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Marital rape: An analysis

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ABSTRACT

The concept of marital rape is alien to Indian penal jurisprudence. Black’s Law Dictionary defines the offence as “a husband’s sexual intercourse with his wife by force or without her consent”. The notion positively rests on a husband’s licentious disposition in disregarding the autonomy of his wife. That a wife owes to her husband in body, forms the core of the philosophy of a legal system that refuses to hold a man accountable for sexually violating his spouse.

The authors, hereby, endeavor to make an examination of the legal status of marital rape in India. In a quest to anchor a comprehensive account of the concern at hand, expansive research has been undertaken to support and supplement the contentions raised throughout the text. The reader shall bear it in mind that the authors are generally reproving of the legitimacy ascribed to the act by the laws of the country and the same shall underline the tone of the discourse hereon.

Keywords: Marital rape, Consent, Perpetration, Violence, Marriage.

MARITAL RAPE: EXPLICATING THE CONCERN

In India, the offence of “rape” finds its explication in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which lays out,

“A man is said to commit “rape” if he—

(a) penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or

(b) inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or

(c) manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of such woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or

(d) applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person.”

The prerequisites for any or all of these acts to be adjudged “rape” involve the performance thereof either without the will and consent of the woman, or, with her consent obtained through threat, coercion, deceit, or, require that the woman be a minor, or, of unsound mind, in a state of intoxication, or, unable to communicate her consent.

While the underscoring insistence on unequivocal voluntary consent advances an invulnerable image of the state of laws, a reckoning of the exceptions attached to the aforementioned provision moots the authors’ matter of concern. Accordingly, the second exception subjoining Section 375 avers, “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.” The clause marshals the contention that a nonconsensual sexual intercourse with one’s wife does not constitute rape, so as long as the wife is over fifteen years of age, thus, making marital rape an exception to the law.

A glib cleft in the general philosophy, however still, is arrested by Section 376B of the Penal Code.

While nonconsensual sexual intercourse with a conjugating wife has not been deemed actionable under Section 375, the same act is subject to attract an imprisonment of two to seven years, along with a fine, when performed on a wife living separately, whether under a decree of judicial separation or otherwise. This tapering oddity, though, offers little comfort to the unfurl of the parlous ramifications of the wretched state of laws. The most of petrifying of these, ironically, could be condensed in a single unostentatious sequencing of words, implying that in India, the act of a man raping his wife is, in fact, absolutely legal.

MARITAL EXEMPTION: TRACING ITS GENESIS IN INDIA

It makes for a curious case that while the Indian Penal Code unambiguously exempts husbands from any liability in case of sexually violating their wives, no explanation whatsoever accounts for the exception in question. An attempt to decipher the same, however, could be made by delving into the socio-legal context of the time when it was drafted. The Code, drafted in 1860, is a feature of the English Law and reflects a certain philosophy that pervaded the period. One peculiar advancement of the ideology was the belief that gauged a wife to be the private property of her husband.

The standing was exalted by the most notable Jurists of the time, thus, embedding into the crevasses of the foundation the Law in question. Sir Mathew Hale, in his 1736 treatise, The History of the Pleas of the Crown, stated, “The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given herself up in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract.” Similar was the view of East, in 1803, when he declared, “… a husband cannot by law be guilty by ravishing his wife, on account of the matrimonial consent which she cannot retract.” Thus, idea was that the consent for sexual intercourse was impliedly given by the wife at the time of the wedding, to subsist throughout the course of it.

Also distinctive is the fact that under the English Law, the husband and wife were considered to be one person. Justice Blackstone, while describing the Principle of Coverture, stated, “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs everything…and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture.” The implications of having had her legal rights subsumed by the husband meant that the wife, if injured, could not propose an action without his consent. Nor could she take a recourse against being sexually violated, for, being one person in law meant that one could not rape oneself. While these peculiarities eliminated the scope of treating spousal rape as a crime, they did not necessarily eliminate the possibility of conviction of the husband on other grounds. In R. v Clarence, the husband, suffering from a venereal disease, communicated the same to his wife through sexual intercourse. While the charges of sexual assault were absolved, the Trial Court did convict the husband for unlawfully conflicting grievous bodily harm on his wife. Similar was the stance in R. v Miller, wherein the wife had presented a petition for divorce. But before it was heard, the husband committed sexual intercourse with her against her will. The husband was charged with rape and with assault causing bodily harm. While the Court quashed the charge of rape, the charge of assault was upheld. The position was extrapolated by Justice Lynskey, “Although the husband has a right to marital intercourse, and the wife cannot refuse her consent, and although if he does have intercourse against her actual will, it is not rape, nevertheless he is not entitled to use force or violence for the purpose of exercising that right. If he does so, he may make himself liable to the criminal law, not for the offence of rape but for whatever other offence the facts of the particular case warrant.”

While the exception, as a whole, could be understood in the light of the views discussed hitherto, the provision concerning the age of the wife stemmed from a more pragmatic spot. With child marriage being a significant feature of the Indian society back in the nineteenth century, several instances of child brides succumbing to severe injuries, and even death, owning to premature intercourse with their husbands, were reported commonly. To protect young girls against the same, the initial draft mandated the bride to be above ten years old for the husband to seek the exception. After the renowned case of Queen Empress v. Hari Mohan Maiti, however, the age was raised to twelve years by an amendment to the Age of Consent act, 1861, when Phulmoni Devi, an elevenyear-old child bride succumbed to vaginal injuries due to excessive bleeding when her husband Hari Mohan, in his mid-thirties, tried to consummate their wedding. That the India Penal Code was drafted in the backdrop of the aforementioned developments, thus, provides one with reasonable ground to conclude that the rationale behind the marital exception clause in Lord Macaulay’s draft stemmed, unquestionably, from the idiosyncrasies of the legal philosophy of the era.

AN ENTRENCHED TRIBULATION: A SCRUTINY OF THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS “I was married at the age of seventeen. At that time, we could not understand what is right and what is wrong. Gradually, when we started discussing sex, he would talk about things that I just did not like listening to. Then gradually, the problems between us reached a level that he started harassing me badly for sex…and if I refuse to do it, then he beats me up.” The precursive statement was recorded by the correspondents from Video Volunteers – a community media organization – while the victim, a young lady from rural Madhya Pradesh, s o b b e d h e r a n g u i s h through the veil. Though instances of marital rape do often wrest documentation in hospitals, scarcely, if ever, are such cases registered with the law enforcement authorities, owing to the want of any law recognizing the act in question as an offence. One petrifying ramification begotten by the present state of affairs is the absence of inclusive data to comprehensively illustrate the extent of the predicament. That 99.1 percent of all rape cases, even immune to the exception of Section 375, go unreported leaves one with little reason to believe that the scant reporting of an act subject to the very exception, does not conceal, behind its sparse numbers, a chilling picture. Notwithstanding the lack of systematic records, a perusal of the reports of several independent organizations, affords a glance into the plausible magnitude of the problem. The International Council for Research on Women, in its IMAGES survey, questioned around 12,000 men and 6,000 women respondents, between the ages of 18 and 59 years, from among five countries to report statistics of the levels of sexual violence faced by women and girls around the world. Published in 2014, the study concluded that the most common manifestation of sexual violence was against “intimate partners (girlfriends or wives)”. Across seven field states in India, the prevalent rates of intimate partner sexual violence among men ranged from 7.5 percent to 29.6 percent. In the same study, 14.2 percent to 59.1 percent women contended sexual violation at the hands of their intimate partners. The study also highlighted that, more often than not, intimate partner sexual violence occurs concomitantly with other forms of violence, principally physical and emotional. Out of the 37.3 percent women reporting physical violence and the 24.4 percent women reporting sexual violence, an overlapping 18.3 percent reported being subjected to both by their intimate partners. The gravity of the matter was reinforced in World Health Organization’s report on sexual violence. In a representative sample of 6000 Indian men, 22 percent reported sexually abusing their wives, while 7 percent reported inflicting sexual violence along with physical violence over their significant others. The World Health Organization also drew a nexus between the age of marriage and marital rape. It concluded that, in India, the median age at first marriage for women is 16.4 years. A survey of 5000 women in the state of Rajasthan found that 56 percent of the women had married before the age of 15 years, and of these, 17 percent contended being forced for sex at least once within their marriage. Correspondingly, young brides are more likely to experience sexual violence at the hands of their spouse, and, owing to their vulnerability, much less likely to seek redressal. The trends also found themselves mirrored in United Nations Population Fund’s report on marital violence in India. The research indicated that between one-tenth and half of women surveyed in various studies had experienced physical violence, and between one in twenty and one in three women had experienced sexual violence perpetrated by their husband. Evidence also suggested the subjection of between one in twenty and one in three women to sexual violence by their spouse during pregnancy. Among young women, between one in ten and three in five women reported experiencing sexual violence within one year of the marriage. The study also reflected on the pervasiveness of marital violence by instating the evidence garnered from men, wherein, between one-sixth and almost one-third of all surveyed men reported the perpetration of sexual violence against their wives. The reports of the National Family Health Survey scarcely exhibit a rerouting over the preceding findings. The data from the National Family Health Survey-3 (NFHS-3) indicated that 9.5 percent of the married women, aged between 15 and 49 years, had experienced sexual violence perpetrated by their current or former husband over the course of their married life. The number stood at 5.4 percent in the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) for the year 2015- 16 and at 30 percent in first phase of the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS5) for twenty-two States and Union Territories, reflecting an almost unvarying trend of sexual violence perpetration within marital relationships. It is not unreasonable to believe that the plight of victims only stands exacerbated in view of the COVID 19 pandemic. Successive lockdowns, among other ramifications of the crisis, had women finding themselves in the constant reach of their perpetrators within the domestic confines. The National Commission for Women, alone, registered a total of 587 complaints within three weeks of the first nationwide lockdown, a steep rise from 396 complaints received in the preceding twenty-five days. The three months of lockdown from April to June recorded more complaints than those received in the entire decade of 2010. That 17.5 percent of these documentations reported sexual violence, in one form or the other, at the hands of marital partners, is ground enough to moot the authors’ contention, that, the need of a reform has never been more substantial than now, a time United Nations has called, “The Shadow Pandemic”. The ‘Here’ and ‘Now’: An Overview of Domestic Laws The exploration of the concern hitherto leaves one with little reason to contest the culpability of the second exception to Section 375 in shaping the marital rape predicament in India. The well deemed escape clause creates a vacuum of injustice for married women within the circumspect of laws dealing with sexual abuse. This lacuna, however, calls for more than an oversimplified blackand-white analysis, for the attitudes and musings of various Courts, Commissions and even certain legislations, illuminate specks of grey where the non-recognition of marital rape as an offence contrasts an overlap with recognized principles of law. A reference to cornerstone judgments and relevant laws is, thus, imperative in mooting the matter of concern. It is significant to note that though said exception in Lord Macaulay’s Code formally mandates the age of the wife to be more than fifteen years in immunizing the husband against any charges of marital rape, the same is not construed defensible after the Apex Court’s judgment in Independent Thought v. Union of India. The Court, in the given case, ruled that the presence of the marital exception under Section 375 did not discredit sexual intercourse with a girl below the age of eighteen years as rape, notwithstanding her marital status. It held that, “The exception carved out in the IPC creates an unnecessary and artificial distinction between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child and has no rational nexus with any unclear objective sought to be achieved.” A certain form of marital rape, where the wife is a minor, thus, stands recognized by the Courts today, bearing the penal implications of imprisonment and fine as laid down by Section 376 (1) of the Indian Penal Code. Another form of marital rape that bears recognition involves sexual perpetration by a husband on his wife during separation. Section 376B of the Indian Penal Code reads, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with his own wife, who is living separately, whether under a decree of separation or otherwise, without her consent, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.” Of particular interest, here, are the penal consequences attached with the offence. While the minimum term of imprisonment of two years, as provided for by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, is an improvisation over a maximum term of two years laid down in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1983, the bias is evident in the fact that the maximum period of incarceration for raping a separated wife remains seven years. The same period is prescribed as the minimum sentence in case of sexual abuse outside the marriage. That the retribution does not bear equal stringency for married and unmarried victims only serves to elucidate the hesitation in treating spousal rape at par with non-marital rape. Notwithstanding the aforementioned circumstances, the larger implications of the absence of specific laws are borne by cohabiting wives of over eighteen years of age. The Indian Penal Code frustrates any remedy to such victims in its non-recognition of marital rape as an absolute offence. An important legislation at play, then, remains the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Section 3(a) of the Act brings sexual abuse, defined as “any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman”, within the purview of domestic violence. Although it does not yield criminal recognition to marital rape, it does serve as a beacon of hope in providing monetary, compensatory and other reliefs to the victim. The reports of various Law Commissions have reflected an evolving trend in the acknowledgement of marital rape. The 172nd report of the Law Commission, in response to Sakshi v. Union of India and ors., refused to criminalize the concern at hand. The Commission refuted Sakshi’s suggestion to do away with the second exception to Section 375, while stating, “Representatives of Sakshi wanted us to recommend the deletion of the Exception, with which we are unable to agree…We are not satisfied that this Exception should be recommended to be deleted since that may amount to excessive interference with the marital relationship.” Concurrently, Courts and authorities across India have expressed similar apprehensions in intermeddling with the institution of marriage. The Delhi High Court, in Harvinder Kaur v. Harmander Singh stated that, “Introduction of Constitutional Law in the home is most inappropriate. It is like introducing a bull in a china shop. It will prove to be a ruthless destroyer of the marriage institution and all that stands for. In the privacy of the home and the married life neither Article 21 nor Article 14 have any place. In a sensitive sphere which is at once intimate and delicate the introduction of the cold principles of Constitutional Law will have the effect of weakening the marriage bond”. Similar was the view of Justices AR Dave and R Banumathi when, in 2015, the Supreme Court bench, rejected the plea of a woman accusing her husband of repeated sexual perpetration. The bench stated, “You are espousing a personal cause and not a public cause… This is an individual case.” Former Minister of State for Home Affairs, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, reiterated the same while responding in negative to MP Kanimozhi’s question on whether a bill would be introduced to remove the marital exception to Section 375. “It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors — e.g. level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of society to treat marriage as a sacrament etc.”, said the Parliamentarian. The conservative stance was forfeited by the Justice JS Verma Committee while presenting its report in the aftermath of the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case. The committee, among other suggestions, stood advocating the recognition and criminalization of marital rape. “The law ought to specify that marital or other relationship between the perpetrator or victim is not a valid defense against the crimes of rape or sexual violation”, it said in its report. The committee opined, “Relationship between the accused and the complainant is not relevant to the enquiry into whether the complainant consented to the sexual activity and the fact that the accused and the victim are married or in another intimate relationship may not be regarded as a mitigating factor justifying lower sentences for rape.” Though the recommendation did not find eventuation in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, an increasingly greater disquietude, concerning the sexual rights of women within marriage, has shaded the judgments of various Courts in the recent times. An important development in this favor was the verdict of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Saroj Rani v. Sudarshan Kumar Chadha, wherein the Hon’ble Court noted, “No positive act of sex can be forced upon the unwilling persons, because nothing can conceivably be more degrading to human dignity and monstrous to human spirit than to subject a person by the long arm of the law to a positive sex Act.”, while establishing that conjugality, in a Hindu marriage, did not mandate sexual cohabitation as it went beyond mere procreation and sexual relations. The Gujarat High Court, while examining the law relating to sexual offences in Nimesh Bhai Bharatbhai Desai v. State of Gujarat, also expressed its concerns over the non-criminalization of marital rape. Observing that husbands need to be reminded that marriage is not a licence to forcibly rape their wives, the Court stated, “Marital rape is in existence in India, a disgraceful offence that has scarred the trust and confidence in the institution of marriage. A large population of women has faced the brunt of the non-criminalization of the practice.” The trend is transpicuous. The sentiments resonating the rights and liberty of married women often find themselves echoed across the board in courtroom exchanges and intellectual deliberations. While such transactions of thought reflect a comforting stance, they stand bereft of actualization mechanisms. Unquestionably, the ethos being routed by the civil society need to find their way into a legislative consensus lest an attempt at criminalizing marital rape should be made – an endeavor that’s only been met with rebuffs so far.

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NCEL granted export permission for rice and sugar

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The newly established National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) has received authorization to export 14,92,800 tonnes of non-Basmati rice to 16 countries and 50,000 tonnes of sugar to two countries, as disclosed by Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Functioning under the ambit of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002, the NCEL, registered in January this year, operates across agriculture, allied activities, handloom, and handicraft items. With an objective to double its revenue by 2025 from the present Rs 2,160 crore, the entity has actively enrolled numerous cooperatives, garnering 2,581 membership applications from 22 states and Union Territories.

Minister Amit Shah emphasized that NCEL’s primary objective is to create an export-friendly environment, particularly for agricultural commodities, leveraging India’s comparative advantage in these sectors. The cooperative body welcomes the participation of cooperative societies, from grassroots to apex levels, interested in engaging in export activities.

The key focus of NCEL remains on utilizing the surplus available within the Indian cooperative sector by accessing global markets. This strategic expansion aims to enhance the demand for Indian cooperative products on an international scale, ensuring better price realizations for these goods and services.

NCEL’s operational scope encompasses a comprehensive ecosystem to promote exports, spanning procurement, storage, processing, marketing, branding, labelling, packaging, certification, research and development, and trading across all goods and services produced by cooperative societies.

Moreover, the cooperative export body intends to facilitate cooperatives in availing benefits from various export-related schemes and policies curated by different ministries, streamlining and enhancing their export endeavours.

The establishment of NCEL underscores a concerted effort to leverage cooperative strengths in India’s export landscape, promising to amplify market reach and economic returns for agricultural commodities and allied sectors through strategic global engagements.

The initiative by the Cooperation Minister, Amit Shah, signifies a concerted push to empower cooperative societies in India’s export realm. By extending export permissions for substantial quantities of non-Basmati rice and sugar, the National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) is poised to facilitate a significant leap in the global market for agricultural produce.

This move aligns with India’s broader objective to bolster its global trade footprint, leveraging the competitive edge of its agricultural sector. Through NCEL, the aim is not only to foster increased export volumes but also to ensure a more equitable distribution of economic gains, channelling the benefits back to the grassroots level of cooperative societies.

Moreover, the strategic focus of NCEL on diverse export-related activities, including procurement, storage, branding, and research, speaks volumes about the comprehensive approach taken to fortify the entire export ecosystem. This encompassing strategy, coupled with NCEL’s commitment to guiding cooperatives in navigating export-related policies and schemes, underscores a forward-thinking approach aimed at creating a conducive environment for cooperative-driven exports.

The enthusiasm surrounding NCEL’s permissions signals a transformative phase for India’s cooperative sector. By leveraging cooperative strengths and fostering a global market presence, the initiative not only aims to boost export figures but also promises to uplift local communities, thereby enhancing the socio-economic fabric of the country.

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Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968

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Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968

Additional 86 Non-existent RUPPs shall be deleted from the list and benefits under the Symbols Order (1968) withdrawnAction against these 339 (86+253) non-compliant. RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022

In continuation of the earlier action initiated on May 25, 2022 for enforcing due compliances by Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPPs), the Election Commission of India led by Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today further delisted 86 non-existent RUPPs and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’. This action against 339 non-compliant RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022.

As per statutory requirements under section 29A of the RP Act, every political party has to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay. 86 RUPPs have been found to be non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the respective Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs or based on report of undelivered letters/notices from Postal Authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP. It may be recalled that ECI had delisted 87 RUPPs and 111 RUPPs vide orders dated May 25, 2022 and June 20, 2022, thus totalling the number of delisted RUPPs to 284.

This decision against 253 non-compliant RUPPs has been taken based on reports received from Chief Electoral Officers of seven states namely Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & Uttar Pradesh. These 253 RUPPs have been declared inactive, as they have not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the General Assembly of a State or the Parliament Election 2014 & 2019. These RUPPs have failed to comply with statutory requirements for more than 16 compliance steps since 2015 and are continuing to default.

It is also noted that of the above 253 parties, 66 RUPPs actually applied for a common symbol as per para 10B of the Symbol’s Order 1968 and did not contest the respective elections. It is pertinent to note that privilege of a common symbol is given to RUPP based upon an undertaking for putting up at least 5 percent of total candidates with regard to said legislative assembly election of a State. Possibility of such parties occupying the available pre-election political space by taking benefits of admissible entitlements without contesting elections cannot be ruled out.

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Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh

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Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh

The 75-day long ongoing Coastal Clean Up Campaign is receiving a huge response from across the sections of society and besides others, Governors, Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, celebrities, film and sports personalities, civil society groups etc. are joining the campaign with overwhelming enthusiasm and pledging their support to the longest and largest beach cleaning campaign in the world titled “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, coordinated by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences with collaboration from all the other Union Ministries, departments as well as governments of the coastal States.

Addressing a press conference today, three days ahead of “International Coastal Clean-up Day” on 17th September, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he will join the campaign at Juhu beach in Mumbai on 17th September and informed that Governor Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and several personalities as well as NGOs will also join at Juhu.

The Minister also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support through social media. The PM has stressed on keeping India’s coasts clean as he praised efforts of volunteers to remove garbage from the Juhu beach in Mumbai. Responding to a video posted by Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh about the clean-up at the beach, Modi tweeted, “Commendable… I appreciate all those involved in this effort. India is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline and it is important we focus on keeping our coasts clean”. The Minister said, “A cleanathon was organised at Juhu Beach in Mumbai, saw participation in large numbers especially by youngsters and Civil Society.

Dr Jitendra Singh informed that Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will take a lead in the clean-up campaign at world famous Puri beach, while Pratap Chandra Sarangi, former union minister will be at Chandipur. BJP MP from Hooghly, West Bengal Ms Locket Chatterjee will be at Digha on D-Day. R.K.Mission head will lead the campaign at Bakkhali in southern Bengal.

Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel will be at Porbandar (Madhavpur), while Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala will join the clean-up operation at Jafrabad, Amreli.

Governor of Goa P. S. Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take part in beach cleaning campaign in South and North Goa beaches on 17th September.

Similarly, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan will be at Kochi, while MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will be at Kovalam beach at Thiruvananthapuram.

Governor of Karnataka Thawar Chand Gehlot will join the campaign at Panambur beach in Mangalore, while the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan will lend her helping hand at Puducherry beach.

Governor of Mizoram Dr. K. Hari Babu will take part in Vizag beach while L. Murugan, Union MoS, Information and Broadcasting will join the event at Chennai

Dr Jitendra Singh informed that the campaign has entered the mode of whole of Government approach plus whole of nation participation.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, apart from active cooperation of Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Jal Shakti, Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, External Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, organisations and associations like National Service Scheme (NSS), Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Seema Jagran Manch, SFD, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi (PSG), along with other social organizations and educational institutions are participating in the clean-up campaign.

The MPs of coastal states have also pledged full support to the first-of-its-kind and longest running coastal clean-up campaign in the world and they also advised the Ministry of Earth Sciences to undertake a variety of activities by involving local NGOs.

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DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH

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DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today announced setting up of a Dashboard to share the best technology practices among the Centre and the States.

Presiding over the concluding session of the two-day “Centre-State Science Conclave” at Science City in Ahmedabad, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a high level mechanism will be developed by the Department of Science and Technology to monitor and coordinate the follow up action of the conclave. The Minister also asked the States to appoint a Nodal officer in each of the States to coordinate and cooperate with the Special Committee for knowing and sharing the best practices.

Giving the example of heli-borne technology launched from Jodhpur, Rajasthan in October, 2021, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to start with, the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana were taken up for this latest heli-borne survey.

The Minister pointed out that if the same technology is uploaded on Dashboard, other States may join and share this CSIR technology from source finding to water treatment and thus benefit millions of people across the country.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, it will also positively contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” as well as “doubling farmer’s income” goals. He said, the latest state-of-the-art technology is being employed by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) for mapping groundwater sources in arid regions and thus help utilise groundwater for drinking purposes.

The 2-day ‘Centre-State Science Conclave’ was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Science City, Ahmedabad, yesterday. Dr Jitendra Singh expressed satisfaction that important plenary sessions with State S&T Ministers discussed in detail on issues like Agriculture, Innovation for producing portable drinking water including application of technologies like Desalination, Heli borne methods developed by DST, Clean Energy for All including S&T role in Hydrogen mission, Deep Sea Mission of MoES and its relevance for Coastal States/UT, Digital healthcare for All and Synergizing Science with National Education Policy.

A special session with the CEOs of over 100 Start-Ups and industry at the Centre-State Science Conclave’ in Ahmedabad came up with scientific solutions in the field of agriculture, drone, artificial intelligence, biotechnological solutions, single-use plastic alternates, irrigation and digital health amongst others.

Many of the State governments have shown keen interest in some of the technologies and agreed to partner with some of the startups for State-specific technological solutions.

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Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity

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Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity

The worst floods in several decades have wreaked havoc in Pakistan, one of the most populous countries of South Asia. The floods have touched the country’s 220 million people’s lives directly or indirectly. More than 1,300 people have died with 81 out of 160 districts directly affected by the floods, leaving at least 33 million people homeless.

The heat waves followed by rains and glacial melting has been a global trend this year bringing out the stark reality that despite all talks and conventions, the world community has failed to contain and reverse climatic change. But Pakistan’s case is unique.

Beyond the human losses, the country’s economic managers have the most challenging task ahead as floods ravaged the country’s road and communication network, damaged an incalculable number of houses, and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.

Niaz Murtaza, a political economist, describes present crisis as “a triple whammy”, putting together economic, political and natural. “The poor had been suffering the first two months because of inflation, job loss and political paralysis. Now the floods have pushed millions into ruin,” he said.

Despite this, the political masters are not only busy in bickering and allegations against each other, but have also triggered a blame game on social media as usual, pointing fingers on India for the flood havoc. The bombardment of propaganda, nevertheless, cannot change the reality that Pakistan government and its institutions have utterly failed in fulfilling their duties towards its citizens.

Ludicrous as it is, it cannot absolve the leadership of Pakistan that has failed people in terms of economic mismanagement, entrenched corruption and naked cronyism in the system. Added to these are the wrong policies and priorities of Islamabad which have been instrumental in bringing economic crisis and political instability. The floods have only abetted it.

The natural disaster has struck Pakistan while economy is passing through the difficult phase of multiple challenges including Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis, heavy debt burden and solvency-related issues. The protracted economic crisis is likely to deepen further despite conclusion of talks with the IMF for release of Extended Fund Facility credit.

While Finance Minister Miftah Ismail estimates that the country has incurred a total loss of “at least $10 billion”, independent analysts, including Uzar Younus, Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia centre and economist Ammar Habib Khan, put the figure between $15-20 billion, and expect it to rise further as information is coming with a great lag.

Existing infrastructure is collapsing with the flooding submerging one-third of the country, pushing 37 per cent of population into poverty. Pakistan is literally and figuratively under deep water, writes Nasir Jamal. It may take a few more months before the damages can be assessed. Even before the flooding, 60 per cent of the population was suffering from hunger, malnutrition and related diseases and the figures are bound to shoot up now.

In view of the mammoth loss, the IMF’s $1.2 billion credit now seems to be a peanut. Pakistan was earlier wounded and now it is bleeding. Floods will exacerbate the economic crisis that had shown initial signs of abating with the IMF deal. Twin deficits, growth prospects and inflationary expectations will be worsening, inflicting misery on the poor. Despite increasing gravity of the situation, saving people’s life and livelihood have not still become the priorities among the political class who are revealing in an ugly slugfest.

The real cost of the natural calamity is being borne by millions of poor kids, pregnant women, elderly and sick persons crowded under the open sky or tents, prone to hunger, diseases and insecurity as they wait for aid. It will be weeks before many can even return to their villages as the land drains and dries. It will take months, even years, to recover from the loss of housing, animals, crops and cultivable land.

Covid-19 had only disrupted economic exchange without damaging the economic base. But the flood has destroyed crops, land, animals, bridges, etc. negatively impacting deeper on the poor and the economy. And the insensitive political class in Pakistan is still deeply engrossed in political maneuver and cunning tricks against each other rather than presenting a united face at the time of calamity. That is the character of Pakistan’s politics.

In view of the contribution of agriculture to the extent of one fourth of the GDP, the country would have to face major revenue loss due to crop losses. As per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s August 29 report, almost 80 per cent of crops in Sindh, which produces roughly 30% of Pakistan’s cotton output, were destroyed.

Close to 70 per cent of Pakistan’s textile industry, an important source of employment and foreign exchange, uses the cotton produced in the country. Floods are likely to cause severe shortage of cotton, said Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. He added that instead of earlier average import of cotton estimated at about 4 million bales, Pakistan would now need to import just the double of that figure, at a potential cost of $3 billion.

Shahrukh Wani, an Oxford economist, says the flood will make it terribly difficult for the government to reduce the trade deficit because while the country will need to import food to “compensate” for lost crops, the textile sector will find itself struggling due to “potential shortage” of cotton crop.

The biting inflation which rose to 25% in the month of July from a year earlier, the highest since May 1975, is taking its own toll on the living conditions of masses. The flooding would further push up the inflation and accentuate the scarcity of even essentials.

Amreen Soorani, Head of Research at JS Global Capital Ltd, said that “the main concern from the floods is the impact on inflation”. Even the IMF warned that the runaway inflation could trigger protests and instability.

Islamabad secured funds from the IMF for immediate bailout of the economy from the saturating forex crisis. However, the problems would be far from over for Islamabad. As the advanced countries are focused more on the impact of Ukraine-Russia war and trying to cope with recessionary pressures while some of the development partners including Middle Eastern countries and China are down with donor fatigue, Islamabad has scant probability to get any major international relief.

For now, the immediate challenge that government will face is to fulfil the conditions of raising taxes and applying austerity measures as part of its agreement with the IMF for its bailout package. This might turn out a politically unpopular move and could flare up the political bickering. The condition is rife for mass protests in view of increasing cost of living for many months now, which opposition could take advantage of. Anger is rising across Pakistan over the slow pace of government relief efforts.

The catastrophic floods have put a downward pressure on growth prospectus. Initial estimates suggest that the economic growth rate may slow down to just 2 per cent. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the recent floods caused more damage than the 2010 calamity wherein the economic losses had been estimated at $9.7 billion. The floods have already caused supply chain-related issues.

Even during natural calamity, politicians are concerned about their political agenda rather than allowing international aid agencies to import essential food items from the neighbouring country. Cases after cases of corruption are cropping up, “you reveal mine, I will reveal yours”, an unending slugfest continues.

Instead of fighting the fallout of the devastating natural calamity united, they are engrossed in manoeuvre and cunning tricks and a regressive thought process whether or not to allow aid flow from India. Some of the government top officials have suggested importing essential commodities such as food and medicine from India, while others are still the victim of the old rigidities and anti-India mindset.

India is an undoable reality of being the most potent vehicle of South Asia’s growth vision as it is a responsible regional power and the fastest growing economy of the world, which offers a big market for exports and sourcing imports. Islamabad needs to understand that cooperation with neighbours does not reduce the stature of a calamity hit country.

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Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite

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Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite

The Kartarpur Corridor has once again reunited another family after a man who separated from his parents when he was only a few months old in 1947, finally met his sister in Pakistan.

Amarjit Singh was left out in India along with his sister while his Muslim parents came to Pakistan. All eyes went teary as they saw the emotional scenes of the brother-sister reunion in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Geo News reported.

Amarjit Singh arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa to meet his Muslim sister and to remain as her guest.

His sister, 65-year-old Kulsoom Akhtar, could not control her emotions after seeing Amarjit.

Both hugged each other and kept crying. She had travelled from her hometown in Faisalabad along with her son Shahzad Ahmed and other family members to meet her brother.

Kulsoom said that her parents came to Pakistan from the suburbs of the Jalandhar region of India in 1947, leaving behind her younger brother and a sister, Express Tribune reported.

Kulsoom said she was born in Pakistan and used to hear about her lost brother and a sister from her mother. She said that her mother used to cry every time whenever she remembered her missing children. Kulsoom said that she did not expect that she would ever be able to meet her brother and sister. However, a few years ago, a friend of her father Sardar Dara Singh came to Pakistan from India.

Kulsoom’s mother told Singh about her son and daughter she left behind in India. She also told him the name of their village and the location of their house in the neighbouring country.

Amarjit then visited her house in Padawan village of Jalandhar and informed her that her son was alive but her daughter was dead. Her son was named Amarjit Singh who was adopted by a Sikh family back then in 1947, The Express Tribune reported.

After getting the brother’s information, Amarjit and Kulsoom Akhtar contacted on WhatsApp and using the Kartarpur Corridor and the meeting between the two siblings became a reality.

Now an elderly man, Sardar Amarjit Singh came to Gurdwara Sahib in a wheelchair. Kulsoom Akhtar also could not travel due to back pain, but she showed courage and reached Kartarpur from Faisalabad along with her son. Both the siblings kept crying while embracing each other and remembering their parents.

Amarjit said that when he first learned that his real parents were in Pakistan and were Muslims, it was a shock to him. However, he comforted his heart that many families were separated from each other in addition to his own family.

Many Muslim children became Sikhs and many Sikh children became Muslims, Express Tribune reported.

He said that he always wanted to meet his real sister and brothers. He said that he is happy to know that three of his brothers are alive. However, one brother who was in Germany has passed away.

He said he will now come to Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa and spend time with his family. He also said that he will take his family to India as well so that they could meet their Sikh family. Both the siblings had brought many gifts for each other.

Shahzad Ahmad, son of Kulsoom, said that he used to hear about his uncle from his grandmother and mother. He said that all of the siblings were very young at the time of Partition and no name was given to Amarjit or perhaps, after so many years, the name had slipped out of mind.

“I understand that since my uncle was brought up by a Sikh family, he happens to be a Sikh, and my family and I have no problem with this,” he added.

Shahzad said that he is happy that even after 75 years his mother has found her lost brother.

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