Only 20% of 14,400 prisoners are convicted criminals in Tihar, the rest are all undertrials

While there is no woman prisoner on death row, 14 male convicts sentenced to death are lodged in different jails inside Tihar.

In India’s most populated prison, Tihar Jail, only 20% are convicted criminals, the rest are behind bars awaiting start or completion of their trial. The 400-acre correctional facility is the largest and the most populated prison complex in the country.

Currently, there are 2,882 male and 135 women convicts. On June 1, the prison had a population of 14,400. Half of the convicted prisoners are those serving life sentences. There are 1,280 prisoners sentenced to at least 14 years behind bars. One of the oldest prisoners is former youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma involved in the murder of his wife Naina Sahani, in what came to be known as the Delhi’s infamous Tandoor case. Behind bars for the past 22 years, Sharma came out on parole for the first time in 2015 after 20 years.

While there is no woman prisoner on death row, 14 male convicts sentenced to death are lodged in different jails inside Tihar. The four convicts of the 2012 Delhi gang rape case are among them. The four who were convicted by the Supreme Court in May have also been put on suicide watch.

AWAITING TRIAL FOR OVER 5 YEARS

Among the 80% undertrial prison population, there are prisoners who have already spent over five years behind bars.

“We have prisoners who if convicted may be sentenced to maximum 7 years. But, while facing trial they have already served 4-5 years. What if they are acquitted by the court? Who will pay for the time they spent in prison?” an official said.

There are over 80 such prisoners who have served more than 5 years jail time.

MURDER STILL MOST COMMON CRIME

Out of the 2,882 convicted prisoners, 912, the highest number of convicts, are those charged with murder. With over 400 convicts, the second most common offence is rape. “Maybe it is easier to secure a conviction in murder and rape cases. Prisoners convicted for dowry harassment is very less. There are only 11 prisoners,” said an official.

The dowry harassment conviction rate of less than 0.50 % is in contrast to the Delhi police registering at least 10 dowry harassment cases every day. Last year, there were 3,877 cases of dowry harassment across the city.

MOST MALE PRISONERS BETWEEN 21-30 YEARS, OVER 60 JUVENILES .

According to jail records, most male prisoners are those between the ages of 21 and 30. Out of over 12,000 male prisoners, more than 7,000 are in their mid 20’s.

In women, the most number of prisoners were in between the ages of 30 and 50. Over 70 prisoners are above the age of 65. Jail officers said that the elderly residents are kept together in a different barracks. The elderly inmates, who volunteered to stay together with other elderly prisoners are given a better diet and assigned ‘friends’ who help them with their chores inside prison.

At least 950 prisoners are those between 18 and 21 years. Mostly first timers, they are lodged in jail number 5. Many of these prisoners have also claimed to be minors before 18 years. Two months ago, the jail officials wrote to Delhi government about 60 prisoners who were below 18 years.

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MGNREGA wages less than minimum farm wages in 15 states: Panel

As per data being examined by the committee, the minimum wages paid to agricultural workers are significantly higher than MGNREGA wages in Karnataka, Punjab, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Mizoram, and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands.

THE COMMITTEE for revision of wages paid under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Act (MGNREGA) has found that minimum agricultural wages are higher than MGNREGA wages in 15 states. An upward revision in MGNREGA wages is estimated to require a Rs 4,500 crore increase in its budget.

Based on these findings, the panel, under Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Rural Development Nagesh Singh, is expected to make its recommendations in another month.

As per data being examined by the committee, the minimum wages paid to agricultural workers are significantly higher than MGNREGA wages in Karnataka, Punjab, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Mizoram, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The other states where MGNREGA wages fail to match up are Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. In Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, the minimum wages are marginally higher than MGNREGA wages.

“In the 15 states where MGNREGA wages are lower, we tried revising it to bring it on par with the minimum agricultural wages paid by the respective states. Where MGNREGA wages are on par or higher, we decided to protect it as it is. If a revision is done as per this formula, it is estimated that a Rs 4,500 crore addition to the existing MGNREGA budget would be needed,” said an official from the Ministry of Rural Development.

The Indian Express had earlier reported that despite official claims of this year’s MGNREGA budget of Rs 48,000 crore being the highest ever, the wage revision, at 2.7 per cent, was the lowest ever. It meant a per day, per person wage hike of merely Re 1 in some states like Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and Rs 2-Rs 3 in several others.

This was because the finance ministry, on account of financial implications, rejected the recommendations of the S Mahendra Dev committee, which had proposed to bring MGNREGA wages on par with minimum wages paid to unskilled agricultural workers in the states. The expert panel had said that the Consumer Price Index for Rural (CPI-R), which reflects the current consumption pattern of rural households, should be the basis for revising MGNREGA wage rates, and not CPI for Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL), which is based on the consumption pattern of 1983.

“The basket of goods for calculating CPI-AL comprises mainly food items. With the implementation of the National Food Security Act, rice and wheat is available for as cheap as Rs 2-3 per kg. CPI(Rural) gives lower weightage to food items, and hence, is found to be a better indicator of wage increase,” said a ministry official.

The Nagesh Singh panel has found that based on the second recommendation of the Mahendra Dev committee, if the existing MGNREGA wages are revised as per CPI(Rural), it would mean another Rs 600 crore increase in the budget.

“CPI(R) should be used to revise the wages every year instead of CPI(AL), as the former is more representative of the current rural consumption basket. Also, wage revision should take place every six months, in keeping with the practice for other trades and occupation,” said Ankita Aggarwal from the people’s organisation, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha. Aggarwal said that with such low wages and delays in payments, MGNREGA fails to provide the livelihood security for which it was enacted.

Jharkhand Chief Secretary Rajbala Verma had recently written a strongly-worded letter to the Ministry of Rural Development protesting against the growing divergence between the state’s minimum wage, which is currently Rs 224 per day, and MGNREGA wages of just Rs 168 per day after the wage hike.

Government admits it is not doing enough to fight water crisis in rural India

NEW DELHI:  Only 20.7% rural population is getting enough and safe pipe water supply to quench their thirst. But, a government, poised to chalk out a historic achievement of covering 80% population by 2022, is facing an uphill task. The funds to provide drinking water to the rural population is shrinking and expenditure for reviving existing yet impoverished water sources is fast drying up. Ministry of Drinking Water of NDA government has candidly admitted that it may not achieve the target at this pace. The Ministry was hoping to receive minimum Rs.16, 900 Crore per annum, instead it received just Rs.6050 Crore for 2017-18 – a whopping Rs.10, 000 Crore less than it was aspiring for.  A 24-page draft note prepared by the Ministry reveals a messy tale that deprives a majority of population of their basic right. Ministry of Drinking Water has put the blame on the Finance Ministry.

“Budget estimate of 2017-18 is Rs.6050 Crore. Such level of funding by government of India is meager compared to the overall requirement to achieve Sustainable Development Goals- 2030. If Government is to have pivotal role, we must continue National Rural Drinking Water Programme and must have annual funding as high as possible but at least to the tune of around Rs.16,900 annually (i.e. 10% incremental increase over Rs.10,500 provided during 2012-13. However, Ministry of Finance is suggesting to restrict the requirement at the present BE level for 2017-18 and 10% annual increase for the subsequent 2 years,” the draft  EFC note stated.

The note dated July 3 2017 although highlighted that reduction is due to 14th finance commission recommendation that enhanced devolution of grants to the states by 10%, the central government will have to pitch in if it wants to achieve the target and reap the benefit at a faster pace.

“The present status clearly shows that the achievement towards pipe water supply coverage -55 litres Per Capita Per Day (LPED) including stand posts is only 20.70% -in terms of population and 15.62% in terms of habitations. Hence, there is a long way to go.”

“It is pertinent to mention here that during 12th five year plan (2012-2017) there was a plan outlay of Rs. 68,760 Crore whereas allocation was only Rs.39,820 Crore. Thus there was a shortfall of about Rs.30,000 Crores in this period itself ,” the Ministry note said.

The Ministry pointed out that as on March 31 2017, over 3.85 Lakh habitations are not covered with 40 LPED. Amidst the substantial reduction of budget, the Centre has launched a new piped water supply strategy known as ‘Har Ghar Jal ( Water in every household) to ensure that all rural households have access to clean piped water supply in adequate quantity. The Ministry estimates that it would require at least Rs. 6 Lakh Crore to meet the target. The funding ratio of drinking water programme between Centre-State is 50-50 except North East and 3 Himalayan States-Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where funding pattern in 90% Centre-10% funds to be released by the states.

Interestingly, the NDA’s ministry has admitted that many states are investing much more funds than requisite matching central share in projects as the government funding is meager compared to the overall requirements of the states. Ministry said that with the present rate of funding, Individual household tap connections which at present are 15.57% may go up to only 27% in 2020.

Dirty Water Is Huge Problem

Besides tackling the financial crisis, the Ministry said there is more worry regarding availability of main resource- source of water itself.

“Assets of this sector is not like assets of railways, which once created will last very long. Assets of rural water supply schemes get dysfunctional mainly because of availability of raw water resources which is beyond the control of executing agencies. Water (underground) is getting depleted because of excessive extraction by competitive sectors (Agriculture/Industrial) and successive droughts. Water (Surface) getting reduced because of silting of water bodies, successive droughts, pollution (agriculture/Industrial) release of untreated waste water, deforestation and encroachment of water bodies,” the Ministry’s note further added.

The Ministry working under tremendous financial pressure is aiming to mitigate arsenic and fluoride affected habitation under the national water quality sub-mission programme. As per the information provided by the states to the Ministry in August last year, 27,544 arsenic and fluoride affected habitations have been freezed under the scheme. Out of these, schemes are ongoing in 3,894 habitations and the rest 23,650 habitations are remained to be tackled in the affected habitations.

India: Dalit Politics At Crossroads? – Analysis

Results of the 2014 general election and the subsequent Assembly elections clearly established that Dalit politics is undergoing a change.

The Presidential election on 17 July is like a watershed moment of Indian political and social consciousness. It is a contest between two Dalit candidates, the BJP-led NDA candidate Ramnath Kovind, who was the Governor of Bihar till recently, and the UPA’s nominee Meira Kumar, the daughter of Dalit legend Babu Jagjivan Ram.

In ordinary times, this would have carried not much political significance. But Dalit politics in the country has come under sharper focus since the assumption of throne by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in 2014 and coming to power of the BJP in 22 states and some violent incidents across the country.

The issue has come under lot of debate in the national as well as international media. The fact that not only has the ruling coalition went for a Dalit candidate to extend its political support base among the Dalit population that according to 2011 census stood at 201.4 million, even the opposition opted for a candidate of the same denomination speaks volumes on the current state of  politics in the country.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP swept to power winning 71 out of total 80 Lok Sabha seats from the biggest state of Uttar Pradesh. All the 17 reserved Scheduled Caste seats went to the BJP. It clearly meant that a sizable portion of Dalit votes went to the BJP account and indicated that there was a division among SC voters.

Analysts were of the view that non-Jatav votes went to the BJP.

The results of the 2014 general election and the subsequent Assembly elections clearly established that Dalit politics is undergoing a change. Whether the symbolism of making a Dalit reach the highest constitutional post of the country will help the BJP to consolidate its political base among the SC community and spread it further needs to be examined carefully, particularly in the background of growing social tensions between Dalits and the upper castes, particularly the Rajputs or Thakurs. Rising incidents of violence and maltreatment of Dalits by several BJP ruled states and the Centre itself are a manifestation of the trend.

Politics of “Hinduatva”, revolving around issues of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, cow vigilantism around the issue of beef ban and other similar issues, is sharpening existing tensions among higher castes and Dalits.

Latest of the series of incidents has been the outlawing of a convention in Lucknow on July 3 to discuss the state of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh by the BJP ruled government. Thirty-one activists were arrested while about 50 Dalits, coming from Gujarat, were sent back by the State Police. The State Administration did not permit them to proceed to Lucknow to mark a symbolic protest.

Earlier in May this year, cutting of the internet services to control social media in caste violence hit district of Saharanpur in western Uttar Pradesh was a very ominous sign of the state of affairs in country’s biggest state. Violent clashes had erupted in Saharanpur on 5 May when Dalits objected to the taking out of a strident procession by Thakurs to commemorate the birth anniversary of the medieval Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap. The Dalits stalled the procession as it entered their area and the confrontation escalated from stone pelting from both the sides. Thakurs did not take the Dalit’s opposition kindly and went into rampage leading to the burning down of about 40 Dalit houses and shops. A mob of Thakurs also indulged in desecration of Dalit iconography and shrines. A Thakur youth died, while many more were injured from both the communities. Dalits abandoned the village apprehending further violence

The atmosphere of confrontation had started building up since a BJP government was installed in the state on 19 March and Yogi Adityanath — a Thakur by birth — became the UP’s 21st chief minister.

The first skirmish had taken place in Shabbirpur village on 20 April 20 — within 45 days of the new BJP government in Lucknow — when the Jatav-Dalits of the village were about to erect a statue of B.R. Ambedkar to celebrate the Ambedkar Jayanti and Thakurs objected to it, citing lack of administrative permission for the celebrations.

About a month-long tension between the two communities in the communally sensitive district of Saharanpur cannot be merely a law and order problem. It seems to be an abject failure of the state administration to understand the real causes of the problem and treating the issue in a routine fashion.

Violence in Saharanpur was the latest manifestation of the politics that has been pursued by political parties for the last few years in western UP through ‘love jihad’, cow protection and Muslim appeasement.

In 2013, there were communal riots after clashes broke out between Jats and Muslims. Recently held assembly elections in the state further sharpened the fault lines.

The breaking up of Jat-Muslim understanding paid rich electoral dividends in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when the BJP won all seats in the region and the same was followed in the state elections.

After the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations in early 1990s of the last century, backward and Dalit castes felt empowered and higher caste, particularly the Thakurs, no more had a clout like before when they used to call shots in the state resulting in their perceived humiliation.

But Dalits of the region, notably Jatavs who have been ardent supporters of the BSP and its leader Mayawati, have become much more politically conscious and are therefore not ready to accept upper caste assertion.

The role of the Bheem Army Bharat Ekta Mission, founded by a young lawyer Chandrashekhar Azad, came to the forefront during the Saharanpur clashes as it protested against the caste-based violence and the state administration’s apathy towards them.

The fact that it has come to prominence by organising a massive rally at Jantar Mantar in the union capital on 21 May to protest against the Saharanpur violence cannot either be ignored or brushed under the carpet.

Organisations like the Bheem Army are drawing their strengths from the treatment and injustice meted out to Dalit research scholar like Rohith Vemula of the University of Hyderabad who committed suicide in January 2016.

Dalits have been the integral part of the traditional agrarian economy where milching animals have played a leading role.  Strict enforcement of cow slaughter, the livelihood of Dalits, is directly affected. There have been violent incidents in UP, MP, Gujarat, Rajasthan and other states where Dalits have come under attack of groups of cow vigilantes.

The statement of Bheem Army founder that “for elections, we are Hindus and after that we are Dalits” is a clear reminder to the RSS-BJP brand of politics for making timely corrections failing which it may take an ugly turn. The subsequent arrest of Chandrashekhar Azad by the State Police and the treatment meted out to him is sharpening the existing fault lines in the caste hierarchical system in society.

Dalit consciousness has been rising steadily. A feeling is growing within the community that crimes against them are not seriously pursued and not thoroughly investigated by a caste-biased administration. A growing perception is that guilty are either not adequately punished or manage to go unpunished.

While political parties are playing their short-term game of dividing society on caste, sub-castes and religious lines, emerging Dalit consciousness resulting in assertiveness is sure to influence politics in a decisive manner in the times to come.

It is time that discerning political thinkers and leaders found ways to address the rising phenomenon and take steps to address the issue in a reconciliatory manner instead of embarking on a confrontationist path.

Dalit politics, indeed, seems to be standing at a crucial crossroad.

By puclmangalore Posted in Dalits

Women’s organisations demand 50% reservation in LS, assemblies

NEW DELHI: A women’s collective, comprising more than 1,600 organizations, today pitched for the passage of the “long pending” Women’s Reservation Bill in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament which commences on July 17.

With the slogan “Ab 33 per cent nahi 50 per cent”, the National Alliance for Women’s Reservation Bill has demanded 50 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies instead of 33 per cent. “The Prime Minister had congratulated African countries for women’s majority in their parliament.

But when it came to his country, he never said a single word about this Bill,” general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, Annie Raja, said. “This is the time to act so that women are able to contest a maximum number of seats in the next election,” she said.

In India, women hold a mere 12 per cent of the seats in Parliament and nine per cent in state assemblies, Director of Centre for Social Research, Ranjana Kumari, said. “Unless there are more women in politics, their concerns cannot be addressed effectively,” she said.

Director of the Joint Women’s Programme, Jyotsna Chatterjee, said that the BJP had “committed” support to the women’s reservation bill in its 2014 election manifesto, and now it was time for the party to stand by it. “It is high time to prove what they had declared in their election manifesto. The government says ‘beti bachao beti padhao’, but what about her political rights,” she said.

By puclmangalore Posted in Women