Friday, 29 April 2016

THE FULL STORY IN SHORT OF NEET VS. CORRUPTION, DECEIT AND LIES

It was in the year 2010, when bench of Supreme Court Justices R V Raveendran and Patnaik attempted had strived to bring together the MCI and CBSE on the same page for conducting NEET. The bench was convinced that a single entrance test would save poor and meritorious students, by sparing them the physical and financial stress of having of travel from one city to another to appear in multiple entrance tests in the hope of bagging a MBBS, BDS or MD seat in a college. The NEET was also welcomed by students and parents because of transparency and the respite it offered from the ordeal that the aspiring doctors had to endure until last year when they had to file multiple applications and shuttle between cities across the country to take entrance tests medical colleges would hold with no co-ordination among them. It had also curbed the room for the promoters of several medical colleges to extort hefty capitation fees.

However, a three-Judge bench constituted of Chief Justice Altamas Kabeer (on his last day before retirement), Vikramjit Sen and A R Dave (Justice A R Dave did not agree and, in a strong dissent, stressed that there was no proper discussion on the draft majority verdict which appeared to have been rushed) by 2 to 1 majority struck down the NEET as unconstitutional and ruled that the Medical Council of India (MCI) had no power to regulate admissions to 271 medical colleges, 138 run by government and 133 under private management offering 31,000 MBBS and BDS as well as 11,000 MD seats.

Notably, Mr Altamas Kabeer was widely criticized and even speculated as being handsomely bribed (now most hail as one of the worst and in most likelihood most corrupt justice that India has ever had) disappeared in thin air soon after dealing a body blow to NEET following his retirement.  They also quashed the only NEET examination held in the year 2013 making thousands of agonized students and their parents suffer financial and anxiety burdens.

The majority judgment on Thursday took away what was actually given four years ago by another bench of Justice R V Raveendran (since retired) and Justice A. K. Patnaik after long deliberations during which it had focused on the benefit of single-window entrance test for all medical colleges.

Incidentally, what Justices (Retd) Raveendran and Patnaik had expressed in 2010 found reflection in Justice A. R. Dave's dissent note as well in differing with the views of Justices Kabir and Sen.

Against a 173-page judgment by the CJI, Justice Dave penned a 35-page dissent note that was totally ignored by everyone in the country then. He said; Justice Dave said; some medical colleges, who are more in profiteering business rather than in the noble work of imparting medical education, take huge amount by way of donation or capitation fees and give admission to undeserving or weak students under one pretext or the other. Further, "if only one examination in the country is conducted and admissions are given on the basis of the result of the said examination, in my opinion, unscrupulous and money minded businessmen operating in the field of education would be constrained to stop their corrupt practices and it would help a lot, not only to the deserving students but also to the nation in bringing down level of corruption said Justice Dave in his dissent note."

Frankly, this situation of implementation of a corrupt decision being implemented with impunity despite registering a dissent in writing,  I also have faced (as perhaps by many others in this country) despite writing to the highest authorities (in my case President and the Chancellor -Governor of UP). But Alas.... :-( समरथ को नहीं दोष गोसाईं ! Almighty, Save The Nation. Jai Bharat.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Yes, I did Watch It (India's Daughter-Nirbhaya, the fearless)

I am probably as guiltier as hundreds of thousands of my fellow Indians of committing an offence by watching a controversial and banned (in India) documentary film in which an unrepentant criminal heart, convict Mukesh Singh (awaiting decision on his appeal to stay execution) and his defenders bares all.

For Leslee Udwin, the director of “India’s Daughter” documentary took nearly 2 years. It was produced for one of UK TV channel, BBC Four. It directed by Leslee Udwin was to have its worldwide premiere on the International Women's Day i.e. on Sunday March 8, 2015. However, after the Indian governments ban, which was also held up by Delhi’s high court (on air as well as on the internet), BBC decided to air the film 3 days prior i.e. on night of Wednesday, March 5, 2015 in the UK.

If one is brutally honest and self-critical with own self, one has to admit that despite the dreary pace and bland storytelling, the film based on the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang-rape, did manage to highlight some of the societal ugliness in its own mirror through the interviews of the convict, his defending counsels, victims parents and few others. It was also successful in making us think up on the hard hitting realities about how the minds of young generation is getting shaped in the new surging but deprived of basic education, amenities and opportunities India. To me, it was extremely successful in managing to kicked up a storm kick up a countrywide storm of controversies (helped enormously by governments ban) and in wetting eyes if not pouring out waters through the eyes of most viewers.

One major controversy was about the Indian bureaucracy’s role in granting permission for allowing to film in prison by a foreigner and the BBC. It’s known that Ms. Udwin’s application to Tihar prison officials was submitted on July 22, 2013 seeking permission to "interview convicts of cases related to atrocities against women". Home ministry officials granted the permission on their own in some kind of haste without taking officials from I&B and foreign ministries in the loop as per the protocol. This haste element is apparent the home ministry officials ignored its own 2012 circular mandating background security checks on foreigners (media persons as well as researchers, criminologists, researchers, NGO officials engaged in prison welfare activities, prisoner’s country embassy staffs, and those wishing to celebrate Christmas and other festivals) visiting Indian prisons. This all was done prior to the installation of Modi-led NDA government came into being.

The real saga began after HM Mr. Rajnath Singh banned the telecast of the film in India and requested BBC for a worldwide and internet ban on its telecast. Having failed to achieve cooperation hours before the telecast of the film in the UK, the governments standing counsel served a notice to the BBC on behalf of DG Tihar prison, claiming 1. That filmmaker Udwin had consented to the condition that the documentary would not be used for commercial purposes accusing her for selling films commercial rights to the channel BBC Four, and thus breached her contract, and 2. That the final print shall be sent to the prison authorities before screening. Tihar officials also claim to have sent a request to her for vetting of the documentary on November 2014.

Ms. Udwin however, contest this and claims that she got permission for the interview, from home ministry, Tihar prison authorities and the convict Mukesh Singh and followed all the instructions, and even shown the raw footage to the prison authorities. Prison The home ministry, in its haste to approve British filmmaker Leslee Udwin's application to shoot interviews of gender crime convicts inside Tihar jail, ignored its own 2012 circular mandating background security checks to be run on foreigners seeking to visit Indian prisons.

According to home ministry sources, a set of guidelines was issued in December 2012 to regulate movement/visits of foreign visitors inside Indian jails. These norms specifically state that background checks should be done on all foreigners applying for prior permission to visit jail premises.

READ ALSO:
Nirbhaya revisited, but not this way, please

The foreigners visiting Indian jails may not only include mediapersons or filmmakers, but also criminologists, researchers, embassy staff, workers of NGOs engaged in prisoners' welfare, or those seeking to just celebrate festivals like Christmas on jail premises. "Their applications are received from time to time ... the guidelines were issued to standardize the parameters for their access to Indian prisons, and one of the key conditions laid down was to verify the antecedents of the foreign visitor before giving the permission," said a home ministry official.
READ ALSO:
Ban only made video go viral

The official added that the background check could have been done by the Intelligence Bureau, with the help of R&AW, or even Delhi Police in Udwin's case. "Though the decision on Udwin's application may well have been positive after the background check, the fact that this parameter was not fulfilled by either the home ministry or the Tihar jail authorities, is a lapse," said the official.

READ ALSO:
India's Daughter neither vulgar nor offensive

Meanwhile, the Union home ministry is also verifying how Nirbhaya rape convict appeared for the interview in normal clothes and not in jail uniform. As per prison rules, a convict must only wear prison uniform on jail premises.The home ministry, in its haste to approve British filmmaker Leslee Udwin's application to shoot interviews of gender crime convicts inside Tihar jail, ignored its own 2012 circular mandating background security checks to be run on foreigners seeking to visit Indian prisons.

According to home ministry sources, a set of guidelines was issued in December 2012 to regulate movement/visits of foreign visitors inside Indian jails. These norms specifically state that background checks should be done on all foreigners applying for prior permission to visit jail premises.

READ ALSO:
Nirbhaya revisited, but not this way, please

The foreigners visiting Indian jails may not only include mediapersons or filmmakers, but also criminologists, researchers, embassy staff, workers of NGOs engaged in prisoners' welfare, or those seeking to just celebrate festivals like Christmas on jail premises. "Their applications are received from time to time ... the guidelines were issued to standardize the parameters for their access to Indian prisons, and one of the key conditions laid down was to verify the antecedents of the foreign visitor before giving the permission," said a home ministry official.
READ ALSO:
Ban only made video go viral

The official added that the background check could have been done by the Intelligence Bureau, with the help of R&AW, or even Delhi Police in Udwin's case. "Though the decision on Udwin's application may well have been positive after the background check, the fact that this parameter was not fulfilled by either the home ministry or the Tihar jail authorities, is a lapse," said the official.

READ ALSO:
India's Daughter neither vulgar nor offensive

Meanwhile, the Union home ministry is also verifying how Nirbhaya rape convict appeared for the interview in normal clothes and not in jail uniform. As per prison rules, a convict must only wear prison uniform on jail premises. The home ministry, in its haste to approve British filmmaker Leslee Udwin's application to shoot interviews of gender crime convicts inside Tihar jail, ignored its own 2012 circular mandating background security checks to be run on foreigners seeking to visit Indian prisons.

According to home ministry sources, a set of guidelines was issued in December 2012 to regulate movement/visits of foreign visitors inside Indian jails. These norms specifically state that background checks should be done on all foreigners applying for prior permission to visit jail premises.

READ ALSO:
Nirbhaya revisited, but not this way, please

The foreigners visiting Indian jails may not only include mediapersons or filmmakers, but also criminologists, researchers, embassy staff, workers of NGOs engaged in prisoners' welfare, or those seeking to just celebrate festivals like Christmas on jail premises. "Their applications are received from time to time ... the guidelines were issued to standardize the parameters for their access to Indian prisons, and one of the key conditions laid down was to verify the antecedents of the foreign visitor before giving the permission," said a home ministry official.
READ ALSO:
Ban only made video go viral

The official added that the background check could have been done by the Intelligence Bureau, with the help of R&AW, or even Delhi Police in Udwin's case. "Though the decision on Udwin's application may well have been positive after the background check, the fact that this parameter was not fulfilled by either the home ministry or the Tihar jail authorities, is a lapse," said the official.

READ ALSO:
India's Daughter neither vulgar nor offensive

Meanwhile, the Union home ministry is also verifying how Nirbhaya rape convict appeared for the interview in normal clothes and not in jail uniform. As per prison rules, a convict must only wear prison uniform on jail premises. The home ministry, in its haste to approve British filmmaker Leslee Udwin's application to shoot interviews of gender crime convicts inside Tihar jail, ignored its own 2012 circular mandating background security checks to be run on foreigners seeking to visit Indian prisons.

According to home ministry sources, a set of guidelines was issued in December 2012 to regulate movement/visits of foreign visitors inside Indian jails. These norms specifically state that background checks should be done on all foreigners applying for prior permission to visit jail premises.

READ ALSO:
Nirbhaya revisited, but not this way, please

The foreigners visiting Indian jails may not only include mediapersons or filmmakers, but also criminologists, researchers, embassy staff, workers of NGOs engaged in prisoners' welfare, or those seeking to just celebrate festivals like Christmas on jail premises. "Their applications are received from time to time ... the guidelines were issued to standardize the parameters for their access to Indian prisons, and one of the key conditions laid down was to verify the antecedents of the foreign visitor before giving the permission," said a home ministry official.
READ ALSO:
Ban only made video go viral

The official added that the background check could have been done by the Intelligence Bureau, with the help of R&AW, or even Delhi Police in Udwin's case. "Though the decision on Udwin's application may well have been positive after the background check, the fact that this parameter was not fulfilled by either the home ministry or the Tihar jail authorities, is a lapse," said the official.

READ ALSO:
India's Daughter neither vulgar nor offensive

Meanwhile, the Union home ministry is also verifying how Nirbhaya rape convict appeared for the interview in normal clothes and not in jail uniform. As per prison rules, a convict must only wear prison uniform on jail premises.
officials wanted to question Ms. Udwin but she left the country late on Wednesday March 3, 2015 without joining the probe on her contest and official claim of why only one convict interview was in the documentary whereas to interviewed half-a-dozen other convicts of gender violence. Another noteworthy fact that the convict Mukesh in film was not wearing regular jail uniform but normal cloths also needs an investigation. In any case, whatever may be truth behind the India’s government position or Ms. Udwin’s claim would eventually come out but would hardly serve any purpose because by then brass-earners would have made enough out of the razing likely long-term controversy.

After I began watching through a web link sent to me by a friend on Whatsapp messenger. I was literally shaken and shell-shocked to know, as to what goes on in the mind of a death convict awaiting decision for stay on execution. Then a surge of question filled my mind raising serious doubts on the effectiveness of justice and centuries old reprimand systems of term-confinement in jails or even death penalty, has any lasting reparative effect on the mind of a convict. I felt that it’s time that we seriously put our heads together to redefine our age old definition of human-rights to allow us to incorporate new and freshly conceptualised, developed and employ, techno-savvy psycho-social tools to treat these sick-social psychopaths endangering the lives of many innocent? We must come to terms with the reality that some of these social-psychopaths, who are found to be incurably sick at the time of their trials or identified during the course of their confinement are given the mercy of relieving their suffering souls from the world that they have not chosen to come but have been (mis)placed and (mal)developed to suffer.

My second shock came when I watched legal but evil misogynists and offensive defenders; ML Sharma and AP Singh the defending counsels who seemed to be sermonising on the Indian value system and culture.

The icing on the cake in the documentary was with typical British subtlety that worked around the subject of extreme gender violence as an eye opener to a self-critical and analytical viewer and at the same time kicked up in the most soft spot of a so called contemporary nationalists with oxymoron statement by counsel M L Sharma; "We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

I’m certain that BBC team is well aware of typical emotional sensitivities and arrogantly unthinking political outfits (within or outside the Indian government) and thus chose Dr. Maria Misra, probably the only face to provide the British perspective, albeit with subtle mildness. Unlike most, BBC documentaries, this one puts more facts without much personal or British interpretation but rather leaving it to the viewers, probably intentionally. Fact that is noteworthy about the documentary that it has vividly exemplified the contradictions between India’s new women asserting against the gender discrimination and her long suppresed quest of societal independence and deeply entrenched views of law keepers, who are unquestionably narrow minded patriarchal men self proclaimed law keepers of the indian value system. However, it never attempts to touch up on providing or pointing towards a solution.

After I finished watching my mind had several questions lurking; if the defence lawyer solemn duty is to defend the accused by shining light on evidences that may have been overlooked or intentionally twisted by the victim’s lawyers, or is it that they must also be convinced of the explanations for which the crime was committed by the accused/convict. If latter is the case, than I can’t help but shiver with the prospect of frightfully harrowing beginning in some of the legal eagles minds. I am so far shocked to see the abject silence (except Delhi bar council meeting late last night) of “our so called judicial honchos, law-makers and even enlightened socialites against these defenders of the law on various platforms and mediums. This one documentary should be watched by everyone to learn how the minds of serious offenders and their defenders work. Imagine if these men can speak like that to an international audience what they might be thinking and doing in their social spaces.

I am totally at a loss with what I saw and heard from parents of Nirbhaya in the documentary what is reported in the media reports. But I express my most sincere solidarity with one of Nirbhaya’s mother comment on the raging debate in media and even in the parliament. She said; Talking in Parliament does not help. Why are the convicts not been hanged yet? How will the campaign 'Beti Padao, Beti Bachao' (educate, save our daughters) work, if the daughters are not safe enough to be alive?" It was sad to note that she had only expressed her helplessness at those outrageous comments of the defence lawyers and that says it all of her faith in the government, judiciary and society at large.

My harshest criticism of Udwin’s documentary is that four other men, who violated Nirbhaya didn’t get to face the camera and her questioning leaving a lot in her editing studio for us to know about the mind actors in  don't get a word in even though they were reportedly interviewed.) Yet, by the end of the film, all we have is a superficial understanding of these men. Ms. Udwin in her documentary ignores to highlight and explore the reasons and its effect of custodial death of convict Ram Singh which could have been revealing.

It also doesn’t touches up on effects of torture of social isolation and shame, which is perhaps more painful to the victim and her family then even the death penalty to the accused and his family in this country.

In the end, if nothing else this entire saga shall and must forever serve as a testimony to the short-sightedness of lawmakers on one hand and futility of ban on its telecast in the age of social media. In fact the governments ban only served to create an atmosphere any film or book producer / writer/ publisher would want. It made it to go viral! I am looking for one who could find anything in this film that is either vulgar or glorifies rape.