India approves 2.5 billion deal with Israeli Defence

New Delhi – India has started a 2.5-billion-dollar (Rs10,000 crore)  joint venture with Israel to develop an advanced range surface-to-air missile capable of detecting and destroying hostile aircraft, missiles and spy planes, news reports said Friday. India now buys half of its arms from Israel, making it Israel’s biggest customer. It is thus funding the Israeli occupation in Palestine, because the Israeli economy rests on its defense industry, its main export, as well as the inflow of US tax dollars.

With more than a billion people, India is a country of striking contrasts. India accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s poor and its fiscal deficit is one of the highest in the world. Almost half of Indian women are still illiterate; about 40 million primary school-age children are not in school. 21 percent increase and India. Just one lakh people in India account for at least one tenth of the country’s GDP. In 2006, India had 1,00,015 people with a personal net worth in excess of at least $1 million (Rs 4.1 crore) each, according to the World Wealth Report. Last year, the number of Indians getting richer grew at 20.5%.

According to the Israel National Insurance Institute findings, one of every four Israelis lives below the poverty line — that’s 1.6 million people. Thirty-five percent of children are living in poverty, leaving Israel with this unhappy distinction. The number of Israeli millionaires per capita is twice the world average, according to the 2005 World Wealth Report.  The rate of increase in the number of millionaires in Israel is 50 higher than global rates, says Merrill Lynch report (2006).

During BJP rule, the pro- zionist Hindutva intelligentia took the controle of political corridors of power in the Prime Minister’s office, the Defence Ministry and the Home ministry, in New Delhi. It is being alleged that the presence of this arms trading network were traced in many armed conflicts across India. This influential network also established various research institutions across India to hype security risks and thus to promote weapon trade. The money coming from the bribes and the kick backs have been channelised to the welfare of Sangh Parivar empire.  The military agreements, collaboration on nuclear and missile defense, and sharing of intelligence with Israel has continued even with the communist supported new United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

India’s Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday approved the project between the Defence Research and Development Organization and Israel Aerospace Industries for developing the missile system which would have a range of about 70 kilometres, the Times of India daily reported. The CCS’s meeting was attended by defence minister AK Antony, external affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee, finance minister, P Chidambaram and home minister, Shivraj Patil. The venture would work towards developing an air defence system for the Indian Air Force to replace its ageing Soviet-era Pechoura missile system. India, which has traditional ties with the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) and has supported the Palestinian cause for decades, established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Defense ties between the two countries have also boomed due to the ideological bondage between India’s Hindutva Fascism and  Israel’s Zionism.

Business Week reported in 2005 that India became Israel’s largest importer of weapons the previous year, accounting for about half of the $3.6 billion worth of weapons exported by that country. Not coincidentally, that year also proved to be the second best recorded year for the Israeli weapons industry, making Israel the 5th largest weapons exporter in the world and accounting for about 10 percent of the world’s weapons trade.

Poverty rates in Israel reached a new peak in 2005, although they leveled off in 2006, according to statistics by the National Insurance Institute. It ranks among Western countries with the greatest percentage of poor children, according to the insurance institute.

Some 7,400 Israelis are worth at least $1 million, the World Wealth Report said, including 84 who have at least $30 million. The total liquid assets of Israel’s upper echelon grew by 25 percent, to $30 billion, between 2004 and 2005, according to the report. Those designated by the report as the nine richest Israelis made their fortunes in everything from diamonds to real estate to communications to entertainment.

But, India and Israel have found a shared enemy to target in their respective “anti-terrorism” operations, conflating Kashmir and Pakistan with Palestine, and also common agreement on a framework that has gained global currency with Bush’s “war on terrorism,” resulting in the new “India-Israel-US axis.” US based Indian scholar, Vijay Prashad says Mossad and India’s Research Analysis Wing (RAW) shared information and analysis from the late 1970s onwards.

The door to Washington, many have realized, is through Tel Aviv. And in the U.S., according to some, the door to Capitol Hill is through AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group that shuts down all criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitic.” Hindu right-wing groups, such as the Indian American Political Action Committee (USINAPAC) and the Hindu American Foundation (linked to the VHP) have forged alliances with AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee. The missile deal has been hanging fire for at least a year, but its approval just before India’s national security adviser M.K. Narayanan’s trip to Washington is a signal to the powerful Jewish lobby in the US, whose support will be vital in seeing through the 123 Agreement in the US Congress. Reports says that US may get  another lucrative order from the Indian Air Force for 126 multi-role combat aircraft, the biggest military aviation deal in history.

The Israeli help comes after repeated delays in the indigenous Akash missile project that is still to undergo user trials, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, sources told the IANS news agency that 18 command and launch systems would be built for the new missile system. The new missile is likely to be an advanced version of the Israeli Spyder quick-reaction missile which has an effective range of 55 kilometres.

India and Israel are already in a 14-billion-rupee project to develop an extended-range version of the Barak missile that is deployed on frontline Indian Navy warships. The next-generation Barak will have a 70-kilometre range against the 10-kilometre radius of the existing missile.

India and Israel have increased cooperation in varied fields particularly in military and intelligence ventures since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992.

According government estimates, Israel has become India’s second biggest defence supplier after Russia, providing military equipment worth 1.6 billion dollars in 2006.

India has already acquired the Green Pine early-warning radar from Israel.

Other joint-venture projects are underway for spy planes, electronic warfare systems and AWACS (airborne warning and control systems), while Israel is helping India with the modernization of its Soviet-era fighter jets and tanks.

Recent Major Indian deals with Israel

Feb 2007

In Delhi, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi met top Hindu leaders including leaders of the RSS and BJP in what was termed as “Jewish-Hindu summit.” It led to a 9-point “Declaration of Mutual Understanding and Cooperation from the First Jewish-Hindu Leadership Summit”. The declaration was signed from the Hindu side by Swami Dayanand Saraswati, head of Dharma Acharya Sabha, who is close to the RSS. The tainted Kanchi Shankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati too was involved with the Hindu side represented by some thirty prominent Hindu leaders. Israeli Ambassador David Danieli was also present during the dinner at Advani’s official residence while the (Jewish) Indian officer, Lt. Gen. (retd) JFR Jacob, was part of the Jewish delegation.  “Since Jews were a powerful community in the US, their association with Hindus would help to strengthen Indo-US relations.”  said, another key organizer, Mr. Bawa Jain.

Israel recently transferred five million shekels (5.5 Crores of Indian Rupees) to the Israel Anti-Drug Abuse Foundation (IADAF) operations in Goa. The  organization’s hostel in Goa which treats hundreds of Israelis who suffer from symptoms of drug abuse while traveling in the Indian sub-continent each year. Young Israelis after having to serve 3 years in the Army feel they need to explore the world and get away from all the problems of Israel. Every year, many Israeli young people enjoy their  freedom by visiting Indian beaches of Goa and Kerala and indulge in drug usage .

June 2007

Israeli deputy chief of general staff Major General Moshe Kaplinsky visited J&K from June 14 to discuss various issues with army officers in the state. He met Lt Gen Tej Sapru, general officer commanding of 16 corps and other senior officers in the state to discuss issues of mutual interest. Israel, ranks fifth globally in security-related exports and the role of its spy agency, MOSSAD is being  alleged in  many armed conflicts around the world.

Muslim Intellectual Forum (MIF), a Mumbai based platform of intellectuals, thinkers and human rights activists has linked the  release of Al-Qaida related CDs with the visit of Israeli military and intelligence delegation to India. In a statement Feroze H. Mithiborwala, Convenor of MIF, said, “The latest addition of the Al- Qaida Hind tapes appeared on the same day that an Israeli military and intelligence delegation was to visit India and advice the government on counter-terror measures in Jammu and Kashmir.” He added that it has been the observation MIF that the Al-Qaida tapes come at the most opportune times for US president George Bush and Israel.

“In our estimation, Al-Qaida is nothing but a front organization of the CIA and MOSSAD. The US-Zionist empire has stated that their war against terror will be fought endlessly and across borders and for that they have created a phantom organization, the Al-Qaida. Interestingly, the growth of US-Israeli Imperialism is directly proportional to the growth of terrorism and inversely proportional to the growing resistance,” Feroze said.

The 7/11 Mumbai terror attack occurred on the same day that Israel launched its war on Lebanon. The terror attack on the Sankatmoc-han Mandir on March 7, 2006, occurred a few days after the greatest Indian upsurge after the Quit India movement, against the visit of Bush. Even the terror attack on the Indian Parliament has never been investigated, he said.  The Convenor of MIF viewed that in India basically terror attacks have replaced communal riots as a strategy of the state to divide, confuse and terrorise the people. No terrorist attack requires a commission of enquiry, only pin the blame on some Muslim sounding organization.

In  Jun, 2007, The State Bank of India (SBI) has become the first foreign bank to open a branch in the Israel’s diamond exchange.  The Central Bank of India owns 59.7% of it.

In July 2007, India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) found many ‘blood diamonds’ are being smuggled in to Surat, the country’s polishing center.The rough diamonds from “Antwerp, London and Israel  are brought on fishing boats through the shallow waters of Gujarat’s west coast, they said. Blood or Conflict diamonds originate primarily from war zones where they are illegally mined and later sold secretly. The perpetrators use the profits to buy arms, fund civil wars and military coups against legitimate governments there.

Surat’s gems and jewellery industry, which comprises of more than 6,000 small and big diamond cutting and polishing units, employs around seven lakh people. Being the largest processor and exporter of precious stones in the world, India, with a turnover of Rs 45,000 crore, has always been suspected of getting blood diamonds processed here, DRI officials say. And with nine out of every 11 diamonds in the world being cut in Surat, the city’s cutting and polishing industry is closely associate itself with hinutva mafia. Rough diamond activity in Israel was in high gear in June. Israel’s exports of rough diamonds skyrocketed, totaling $341 million, a 74.5 percent rise over the $195 million in rough diamonds in June 2006.

Critics of the diamond industry point to Botswana, the largest supplier of uncut diamonds in the world, where a fourth of the population lives on less than a dollar a day. A third of the people of are undernourished and the life expectancy is 36 years. Botswana has the second largest per capita AIDS rate on the planet, with nearly a quarter of the people infected. Similar conditions persist throughout the diamond-producing regions of the world.

Indian-Israeli trade – primarily in diamonds, machinery, chemicals, rubber and plastic – grew from $200 million in 1992 to $3 billion in 2006.

July 2007

Israel Desalination Enterprises Technologies (IDE) won two tenders to build three more desalination plants in Gujarat for $9.5 million. Earlier in 2002, IDE built a plant capable of producing 5,500 cu m in Gujarat province where it plans to build one of the plants. “Gujarat and Israel are divided by land but are united by water, in terms of its management and renewable resources’ Modi said. (Ahmedabad News Line, ExpressIndia.com, June 22, 2007)

Hindutva’s  “super patriotic” government in Gujarat also help Jews in Gujarat to migrate to their dream land. Loshana havah Yerusalim (Next year in Jerusalem) became the goal of this tiny population of little over 200 aspiring jews.

Indian drug manufacturer, Elder Pharmaceuticals Ltd said  it had entered into an exclusive in-licensing deal with Israel’s Enzymotec to sell the latter’s cholesterol reducing dietary supplement, CardiaBeat, in India.  Under the deal, Enzymotec will supply the bulk drug to Elder, which would make and sell the finished drug in India under the brand name of Lipicheck.

A study conducted by Elder pegs the size of the domestic cardio vascular drugs market at about Rs 4.5-5 billion, with an annual growth rate of 18-20 per cent, it said. CardiaBeat will be launched by September 2007 and is expected to generate revenue of nearly Rs 200 million by the end of the third year, the company said in a statement.

The technology giant, Cisco’s second biggest non-U.S. R&D facility is in Israel even though,  its Bangalore site is the largest in the world.

16 July 2007 

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Australia breeding ground even for HindutvaTerrorists

Australia may be a new home for fundamentalists, if the Delhi Police investigation about a threatening religious hate mail from an unknown Hindu religious group to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and member of National Integration Council John Dayal is considered.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Economic Offences Wing, Prabhakar told Hindustan Times: “We have received the email and are trying to locate its origin. The complaint is being investigated”.

John Dayal, who received the mail recently, said, “I was shocked to see the letter in an envelope bearing Australian postage stamps and marking. There was a print from a website saying devout Hindus stop conversion in Madhya Pradesh and a page full of derogatory remarks”.

The letter asked all Christians, including Sonia Gandhi, to leave the country and mentioned that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a Hindu. “Keep doing this and see what we can do,” the letter said, referring to conversions of Hindus into Christians and Gandhi’s assassination.

The hate mail also contains derogatory and unparliamentary remarks against Gandhis not fit to be reproduced.

Recently, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that his country is harbouring would-be terrorists who may want to launch attacks like those witnessed in United Kindgom last month.

A government research reported by an Australian newspaper said that in Sydney alone there may be 3,000 young Muslims, who are in a danger of being radicalized by fundamentalist groups.

Dayal says the mail received by him clearly demonstrates that even Hindu fundamentalist groups have a strong base in Australia. “It appears that Australia is emerging as a base for Indian fundamentalist groups loyal to Al Queeda or Hindutva fundamentalist organizations,” he said.

Number of Indians is growing in Australia with the country being a new education destination for Indian students. Every year about 30,000 Indian students land in Australia for education as compared to just 10,000 in 2001 and 500 in early 1990s. One of such students, Mohammad Haneef, resident of Bangalore, was detained in Australia last Monday in connection with the Glasgow explosions.

July 11, 2007, Chetan Chauhan , Hindustan Times

Untouchables’ left behind in booming nation

DALLIPUR, India — The hip young Indians working inside this country’s multinational call centers have one thing in common: Almost all hail from India’s upper and middle castes, elites in this highly stratified society.

India may be booming, but not for those who occupy the lowest rung of society. The Dalits, once known as untouchables, continue to live in grinding poverty and suffer discrimination in education, jobs, and healthcare. For them, status and often occupation are still predetermined in the womb.

While some Indians had hoped urbanization and growth would crumble ideas about caste, observers say tradition and prejudice have ultimately prevailed.

“There’s talk of a modern India. But the truth is India can’t truly move ahead with caste in place,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a Dalit writer and specialist on India’s caste system. “In all ways, it’s worse than the Jim Crow laws were in the American South because it’s completely sanctioned by religion. Despite so many reforms, the idea of untouchability is still very much a part of Indian life.”

As India’s economy surges, one of the country’s most serious and stubborn challenges is how to combat entrenched caste prejudice. Dalits, along with other “backward” castes, make up the majority of India’s 1.1 billion people, and social scientists worry that these groups are being left behind.

The contrast between the gleaming call centers of rising India and the abject poverty that is the reality for many Dalits is all too obvious in Dallipur, an impoverished village on the outskirts of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state.

Without electricity, paved roads or running water, the hamlet is home to landless Mushars, the lowest social stratum of Dalits, who work as shoe shiners, trash pickers, toilet cleaners, and street sweepers.

Amid the straw and mud villages, two children died of starvation last year — not for lack of food in the area, but as a result of prejudice.

Chandrika, a 24-year-old Dalit mother, recalled carrying her crying 2-year-old son and her weak 20-month-old daughter to a nearby health center. There, she pleaded for a card that would allow her malnourished children to receive free milk.

But before the nurses could examine her children, she was mocked and shooed away by doctors, who told the young mother to go beg in the market.

“They said again and again, ‘We don’t want to see you Dalits here bothering us,’ ” said Chandrika, a thin, dark-skinned woman who wept as she recounted how her children died. “My milk had dried up from stress. There was no work for me. There was no one to hear my plight.”

Local government leaders who came to investigate her children’s deaths insisted that the shy mother and her fellow villagers build a raised concrete stage — Dalits could be addressed by upper castes only from a higher platform, Chandrika and other villagers were told. The 3-foot-tall dais remains in Dallipur today, the only outcome of the investigation.

By virtue of birth, some castes inherit wealth; the Dalits inherit debt.

Caste often determines Indians’ spouses, friends, residence and, most important, occupation — part of a Hindu belief that people inherit their stations in life based on the sins and good deeds of past lives.

Some Indians believe that the spread of capitalism in urban areas has in some ways dissolved caste by creating new occupations and eliminating obsolete ones. For instance, with the growing use of flush toilets in Indian cities, the disposal of human waste, once a job for Dalits, is now done with a simple pull of a lever.

In booming evening bazaars in Mumbai and New Delhi, lower castes sell cellphones, leather tennis shoes, and grooming kits from small shops and curbside pushcarts alongside higher castes, with everyone “in a capitalist rush to make money,” said Prasad, the writer. “A lower-caste businessman may even enjoy an evening cigarette with a higher caste, completely taboo even 50 years ago.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently compared India’s caste system to apartheid in South Africa, calling it not just prejudice but “a blot on humanity.”

Critics say that such statements are simply meant to garner votes from lower castes and that any gains made by Dalits have been marginal.

“India is not a true democracy,” said Anup Srivastava, a researcher with the People’s Vigilance Commission on Human Rights in Varanasi who is investigating complaints filed by Dalits about discrimination among neighbors, in schools, at hospitals and at work. “The country is independent. But the people aren’t. How can there be a democracy when there are still people known as untouchables who face daily discrimination?”

Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

Emily Wax, Washington Post July 5, 2007

98% cases against Dalit atrocities go scot-free

Bangalore: The acquittal of all the accused in the Kambalapalli massacre in which seven Dalits were burnt to death is not an exception. The Karnataka State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes has found that the accused in 98 per cent of cases of atrocities against Dalits were allowed to go scot-free. The reason: witnesses do not turn up for fear of being attacked.

This was disclosed by commission Chairman Nehru C. Olekar at a press conference here on Tuesday after a meeting with representatives of various Dalit organisations. The commission sought their views on the condition of the people from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the jurisdiction of the Bangalore Zilla Panchayat.

Mr. Olekar said the commission would recommend to the Government to provide security to witnesses. However, around 10 per cent of complaints of atrocities were found to be false. There were around 500 cases of atrocities pending in each district.

Strangely, the commission had hardly come across cases of Dalits being ostracised. Three such cases had been reported in the State, including two in Kolar district.

He said 446 atrocity cases were reported in five years in Bangalore Rural district. The taluk-wise break up is: Channapatna – 32, Devanahalli – 44, Doddballapur – 22, Hoskote – 133, Kanakapura – 88, Magadi – 47, Nelamangala – 143 and Ramanagaram – 43.
Confirmation

Mr. Olekar said the commission had taken up the case of confirmation of the services of municipal cleaners (pourakarmikas) in the State with the Legislature Committee on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The working conditions of the municipal cleaners in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (around 8,000) were so bad that they were paid just Rs. 1,200 a month, whereas their counterparts in the Gulbarga City Corporation were paid Rs. 4,900. He said the Government would be asked to stop hiring cleaners through contractors. Instead the workers should be paid directly by the civic body.
Regularisation

Another serious problem Dalits were facing in the State was the inordinate delay in the regularisation of unauthorised cultivation by them on government land. Each district had 2,000 to 3,000 such cases that had pending for years.

He said the Government would be asked to regularise such cultivation, barring those on forest land.

Mr. Olekar expressed displeasure over the absence of the Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore Rural district from the meeting. He would write to the Government to take action against the official, he said.

Some Dalit organisations had complained that beneficiaries were not getting subsidies, the Chairman said. The Government would be asked to build one hostel in each of the eight taluks in the district to accommodate post-matric students. The Government would also be asked to remove youths staying in hostels for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who were not students.

The commission would ask the Government to conduct a Statewide survey on the academic performance of students staying in such hostels. This was to refute the criticism that they were enjoying government largesse without improving their academic performance.
Internal quota

Mr. Olekar supported the demand of organisations representing people from the Madiga, Bhovi and Korama communities for internal reservation to prevent a few influential sections among the Dalits from cornering all the benefits.

The Commission had so far visited 12 districts and would be visiting the other districts. It would give its report to the Government before August 20, he said.

July 04, 2007, The Hindu

21.9 million disabled in India, 2.13 % of the total population

Enabling the 21.9 million disabled persons in India

With India signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, laws pertaining to the disabled are likely to undergo a dramatic change. V. Kumara Swamy reports

A fortnight ago, NGO activist Rajiv Ranjan was denied permission to board a flight from Chennai to New Delhi because he was a cerebral palsy patient. Later, the directorate general of civil aviation pulled up the guilty airline. Had there been more awareness about the rights of disabled people and had clear guidelines been issued, the incident could have been avoided, sparing Ranjan needless humiliation.

Shikar Narang also underwent similar humiliation. A dyslexic student, he scored 75 per cent marks in Class XII, and wished to join the University of Delhi (DU) under its three per cent disability quota. But he was denied admission.

The university wasn’t aware that dyslexia came under the purview of the Persons with Disability Act, 1995. Narang challenged the university through a rights group. Finally, Delhi High Court ordered DU to treat dyslexia as a disability.

There are many disabled citizens who face such hurdles not only because of a lack of comprehensive definition of disability in the law, but also because of a lack of understanding of policy-makers about the problems of the disabled and insensitivity towards their rights as individuals.

And this is despite the fact that they constitute 2.13 per cent of the total population. According to the 2001 census, there are 21.9 million persons with disabilities in India. Yet, only 34 per cent of the disabled are employed.

But now there is good news around the corner. With India signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on March 31 this year, and signalling that it will ratify it soon, laws in India are likely to undergo a dramatic change.

The convention describes discrimination on the basis of disability as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation.”

“The convention is a blueprint to end discrimination and exclusion of the physically and mentally disabled in education, jobs and everyday life,” says Ratnabali Ray, founder of Anjali, a Calcutta-based non governmental organisation that works for the mentally disabled.

So those deprived to date have reason to rejoice. “All of us in the disability sector are very happy that India has signed the convention. It means that in addition to our existing laws, the Indian government will now have to adhere to clear-cut international standards and expectations and will also be subject to greater scrutiny,” says Javed Abidi, executive director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), Delhi. “At present, gross discrimination takes place all the time, especially in the private sector. After the convention is adopted and its various tenets become firmly applicable, that would no longer be possible.”

Some of the measures that India would have to take include anti-discrimination legislation, eliminating laws and practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities, and considering persons with disabilities when adopting new policies and programmes. Other measures include making services, goods and facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.

Rukmini Sen, a lecturer at the National University of Juridical Sciences, Calcutta, highlights another pertinent point. “The most important change that we need is a new definition of disability. The manner in which disability is defined in the Persons with Disability Act, 1995, is a medical understanding of disability. The UN Convention gives a comprehensive combination of medical, social and human rights perspective to disability,” she says.

Some other changes, which have been demanded for long by activists working in the field, are also expected. “The signing of this law means that we have to do away with the Mental Health Act which segregates the feeble-minded and mentally ill for other people’s safety, purity, and to keep society sanitised. That is a colonial concept,” says Ray.

The government would also have to change its local by-laws and make it compulsory for buildings to be easily accessible to the disabled. “Going by the convention, building by-laws of all the states have to change. Transportation also needs to be changed keeping disability in mind,” says Sen.

However, in spite of India having ratified the treaty, it will come into force only after 20 signatories ratify it. Currently, Jamaica is the only country to ratify it. “The secretariat of the convention expects the 20 ratifications by the year’s end,” says Edoardo Bellando of the UN department of public information, New York.

Once the convention comes into force, a committee on the rights of persons with disabilities will monitor its implementation. Countries that ratify the convention will need to report regularly on their progress to the committee.

However, people in the field are divided over India opting out of the optional protocol which would have meant that anybody in the country could have appealed to the UN body under the convention, in case the country was not abiding by the rules. Sen says that by not signing the optional protocol, “accountability in a way has been squandered”.

Ray, however, disagrees. “I feel that it is the right thing to do. India is self-reliant. It can and will take care of addressing violations through its national instruments. We certainly do not want foreign agencies to interfere,” she says.

The onus is now on the Indian government to implement the laws. But the disability organisations will also have to ensure that the government keeps the pledge it makes by ratifying the convention, stresses Bellando.

The ministry for social justice and empowerment has set the ball rolling. “We have approached the Law Commission to suggest changes to various laws to adhere to the convention and once they come out with a report, we will proceed accordingly on this matter and place the amendments before Parliament,” says Ashish Kumar, deputy director general, ministry of social justice and empowerment.

According to the ministry, certain changes to the Persons with Disability Act have already been proposed and consultation seminars in various parts of the country are being held to fine-tune the changes.

“The sincerity of the government of India will be tested, and if we unite and fight for our legitimate rights, I am sure tomorrow will belong to us,” says Abidi.

The Telegraph , Calcutta, 4 July 2007

967 Cases of Atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat

Dalits in Gujarat eclipsed under Modi: Meira

Claiming that the Dalits were “eclipsed” under the present dispensation in Gujarat, Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar on Monday criticised the Narendra Modi-led government for the “atrocities” meted out against Dalits and other backward sections of the society.

“The present government in Gujarat has a poor track record in tackling crimes against the backward sections of the society,” Kumar said addressing the day-long ‘jan-mitra shibir’ (conference of party workers) organised by the scheduled caste cell of Congress.

She claimed that Dalits were “eclipsed” in Gujarat at present.

“In the year 2005, there were a total of 967 cases of atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat where many were murdered, raped, burnt and seriously injured,” Kumar told the gathering of party workers who had assembled from different parts of the state.

“This year in just six months, there were a total of 412 cases of atrocities registered against backward classes including Dalits,” she said adding the figures she was quoting were sourced from the Social Justice department of Gujarat.

“In many of these cases FIRs are yet to be registered,” Kumar added

Press Trust of India, Gandhinagar, July 3, 2006

54 % Indians back UN probe on Human rights abuses in India

Majority of Indians are likely to support an investigation by United Nations on human rights violations in india, a survey result released by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) of Philippines said Monday. 54 % Indians welcomed UN probe on Human rights abuses in their own country while only 29 % opposed to such an action.

Globally, support for “giving the UN the authority to go into countries in order to investigate violations of human rights” had on the average 64% in favor and 23% opposed. Most people in 13 countries are in favor of such UN investigations, led by an overwhelming 92% of the French, followed by Americans (75%), Peruvians (75%) and South Koreans (74%).

But Filipinos are 46% in favor and 46% opposed to such UN investigations. Filipinos show the highest opposition to this idea, followed by Israelis (31%).

France scored the highest with 92 percent of the respondents saying that they are privy to a UN-led human rights probe in their country.

South Korea (74%), Armenia (67%), Ukraine (66%) and Russia (64%) also gave their thumbs up to the UN rights investigation.

The survey also showed the majority of the people in Poland (58%), China (57%), and Thailand (52%) will permit the UN to investigate human rights abuses in their own countries.

The survey was done during the third and fourth quarters in the Philippines and was commissioned by the SWS, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the WorldPublicOpinion.org.

The study was conducted in 18 countries including China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Russia, France, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Israel, Armenia and the Palestinian Territories

The margin of error was +/- 3 percent.

The Philippines is considered a special case in the international human rights arena.

Philippine-based human rights group have been saying that over 800 cases of forced disappearances among the ranks of labor and left-wing activists took place after President Arroyo assumed office in 2001.

Complainants said that the Philippine military is behind the abductions.

Earlier this year, the UN sent Philip Halston to conduct an investigation into the cases of human rights abuses that took place during the term of Mrs. Arroyo.

The President also created a special commission headed by a retired Supreme Court justice to conduct its own probe into cases of alleged human rights abuses.

http://www.sws.org.ph/pr070702.htm