CM Arvind Kejriwal transfers 9 senior bureaucrats on Day 1


Within hours of taking oath as the chief minister of Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal transferred nine senior administrative officers, including Delhi Jal Board CEO Debashree Mukherjee to Delhi Transport Corporation. Eight other officers were also transferred on the very first day when the new chief minister worked for six hours.
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Earlier, Kejriwal met Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi after taking the oath. The two spoke on ways of improving the law and order situation in the state, especially women’s security. Delhi is known for its poor record of women’s safety. 
 
Last year, the entire nation was taken by a storm after a medical student was brutally gangraped in a moving bus on December 16. She died in a Singapore hospital on December 29. Kejriwal and six of his party MLAs took oath as ministers at Ramlila Ground on Saturday noon. The new chief minister and his team had arrived to the venue in metro rail.

Four Faces of Arvind Kejriwal #AAP


AAP has publicly accepted Congress’s offer of marriage.


Delhi  citizens and indeed Indians all over the world following the going-ons  in India have mixed feelings. Most do not know what to make of it, what  would have been the right approach, both AAP supporters and BJP  supporters are groping in the darkness of political morality and  strategy. So let’s try to make head and tail of this marriage from  various perspectives.

A. Hazrat Kejriwal faithfools 

According to this group Arvind Kejriwal cannot do any wrong, either  ethically nor strategically. If he has entered into an alliance with  Congress, it still hasn’t changed his convictions. He is out to change  the face of Indian politics and root out all corruption. This is the  Jholawala, the city Marxist, the NGO activist view. Then there is the  idealist first time student activist who finds the energy of student  activism addictive, allows him to expand his social network even as it  makes him feel as making a contribution to the betterment of India and  society, especially as the student activist movement is led by a  coalition of yuppies and jholawallahs, willing to inject the spice of  cool modern (read West-inspired) cultural ambiance. Most importantly  this view is shared by the “Aam Aadmi” (read middle-class) who has grown  up in Delhi on a cultural diet of secularism and an ubiquitous and  perennially dysfunctional and corrupt system, who has been taken in by  the images broadcast by the mainstream media, and is thus more than  willing to project all his hopes onto this simple looking former IT  inspector.

They are willing to believe that Kejriwal did not long  for power but was forced to accept CMship due to the pressure from  others and their supporters who wanted to see him in power and fighting  corruption.

This coalition is taking Kejriwal at his word that  despite this alliance with the corruption devil, he would continue to  expose corruption in high places even if it is of the devil.

B. Cautious AAP Supporters

Many Delhi citizens supported Aam Aadmi Party believing that it was the  political heir to the Indians Against Corruption Movement led by Anna  Hazare.

They too share the concerns of the most of the  faithfools, but their support is not to the individual Arvind Kejriwal  but more to the movement in general.

This group is shocked to see  Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party agreeing to forming a government in  Delhi together. If not shocked, at least this group is quite worried  whether he may have made a mistake in trusting the party and its  leadership. The support this group provided was qualified support and  the question is whether the group was betrayed.

C. AAP is Congress’s B Team

Most of the BJP leadership as well as the BJP voters feel this way.  They can see how the Indian mainstream media doted on Arvind Kejriwal.  For them Arvind Kejriwal is a crook not to be trusted. He is part of  Congress’s strategy to wean away urban youth away from Modi’s magnetism,  and thus to stop Modi’s march to power.

According to this view,  Congress and its support system in the media helped to project Arvind  Kejriwal as the anti-corruption messiah. Arvind Kejriwal and indeed Aam  Aadmi Party was built up to cut into BJP votes, and to channelize all  the anti-corruption and thus anti-Congress votes to AAP, rather than  allow these to fall into BJP’s basket.

During the elections, BJP  was focused on taking down Congress, and almost completely ignored Aam  Aadmi Party not expecting them to put up such an impressive showing.

This  marriage of AAP and Congress only confirms their strong suspicions that  AAP is Congress’s B Team, and helped Congress to steal an election  which should have brought BJP to power. According to this view, Kejriwal  fooled the people and basically did a Chiranjeevi on Delhi citizens.

Many  were however expecting that Kejriwal would not take the bait and refuse  to join Congress, as that would destroy his credibility, especially as  he wishes to fight Lok Sabha elections too, and may have dreamed of  winning the re-election, especially in the aftermath of such a very good  electoral performance. In the re-election more of Congress vote-banks  may have gone over to AAP thus enabling AAP to get a majority. BJP  supporters were feeling that Arvind Kejriwal may feel over-confident,  also thinking on similar lines and opt for new elections.

However  now that the marriage has been solemnized, BJP supporters feel that  Kejriwal has bowed to the wishes of his MLAs to taste power. BJP feels  that he has taken the bait and gone into the trap set by them. Now it  makes Kejriwal vulnerable to the charge of duplicity.

BJP had  opted to not stake their claim on government formation and acted  honorably. BJP feels that they are on a strong wicket and sooner than  later either Arvind Kejriwal would make a fool of himself in power or  the Congress would withdraw support to AAP sooner or later, especially  if Arvind Kejriwal tries to live up to his stated agenda of  anti-corruption. If he doesn’t follow up on his promises, then Kejriwal  becomes a dead duck, and stops being a serious ideological challenger to  BJP.

The interests of Congress seem apparent to these BJP  supporters. Congress wants to avoid a re-election right away, as well as  stop BJP from coming to power and thus is willing to extend support to  AAP.

To some extent the fact that AAP received more votes and  seats than Congress, and in fact AAP hurt Congress more than they hurt  BJP, does cause some cognitive dissonance as to why would Congress allow  itself to be decimated by AAP. It weakens the theory that AAP is  Congress’s B Team. This weakness makes it difficult for those holding  this view to convince others of AAP’s duplicity. With this marriage BJP  feels that it would be easier to make this case.

I believe this view is restricted and does not think everything through.

D. Kejriwal can have his cake and eat it too

This is the view I hold.

The  main danger to the Dynasty comes from Narendra Modi. Stopping Narendra  Modi is all his detractors think of. Kejriwal and his image as a  corruption fighter is in fact the only ace the dynasty has up its sleeve  to stop Modi. Mainstream media does not tire from projecting Arvind  Kejriwal as if he was himself a PM candidate running against Narendra  Modi.

If Arvind Kejriwal can entice the urban youth away from  Modi, there is a chance that Modi would then not get a good majority and  thus would have to either have to make way for a more amenable BJP  leader or accept the poisoned chalice of support of “secular party”  agents thus hindering him in translating his agenda.

So Arvind Kejriwal has to be bolstered at all costs.

So  the question was how best to bolster Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi  Party? The Congress could have chosen to not extend outside support to  AAP.

  1. This would have  kept Arvind Kejriwal squeaky clean, but it would also shown to the voter  that a vote for AAP is a wasted vote, as the citizens do not get a  government in the end. So all those looking for stability would have  chosen to vote BJP next time.

  2. In fact people would  have cast aspersions on Arvind Kejriwal that he is afraid of embracing  responsibility and AAP is nothing more than a protest party unsuited for  doing the hard work of governing.

  3. Thirdly if Arvind  Kejriwal had opted not to form a government, his own MLAs would have  left him and joined up with BJP. This would have given a jolt to the  idealist charm of AAP.

  4. If Arvind Kejriwal has to stand up to Narendra Modi someday, he has to be able to show some executive experience.

  5. The most important consideration was however that a hung assembly would  have led to President’s rule and re-elections which would probably have  coincided with the general elections. That would have put Congress and  AAP at a serious disadvantage. For one thing AAP would have been chained  to Delhi elections, as they would have had to pledge all their meager  resources to Delhi, and Kejriwal would have been thus unavailable for  campaigning across the country in Lok Sabha elections supporting AAP  candidates. Also with assembly elections coinciding with Lok Sabha  elections, Modimania would have been at its highest and BJP would have  swept away both AAP and Congress from the field, even in Delhi.


So  due to all these considerations it was felt by both Congress and AAP  that Arvind Kejriwal’s loss of political virginity and idealistic appeal  to Congress can be otherwise offset and in fact be bolstered even more.

Most  detractors of Arvind Kejriwal, especially those in BJP, take it for  granted that Arvind Kejriwal would not go after Congress corruption once  in office, as otherwise Congress would withdraw support. Actually they  revel in this certainty.

There is no such certainty. By taking over power in Delhi, Kejriwal has eaten his cake, his reputation.

But  the understanding with Congress is that he is still going to have his  reputation in the end, in fact it would be multiplied even more.

What  we assume is that Sonia’s and Congress’s interests are identical. They  are not. In order to let Arvind Kejriwal win, Sonia started shifting her  vote-banks through the local Congress controllers towards AAP, even as  it decimated Congress MLA candidates. Sonia Gandhi got the mainstream  media to do carpet bombing of Delhi citizens with news and interviews of  Arvind Kejriwal and his movement and tried to project the animosity  between AAP and Congress as real.

So the AAP-Congress plan is to  have Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal discover some big corruption scandal  against some prominent Congress leader, possibly against Sheila Dixit  herself. Even a scam pointing culpability directly at the dynasty itself  is not unthinkable. Such a scam and the following attack by CM Arvind  Kejriwal would give him even more credibility. The thing is all these  scams are going to be discovered anyway if Modi comes to power, so  better let one’s own man uncover one or two of them and use these to  bolster his image.

So to keep the pretense of genuine opposition  by Arvind Kejriwal to Congress corruption, most probably Congress would  pull the rug sometime in March or early April, a few weeks before the  Lok Sabha elections. This would allow Arvind Kejriwal to hog the  limelight with his attack on Congress corruption or even Dynasty-based  corruption. Impressed by his selfless pursuit of anti-corruption  struggle where Arvind Kejriwal even endangers his CMship, many voters in  cities around the country would vote for AAP candidates. Instead of  NaMo being at the spearhead of anti-corruption drive against Congress  and Dynasty, Arvind Kejriwal would be able to don this mantle, or at  least the mainstream media would try their level best to put it on his  head. Arvind Kejriwal would be projected as somewhat who sacrificed his  position as CM for his principles.

This approach would then  confirm the faith of the faithfools of Hazrat Kejriwal. It would also  allay the fears of those who thought Arvind Kejriwal was compromised by  Congress. And in fact this theater may even attract more votes who did  not believe in Arvind Kejriwal or AAP earlier, as they would see  themselves proven wrong about him. In this case it would be difficult to  not see the rakshasa as a devta.

So what happens then? Does  Arvind Kejriwal have to pay anything? Of course not! Congress would  withdraw support and Lt. Governor of Delhi would declare President’s  Rule in Delhi. The fun part of it would be that if done in March, it  would be too late to hold elections for Delhi assembly together with Lok  Sabha elections. So Kejriwal would be free, even from CMship, to  campaign across the country on his “anti-corruption” agenda. Also there  would be no danger of AAP MLAs rebelling against Kejriwal as he would  again be upheld as a new prophet of anti-corruption, unlike now where  Kejriwal is being seen with suspicion holding hands with Congress.

Once  the Lok Sabha elections are over, and before the Lt. Governor is  changed by the next government at the Center, the Congress legislators  would again pledge their support to AAP. If that looks too suspicious,  in the aftermath of the Congress rout in 2014, the Delhi Congress could  simply rename itself and superficially cut its ties to parent Congress,  and thus give Arvind Kejriwal their support, under a new name!

So  before the new government takes over at the Center, Delhi would again  have a stable Arvind Kejriwal led government, perhaps this time  including the “erstwhile” Delhi Congress MLAs formally into the  government.

So Kejriwal gets to stay as Delhi CM for a full 5  year term, i.e. unless he is made PM by some third front, AND at the  same time Kejriwal receives both a boost from exposing some scam just  before elections and can keep his image as anti-corruption crusader  intact.

Arvind Kejriwal can have his cake and eat it too!

BJP’s  only chance is to break away MLAs of Congress or of AAP right now. Make  them resign on principle and force a reelection. Congress MLAs can  resign by exposing Sonia’s hand in the defeat of many Congress MLAs  through her support to AAP. AAP MLAs can resign citing Arvind Kejriwal’s  duplicitous move to form a government with the support of Congress.

If  the Delhi BJP does not do this now, then there is a real possibility of  them sitting in opposition benches for at least the next 5 years even  though they came so close to power. Much worse would be that Arvind  Kejriwal would be ballooned by Sonia Gandhi to a size of NaMo just  before elections through the media and thus stop the Modi juggernaut  just enough to deny him a free hand at Center even if he does become the  PM.

Delhi Plagued By Serious Water Shortage


Delhi voted out for a change in politics by bringing in the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that had pledged in the party’s agenda to give 700 liters of uncharged water along with a reduction in electricity by 50 percent to the general public, reports The Economic Times
According to the National Survey Organization (NSSO), Delhi’s 15.6 percent of urban households and 29.7 percent of rural households had insufficient water supply throughout the year. This issue also drew support for Arvind kejriwal’s campaign.

Among the worst affected, in comparison with 27 states and 6 union territories was Delhi’s rural households. The other neighboring states like Haryana had sufficient drinking water with 91.3 percent for urban households and 95.8 percent for rural households. Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 96.6 percent of urban households and 97.1 of rural households getting sufficient drinking water throughout the year.

According to the survey conducted in 2012 by NSSO the key indicators of drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing condition of India, the all-India average deteriorated from 91.1 percent in urban area in 2008-2009 to 89.6 percent in 2012 and in rural area from 86.2 percent to 85.8 percent. The on premise supply of drinking water was only 46.1 percent in rural households with comparison to 76.8 percent of urban households.

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About 94.2 percent of the rural households and 90 percent of the urban households got “promising quality of drinking water”, than the all-India average of 87.7 percent and 88.1 percent respectively.  The survey also revealed that west Bengal’s urban household got 49 percent and the rural household got 30 percent with better services of on premises water supply. The survey boosted Gujarat which was ahead of Maharashtra with their rural households having 96 percent electricity in the state with comparison to 93 percent from the neighboring state.
However On an average it took 15 minutes by a normal household, to fetch drinking water from out of the premises, at the all-India level. If one has to take only rural areas into consideration, Jharkhand was the state which took the longest of (40 minutes) and Assam with shortest of (10 minutes). Among the urban states with bigger landscape. It was again Jharkhand with (40 minutes) and Delhi with the shortest of (6 minutes).

Google to celebrate India’s Independence Day, to award Rs.3 crores to 4 winners


Ahead of India’s Independence Day celebrations this week, Google announced to launch ‘Google Impact Challenge in India‘, inviting Indian nonprofits to tell how they would use technology to improve people’s lives.
 
At the end of the challenge, four nonprofits will each receive a Rs 3 crore (around USD 500,000) Global Impact Award and technical assistance from Google to bring their projects to life, the California-based tech-giant announced Monday.
 
“On the eve of India’s Independence Day, we’re celebrating the spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship of the worlds largest democracy by spotlighting the best local nonprofits that are using technology to make the world better,” Nikesh Arora, senior vice president and chief business officer, Google said on a blog post.
 
“Today were launching the Google Impact Challenge in India, inviting Indian nonprofits to tell us how they used technology to improve people’s lives.
 
At the end of the challenge, four nonprofits will each receive a Rs.3 crore (around USD 500,000) Global Impact Award and technical assistance from Google to bring their projects to life,” he wrote.
 
Arora said registered Indian nonprofits can apply online until September 5.
 
Googlers from India, and around the world, will review applications and announce the 10 best projects on October 21.
 
“You can learn more about the top 10 finalists then, and cast a vote for who you think should receive the Fan Favorite award,” Arora said.
 
“On October 31, I’ll join Ram Shriram, Jacquelline Fuller, Anu Aga and Jayant Sinha in Delhi to hear the 10 finalists pitch live.
 
As judges, we’ll select three awardees based on their potential impact, scalability and ingenuity.
 
We’ll also announce the winner of the Fan Favorite, according to your vote,” he wrote.
 
“Growing up in India, I’ve seen firsthand the vibrancy and innovativeness of India’s social entrepreneurs.
 
I’m excited to see their projects and support their ideas for how to use technology and Rs.3 crores to change the world,” Arora wrote.

Indian Convicts Redefine ‘Business’ Behind Bars


The Holy Bible says, “Hear, O man; what does the Lord require of you but to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with your God?” Criminals are often judged as the unwanted part of the society. May be they have committed crimes for which they were convicted once, but government takes many corrective measures to inspire them to go out and live a respectful life after their conviction. Here we sum up few business initiatives taken by those who were punished and sent to jail once, but now are turning themselves to successful entrepreneurs.

1. Inmates Turned Fashion Designers- Tihar jail

A collection of clothes designed by women inmates of the Tihar Jail were displayed at a fashion show as part of Women’s Day celebrations. The Tihar Jail has for the past five to six months been running a fashion designing course with about 550 women inmates currently enrolled in the course. “The message that we want to give through this event is that we can manufacture quality products in the jail which can compete with any branded items in the market,” said Sunil Kumar, Chief PRO, Tihar Jail. The jail has a factory which has 1100 people employees and the turnover was 15 crore last year and this year it has been around 30 crore.

2. Bakers Behind the Bar- Kerala Jails

After netting a handsome revenue of 6.75 crore in nine months through food-making venture, prisons in Kerala are planning to diversify into more products like cakes, pepped and footwear with an aim of fruitfully engaging prisoners and selling these items to the common man at affordable prices. According to a top Prison Department official, the prison food business posted an impressive turnover of 6.75 crore in the first nine months of this year and is expected to touch about 10 crore by the end of March, 2013.

When Kerala Prison Department ventured into the food business, the sole model before it was the food-making unit of Tihar Jail in Delhi, which sold about of 1.5 crore chapatis and 20 lakh packets of chicken curry last year. While hotels charge 75-90 for a plate of chicken curry and 7-8 for one chapati, the jail chicken-chapati combine costs just 30. The prisoners also benefit from the initiative with cooks and helpers earning 117 as their daily wages so that they can send an average of 3500 to their families a month.

3. Convicts Take a Shine to Leather – Indore Jail

The Indore jail prisoners have a new passion. And the passion also involves fashion. With 40-50 kg of leather made accessible to them every month, the inmates are busy whipping out leather goods to be sold locally. The jail has also been planning to market the handbags and wallets Bhopal, and a national squash later. The training is imparted by the Tata International Ltd, ), engaged in the business of leather goods.

“At present, the leather products (bag, handbags and wallets) are sold locally by small retailers. This is because the quality is not up to the level of a TIL product. To help them achieve the required quality, a technical person will be sent to the jail to train one of the inmates, who will be the master trainer. He, in turn, will teach the others,” said a company spokesperson, stated Business Line.

Cakes costing below 100 and low-price rubber sandals are the next in line and the food business initiative would be extended to two more prisons soon.

4. Handicrafts in Cuff – Jagdalpur Jail

The prisoners at Jagdalpur Jail have set a very inspiring example for many who have been convicted. Inmates at Jagdalpur Central Jail make a wide range of eminent mats and bed sheets, which are in high demand in global markets. There are also around 351 convicts who make art work, handicraft and other designer materials worth 1 crore every year.  “Now, they are always busy in different kinds of activities. These prisoners were being trained in handicrafts and other works so that they could start their own business after being released from the jail”, an official said, stated dailypioneer.com.

The jail has also arranged short term courses that help the prisoners to utilize their free time as well as use their labor in a positive way. The also make other products apart from bed sheets and mats like, beds, sofas, dining-tables, chairs, office tables, steel furniture, cupboards, terracotta items, swings, foot mats, table mats, pen holders and items with cloth, like towels.

5. Penitentiary “Dabbas”  – Tihar Jail

The women prisoners in Tihar Jail are ready to launch their own Tiffin services, and Tihar will be the first prison to start such a business. The idea was that the inmates would prepare the meal and supply lunch to corporate houses and government offices athwart the city.

 Director General (Prisons) Vimla Mehra told Newline, “We are planning to start with the women’s jail first and expand the project to the other jails according to the demand. The number of tiffins, inmates to be engaged in the project, the cuisine and menu depends on the demand. Tihar will try its best to satisfy the customers and give them excellent quality and tasty food” Once instigated the service will be an add on to Tihar’s bakery and snacks business that sells ISO-certified biscuits, nut crackers, salty mixtures and other snack items.

Delhi is not safe, I am going back to Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee


A day after she along with her state finance minister Amit Mitra were heckled by Left student activists outside the Planning Commission office in New Delhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that the national capital “is not safe.”

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Banerjee, who will be flying back to Kolkata this afternoon, said Delhi is unsafe and that she “was manhandled like anything.

Alleging that the police did not co-operate with her, Banerjee said: “I think this is the first time such a thing has happened in New Delhi. I was also manhandled like anything. I requested the police to open the doors but they said that they don’t have the keys.

She further said she was advised by doctors to get hospitalised but she did not want to be hospitalised.

“I was given oxygen whole night on Tuesday, the doctor advised me to get hospitalised, but I don’t like to get hospitalised,” she added.

She also lashed out at the CPM for the attack on her and her Finance Minister.

“Our cadre are peaceful, all ruckus was created by the CPM. It’s a double standard game of CPM, they are hypocrites,” she said

She also apologised to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for cancelling her meeting with him

Meanwhile, the TMC held a protest at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against the heckling of Banerjee and Mitra.

The TMC workers are also staging rallies, holding protests in Kolkata and other parts of the state in condemnation of the incident

Banerjee and Mitra were heckled outside the Planning Commission office in the national capital by the SFI activists protesting a young comrade’s death in Kolkata allegedly in police custody.

Dozens of protestors from the SFI waited for the TMC leaders outside the Planning Commission office and raised slogans against Banerjee when she came with Mitra and other ministers to meet the commission’s Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Sudipto, an MA student at Rabindra Bharati University, was among the hundreds of members of the SFI who were protesting against the government for postponing college union elections. They were arrested and put on a bus that was meant to take them to jail. According to the students, the SFI leader succumbed to injuries in baton charge by the police.

The police, however, claims that students were leaning out of the bus, shouting slogans, and that in the chaos, Gupta hit his head on an electricity pole as he was getting out of the bus.

Petrol price cut by Rs 2 per litre, excluding VAT


The cut in petrol price follows two rounds of hike in rates since February

Petrol price was on Friday cut by Rs 2 per litre with effect from midnight tonight, the steepest reduction in rates in nine months. While petrol price has been cut by Rs 2 per litre, excluding local sales tax or VAT, there will be no change in diesel rates.

After including VAT, the reduction in price of petrol in Delhi comes to Rs 2.40 per litre and the fuel will from midnight tonight cost Rs 68.34 per litre as against Rs 70.74 currently. It was expected that oil firms will also effect the monthly hike of 40-50 paise per litre in diesel rates but they deferred the decision apparently to save the government from trouble in Parliament.

When oil firms had last hiked petrol price on 2 March, opposition parties had disrupted one full day’s proceedings. The cut in petrol price follows two rounds of hike in rates since February. Petrol price was hiked by Rs 1.50 a litre on 16 Feb and then by Rs 1.40 per litre from 2 March. Both were excluding VAT.

The reduction in rates was possible as international oil prices have eased. While the slide in international prices of crude oil from $112.73 per barrel to $107.41 enabled reduction in petrol prices, it also helped lower losses on diesel sales. Losses on diesel have come down to Rs 8.64 per litre from Rs 11.26 at the beginning of the month, according to Indian Oil Corp (IOC) which announced the price revision. Oil firms calculate the desired retail price on 1st and 16th of every month based on average imported oil price on the previous fortnight. Petrol price had last been cut by over Rs 2 per litre in June 2012 when prices were reduced from Rs 70.24 to Rs 67.78 per litre. IOC said rupee had depreciated marginally. ‘Following this trend, it has been decided to pass on the benefit to customers,’ the company said.

Six Indian Women Who Dared to Make a Difference


“The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes,” said author C. JoyBell C. This indeed stands true as being a woman is certainly not easy! A woman toils all day long and she is the one who touches the lives of many with her ways. This Women’s Day its time yet again to honor and appreciate the spirit of womanhood. Here are 6 Indian women activists listed by MSN, who have done their little bit to contribute to the society and dared to be different.

Irom Sharmila


Also known as the “Iron Lady of Manipur”, Irom is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from Manipur. Irom has been on a hunger strike since 2 November 2000, to demand that the Indian government repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which she blames for violence in Manipur and other parts of northeast India. She has refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, and has been called “the world’s longest hunger striker”.

Recently she was also charged with Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of IPC for fasting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. The courts have used an absurd law in the case and it only makes the matter more baffling. Appearing before the court she said “I am not committing suicide. This is my way of protest. I am protesting by non-violent means,” reported PTI.

Mallika Sarabhai


Mallika is an activist and Indian classical dancer from Ahmedabad. She is the daughter of classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai and renowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai. She is also a talented Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dancer. She has received many awards, Padma Bhushan being one of them in 2010.

Mallika says women should change but good men should speak up against the violence and make a change in society. She was quoted by the Hindu, saying, “It is because good men have been silent that these other men have not been shamed. The good men should stand up and publicly tell them that their acts of violence are not a sign of manhood but of cowardice.”

Mallika is also known to have protested against Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi during Sadbhavna Mission in September, 2011.  She accused Modi of scampering the petition filed in Supreme Court by her on the 2002 Gujarat violence.

Arundhati Roy


This name needs no introduction. Roy is an Indian author and political activist who also won the 1998 Man Booker Prize for Fiction winning novel ‘The God of Small Things’. She is actively involved in environmental and human rights causes. Roy has also been on numerous lists of the most beautiful women in the world.

Roy is a spokesperson of the anti-globalization/alter-globalization movement and a passionate critic of neo-imperialism and of the global policies of the U.S. She also criticizes India’s nuclear weapons policies and the approach to industrialization and swift development as currently being practiced in India, including the Narmada Dam project and the power company Enron’s activities in India.

Roy was once quoted saying “I say I am letting my fame use me. The space for disagreement, not only in this country, but also abroad, is shrinking. Critics say we are urban elites and so can’t comment on rural problems, as if being urban is a crime. What they really want is that only powerless people in the village should protest, because they know such people can easily be crushed underfoot,” as reported by The Christian Science Monitor.

Vandana Shiva


Vandana is an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author. She has authored more than 20 books and was also trained as a physicist and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, in 1978 with the doctoral dissertation “Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory.”

Vandana is one of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization and a figure of the global solidarity movement known as the alter-globalization movement. She has argued for the wisdom of many conventional practices, as is evident from her interview in the book Vedic Ecology (by Ranchor Prime) that draws upon India’s Vedic heritage.  She is also a member of the scientific committee of the Fundacion IDEAS and the International Organization for a Participatory Society. Shiva was also awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1993.

Aruna Roy


Aruna Roy is a political and social activist and founder of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana. She is best known as an outstanding leader of the Right to Information movement through National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, which led to the enactment of the Right to Information Act in 2005. She has also stayed as a member of the National Advisory Council.

Aruna in 2000 received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, while in 2010 she received the prestigious Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academia and Management.

Roy most recently was in news talking about the MNREGA scheme. She said “The government says they want to end MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) as it is becoming a source of corruption. It is the officers who do corruption so why should the poor bear the brunt of it. We, therefore, demand that this APL-BPL divide should be dissolved and universal pension scheme be employed,” as reported by OutlookIndia.com.

Medha Patkar


Medha is an Indian social activist. She is well-known for her role in Narmada Bachao Andolan. She has also filed a public interest petition in the Bombay High Court against Lavasa together with other members of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), including Anna Hazare. She comes from a politically and socially active family as her father had actively fought in the Indian Independence Movement, while her mother was a member of Swadar, an organization setup to help and assist women suffering difficult circumstances arising out of financial, educational problems, etc.

Patkar was often known for her extreme views on growth of country and liberalization. Author Jacques Leslie devoted a third of his book, Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment, to a portrait of Patkar as she planned to drown herself in rising reservoir waters behind the Sardar Sarovar Dam, against whose construction she fought for two decades.

 

I’m not interested in becoming PM: Rahul Gandhi


Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said he was not interested in becoming the prime minister and wants to focus on his party instead.

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“The party is my priority. I believe in long-term politics,” Gandhi was quoted by TV channels as saying in Delhi.

“I am not interested in becoming the prime minister,” he was quoted as saying.

Gandhi, who is the second-in-command in the Congress, told reporters there was a need to end the “high command culture” in the party.

The Congress party has not announced a prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but Gandhi is a clear favourite.

Gandhi has been working on improving the party’s grasroots and has convened a meeting of all general secretaries and central leaders in charge of states on March 6.

Use Less Power If You Can’t Afford Hiked Rates: Dikshit


People should cut use of power if they cannot afford high electricity tariff, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said today, a prescription that evoked criticism.

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Under attack for the hike in power tariff, Dikshit also sought to justify it, saying the increase in cost of power production has led to the rise in electricity rates.

Stating that the consumers will have to pay if they want round-the-clock electricity supply, Dikshit went on to say that if people are finding it difficult to pay the billed amount they they should cut down consumption on various electrical appliances.

“We have been supplying power round-the-clock. We are not supplying power periodically. When 24 hours supply is ensured then the Opposition says bill is too high. If you consume electricity for 24 hours, then you do not pay for five hours’ consumption.

“If you cannot afford the electricity bill then cut down your consumption of electricity. Future generations will never realise there used to be seven to eight hours power cut in Delhi,” Dikshit said addressing a meeting at Chhatarpur area in South Delhi.

“If somebody is finding it difficult to pay the bill then he can use a fan instead of a cooler. One can always cut down consumption of power to limit the bill,” she added.

Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel accused the Chief Minister of “favouring” discoms and ignoring the alleged corruption in these power distribution companies.

“She (Dikshit) is favouring discoms. There is mass corruption in electricity by the discoms but Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, instead of checking it, is giving statement about electricity being used by poor people,” Goel said.

The BJP has been targeting the city government on the issue of hike in power tariff and accused it of siding with the private power discoms.

“This is very unfortunate statement from the Chief Minister of Delhi. In Delhi, the electricity prices are not increasing because of increased production cost,” Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal said.

“How can you expect the people to stop using TV, refrigerator, washing machines which have become essential today. The electricity prices are increasing only because of the corruption of the Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in collusion with electricity companies….”

The power tariff in the city was hiked by 22 per cent in 2011 and again it was increased by 26 per cent for domestic consumers in July last year. It was again hiked by up to three per cent from February one.

PTI

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