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Press Information Bureau is the nodal agency for communicating to the media on behalf of Government of India. Follow for official updates from the horse's mouth.

End of Red Beacons: A big blow to VIP culture

*Nivedita Khandekari201742201

“Well begun is half done.” That was what the famous Greek philosopher said. Union Cabinet’s decision of doing away with the lal batti culture is a good start for a battle that can prove to be a long one.

On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, the Union Cabinet decided to amend the Motor Vehicle Rules to end the use of red or any coloured beacon by all, including the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister. “Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted soon after.

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 “The Union Cabinet, in its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today decided to do away with beacons of all kinds atop all categories of vehicles in the country. The government is of the considered opinion that beacons on vehicles are perceived symbols of VIP Culture, and have no place in a democratic country. They have no relevance whatsoever. Beacons, however, will be allowed on vehicles concerned with emergency and relief services, ambulance, fire service etc. In the light of this decision the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways will make necessary provisions in the law,” was the brief statement by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.

Immediately, the next day, i.e. on Thursday, April 20, 2017, gazette notification was issued.

Soon after, the television channels and news portals were flashing the breaking news even as the social media was full of gleeful messages. The wide spread joy at the news that had a direct bearing on few thousand people – those whose cars were allowed beacons, red, orange or any other colour – sent a message to the scores of tens and thousands of others. The message that can be seen as assurance. The message that can be seen as promise. The message that signifies a change. The message that can be seen to end discrimination.

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The Supreme Court Ruling

The government has taken forward a Supreme Court ruling of December 2013. It had sought to restrict the use of red beacons even with an amendment in the relevant law. The Supreme Court, while hearing the petition on VIP culture, observed, “One of the issues highlighted in the note was that if the instinct of power is concentrated in few individuals, then naked greed for power will destroythe basics of democratic principles. But, what we have done in the last four decades would shock the most established political systems. … … … The best example of this is the use of symbols of authority including the red lights on the vehicles of public representatives from the lowest to the highest and civil servants of various cadres. The red lights symbolize power and a stark differentiation between those who are allowed to use it and the ones who are not”.

The Amicus Curiae in the case had informed that the red beacon had actually become a status symbol and those using such vehicles treat themselves as a class different than ordinary citizens. He also told the Court that “the widespread use of red lights on government vehicles in the country is reflective of the mentality of those who served British Government in India and threatened the natives as slaves.”

Cabinet Announcement brings cheers

Soon after the announcement by the Union Cabinet, Chief Ministers of several states announced removal of beacons from their cars. These included Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand to name a few. Several other states too followed suit. It was an attempt at redemption so to say. Some others like the Chief Ministers of Tripura and Delhi have not been using red beacons earlier too. More recently, soon after their swearing in as Chief Ministers of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, both Amarinder Singh and Yogi Adityanath declared that they will not be using any red beacon cars. Newspaper reports indicate that the Supreme Court Judges and the Election Commission of India have also ordered removing of beacons from their cars.

‘Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP’

The Union Cabinet’s decision to do away with the lal batti culture is indeed a welcome step in right direction. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP.”

Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP. https://t.co/epXuRdaSmY

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 19, 2017

After this, one can hope that the access or the privileges that come with the VIP tag would soon be gone and each Indian would have opportunities on par. One can hope the poor is not deprived of good education for his child because of some VIP quota snatched away his ward’s admission to good schools funded by government. One can hope that a patient from remote hamlet will get treatment for a rare heart problem and not be sent away because some people with influence are to be given preference at public health facilities.

We can take pride in the fact that it is the Prime Minister who has himself promised: “Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP.” Let us hope that this step will bring an end to the clout that red beacon symbolized.

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*Author is an independent journalist based in Delhi. She writes on environmental, developmental and social issues. The opinions expressed above are her personal.

India’s initiative to save Mother Earth

Pandurang Hegde*  i201731704.jpg

United Nations observes a special day to celebrate Mother Earth on 22nd April. Launched in 1970 with 10000 people, today it covers one billion people in 192 countries. The basic objective is to raise awareness about the obligation of human beings to protect Earth and share its resources with future generations.

The theme for 2017 is to create “Environment and climate literacy” to empower the knowledge base of common people towards the issue and inspiring them towards actions to defend the Mother Earth.

According to IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) India is most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, adversely impacting the health, economic development and food security.

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In order to address this challenge of climate change, India has evolved a comprehensive plan: ‘India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC): Working towards Climate Justice’.  This document addresses the issue holistically including the elements of adaptation, mitigation, finance, green technology and capacity building. While implementing these intended actions, it calls for the right of developing countries for an equitable carbon space to achieve sustainable development and eradication of poverty.

The formation of Rs 3500 million or US Dollar 56 million ‘National Adaptation Fund’ will initiate policies towards renewable energy through multiple initiatives to achieve the target of reducing carbon emissions by 33 to 35 percent by 2030.

The main focus is to revisit the National Missions under National Action for Climate Change (NAPCC) with additional missions on wind, health, water and redesigning missions on sustainable agriculture.

The adaptation strategy is directed towards sustainable use o land and water resources. The implementation of soil heath cards across the country, watershed and use of water efficient irrigation programme will pave way towards risk proofing agriculture. The coverage of agricultural insurance of crops though climate change disasters is another initiative that comes to the rescue of farmers.

The mitigation strategies involve generation of clean and green energy by increasing9073_solar.jpg renewable energy capacity form 35 GW (Giga Watt) to 175 GW by 2022. In addition to the National Solar Mission that targets fivefold increase in solar power to 1000 GW, it also aims to develop smart power grids to enhance the efficiency of power transmission and distribution across the country. To cap the wastage of energy consumption a nationwide campaign for energy conservation is launched to save 10 per cent energy consumption.

While these are macro level policies to address the issue of climate change, the government of India has initiated micro projects that have direct benefits accruing to the poorest groups while contributing to saving energy.

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Under the ministry of Renewable Energy, UJALA scheme is launched in which 22.66 crore LED bulbs are distributed that will save Rs 11776 crores while reducing carbon emission up to 24 Metric tons per year.

Similarly under the ministry of Petroleum free LPG connections are given to womenPMUY.jpg holding BPL cards. The Prime Ministers Ujjwala Yojana has already reached 2 crore households and it aims to reach the target of 5 crores house holds by 2019 with an outlay of Rs 8000 crores.

This has direct impact on rural women empowering them by providing easy access to clean energy source that improves their health and reducing the pressure on forest resources as well as reducing the carbon emissions.

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The Swachh Bharat Mission is another strategy under which there are initiatives to create energy form the waste in urban areas. Similarly recycling and reuse of waste water is another initiative 23277 millions litre of water per day in 816 sewage treatment plants across the country.

Green India Mission is another initiative to reforest barren land with the annual target of increasing the forest quality and cover in 5 million hectares will sequester 100 million tons of carbon annually.

The traditional Indian culture emphasised the need for harmonious co existence between man and nature. With the concept of “Basudaiv Kutumbakam” all life forms on the Earth is considered as one family and reinforces the concept of interdependence. Before the advent of Mother Earth Day in the modern world, the Vedas and Upanishads considered Earth as our mother and human being as the children. Much before the arrival of climate change crises, our forefathers envisaged the concept of environmental sustainability and to become the trustees of Earth to be passed on to future generations.

It will be appropriate to recall the statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the United Nations summit in which he said “We should forge a global public partnership to harness technology, innovation and finance to put affordable clean and renewable energy within the reach of all. Equally, we must look for changes in our lifestyles that would make us less dependent on energy and more sustainable in our consumption. It is equally critical to launch a global education programme that prepares our next generation to protect and conserve Mother Earth”.

Thus it is only through creation of environment and climate literacy that will result in global action of changing the life styles that leads to reduction in the carbon emission that we can save Mother Earth.

*Author is an independent journalist and columnist based in Karnataka. 

एचआईवी/एड्स से संक्रमित लोगों को समान अधिकार सुनिश्चित करना

*सविता वर्मा

संसद ने एचआईवी एवं एड्स संक्रमित लोगों को उपचार कराने एवं उनके प्रति किसी भी प्रकार के भेदभाव को रोकने हेतु समान अधिकार सुनिश्चित करने के लिए एक महत्वपूर्ण विधेयक पारित किया है। लोकसभा द्वारा इस वर्ष 11 अप्रैल को एवं राज्यसभा द्वारा 21 मार्च को ह्यूमन इम्युनोडेफिसिएंसी वायरस (एचआईवी) एवं एक्वॉर्ड इम्युन डेफिसिएंसी सिंड्रम-एड्स (रोकथाम एवं नियंत्रण) विधेयक, 2017 पारित किया गया।

 भारत में एचआईवी संक्रमण पहली बार 1986 में चेन्नई में महिला सेक्स वर्करों के बीच पाया गया। हालांकि पिछले दशक के दौरान एचआईवी की व्याप्ति में लगातार कमी आती जा रही है, फिर भी भारत अभी भी दक्षिण अफ्रीका एवं नाइजीरिया के बाद दुनिया में एचआईवी महामारी से ग्रसित तीसरा सबसे बड़ा देश है। भारत में अभी हाल में पारित किया गया एचआईवी विधेयक दक्षिण एशिया में अपनी तरह का पहला विधेयक है। दक्षिण अफ्रीका एवं नाइजीरिया ने भी भेदभाव के कुछ रूपों को प्रतिबंधित करते हुए कानून पारित किए हैं। भारत में एचआईवी से ग्रसित लोगों की अनुमानित संख्या लगभग 21 लाख है। भारत में 2015 में लगभग 86 हजार नए एचआईवी संक्रमण दर्ज किए गए जो कि वर्ष 2000 की तुलना में 66 प्रतिशत गिरावट को प्रदर्शित करता है। 2015 में एड्स से संबंधित बीमारियों से लगभग 68 हजार लोगों की मौत हुई। यह विधेयक नए संक्रमणों पर अंकुश लगाते हुए राष्ट्रीय एड्स नियंत्रण कार्यक्रम को समर्थऩ देगा एवं 2030 तक इस महामारी को समाप्त करने के सतत विकास लक्ष्य अर्जित करने में मदद करेगा।p1bdittoa016d919gu2nf75i114j4

देश में ऐसे कानून की आवश्यकता के पीछे एक मुख्य वजह यह थी कि एचआईवी/एड्स को एक प्रकार के सामाजिक कलंक एवं भेदभाव की दृष्टि से देखा जाता है। हालांकि सरकार के प्रयासों एवं सिविल सोसायटी के योगदान की वजह से इस भेदभाव में बहुत कमी आई है पर अभी भी यह भेदभाव बना हुआ है। नया कानून इस भेदभाव को समाप्त करने में काफी कारगर साबित होगा। यह विधेयक भेदभाव की व्याख्या रोजगार, शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य देखभाल सेवाओं, अचल संपत्ति को किराये पर देने या वहां निवास करने, सार्वजनिक या निजी कार्यालय, बीमा एवं सार्वजनिक सुविधाओं की मनाही या इन्हें समाप्त करने के रूप में करता है। सरकार या किसी व्यक्ति द्वारा इन वर्गों में से किसी में भी अनुचित बर्ताव को भेदभाव माना जाएगा और उस पर कार्रवाई हो सकती है।aidsapakabardunia

विधेयक में कहा गया है कि रोजगार प्राप्त करने, स्वास्थ्य देखभाल या शिक्षा की सुविधा प्राप्त करने के लिए किसी का भी एचआईवी परीक्षण एक पूर्व आवश्यकता के रूप में नहीं किया जा सकता। यह किसी भी व्यक्ति द्वारा एचआईवी संक्रमित व्यक्तियों के खिलाफ सूचनाओं के प्रकाशन या नफरत की भावनाएं फैलाने को प्रतिबंधित करता है। गोपनीयता सुनिश्चित करने के लिए, यह विधेयक बिना सूचित सहमति के एचआईवी परीक्षण या चिकित्सा उपचार को प्रतिबंधित करता है। बहरहाल, सूचित सहमति में लाईसेंस प्राप्त ब्लड बैंकों द्वारा जांच, चिकित्सा अनुसंधान या कोई ऐसा उद्देश्य जहां परीक्षण गुमनाम हो और उसका उद्देश्य किसी व्यक्ति की एचआईवी स्थिति को निर्धारित करना ना हो, शामिल नहीं है। किसी एचआईवी संक्रमित व्यक्ति को उसकी एचआईवी स्थिति का खुलासा करने की आवश्यकता तभी पड़ेगी, जब उसके लिए न्यायालय का आदेश हो।

भेदभाव करने तथा गोपनीयता का उल्लंघन करने पर दंड के भी प्रावधान हैं। स्वास्थ्य मंत्री श्री जे.पी.नड्डा ने कहा “जो कोई विधेयक के प्रावधानों का अनुपालन नहीं करेगा, उसे दंडित किया जाएगा। ऐसे व्यक्तियों के खिलाफ दीवानी एवं आपराधिक कार्रवाई की जाएगी।” जो कोई विधेयक के कार्यान्वयन को रोकने का प्रयास करेगा, उसके खिलाफ भी कदम उठाए जाएंगे।

एचआईवी संक्रमित व्यक्तियों की गोपनीयता का उल्लंघन करने पर दो वर्ष तक की कैद और एक लाख रूपये तक का आर्थिक दंड लगाया जा सकता है।

हालांकि एड्स का उपचार या एंटी रेट्रोवायरल थेरेपी वर्तमान में सरकारी अस्पतालों में निःशुल्क है। इस विधेयक में संक्रमित लोगों के उपचार को एक कानूनी अधिकार माना गया है। इसमें कहा गया है कि, “सरकार की देखभाल और संरक्षण में प्रत्येक व्यक्ति के पास एचआईवी की रोकथाम, जांच, उपचार एवं परामर्शी सेवाओं को पाने का अधिकार होगा।” इसलिए, केंद्र एवं राज्य सरकारें संक्रमण प्रबंधन सेवाओं के साथ-साथ एड्स एवं अवसरजनित संक्रमणों के लिए उपचार उपलब्ध कराएंगी। केंद्र एवं राज्य सरकारें एचआईवी एवं एड्स के प्रचार को रोकने के लिए भी कदम उठाएंगी तथा एचआईवी या एड्स संक्रमित व्यक्तियों, विशेष रूप से महिलाओं एवं बच्चों तक कल्याणकारी योजनाओं की सुविधाएं उपलब्ध कराने में भी सहायता करेंगी। सरकार ने पिछले वर्ष एंटी रेट्रोवायरल थेरेपी पर 2 हजार करोड़ रूपये व्यय किए हैं।

ह्यूमन इम्युनोडेफिसिएंसी वायरस (एचआईवी) एवं एक्वार्ड इम्युन डेफिसिएंसी सिंड्रम-एड्स (रोकथाम एवं नियंत्रण) विधेयक, 2014 राज्यसभा में 11 फरवरी, 2014 को तत्कालीन स्वास्थ्य एवं परिवार कल्याण मंत्री श्री गुलाम नबी आजाद द्वारा पेश किया गया था। इस विधेयक के संशोधन वर्तमान सरकार द्वारा पिछले वर्ष जुलाई में पेश किए गए थे। तब से मूल विधेयक में कई परिवर्तन किए जा चुके हैं। उदाहरण के लिए विधेयक ने “परीक्षण एवं उपचार” नीति अंगीकार किया है जिसका अर्थ यह है कि कोई भी संक्रमित व्यक्ति राज्य एवं केंद्र सरकार द्वारा निःशुल्क उपचार का हकदार होगा।

हाल में पारित विधेयक में एचआईवी संक्रमित व्यक्ति के संपदा अधिकारों के प्रावधान है। 18 वर्ष से कम उम्र के प्रत्येक एचआईवी संक्रमित व्यक्ति को एक साझा परिवार में रहने का तथा परिवार की सुविधाओं का आनंद उठाने का अधिकार है। इसमें यह भी कहा गया है कि एचआईवी संक्रमित व्यक्तियों से संबंधित मामलों का निपटान न्यायालयों द्वारा प्राथमिकता के आधार पर किया जाएगा। अगर कोई भी एचआईवी संक्रमित या प्रभावित व्यक्ति किसी कानूनी कार्रवाई में एक पक्षकार है तो न्यायालय आदेश पारित कर सकता है कि कार्रवाई का संचालन व्यक्ति की पहचान को गुप्त रखकर, बंद कमरे में किया जाए तथा किसी भी व्यक्ति को वैसी सूचना प्रकाशित करने से रोका जाए जो आवेदक की पहचान का खुलासा करता है। एचआईवी संक्रमित या प्रभावित किसी भी व्यक्ति द्वारा दायर रखरखाव आवेदन के संबंध में कोई भी आदेश पारित करते समय न्यायालय आवेदक द्वारा उठाए जाने वाले चिकित्सा व्ययों पर विचार करेगा।naco_update

विधेयक में प्रत्येक राज्य सरकार द्वारा अधिनियम एवं स्वास्थ्य देखभाल सेवाओँ के प्रावधान के उल्लंघन से संबंधित शिकायतों की जांच करने के लिए लोकपाल की नियुक्ति किए जाने की आवश्यकता व्यक्त की गयी है। लोकपाल प्राप्त आवेदनों की संख्या औऱ प्रकृति तथा की गयी कार्रवाई और पारित किए गए आदेशों के विवरण समेत प्रत्येक 6 महीने पर राज्य सरकार को एक रिपोर्ट पेश करेगा। अगर लोकपाल के आदेश का अनुपालन नहीं किया जाता है तो 10 हजार रूपये के आर्थिक दंड का भी प्रावधान है।

विधेयक के प्रारूप के निर्माण की प्रक्रिया 2002 में आरंभ हुई जब सिविल सोसायटी के सदस्यों, एचआईवी संक्रमित लोगों और सरकार द्वारा एक कानून बनाए जाने की आवश्यकता महसूस की गयी। यह विधेयक एक गैर-सरकारी संगठन लॉयर्स क्लेक्टिव की पहल है। यह 2006 में राष्ट्रीय एड्स नियंत्रण संगठन (एनएसओ) को प्रस्तुत किया गया था। इस विधेयक का प्रारूप एचआईवी संक्रमित व्यक्तियों, सेक्स वर्करों, समलैंगिकों, ट्रांसजैंडरों एवं नशीले पदार्थों का इस्तेमाल करने वालों, स्वास्थ्य कर्मचारियों, शिशु संगठनों, महिलाओं के समूहों, ट्रेड यूनियनों, वकीलों एवं राज्य एड्स नियंत्रण सोसायटियों समेत हितधारकों के साथ राष्ट्रव्यापी सलाह मशविरों के बाद बनाया गया था।

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*लेखिका 18 वर्षों से अधिक अनुभव रखने वाली एक वरिष्ठ विज्ञान एवं स्वास्थ्य पत्रकार है। अब वह एक स्‍वतंत्र पत्रकार हैं और इससे पहले पीटीआई और कुछ अन्य बड़े समाचार पत्रों में काम कर चुकी हैं।

 

इस लेख में व्‍यक्‍त विचार उनके निजी विचार हैं।

Ensuring Equal Right to HIV/AIDS infected people

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Parliament has passed a crucial Bill to ensure equal rights to the people infected with HIV and AIDS in getting treatment and prevent discrimination of any kind. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome – AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 11th April and by the Rajya Sabha on March 21 this year.

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HIV infection in India was first detected in 1986 amongst female sex workers in Chennai. Though the prevalence of HIV has been decreasing over the last decade, the country still has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world only after South Africa and Nigeria. India’s newly passed HIV bill is the first of its kind in south Asia. South Africa and Nigeria have also passed laws banning some forms of discrimination. There are approximately 21 lakh people estimated to be living with HIV in India. The country reported around 86000 new HIV infections in 2015, showing 66 per cent decline from 2000. Around 68000 people died of AIDS related causes in 2015. The Bill would support National AIDS Control Programme in arresting new infections and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals target of ending the epidemic by 2030.

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One of the main reasons such a law was required in the country is that HIV/AIDS has been associated with a lot of stigma and discrimination. Though discrimination has diminished over the years due to government efforts and contribution of civil society, it continues still. The new law will go a long way in ending this discrimination. The Bill defines discrimination as denial or discontinuation of employment, education, healthcare services, renting or residing property, public or private office, insurance and public facilities. Unfair treatment in any of these categories by State or any person will be seen as discrimination, inviting action.

The Bill states that nobody should be tested for HIV as a pre-requisite for securing a job, accessing health care or education. It prohibits publishing of information or advocating of feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons by anybody. For ensuring privacy, the Bill prohibits HIV testing or medical treatment without informed consent. However, informed consent does not include screening by licensed blood banks, medical research or any such purpose where the test is anonymous and not meant to determine the person’s HIV status. An HIV positive person will be required to disclose his/her HIV status only if required by a court order.

There are also penal provisions for discrimination and breach of confidentiality. “Whosoever does not adhere to the provisions of the bill, will be penalised. Civil and criminal proceedings will be launched against such persons,” Health Minister J P Nadda, said. Action would also be taken against those who attempt to block the implementation of the bill.

Violating the confidentiality of HIV positive persons could lead to imprisonment of upto two years and a fine of upto Rs one lakh.

Though treatment for AIDS or anti-retroviral therapy is currently free in government hospitals, the Bill goes a step further by making treatment a legal right of infected people. “Every person in the care and custody of the state shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counselling services,” it says. Therefore, the central and state governments will provide treatment for AIDS and opportunistic infections along with infection management services. The central and state governments will also have to take measures to prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS and facilitate access of persons with HIV or AIDS to welfare schemes especially for women and children. The government spent Rs 2, 000 crore on anti retroviral therapy last year.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on February 11, 2014 by the then Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad. The amendments to this Bill were introduced by the current government in July last year. Since then there have been several changes to the original Bill.  For instance, the Bill has adopted “test and treat” policy which means any person testing positive will be entitled for free treatment by the state and central government.

The newly passed Bill has provisions to safeguard the property rights of HIV positive people. Every HIV infected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household. It also states that cases relating to HIV positive persons should be disposed of by courts on a priority basis.  If, an HIV infected or affected person is a party in any legal proceeding, the court may pass orders that the proceedings be conducted by suppressing the identity of the person, in camera, and to restrain any person from publishing information that discloses the identity of the applicant.  When passing any order with regard to a maintenance application filed by an HIV infected or affected person, the court shall take into account the medical expenses incurred by the applicant.

The Bill requires appointment of ombudsman by each state government to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and the provision of health care services.  The Ombudsman shall submit a report to the state government every six months stating the number and nature of complaints received, the actions taken and orders passed. There is also a provision of penalty of Rs 10,000 if the ombudsman’s order is not complied with.

The process of drafting the Bill had started in 2002, when the need for a law was recognised by civil society members, people living with HIV and the government. The Billnaco_update.png is an initiative of the Lawyers Collective, a non-governmental organization. It was presented to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in 2006. The Bill was drafted after nationwide consultations with stakeholders including people living with HIV, communities most vulnerable to HIV infection such as sex workers, men having sex with men, transgenders, and drug users, healthcare workers, children’s organisations, women’s groups, trade unions, lawyers, and state AIDS control societies.

*Author is a senior science and health journalist with over 18 years of experience. 

Babasaheb as a Vishwa-Manav

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India is celebrating the 126th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar. It was this day 126 years go; in a tiny village of Mhow, in present day Madhya-Pradesh, Bhim Rao was born in the family of erstwhile untouchables.

Indeed a lot of research, reading and writings have gone into the life and works of Babasaheb Ambedkar. To this day, he is considered as one of the greatest leaders of the independence movement not only in terms of his contributions as a revolutionary political activist but also in terms of an intellectual academic. Babasaheb belongs to the legion of leaders who not only did remarkable things to be written about but also wrote extremely worthwhile things to be read by the future generations.

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Leading contemporary historian Ramachandra Guha in one of his books, ‘Makers of Modern India’ has acknowledged Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as one of the doyens of modern India whose life is a reflection of an excellent mix of exceptional intelligence and political leadership in an equal proportion. A renowned economist, public intellectual and Member of Rajya Sabha Narendra Jadhav has compiled the speeches and writings of Ambedkar in six volumes and two editions known as Ambedkar speaks and Ambedkar writes respectively. Jadhav has termed Ambedkar as an ‘intellectual colossus’.

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Ambedkar as a student

Babasaheb was a multi-dimensional man. His multidisciplinary scholarship in economics, sociology, anthropology and politics created an envious body of work and was second to none. The much discussed policy move on demonetization of high currency denomination was conceived by Babasaheb in his days as a student of economics. Restricting his eternal legacy to a particular community, politics, idea or ideology is indeed a grave disservice to his soul.

Maker of Indian Constitution

Men and women who drafted the Constitution of India were persons of great vision and foresight. Babasaheb chaired the drafting committee that produced the lengthiest Constitution for the world’s most diverse nation. The constitution was set to impact the present and future of over 1/6th of the humanity.

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One can only imagine the amount of intellectual simulation that must have gone into evolving a model of development that is inclusive of both economic growth and democracy.

Babasaheb as an ardent Educationist

Babasaheb said, “The backward classes have come to realize that after all education is the greatest material benefit for which they can fight. We may forego material benefits, we may forego material benefits of civilization, but we cannot forego our right and opportunities to reap the benefit of the highest education to the fullest extent. That the importance of this question from the point of view of the backward classes who have just realized that without education their existence is not safe.”

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Ambedkar as a barrister in 1922

Emphasis on education by Babasaheb is reflective of the lifelong impression that his teacher at Columbia University, Prof. John Dewey had on him. Babasaheb has often credited Prof. John Dewey as someone to whom he owes his intellectual life. Prof. John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and perhaps best known as a reformer of education. Dewey was also one of the central figures associated with functional psychology, philosophy and progressive education.

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Babasaheb was a strong votary of attaining formal education abroad. At the time when heading to UK for legal education was considered rewarding in lucrative terms, Babasaheb moved to Columbia University owing to his eternal affection for humanities. He pursued diverse courses ranging from economics of American railways to American history.

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Ambedkar delivering a speech to a rally at Yeola, Nashik, on 13 October 1935

Babasaheb on Religion

Dr. Ambedkar at Manmad Railway Workers Conference in 1938 observed, “Character is more important than education. It pains me to see youths growing indifferent to religion. Religion is not opium as is held by some. What good things I have in me or whatever benefits of my education to the society, I owe them to the religious feelings in me.” We must realize that after introspection stretching from months to years, he decides to choose a religion, which is closest to his parent religion. Religious heads and faith leaders from across the spectrum tried to attract him and even went to the extent of making offers that were difficult to refuse. The cultural and spiritual side of his personality is rarely read and analyzed. His unquestionable faith in unity can be gauged from his following observation, “Ethnically all peoples are heterogeneous. It is the unity of culture that is the basis of homogeneity. Taking this for granted, I venture to say that there is no country that can rival the Indian peninsula with respect to the unity of its culture.”

Visionary Diplomat

His contribution in shaping India’s foreign policy is often ignored by the strategic community. 11 years before the Chinese attacked India, Babasaheb forewarned India to choose the West over the Chinese and urged the then leadership to shape India’s future on the pillar of constitutional democracy.

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A meeting of the Constituent Assembly of India, in 1950. Ambedkar is seated top-right.

Speaking at a gathering of students of Lucknow University in 1951, Ambedkar forewarned: “The government’s foreign policy failed to make India stronger. Why should not India get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council? Why has the prime minister not tried for it? India must choose between parliamentary democracy and the Communist way of dictatorship and come to a final conclusion”.

On China, Ambedkar strongly disagreed with the Tibet policy. He said: “If Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel, he certainly would treat the Buddhist in his own country in a very different way. There is no room for Panchsheel in politics”.

Ambedkar repeatedly expressed the desirability of a league of democracies. He said: “Do you want parliamentary government?  If you want it, then you must be friendly with those who have parliamentary government.”

The present government on the occasion of his 126th birth anniversary has fittingly announced a set of legislative measures for Dalits to be relevant stakeholders in the growth story of India. With schemes such as Stand Up India, MUDRA Yojana and National Hub for SC and ST entrepreneurs, Dalits will be able to strongly register their presence in sectors that has traditionally been inaccessible for various reasons.

*Author is working as a Senior Research Fellow and Project Head at India Foundation, NewDelhi.

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Dikshabhumi, a stupa at the site in Nagpur, where Ambedkar embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers

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Statue of B. R.Ambedkar inside Ambedkar Park Lucknow

India expands E-visa power

PRIYADARSHI DUTTA* i20174701.jpg

A new liberalized E-visa regime has come into effect from April 1, 2017. It will bring cheer to citizens from 161 nations around the world planning to visit India. The window period for online applications and period of stay in India have simultaneously been enhanced. The conventional process of granting visas by Indian diplomatic missions, however, will not be discontinued.

The system of E-visa has actually evolved over the last seven years. On the New Year’s Day, 2010 India launched Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) limited to nationals from five countries Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxembourg and New Zealand.

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A year the government decided to extend the scheme to nationals to nationals from Cambodia, Laos Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia.

The system received a boost after the change in the government at the centre. In order to make travelling to India a seamless experience, the facility of Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) enabled with Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) was launched on November 27, 2014.

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Launch of the “Tourist Visa on Arrival enabled by ETA”

The TVoA-ETA was different in purport and scope. It was an online pre-authorization of visa given to nationals from 43 countries entering India through nine designated international airports. They could apply for visa over indiavisaonline.gov.in website. The visa could be handed over to them on arrival. It would be a single entry visa valid for 30 days.

However, the nomenclature TVoA-ETA was also source of confusion. Many tourists presumed that the visa would be granted on landing at the airport. Some arrived without applying online or procuring one from local Indian Embassy. Therefore a committee of officers from Home Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs and Bureau of Immigration (BoI) was constituted to formulate a new name consistent with the policy. A naming contest on mygov.in threw up “e-Tourist Visa” the best choice. The scheme was renamed as e-Tourist Visa (eTV) with effect from April 15, 2015. By that time around 1, 10,000 (One lakh ten thousand) visas had already been issued by the government under TVoA-ETA. By the end of 2015, a total of 113 countries had been brought under the scheme’s ambit. By August, 2016 the number had gone up to 150.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Tourism informed Lok Sabha on February 6, 2017 that the number of foreign tourist arrivals to India for various purposes was 7.68 million, 8.03 million and 8.90 million (provisional) during 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Of them the numbers of arrivals on e-Visa were 0.39 lakhs, 4.45 lakhs and 10.80 lakhs for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Tourists from 149 countries availed the e-Visa facility.

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The union cabinet had decided to liberalize, simplify and rationalize the visa regime on November 30, 2016 with a view to promote ease of business, encourage economic growth and increase foreign exchange earnings. The same was enforced recently with effect from April 1.E-visa has now been Tourist, Business, Medical and Employment categories.

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New categories like Intern visa and Film visa have also been added.

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The E-visa facility is now available for nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports as well as 3 seaports (Cochin, Goa and Mangalore) to tap cruise tourists from different countries. Mumbai and Chennai seaports will also be covered under E-visa facility soon.

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The window period for application under E-visa scheme has been increased from 30 days to 120 days to allow tourists plan their trip better. The stay duration has also been increased from 30 days to 60 days with double entry on E-Tourist and E-Business visa and triple entry on E-Medical visa. For the benefit of the medical tourists separate immigration counters and facilitation desks have been provided at some of the Indian airports like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad that receive bulk of such tourists.

Now nationals from most of the countries can obtain multiple entry visas for tourism and business purposes valid for 5 years period. Business medical visas could be granted within 48 hours of application in urgent cases. Ninety four Indian missions having biometric enrollment facilities started give 5-year multiple entry visas from March 1, 2017. The remaining diplomatic missions will follow the suit in due course.

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The NDA government appears to made bolder moves in the area than the previous UPA-II government. Things have moved faster on the E-visa issue since 2014. The new visa regime is likely to make India a more favourable tourism destination. It will facilitate the Make in India programme that require multiple business visits by foreign investors. The scheme is also in sync with the vision of Digital India. The move is also likely to reduce the manual load off the diplomatic missions. Their visa windows will, however, remain open to those wanting to apply by offline method. But various countries around the world are also opting for E-visa route. No wonder India has decided to move with the times.

* The writer is an independent researcher and columnist based in New Delhi.

चंपारण में सत्याग्रह का पहला फल लगा

* डी जॉन चेल्लादुराई

10 अप्रैल 2017 को चंपारण का सत्याग्रह 100 साल का हो गया है।

चंपारण भारतीय स्वतंत्रता संग्राम के इतिहास का खुलासा करता है। यह आंदोलन साम्राज्‍यवादी उत्‍पीड़न के लिए लगाई गई सभी भौतिक ताकतों के विरूद्ध लड़ने के लिए एक अनजान कार्य प्रणाली के बारे में जानकारी देताहै। गांधीजी ने इसे सत्‍याग्रह के नाम से पुकारा। चम्‍पारण सत्‍याग्रह के परिणाम ने राजनीतिक स्‍वतंत्रता की अवधारणा और पहुंच को पुनर्भाषित किया और पूरे ब्रिटिश-भारतीय समीकरण को एक जीवंत मोड़ पर खड़ा करदिया।

चम्पारण में ब्रिटिश बागान मालिकों ने जमींदारों की भूमिका अपना ली थी और वे न केवल वार्षिक उपज का 70 प्रतिशत भूमि कर वूसल कर रहे थे, बल्कि उन्‍होंने एक छोटे से मुआवजे के बदले किसानों को हर एक बीघा (20 कट्टे)जमीन के तीन कट्टे में नील की खेती करने के लिए मजबूर किया। उन्‍होंने कल्‍पना से बाहर अनेक बहानों के तहत गैर कानूनी उपकर ‘अबवाब’ भी लागू किया। यह कर विवाह में ‘मारवाच’, विधवा विवाह में ‘सागौरा’, दूध, तेलऔर अनाज की बिक्री में ‘बेचाई’ के नाम से जाना जाता था। उन्‍होंने प्रत्‍येक त्‍यौहार पर भी कर लागू किया था। अगर किसी बागान मालिक के पैर में पीड़ा हो जाए, तो वह इसके इलाज के लिए भी अपने लोगों पर ‘घवही’ करलागू कर देता था।  03-Tumnie-(turning-up-lands)

बाबू राजेन्‍द्र प्रसाद ने ऐसे 41 गैर कानूनी करों की सूची बनाई थी। जो किसान कर का भुगतान करने या नील की खेती करने में नाकाम रहते थे उन्‍हें शारीरिक दंड दिया जाता था। फरीदपुर के मजिस्‍ट्रेट रहे ई. डब्‍ल्‍यू.एल.टॉवर ने कहा था ‘नील की एक भी ऐसी चेस्‍ट इं‍ग्‍लैंड नहीं पहुंची, जिस पर मानव रक्‍त के दाग न लगे हों। मैंने रयत देखे, जो शरीर से आर-पार निकले हुए थे। यहां नील की खेती रक्‍तपात की एक प्रणाली बन गई है। डर काबोलबाला था। ब्रिटिश बागान मालिक और उनके एजेंट आतंक के पर्याय थे।’

याचिकाओं और सरकार द्वारा नियुक्‍त समितियों के माध्‍यम से स्थिति को सुधारने के अनेक प्रयास किये गये, लेकिन कोई राहत नहीं मिली और स्थिति निराशाजनक ही रही। गांधीजी नील की खेती करने वाले एक किसानराजकुमार शुक्‍ला के अनुरोध पर चम्‍पारण का दौरा करने पर सहमत हो गए, ताकि वहां स्थिति का स्‍वयं जायजा ले सकें। बागान मालिक, प्रशासन और पुलिस के बीच गठजोड़ के कारण एक आदेश बहुत जल्‍दी में जारी कियागया कि गांधीजी की उपस्थिति से जिले में जन आक्रोश फैल रहा है, इसलिए उन्‍हें तुरंत जिला छोड़ना होगा या फिर दंडात्‍मक कार्रवाई का सामना करना होगा।

गांधी ने ना केवल सरकार और जनता को इस आदेश की अवज्ञा करने की घोषणा करते हुए चौंका दिया, बल्कि यह इच्‍छा भी जाहिर की कि जब तक जनता चाहेगी वे चंपारण में ही अपना घर बना कर रहेंगे। मोतिहारी जिलाअदालत में मजिस्ट्रेट के सामने गांधीजी ने जो बयान दिया, उससे सरकार चकित हुई और जनता उत्‍साहित हुई थी। गांधीजी ने कहा था कि कानून का पालन करने वाले एक नागरिक के नाते मेरी पहली यह प्रवृत्ति होगी कि मैंदिए गए आदेश का पालन करूं, लेकिन मैं जिनके लिए यहां आया हूं, उनके प्रति अपने कर्तव्‍य की हिंसा किये बिना मैं ऐसा नहीं कर सकता। मैं यह बयान केवल दिखावे के लिए नहीं दे रहा हूं कि मैंने कानूनी प्राधिकार के प्रतिसम्‍मान की इच्‍छा के लिए दिए गए आदेश का सम्‍मान नहीं किया है, बल्कि यह हमारे अस्तित्‍व के उच्‍च कानून के प्रति मेरे विवेक की आवाज भी  है। यह समाचार जंगल की आग की तरह फैल गया और अदालत के सामनेअभूतपर्वू भीड़ इकट्ठी हो गई। बाद में गांधीजी ने इसके बारे में लिखा कि किसानों के साथ इस बैठक में मैं भगवान, अहिंसा और सत्‍य के साथ आमने सामने खड़ा था। स्थिति से किस तरह निपटा जाए, इसके बारे में मजिस्‍ट्रेटऔर सरकारी अभियोजक की समझ में कुछ नहीं आ रहा था, वे मामले को स्‍थगित करना चाहते थे। गांधीजी ने कहा था कि स्‍थगन जरूरी नहीं है, क्‍योंकि वह अवज्ञा के दोषी हैं।indenture759

गांधीजी के दृष्टिकोण की नवीनता अत्‍यंत विनम्रता, पारदर्शिता, लेकिन फिर भी बहुत दृढ़ और मजबूत व्‍यक्तित्‍व से लोगों ने देखा कि उन्‍हें गांधी के रूप में एक उद्धारकर्ता मिल गया है, जबकि सरकार अत्‍यंत विरोधी है।मजिस्‍ट्रेट ने मामले को खारिज कर दिया और कहा कि गांधीजी चम्‍पारण के गांवों में जाने के लिए आजाद हैं। गांधीजी ने वायसराय और उपराज्‍यपाल तथा पंडित मदनमोहन मालवीय को पत्र लिखे। पंडित मदनमोहन मालवीयने हिन्‍दू विश्‍वविद्यालय के काम में व्‍यस्‍तता के कारण चम्‍पारण के लिए अपनी अनुपलब्‍धता के बारे में उन्‍हें पत्र लिखा। सी. एफ. एंड्रयूज नामक एक अंग्रेज, जिन्‍हे लोग प्‍यार से दीनबंधु कहते थे, गांधीजी की सहायता केलिए पहुंचे। पटना के बुद्धिजीवी बाबू ब्रज किशोर प्रसाद, बैरिस्टर मज़ारुल हक, बाबू राजेंद्र प्रसाद तथा प्रोफेसर जेपी कृपलानी के नेतृत्‍व में युवाओं की अप्रत्‍याशित भीड़ के साथ गांधीजी की सहायता के लिए उनके चारों ओर इकट्ठेहो गए।

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गांव की दायनीय हालत देखकर गांधीजी ने स्‍वयंसेवकों की सहायता से छह ग्रामीण स्कूल, ग्रामीण स्‍वास्‍थ्‍य केन्‍द्र, ग्रामीण स्‍वच्‍छता के लिए अभियान और नैतिक जीवन के लिए सामाजिक शिक्षा की शुरूआत की। देशभरके स्‍वयंसेवकों ने सौंपे जाने वाले कार्यों के लिए अपना नामांकन कराया। इन स्‍वंयसेवकों में सरवेंटआफ इंडियन सोसायटी के डॉ. देव भी थे।पटना के स्‍वयसेवकों ने आत्‍म निर्धारित श्रेष्‍ठता का परित्‍याग करके एक साथ रहना,साधारण आम भोजन खाना और किसानों के साथ भाई-चारे का व्‍यवहार करना शुरू कर दिया। उन्‍होंने खाना बनाना और बर्तन साफ करना भी शुरू कर दिया। पहली बार किसान अन्‍यायी प्‍लांटरों से परेशान होकर निडर रूप सेअपनी परेशानियां दर्ज करवाने के लिए आगे आए। व्‍यवस्थित जांच मामले के तर्कसंगत अध्‍ययन और सभी पक्षों के मामले की शांतिपूर्ण सुनवाई, जिसमें ब्रिटिश प्‍लांटर्स भी शामिल थे तथा न्‍याय के लिए आह्वान के कारणसरकार ने एक जांच समिति का गठन करने के आदेश दिए। इस कमेटी में गांधीजी भी एक सदस्‍य थे, जिन्‍होंने आखिर में चम्‍पारण से टिनखटिया प्रणाली के पूर्ण उन्‍नमूलन की अगुवाई की।  09-Beating-a-vat-by-hand

चंपारण से सबक

चंपारण से नई जागृति आई और इसने यह दर्शाया है कि:

–          कोई  प्रतिद्वंद्वी नहीं, बल्कि उसकी अन्यायपूर्ण व्यवस्था हमारी दुश्मन है naj572

–          अहिंसा में, क्रोध और घृणा किसी कारण और दृढ़ता को रास्ता प्रदान करते हैं

–          अन्यायपूर्ण कानून के साथ सभ्यतापूर्ण असहयोग और अपेक्षित दंड को प्रस्तुत करने तथा सच्‍चाई के अनुपालन की इच्‍छा ऐसे बल का सृजन करती है, जो किसी सत्तावादी ताकत को निस्‍तेज करने के लिए पर्याप्‍त है।

–          निडरता, आत्मनिर्भरता और श्रम की गरिमा स्वतंत्रता का मूल तत्‍व है

–          यहां तक कि शारीरिक रूप से कमजोर व्यक्ति भी चरित्र बल पर ताकतवर बनकर विरोधियों को परास्‍त कर सकता है

 

चंपारण सत्याग्रह के बारे में बाबू राजेन्द्र प्रसाद ने लिखा है कि “राष्ट्र ने अपना पहला पाठ सीखा और सत्याग्रह का पहला आधुनिक उदाहरण प्राप्‍त किया”।

******

* लेखक गुजरात विद्यापीठ के पूर्व छात्र हैं और वर्तमान में गांधी रिसर्च फाउंडेशन, जलगांव, (महाराष्ट्र) के डीन हैं। लेख में व्यक्त विचार व्‍यक्तिगत हैं।

Champaran bore the first fruit of Satyagraha

Author: D John Chelladuraii201741103.jpg

Image Credits: www.oldindianphotos.in

On 10th of April 2017 Champaran Satyagraha turns 100 years old.

Champaran was a revelation in the annals of Indian freedom struggle. It brought about a hitherto unheard of methodology of taking on the imperial oppression with a force more powerful than all the physical might put together.  Gandhi called it Satyagraha. The outcome of Champaran redefined the concept of and approach to political freedom, and gave a vibrant twist to the whole British -Indian equation.

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British Planters in Champaran assumed the role of Zamindars, collected not only land tax amounting to 70% of the annual yielding, but forced farmers to set aside 3 Kathas out of every bigha (20 Kathas) of land to cultivate indigo plant for a paltry compensation.  They also imposed abwabs, illegal cess under every imaginable pretext. Tax was imposed on marriage (It was called Marwach), widow’s remarriage (Sagaura);  on the sale of milk, oil and grain (Bechai) and every festival. A planter who had a sore leg imposed tax Ghawahi on his people for his treatment.  Babu Rajendra Prasad listed out 41 illegal taxes.

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Those failed to pay tax, or cultivate Indigo were dealt with corporal punishment.  E W L Tower, once a Magistrate of Faridpur stated, “Not a chest of indigo reached England without being stained with human Blood. I have seen ryots who have been speared through the body.  Indigo cultivation here is a system of bloodshed.”  Fear reigned supreme. British planter and his agents were terror.

09-Beating-a-vat-by-hand

Innumerable efforts to improve the situation through petitioning and government appointed committees rendered no relief. The situation remained hopeless.

Gandhi agreed to visit Champaran at the persuasion of Rajkumar Shukla an Indigo farmer, to get himself acquainted with the situation.

The nexus between the planters, administration and police quickly served an order saying Gandhi’s presence in the district augurs public unrest, hence he has to leave the district immediately or face penal action.

Gandhi surprised the government and the public equally by openly declaring not only his disobedience to the order but also his intent to make Champaran his home as long as people wanted him there.

The government was perplexed and the public ecstatic when Gandhi made the following statement before the Magistrate at Motihari district court: “As a law-abiding citizen my first instinct would be, as it were, to obey the order served. But I could not do so without doing violence to my sense of duty to those for whom I have come.  I venture to make this statement not to show that I have disregarded the order served upon me for want of respect for lawful authority, but in obedience to the higher law of our being, the voice of conscience.” He further stated ‘if it so pleases the authorities, I shall submit to the order by suffering the penalty of disobedience.’

The news spread like wild fire.  An unprecedented crowd gathered before the court. Gandhi later wrote, “In this meeting with the peasants I was face to face with God, Ahimsa and Truth.”

Not knowing how to handle, the Magistrate and the public prosecutor wanted to adjourn the case, which Gandhi said was not necessary as he had pleaded guilty of disobedience.

The novelty of his approach, very courteous, humble, transparent, yet very firm and determined, made people see a ‘savior’ in Gandhi, and the government an irresistible opponent.  The magistrate dismissed the case and declared Gandhi was free to go into Champaran villages.

Gandhi wrote to the Viceroy and the Lt. governor.  Pandit Madan Mohan Malavia who was busy at the Hindu University work, wrote to Gandhi of his availability for Champaran.  C F Andrews, a British fondly known as ‘Deenabandhu’, rushed to Gandhi’s aid.  The intelligentsia of Patna led by Babu Brajakishore Prashad, Barrister Mazarul Haque and Babu Rajendra Prasad, Prof. J P Kripalani along with unexpected number of youth gathered around Gandhi to assist him.

Seeing the pathetic rural condition, Gandhi started with the help of volunteers six rural schools, health centres, campaign for rural sanitation, social education for ethical living.  Volunteers from across the country including Dr. Dev of Servants of India Society enrolled for the work.  Patna volunteers gave up their self assumed superiority and stayed together, ate simple common food and spoke to the rural farmer like brothers.  They even began to cook and wash utensils.  For the first time, peasants came out fearlessly to register their suffering at the hands of unjust planters.

The orderly inquiry, rational study of the case and a patient listening to the case of all sides, including the planters (Britishers) made his call for justice strong that the government ordered an enquiry committee with Gandhi as one of the members, which eventually led to the total abolition of the tinkhatia system of cultivation from Champaran.

Lessons from Champaran

Champaran brought about a new awakening.  It demonstrated that:

Not the opponent, but his unjust arrangement is our enemy;

In nonviolence, anger and hatred give way for reason and tenderly firmness;

Civilized non-cooperation with unjust law and willing submission to the entailing penalty, adhering to righteousness creates a force enough to wilt any authoritarian power;

Fearlessness; self reliance and dignity of labour are the essence of freedom;naj572

Even a physically weak person can wield moral force and turn mighty opponents defenseless;

Freedom does not stem merely from escaping political oppression, liberation from all clutches; from
poverty, illiteracy, poor health and lack of sanitation is real swaraj;

Realizing brotherhood cutting across class and caste strata alone gives sense to freedom struggle.

Reflecting up on Champaran Satyagraha Babu Rajendra Prashd wrote, “the nation got her first lesson and her first modern example of Satyagraha”.

* An alumni of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Dr D John Chelladurai is currently the Dean, of Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, (Maharashtra). Views expressed are personal.

CELEBRATING 250 YEARS OF SURVEYING AND MAPPING OF THE COUNTRY BY SURVEY OF INDIA

Survey of India, the principal mapping agency of the country will be celebrating its 250th anniversary in year 2017. Origin of the Survey of India is traced back to Year 1767, when Major James Rennell was appointed as the Surveyor General of Bengal. It is the oldest scientific department in India and one of the oldest survey establishments in the world.
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James Rennell surveyor of Bengal, 1767-1777
Foundation for the scientific survey and mapping of the country was laid with The Great Trignometric Survey (GTS) in 19th century, by noted surveyors Col Lambton and Sir George Everest.
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Logo of the Survey of India until c. 1923
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A map showing the triangles and transects used in the survey, produced in 1870
These maps have played an invaluable role in the saga of India’s nation building and were pivotal in the foundation of almost all major developmental activities of the modern India.
Survey of India has played an indispensable pioneering role in understanding the country’s priorities in growth and Defense.
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In order to mark this once-in- a-lifetime event, Survey of India will be organizing year-long series of events to showcase the invaluable contributions made by our great predecessors and to look forward to a new era of geospatial evolution which would facilitate India to achieve future economic milestones along with Sustainable Development Goals.
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Further this would also offer an occasion to celebrate and recognize the larger value of great institutional history of Survey of India and demonstrate our capabilities, achievements and contributions in nation building. It would be a very noble gratitude to thousands and lakhs of surveyors who have contributed against all odds with the determination and missionary zeal to map the country and provide topographical unity to India.
Surveyors of India : List of Surveyors of India
This event would also provide a good opportunity to showcase the historical value of Survey of India to common people and also demonstrate its immense potential in simplest form to stakeholder’s entities prevailing in public, private and civil society’s domain.
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Historic journey of Survey of India dates back to eighteenth century. It is a story of great adventure and high devotion to the cause of exploration under extremely trying conditions, requiring not only a high order of professional competence but many of those qualities of the head and heart which enable successful completion of difficult task.
Forerunners of army of the East India Company and Surveyors had an onerous task of exploring the unknown. Bit by bit the tapestry of Indian terrain was completed by the painstaking efforts of a distinguished line of Surveyors such as Mr. Lambton and Sir George Everest.
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Measurement of the Calcutta baseline in 1832 based on a sketch by James Prinsep.
Looking back at the magnitude of the task accomplished, we have to admire the courage and foresight of these pioneer Surveyors.
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It will be quite an ideal and appropriate platform for Survey of India to showcase its technical strength and achievements of the past 250 years, starting from Great Trigonometric Survey of 1802 to computation of height of Mount Everest in 1849 and many more.
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Survey towers used by Everest to house the instruments
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Survey of India meuseum, Dehradun

Watch rare and interesting videos on the Journey of Survey of India :

 

 

 

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