Accord of 1914 which led to a heated debate about the actual boundary dividing the two Asian giants, which eventually snowballed into the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The victorious People’s Liberation Army of China temporarily held significant and strategically important sectors on the Indian side of the McMahon Line. The war of ‘62, not only shook the morale of the Indian troops, which bore significant casualties, but also the faith in the traditional defence provided by the mighty Himalayas, which until then was thought to be unbreachable by the Indians.
The occupation of Tibet had also allowed China to rapidly develop its resources and strike capabilities extremely close to the Indian border. The construction of highway number 219 in the disputed Aksai Chin sector formed a vital part of the discourse that led to the First Sino-Indian war.  Since then, China has come a long way. In her paper[1] for the Institute for Land Warfare Studies, Ms. Monika Chansoria listed out various developmental projects undertaken by the Chinese in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. This list, inter alia, includes the construction of more than 58,000 km of roadways, an almost equal number of kilometers in railroad and nearly 5 airfields in the TAR. These developments can be broadly classified into civilian and military categories, however, they are largely interlinked. The road and railways are ostensibly constructed for the development of the Tibetan Autonomous Region; however, they serve other purposes important to Chinese interests in the region – the first being to facilitate the exodus of Han Chinese migrants into the TAR which forms a vital part of the government’s agenda to argue Tibet’s annexation into the Chinese mainland. The second is to enable rapid deployments of infantry and mechanized divisions along the Indian Border. Ms. Chansoria further observes in her paper that all roadways have been constructed as per military standards, which allows deployment of nearly 12 divisions in less than a month. All airfields are tailor made to suit the landing requirements of PLAAF strike and airlift aircraft such as Russian-made Sukhoi fighters and the IL series of transport aircraft. Thus, with the occupation of Tibet, China had essentially provided herself with a white canvas to elaborate plan and structure its strike capabilities against India, which were used with devastating consequences in the various Sino-Indian Wars.
       Another area of serious concern to India is the vast investment China has poured into the building of dams in the occupied Tibetan region. Unfortunately, all the rivers upon which China proposes to construct or has constructed barrages and dams, are rivers of vital importance to Indian interests, to name a couple – Brahmaputra and Sutlej. These seemingly civilian projects go long way in establishing diplomatic superiority and leverage to keep status quo in favour of China in the event of a conflict. As it stands now, the ball is comfortably in China’s court.
 Just before the commencement of the invasion, the Nehru Government had strongly urged Tibetan authorities to order the construction of an airfield in Lhasa through which India could supply inventory and if necessary, men, to the Tibetan defence.

Tibetian Army 

However, the Kashag rubbished Nehru’s offer as it didn’t believe in a Chinese invasion (due to its isolation in Lhasa and lack of communication with other provinces), which by then had overrun the North-Eastern Provinces of Kham and Chamdo. It was not until the rapid PLA advance could be seen from the Potala Palace that the authorities realized the magnitude of the problem that stood before them. However, by then Nehru had to withdraw the offer due to the fear of Chinese aggression.

        Apart from this initial offer, India’s Policy on Tibet has remained rather dormant. Though India and the Tibetan Government in exile share a close bond, India never overtly condemned Chinese action due to geopolitical circumstances. This dormant policy was portrayed even in the UNGA when India abstained from voting on the motion proposed by El Salvador requesting UN intervention in Tibet. Nevertheless, one of the biggest message India could deliver to the world conveying its support for Tibet was granting asylum to His Holiness The Dalai Lama, his entourage, consisting of the 97000 refugees and the recognition of its government in exile. Due credit must be given to Nehru and his advisors for showing such tact in spite of Chinese objections.
   A little more help came from the Indian side post the war of ‘62. After suffering defeat in conventional warfare, India started to consider its asymmetric options in the war against China. Most certainly, the attention of military strategists went to the Tibetan resistance. India established a covert facility called Establishment 22 where it started to train and arm Tibetan fighters to be used as asymmetric units.  This served as a big shot in the arm for the resistance which by then was in a strategically and tactically diminished state, owing to the withdrawal of support from the CIA. However, this project did not run well and was soon shut down, and with it shut down any positive policy maneuver India made in favor of Tibet.
  It is the opinion of the author, and with due respect to my country’s policy planners, that they misjudged the requirements to prevent the occupation of Tibet. Though military support was essential, it wasn’t adequate to oppose the massive Chinese offensive. Tibetan freedom couldn’t be attained by a military initiative. Tibet needed India to rally international support for it at the United Nations. This is exactly what our Indian diplomats failed or refused to do, leading to exploitation of not only Tibet, but the occupation of Indian sectors and the never-ending border dispute. The lack of Indian intervention and support for Tibet at the United Nations, allowed China to ascertain undisputed superiority in the Asian geopolitical circuit, thus giving it immense leverage in international decision making, which it uses to maximum effect to obscure India’s advance into the Security Council, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other platforms which allow a state to assert itself as a superpower.
Indian authorities did not strike the iron when it was hot, hence now there is not much left for our country to do – that time has passed. Nevertheless, policy on Tibet can flow to help the country maintain its traditional practice of choosing its leadership. Though Gaylo Thondop (the elder brother of His Holiness), in his autobiography The Noodle Maker from Kalimpong, criticises the practice of choosing leadership by reincarnation, one cannot even imagine the sway, the Dalai Lama and other Lamas like the Panchen Lama have on decision making in the Tibetan context. To divert this sway in its favor, the Chinese authorities kidnapped the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995 and instead elevated its

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

own nominee to the office. This illegitimate maneuver gives China an acute strategically advantage in elevating its own candidate for the office of Dalai Lama – a position so keen to Tibetan politics – keeping in mind the immense authority of the Panchen Lama in choosing the Dalai’s reincarnation.

India must use its geopolitical superiority (second only to China) in the south Asian circuit, to lead a united front of nations against China to condemn and counter such actions, firstly by non-recognition of any such proxy posts and leaders and by promoting and securing Tibetan rights to choose its own leadership. Secondly and very importantly it must actively vote or propose motions like the recent UNSC Resolution No 2334 against Israeli settlements in Gaza in the UNSC. It must work to remove any legitimacy of Chinese occupation: a start can be made by explicitly demarcating the original Tibetan boundary in all maps as propaganda to confirm its denouncement of the annexation and to keep the cause of Tibetan freedom going. India can try to lobby UN embargoes against the economic zones set up by china in the TAR.  Lastly, India can also bring to light all the violation of human rights China has been constantly committing in Tibet to gain international momentum for the cause.
On the other hand, all this is easier said than done. The Government of India led by Prime Minister Modi has recently proclaimed Tibet to be an integral part of China. As far as Indian interests are concerned this is a positive and skillful diplomatic tactic as it allows India and China to put aside matters of the border dispute and focus on economic empowerment such as developing the maritime silk route and other economic corridors. Per contra the lack of trust in a neighbor, that generally forms a vital basis for a foreign policy decision must be considered, keeping in mind the never-ending border violations committed by China in the Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir sectors.
       These small initiatives go a long way to secure the rights of our neighbor and to keep alive its struggle against an aggressor of China’s might. However, whether such a stance should be adopted at the cost of our self-interest, economic upliftment and the obvious threat of conflict is a dilemma that has troubled leaders since long. As necessary evaluating policy decisions of such nature might be for academic purposes, one must always bear in mind the unseen factors that come across decision makers before making hasty judgments. Policy makers must be trusted and a strong presumption must always be made, that decisions have been taken for the welfare of our nation. Nevertheless, the battle for Tibet and the freedom of its people will continue to rage and so will the ideology of the Dalai, for all those it matters to until the snow lion flag flies over the Potala Palace again.

[1]Manekshaw Paper N o. 32, 2011China’s InfrastructureDevelopment in Tibet: Evaluating Trendlines, By Monika Chansoria, for the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi.

About the Author:

Nazeer is a fifth year law student from the Faculty of Law IFHE. He is an avid reader of war history politics and law. He has high interest for foreign policy and the legality of armed conflict. He is also a staunch pacifist.

The SPB-Ilayaraja Copyright Tussle Explained

By | Blogging, IPR, Newsupdate | No Comments
There have been many assumptions and interpretations (most of them completely flawed) put forward by multiple newspapers (Yes, looking at you Outlook India) about the law regarding the recent copyright tussle between music director and singer S P Balasubrahmanyamand and composer Ilayaraja issue, so Harshavardhan Gaanesan, Foreign Associate at a leading Law Firm in the US, was gracious enough to throw a bit of legal clarity on the issue:

1. Ilayaraja is 100% right in law. The Copyright Act protects musical works and grants the composer the sole right to musical works, and if it has been registered, the Lyricist, rights in the lyrics of the song. And of course, the producer’s rights in the sound recording.
The difference in copyright law between a musical work and a sound recording is of paramount importance.
A musical work refers to the composition, the arrangements of instruments and lyrics too.
The sound recording refers to the actual recording with singing, recordings of the artists, of the instruments mixed with the lyrics etc.
So the division arises in a situation when for example a restaurant plays Mental Manadhil, without permission. They are actually violating 2 copyrights. One of the composer (AR Rahman) in the musical work and second, of the producer( here is where the divvying up comes into play) in the sound recording.
Here Ilayaraja argues that by singing the songs, it violated his musical work copyright (Obviously not the sound recording copyright). Legally what ilayaraja did is completely justified.
2. My grouse, however, and the grouse of many fans is on 2 accounts, primarily, the timing of the legal notice and second, the use of a legal notice as a means towards achieving these ends. I think something needs to be said for issuing a notice when you’ve already known that the concerts are going to take place. Further, SPB has said that had he sent him a mail or a call, the outcome might have become very different. Hypothetical, sure, but nonetheless justified.
Second, anyone with knowledge of SPB and his history of venerating his Music directors know that he constantly performs musical tributes for his favorite musical directors. In fact, he’s gone as far to say he wouldn’t be the same without Ilayaraja. To interject something as cold as a legal notice when there’s such an effusive feeling of warmth is malicious. Even in the absence of positive feelings between SPB and raja, the mode and means of doing it leave a lot to be said.
Some arguments that people have raised:
1. “AR Rahman has been doing for years now”. Arguendo, if he has, the point once again isn’t Ilayaraja asking for royalties. In fact, he went as far to say he would share the money he gets from royalties with producer, singers, and lyricists. ( For some reason he seems to believe that the sound recording right also exists in the tracks and therefore the lyricists, producers and singers will get paid. I disagree, however that is an argument for another time). It’s the mode and method I disagree with.
2. “SPB is making lakhs through his concerts” I’m grossly unaware of the amounts that go to the
Ilayaraja and SPB
singers of concerts, and the amount doled out to orchestra musicians, technicians etc. If he is making lakhs, that’s mostly because the problem is systemic. The day to day administration of IPRS and PPL shows how corrupt the system is from the top down, where performers never seem to be able to receive their proceeds from licenses, even after the 2012 amendment. While these singers are painted as pop culture icons, and that’s how we see them, that’s certainly not a depiction of their financial situation. The most famous example is of course how Ustad Bismillah Khan was piss poor and Kapil Sibal wrote him a cheque. This was a watershed moment for Indian Copyright law ( At least in my head).
3. “I have an idea da, Why does he even have to sing, what if the orchestra just played the music”? That would still be a violation of Ilayaraja’s copyright over the Musical Work.
4. “Dai what about in these random events, and these marriages when people sing these songs, they can be sued too a?” Well, the question depends on whether the situation falls under one of the fair use principles enumerated in the Copyright Act, examples include performances not done for profit, or those for educational purposes. Arguendo, assuming that no fair use exception exists, most producers/composers do not have the time, and neither the inclination to sue random stray occurrences like these. That would be akin to committing PR harakiri that even Jerry McGuire and CJ Cregg would be unable to do.
5. “Wait a minute, then all Thyagaraja’s and Dikshitar songs can’t be sung by anyone, how are they allowing that?”
Not true. Copyright lapses into the public domain ( Anyone is free to use it) after a period of 60 years after the death of the author. Given that Thyagaraja passed away in 1847, I would think the OS Aruns and Bombay Jayashris of the world don’t have to fear a copyright infringement suit anytime soon.
I think finally, there is something to be said about excessive protection of IP as a whole. (I for one disagree with a utilitarian justification for Intellectual Property). To ground it in reality: Imagine if every single time there was a cover of ‘Why this Kolaveri di’, money was owed to Anirudh, and the producers, and if not paid, the videos were taken down on Youtube. It might not be a far cry to say that the song wouldn’t have been the viral sensation it was without covers. I’ll leave this discussion at that.
About the Author: 

Harshavardhan Ganesan holds an LLM from the University of Law Berkeley and is a current Foreign Associate at a leading Law firm  Washinton, US. Harsha has been an avid debater, Munner, orator, actor and basically someone who loves the sound of his own voice and wants others to do the same as well.

Feminism And What Really Begets It: A Personal Tribute to Carrie Fisher

By | Blogging, Life, YOUR VOICE | 2 Comments
              I probably wasn’t even fully 9 years old, when my Star Wars crazy mother meticulously produced VCDs from a dingy video library and made me watch Episode I, II and III, thereby effectively ruining the greatest cinematic plot twist of all time. In those days, the only summer problems I had, were questions about how and why Palpatine managed to turn Anakin rogue.Episode IV, V and VI followed and I remember being enamored by Han Solo and Luke Skywalker but most distinctly, I was in awe of the unapologetic and indomitable spirit of Princess Leia. Oh, I wanted to be her, and how! All with some developments of course, since I also wanted to be a Jedi Master, but those are just minor details.
So you can imagine my shock, denial, and the consequent pained acceptance, upon waking up that morning to bold headlines that declared, “ACTRESS CARRIE FISHER DIES AT 60” and a seemingly morose, unhappy mother who barked across the hall that I was to mix my own milk. In a first, both mother and daughter shared a common sorrow for a non-familial loss of someone that neither of us knew personally.
To be honest, post Star Wars, I’ve only ever seen/heard of Carrie Fisher in a smattering of other movies and so perhaps it is fair to say that for several million across the globe including myself, she went down as Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, who bravely fought off Vader’s forces, called out Han for being a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf herder“, wielded a gun better than Luke and was subjected to watch her planet and foster parents be decimated by the Death Star. To me, the star struck 9 year old, if this was not ceaseless bravery, then what was really?
I grew up in a women-only household, comprising of a fairly badass working mom with a Leia-esque temper and tongue, a reasonably competent (and I will always deny I said this) sister, an orthodox and determined grandmother and a decrepit yet surprisingly loud, perennially ill great-grandmother, who – as she reiterates – is three years older than the Queen herself! At this juncture, it is probably safe to say that a character like Leia, boded well in our lifestyle.
I don’t really know how to describe the way I am, at 20. What I do know is that I stubbornly don’t understand the difference between a man’s job and a woman’s job. I didn’t want a doll or a car, but books and being occasionally treated to a film with an already ruined plot twist. I didn’t dress in pink or blue, but clothes that I thought were comfortable. I did all the things I wanted to do, much against the behest of the mother-and-above units. I played tennis,swam and got tanned, ran, scraped my knees, roasted in the sunlight, picked up defunct pistols (licensed, I assure you) and rolled in the mud. As a happy consequence of my activities and much to their chagrin, the women in the house gave up on me, concluding that the dog and I were kindred spirits.
None of this came easy, of course. When you’re like that in a world that isn’t quite like that, you tend to get picked on. Everyone tried all possible avenues to dissuade me from being so socially contemptible. I’ve pretty much had it all in various permutations- cousins nagging me for keeping my hair too long and too boring, friends who’ve teased me for being “too much like a boy”, family that still goes on about how I need to dress better and the most prevalent and prominent one of them all – being a prude. Except, to this day, I absolutely do not understand what it is about my myriad of actions that is termed too un-ladylike for me. I’m not supposed to sweat and stink, nor wear shorts for tennis or wear comfortable clothes at a party instead of the oft chosen LBDs and am meant to keep my locks braided instead of choosing to flip them around in a layered cut, because of exactly what again? I’ve never known and I’m not sure that I ever will. That being said, I don’t think I’d actually blame anyone, given social conditioning en generale.
Now, to the point of why Carrie Fisher’s passing has begun this conversation in my head. In the 13 years since I first watched Return Of The Jedi, I’ve subconsciously strived to model myself into a personal interpretation of Leia. To me, Carrie Fisher did not just play Leia, she was Leia.  I’ve watched her repeatedly in endless interviews and found that she really was the embodiment of fierce independence, unfailing feminism and undiluted wit. She never once hesitated to call out the blatant misogyny or unfairness of anything and wasn’t afraid to apologize or accept her mistake whilst challenging the very archetype that catapulted her to fame. She had such a strong sense of right and wrong which, to me, was everything that Leia depicted on screen. She showed us,by example, how important it was that as women- and more generally as human beings – we take our position seriously and that cowing down to rampant patriarchy is not something any of us were born to do.
I’ve never been one who was very ostentatious about her opinions on the happenings of the world since, as a matter of principle, I think that everyone has the right to reserve their own relative thoughts and opinions of the same – unless of course, it is an actual travesty like the election of Donald Trump. In the same maverick fashion, I don’t believe in having to be loud about things that you do for the sake of humanity’s betterment. Much like I did in my childhood, I prefer the quiet, strong way of being a feminist – you stubbornly refuse to accept the patriarchal norm and keep going about while doing your own thing.
You don’t sit quiet when you see or hear something that is fundamentally wrong and you aren’t behoved into being nonchalant about it. I think that the most raucous, resounding way that you can assert your identity as a feminist is to act more than you speak. Fight for your worth, whoever you are – male, female, both, neither – and never forget to be gracious about it. Let nobody tell you what to do and what not to do since I can assure you that there are no diktats about what you “should” be doing because of how and where luck decided to place you. Nobody is any less or any more because of their sex, orientation, race, or anything of theirs, really -because, at the end of the day, all of us are humans.
Not ducks.
That is why we need more people who are as proud and brutally honest as Carrie was. She was an unending source of inspiration, in and out of her role as Leia and in the same breath, a beautiful human being. It is really purveyors of the cause like her, who should make us ask questions like that in the title (which I’m clearly very proud of).
This is a profound moment in my adult life because I’d like to think that I’ve succeeded in growing up to be my own version of Carrie/Leia. There’s a long way to go, but I’m fairly certain I’ll get there – to the mild distaste of a few generations of progenitors, I’m sure.
This one is for Carrie. The Force was strong with that one.

About The Author: 

Spandana Durga is a third year Mathematics Honors student at Miranda House, University Of Delhi. She is deeply interested in art history and public policy development (as utterly unrelated as they are), is a staunch feminist and is a devoted Federer fan.

Climate Change, Resilience & Our Cities

By | Blogging, Environment, Featured, YOUR VOICE | No Comments

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. So what do cities – those commercial and teeming urban sprawls – need in the face of climate change, especially in the populous and rapidly urbanizing South Asian context? Some working definitions follow:

Cyclone Vardah uproots trees in India. Photo from 99 acres.
“Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, despite issues such as high unemployment, inefficient public transportation systems, endemic violence, chronic food and water shortages, natural disasters or terrorism.” 100 Resilient Cities (100RC)

“A Resilient City is one that has developed capacities to help absorb future shocks and stresses to its social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures so as to still be able to maintain essentially the same functions, structures, systems, and identity.” —
Chennai and Climate Change – Living Through Extreme Weather
Challenges to resilience experienced in Chennai, the fourth most populous metropolis, which is part of the 100RC experiment, include: aging infrastructure and its failure; economic inequality and poverty; extreme weather events; overpopulation, pollution, environmental degradation and civil unrest. Other Indian cities part of this effort to make urban centres sustainable are Bangalore, Jaipur, Pune and Surat.

Weather in Chennai which used to be classified laughingly as ‘hot, hottest, & hot and wet’ has now deteriorated with extreme variations within 24 hours. Add to this confused seasons. It’s now hot in ‘winter’, raining in summer and our monsoon alternatively floods or fails the city as well as India. We just got through the Tropical Cyclone Vardah which flooded streets, crushed city landmarks and uprooted over a 100,000 trees.

People wade through flood waters in rain-hit Chennai. (PTI Photo)
Our city’s lungs have been devastated even as air pollution reaches the winter peaks pushed up by burning cyclone’s debris. Drought is staring Tamil Nadu in the face as an unequal monsoon failed many states plunging them into drought and driving farmers to suicide.
Another joke about our city is that the minute the municipal authorities or road works decide to dig or lay a road that’s when there’ll be a cloudburst. Even with an underpar monsoon that urban legend lives on. Even the most moderate rains disrupt the city and its traffic. But when it’s heavy as witnessed during the Chennai Floods of November-December 2015 (which was the most rainfall in over a century) and the December 12th 2016 cyclone we have flooded homes and streets. The Chennai Floods damages were valued at $3 billion. So what we need is pre-emptive programmes similar to Lent, The Netherland’s 2006 “Room for the River” project which may have cost implementing a €2.3billion then but have saved the city from disaster payouts.
Hemmed in by the Bay of Bengal and three rivers – the Adyar, the Kosasthalaiyar and the Cooum – Chennai evolved and survived extreme weather because of its wetlands, canals, marshes and multitudes of lakes, temple tanks and ponds. There were natural water ways in place to channel flood runoff and absorb it into the water table for the dry season. Now the marshes have become landfills and the wetlands and water bodies been built upon schools, colleges, luxurious gated communities, the canals such as the Buckingham Canal which once was completely navigable has been choked by garbage and become synonymous with slums.
The concrete jungle that my city has become is perennially thirsty — exploitation of the water table and water quality is often brackish or worse. With the natural recharge venues choked and the water table sucked dry Chennai suffers from subsidence and has become more vulnerable to earthquakes. Past mistakes are repeated in this automotive industry hub by cycle of exploiting natural resources wherever it spreads to.
A repeated sentiment in various climate adaptation arenas and events is the fact that cities need to be at the fore of battling climate change. As Michael Berkowitz, the 100RC president puts it “After big disasters there are windows of opportunity,” and the time is to build sustainable cities not just smart cities.
Urban waste and water management, carbon decoupled transport and infrastructure, planning and having a vision for a sustainable future are key to urban resilience in Chennai and across South Asia. Training city planners and architects in the sustainable path could be the tipping point in reversing climate change.

What’s Essential for a Resilient City?
“The foundation of building resilience into a city will be the close working of the government and the civic society in developing capacities to deal with threats. I live in the city of Chennai, we the people here have set the benchmark in coming together — Government, youth, celebrities, business community, religious outfits, etc. – and coordinating efforts in dealing with the floods in 2015 and the cyclone of 2016.”
— U. Sudhir Lodha, Tamil Nadu State Minorities Commission Member

“The fundamental ingredient in building a resilient city is to resort to renewable energy and to rely on indigenous systems that do not augment the extent of pollution and exacerbate the impact of climate change. Making buildings capable of rainwater harvesting, installing solar panels, sensible disposal of garbage and relying on terrace gardens in an urban city can create resilient systems. Carpooling so that there are fewer cars on the road, reducing the use of air conditioners and relying on strong disaster management responses can go a long way.”
— Kirthi Jayakumar, Founder & CEO, The Red Elephant Foundation, Chennai
“Cities should ideally be supported by a social, economic and political framework that’s flexible in nature to support changing needs. With land as a prime resource in cities, high-dense housing is concentrated without taking adequate measures to check the availability of water, electricity, services, etc. Since haphazard development occurs without adequate planning, most South Asian cities provide bad living environments for people. Further, urban sprawl results in the creation of an unsustainable suburbia, the failed Western concept that is being tested in Indian cities currently. The sprawling populations that commute to the city centre in their private vehicles not only contribute to fuel exhaustion but also create massive traffic jams. Resilience comes from the ability to support massive change. The secret to build resilience into a city lies in the creation of a holistic infrastructure system; this includes providing effective public transport improving connectivity throughout the city, anticipatory planning of consumption of everyday resources and prevention of inhabitable slums in neighbourhoods. This can provide better life within cities.”
— Sivagami Periannan, Student, Masters of Architecture (Urban Design), Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad, India

Dhaka City. Photo from Daily-Sun
“Dhaka is a bustling city of nearly 17 million, the third most-densely populated in the world. Part of the world’s largest river delta, Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Confused seasons and monsoons have exacerbated desertification in more arid regions while the nation’s capital faces unprecedented erosion leaving what should be vibrant tropical flora and fauna chronically dust-covered and riders of CNGs and rickshaws getting a mouthful of dust in every ride, particularly in the winter.
To make Dhaka resilient, reduction of cars by provision of a public transportation system like an MRT and capacity-building of the related infrastructure could be one route to counteract climate change. Additionally, once in use, safety, particularly of women and girls needs to be ensured. In the developing world, building community trust for institutions is also critical to any efforts toward a sustainable economy and environment. The people of Bangladesh are a resilient lot, without a doubt, so hopefully once given the necessary resources, the present degradation in biodiversity and environment can be halted and reversed.”
— Mehvish Ally, Law Student and Red Elephant Foundation volunteer, American expatriate currently residing in Dhaka, Bangladesh

“Barcelona, Spain and Copenhagen, Denmark come to mind when I hear the term ‘resilience’.
Barcelona is known for its good urban plan.
A truly resilient city needs a responsive administration that plans for tough conditions in order to address the worse rather than getting directly affected. … small-scale sustainable planning strategies can be adopted to lower the risks and improve resilience. Setting up small-scale addressable goals and large-scale achievable goals at the start of every term of administration. There should be continuity in resilience planning when there is change in administration – a proper handover. It has to be associated with local government bodies and international partners.”
— Viswanathan S., Student Architect, Chennai, India
“It is important for civic authorities to engage in climate risk analysis and understand the likelihood of various hazards due to changes in the climate and engage with the different communities to adopt a more inclusive and integrated planning approach. This allows the government as well as the communities to understand the potential losses and plan adequate measures and interventions to potential risks. Thus, empowering communities with information and engaging with them to develop interventions from their experiences is key. Engage, educate and empower is central in making cities and communities resilient.”
— Sharda Vishwanathan, Volunteer, The Red Elephant Foundation, Atlanta, USA

“It’s really planning that’s strikes me as most essential, whether it’s to build a new ‘resilient’ city or to make an existing city more resilient. The only problem that lies in placing planning as a priority is that it is up to the planners to decide on what is a risk. But so long as a risk is not rejected out of hand, proper planning is the key to resilience. From determining the potential risks, to carrying through to making the necessary preparations, or just deciding on a course of action to take in the likelihood of the event occurring, all add a level of resilience. Only the planning aspect will show the scope of the problem, and it’s the first and essential step to be taken before considering any large project or social intervention as a measure of resilience.”
— Rukshan De Mel, PhD student, Disaster Management [critical infrastructure’s resilience to extreme weather events], Colombo, Sri Lanka

“The biggest issue in South Asia is the rate of urbanization. Considering the speed with which population in South Asia urbanizing providing incentives to bridge the urban-rural gap would provide resilience to stop infrastructure from failing.”

— Anam Zeb, Research Manager, Climate Tracker, Islamabad, Pakistan

About the Author:

Raakhee Suryaprakash has a Master’s degree in International Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry but is passionate about writing and researching ideas that change the world for the better. She was one of 15 South Asia Fellows in 2016 with Climate Tracker. An associate member with the Chennai Centre for China Studies, she also volunteers with the storytelling wing of the Red Elephant Foundation. Raakhee is in the process of launching a social enterprise SUNSHINE MILLENNIUM that aims to help India’s off-grid rural areas achieve the Millennium Development Goals by setting up of solar-powered millennium development centres. Her work has been widely published both in print and online media.

[This article has been republished with the prior requisite permissions from here]

Why We Need To Actively Involve Indian Citizens In Urban Planning

By | Blogging, Life, Policy;, YOUR VOICE | One Comment
            Over the years, governance structures in most Indian cities have followed a simple and traditional top-down approach with little or no room for citizen engagement. People rely on the good intentions of the mayor or the municipal corporation, who they trust will take decisions in the overall interest of its citizens. This system has worked fairly smoothly in most Indian cities as the focus of urban local bodies has essentially been on the provision of basic services. And while expectations may have remained low, in the situation that the unofficial trust code is broken and the citizenry are disenchanted with the local administration, there’s not much recourse available to remedy the situation in the short term, and the status quo prevails.

No real framework exists within local government structures to ensure participation of the citizens in developing a city’s agenda or plan.

However, this status quo in Indian cities is now being challenged by two key developments. The first is that cities are now confronted with newer challenges that were either irrelevant or considered unimportant in the past. Today, cities need to have plans in place to deal with climate change and its effects, develop resilient infrastructure systems, build and secure data network processes, ensure social cohesion etc.

The second and more important development is that India is getting younger by the day. Now, 761 million aspirational Indians are between the ages of 15-64. With estimates of 462 million now having some access to the internet and another 140 million to be added to the middle-class by 2025, there is a real chance to capitalise on the quickly changing demographic situation. In light of these changes, the idea of participative governance may well begin to be seen as the norm rather than the exception.
The challenge, though, is that no real framework exists within local government structures to ensure participation of the citizens in developing a city’s agenda or plan. Involving citizens is merely seen as just one of many boxes to be checked in the whole planning process. Till a decade ago, the easiest way to tick this box was to organise an essay-writing and painting competition calling for proposals and ideas. In the present day, some amount of money is invested in developing a website, an Android app or a Facebook page through which citizens can respond by providing their suggestions or uploading pictures of potholes and suchlike.
More recently, as part of the Smart Cities Competition, several cities sought to seek inputs from the citizens in order to be graded highly and make the final cut. However, as various reports have now emerged, most decisions with respect to the design and planning were already in place and these events were merely a façade to promote what had already been decided.
The current approach is far from participative. Cities hire international consultants like McKinsey, PwC, E&T etc. who then seek out technology vendors such as Cisco, Siemens, Tata, L&T, Microsoft that offer solutions like intelligent traffic management systems, smart street lighting solutions and a bouquet of IoT services. These projects are then incorporated into the overall plan. Some effort is made to show that the projects were a culmination of extensive consultation with the citizens and the community, which is far from the truth.

Some effort is made to show that projects were a culmination of extensive consultation with the citizens and the community, which is far from the truth.

When confronted about this phenomenon recently, an IAS officer was quick to point out to me that while having utopian notions of ensuring inclusivity in the planning process makes for great prose and intellectual debate, it was easier said than done in a complex and densely populated country like India. The top-down approach is so deeply embedded within our governance systems that the overall economic, political and social cost of charting a new pathway might in fact be counterproductive, particularly in the short term. Although cynical, it was a valid reservation. There’s potentially more to lose if citizen engagement only delays the planning process, owing to little or no organisational capacity within urban local bodies or the lack of interest among other stakeholders, including the citizenry

In the current paradigm, it’s become all about getting the ball rolling on the ground in the shortest possible time. The situation in our cities is already so bad that rapid prototyping and deployment of different technology solutions is seen as the only way out in the existing ecosystem. In this process filled with uncertainty, some projects may succeed and these may be scaled and implemented elsewhere. This method of constant trial and error is synonymous with a view held by noted American urban planner Robert Moses:
“You can draw any kind of pictures you like on a clean slate and indulge your every whim in the wilderness in laying out a New Delhi, Canberra and Brasilia, but when you operate in an overbuilt metropolis you have to hack your way with a meat axe.”

The top-down approach is so embedded… that the economic, political and social cost of charting a new pathway might in fact be counterproductive, particularly in the short term…

As we reimagine what our cities and public spaces could look like in the 21st century, there is an immediate need to support cultural pluralism while incorporating a spectrum of voices and histories that promote participation and engagement. In principle, the Union Minister for Urban Development, Venkaiah Naidu ranks citizen engagement very high on his priority list. While it is still left to be seen if this translates to an institutionalised change in mindset, several micro-initiatives championed by the local community and civil society are now taking shape independently in a number of cities. The government apparatus must assume an ethical obligation to work in a collaborative fashion to gather the voices of community members. It must advocate for this diversity of voices on their behalf as well as provide the necessary impetus to pilot, scale and institutionalise successful initiatives.
If done right, technology can play its part in citizen engagement. For example, the city of Nagpur has identified a 6-kilometre “smart strip” to be equipped with a range of state-of-the-art ICT interventions such as smart transport, solid waste management, smart lighting etc. As citizens go about their lives around this 6km strip, the government will be able to gauge the degree of success of each service through constant feedback gathered from users. Big data also can potentially reveal patterns, economic trends, and associations relating to human interaction with technology.
Small data, a concept pioneered by author Martin Lindtsrom, will also be critical. In the framework of the city, small data would refer to planners and designers relying on a mix of keen observations of small samples and applied intuition by spending time with real people in their own environments and understanding how they interact with the city. Both big and small data are equally vital and one cannot possibly work without the other. In the words of Lindstrom, if we want to glean real insights, big data and small data would have to be “partners in dance.”

[Republished with due permission of the Author. Originally published here]

About The Author:
Nandan Sharalaya is a German Chancellor Fellow and is sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung and the Institute for Industrial Organisation at WHU, Otto Beisheim School of Management. He is also the Founder & Editor of The Decent Neta.