On the International Day of Eliminating Violence Against Women, Ranjana Das from Oxfam India explores official crime statistics to see if there is still a culture of impunity for violence against women in India.
The Delhi gang-rape case of last December 2012 shocked the world and became a turning point in the prolonged history of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in India.
In the aftermath of this crime, the media has increased its reporting of incidents of VAWG, there have been nationwide protests by civil society groups and the police and judiciary have been challenged to improve vigilance and the speed of dealing with crimes.
85.1% of rape cases investigated in 2012 were still awaiting trial. Against this backdrop, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released its report for 2012. The NCRB is the only official source of crime data in India, so the data in this report provides useful insights into whether VAWG is still being met with impunity in India.
The NCRB report covers data for the stages through which a crime can pass, from being reported to conviction. In order to make sense of the data for rape cases, it’s worth listing these stages here:
• Crime reported
• First Information Report (FIR) filed by police
• Investigation completed
• Police prepare a report to establish the case (known as charge sheeting)
Now let’s see those stages again, alongside the NCRB data for rape cases in 2012:
• Rape reported – no data available
• First Information Report (FIR) is filed by police – FIRs filed for rape rose by 2.9% in 2012
• Investigation is completed – 63.9% of rape cases were investigated in 2012
• Police officially document the crime (charge sheeting) – 95% of cases investigated were ‘charge-sheeted’
• Trial – fewer than 15% of rape cases came to trial in 2012
• Conviction – 24.2% of rape trials resulted in a conviction in 2012
Is the high charge-sheet rate a cause for celebration?
Sadly, no. The charge-sheet rate is based on the total number of cases for which investigation is completed by the police, which in 2012 was 63.9%. And, for a crime to be investigated it first needs to be registered. In Oxfam India’s intervention state of Andhra Pradesh rates are high across all crime and there have been accusations of attempts to suppress reporting of rapes due to the intense investigation required. Women’s groups in the state also suspect that political parties are pressuring police to under-report cases of VAWG. It is clear that we need a reporting system that compares the number of cases coming to the police against the number being registered. When reporting is suppressed in this way, the situation remains the same or even worse.
So the strikingly high charge-sheeting rate should be balanced against the fact that many cases are simply not registered; but also others are withdrawn before they can be investigated and many others are simply delayed for a long time pending investigation. A charge sheet can take years to be filed as a result of delays at every step of the process, from filing the initial report (FIR), through conducting the investigation, to submission of medical and forensic reports. Charge-sheeting has also been known to be delayed due to evidence tampering.
Close relatives or acquaintances of the victims are accused in 98% of India’s rape cases. We also have no way of recording the rapes that are never even reported to the police. The NCRB report revealed that close relatives or acquaintances of the victims are accused in 98% of India’s rape cases, as opposed to the traditional belief that most rape occurs when a stranger attacks a woman unknown to him. It is these assaults by people known to the victim that can be the hardest to report.
Amongst the other forms of crime against women, Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which covers crimes of cruelty against women, shows a rise of 7.5%. Studies conducted by Oxfam India and partners in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh indicate that a large number of Section 498A (cruelty against women) cases remain pending trial because of inadequate advice for the complainant, improper filing of the case and a lack of witnesses and evidence (the burden of which ultimately falls on women).
The rise in reporting of crimes against women is welcome but we still need a long way to go to improve the criminal justice system. The conviction rate is poor, hovering between a meagre 15 to 30% and there is an alarmingly high number of cases awaiting trial: 77 to 87%. Unless the criminal justice system is made more effective and accountable, both at the crime investigation and trial level, women will continue to be let firstname.lastname@example.org
Batting genius Sachin Tendulkar has redefined the terms in which Indian cricket will now be seen.
As the master blaster walked off the pitch in tears after playing his last Test at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
“Tendulkar was the icon of emerging India, a nation finally showing its potential on the world stage. He departs from an India that has fully emerged,” he said.
“Tendulkar earned India the right to be thought of as world-beaters; today’s young batsmen take that for granted, approaching the rest of the world with a buccaneering swagger that his earlier triumphs have made possible.”
He Compared Tendulkar’s exit from the cricket pitch to that of Jawaharlal Nehru’s departure as India’s first Prime Minister.
“Nehru had been India’s prime minister for 17 years before his ill-health and demise; Tendulkar was India’s batting mainstay for 24 years before announcing his departure.
“But Tendulkar is finally leaving the cricket after his 200th Test match, and it is time to face the reality of life after Sachin. And this, somewhat to our surprise, seems to be not quite so bad after all.”
“Suddenly Tendulkar no longer looks irreplaceable. If anything, the Tendulkar of today pales by comparison with the rampant 20-somethings around him. What is more, if Tendulkar triumphed amid adversity, conquering the world from a position of weakness and carrying a modest side on his shoulders, his successors dominate from a position of strength.”
The Little Master, as Tendulkar is fondly referred to, went into retirement after 24 years with a final innings of 74 against the West Indies.email@example.com
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel died 63 years ago. His legacy is monumental. Apart from unifying over 500 self-governing princely states into a nation, Patel was one of the two men – Jawaharlal Nehru was the other – whom Mahatma Gandhi most relied upon both before and shortly after independence.
And yet, Patel has been largely ignored by Nehru’s family: Indira, Rajiv, Sonia and now Rahul.
In order to clarify important issues surrounding Sardar Patel and his legacy, which both the Congress and the BJP now claim, I spoke to Rajmohan Gandhi, the Mahatma’s grandson, yesterday (Wednesday, October 30) on the eve of Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary.
“There is no question,” Mr. Gandhi told me, “that the Congress had for long forgotten Sardar Patel. Nehru was a great visionary, Patel an outstanding administrator. The combination of Prime Minister-Deputy Prime Minister that Gandhiji proposed for the two leaders was ideal for newly independent India.”
I first met Rajmohan Gandhi, author of the definitive biography of Sardar Patel (Patel: A Life), when I was a 10-year-old schoolboy. He visited our school frequently as part of “India Arise”, a nation-building initiative he had begun. Later in Panchgani, a resort near Mumbai, he set up a world-renowned centre to spread this message. With my then very young family (two toddlers in tow), I visited the centre at his invitation and was personally taken around it by him and his colleagues.
Mr. Gandhi’s magazine Himmat had a young editor, David Davidar, who later joined one of my magazines as sub-editor. (He went on to become our Executive Editor before founding Penguin in India.) Over the years, I came increasingly to respect and admire Mr. Gandhi’s work as an author, editor and academic. Till recently, he taught at the University of Illinois. Few know that he served as a Rajya Sabha MP in 1990-92 and even fewer that he stood against (and lost to) Rajiv Gandhi in the 1989 Lok Sabha election from Amethi.
So how does Rajmohan Gandhi today see the Patel-Nehru relationship? His biography of Sardar Patel covers every nuance of that complex relationship but during our conversation yesterday, Mr. Gandhi elaborated on three specific points.
One, contrary to popular belief, various Congress pradesh committees did not vote for Patel over Nehru for the post of Prime Minister. They voted for Patel over Nehru for the post of Congress President. Mr. Gandhi, however, concedes it was widely assumed that whoever became Congress President would very likely be voted Prime Minister at independence in 1947.
Two, Mahatma Gandhi’s decision to endorse Nehru and not Patel as Prime Minister was predicated on three grounds: Patel’s age (he was 71 to Nehru’s 57), failing health (“Patel had nearly died in 1941,” Rajmohan revealed to me) and Nehru’s mass nationwide popularity. That simply could not be ignored when the Mahatma made his choice, defying the majority of Congress committees. “And Patel agreed with that choice,” says Rajmohan. “He was fiercely loyal to Nehru.”
Three, Sardar Patel was positively inclined towards the RSS before the Mahatma’s assassination. He praised the role of the RSS in refugee camps during the traumatic period following independence.
However, after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948, Patel’s attitude changed. He still made a distinction between the Hindu Mahasabha – whom he blamed for the assassination – and the RSS which he banned for a year. Patel rescinded the ban after advising the RSS leadership to work on social issues, respect the Constitution and abjure politics.
“But Sardar Patel never used the sharp language against the RSS that Nehru did,” says Rajmohan. “For instance, he never called it fascist which Nehru did.”
I asked Mr. Gandhi whether Sardar Patel would have endorsed the “secularism” today’s Congress practises. He said he would address that question another time: secularism remains a complex subject. But he agreed with me that dynastic politics is inimical to democracy because it narrows rather than widens the public’s electoral choices.
As the project to build Sardar Patel’s 182-metre-high Statue of Unity gets under way, Rajmohan’s final words during our half-hour conversation yesterday ring truest: “Patel belongs to all of India.”firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonia Gandhi 01Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi always believed that education for all is the foremost important factor for development. During her two day visit to her parliamentary constituency Raebareli recently, she had again emphasized that maximum people should get education for the overall development of the country. While addressing the function to lay the foundation stone for the project of strengthening and broadening works of two roads on the National Highway 24 B in Indira Gandhi Auditorium at Firoz Gandhi PG College, Raebareli she also highlighted various polices of Congress-led UPA government at the centre for education.
“There is no end for duties and responsibilities in our life and in the similar manner there is no end for the efforts for development of our country. The moment we accomplish a scheme, we can always see new avenues for development. We see new possibilities at each turn. It has been our sincere efforts to design new policies and schemes for the welfare of the people and to make the lives of the people more comfortable,” said Sonia Gandhi.
“The UPA Government at the Centre has implemented a number of welfare schemes aiming for the welfare of every section of our society and many people are reaping the benefits too. I think that society and the nation can move forward only if maximum people are educated. Education is the key for a better and bright future. The UPA Government at the Centre, has therefore, taken some strong steps in this direction. Approval has been given for one model school in every block and 75 percent of the cost is being given by the UPA government,” said Sonia Gandhi
The Congress MP further informed, “In Uttar Pradesh money has been provided for 148 schools. In Raebareli district too, the works are in progress for three model schools and the permission has been given for a Central school in Bachcharawa. Permission has been given to start all primary sections at the Central School in Gora Bazar which would be very much beneficial for the children in Raebareli.”email@example.com
The Supreme Court ruling disqualifying MPs and MLAs after a conviction and prohibiting those behind bars from contesting an election has caused not only political but also legal ripples. Many former judges and lawyers feel the verdict by the two-judge bench has overruled what a constitution bench had laid down eight years ago.
Last week, the two-judge bench of A K Patnaik and S J Mukhopadhaya held section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, ultra vires of the Constitution. Section 8(4) allows convicted legislators to continue if they have appealed in higher courts. The bench ruled that Parliament had exceeded its legislative competence in enacting this provision.
In 2005, a five-judge constitution bench had said section 8(4) makes a valid and reasonable distinction between sitting legislators and others. Days after the latest ruling, former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan — one of the five judges in the 2005 bench — said the two-judge bench should have referred the matter to a larger bench.
Another former Supreme Court judge, Press Council of India incumbent chairman Markandey Katju, too expressed his reservations about the verdict, underscoring the necessity for a review since “the judiciary cannot make laws.”
Advocate Fali S Nariman, who appeared for petitioner Lily Thomas, and S N Shukla, another petitioner who is the general secretary of the Uttar Pradesh-based NGO Lok Prahari, strove to convince the two judges that the issues before them were different from what the constitution bench had adjudicated in K Prabhakaran vs P Jayarajan on January 11, 2005.
The two-judge bench had asked the government to defend the validity of section 8 (4) on two counts: if it was in conflict with Articles 101 and 102 that provide for immediate disqualification of an MP or an MLA on conviction, and if it was ultra vires of Article 14, which deals with the right to firstname.lastname@example.org
People ask me, will the exchange rate go to Rs 70 to the dollar? I reply, why not Rs 80?
Indian analysts are in denial. They don’t dare face up to the full consequences of the global financial hurricane originating in the US. This will keep blowing for 12-18 months.
To revive the US economy, the Federal Reserve has been pumping out $85 billion of cash per month (called quantitative easing). With the US economy recovering, the Fed plans to reduce this cash bonanza in stages to zero. Emerging markets like India have long enjoyed a slice of this $85 b/month. Not only will fresh flows stop, older flows will reverse to the US, a net turnaround of hundreds of billions.
This storm has knocked the rupee down almost 25% in two months. It is the first of many storms that will hit not just India but the whole developing world, with every tightening of the money tap by the Fed.
Expect a second Asian Financial Crisis. This will cause much less damage than the earlier one in 1997-99. Then, Asian countries had low forex reserves, excessively high debt, and semi-fixed exchange rates. Learning from 1997, Asian countries (including India) now have large forex reserves, less debt, and floating exchange rates. This makes them far more resilient, so they will not collapse as in 1997. But they will suffer substantial damage. Countries with large current account deficits like India will suffer the most. But even Malaysia, which runs a surplus, has seen its currency crash 10%.
A crashing currency raises the prices of all items that can be imported or exported. This erodes people’s purchasing power — by maybe 2.5 to 3% of GDP in India’s case. That is hugely recessionary, as is already evident in the latest data showing falling production of services as well as manufactures.
Such a recession can, in theory, be combated by monetary and fiscal stimuli, as in 2008. But today money must be kept tight to check inflation, so no monetary stimulus is possible. Finance Minister P Chidambaram has sworn to limit the fiscal deficit to 4.8% of GDP, so no fiscal stimulus is possible either. With GDP growth and revenues falling far below budgeted numbers, and oil and fertiliser subsidies rising, he will have to slash Plan investment to meet his fiscal target.
The breach will not be filled by private investment — few businessmen will invest when domestic demand is collapsing. So, the economy will spiral downwards.
One theoretical solution is use a depreciated currency to stimulate export-led growth. If exports grow 20% per year for two years, that will help weather the storm. However, as we found in 1997, when all developing countries are hit, all cannot suddenly increase exports at the same time: the West lacks enough absorption capacity. Besides, India’s investment climate is terrible — files just don’t move, with or without bribes. Many Indian companies would rather invest abroad. Politicians are more focused on distributing goodies before the election than on slashing red tape.
Finance ministry analysts say the equilibrium exchange rate is Rs 58-60 per dollar. They say irrational panic has caused overshooting, and economic fundamentals will soon force the dollar’s value back to Rs 60.
Warning: similar things were said when Asian currencies began to slide in 1997. Far from recovering, they crashed further. The Indonesian rupiah went from 2,500 per dollar all the way to 18,000.
Why so? Because when a currency crashes, that itself changes the economy’s fundamentals. Domestic purchasing power falls, causing a recession. Prices shoot up, negating the positive effects on exports. Corporations that have borrowed abroad heavily go bust. Banks that have lent to such borrowers (and others hit by recession) cannot recover their loans. International rating agencies downgrade such economies, inducing further capital flight.
India’s fundamentals have already changed. GDP growth in the first quarter is down to 4.4%. It could fall to 3.5-4% over the full fiscal year. A slowing economy will help reduce the current account deficit, but hit the fiscal deficit. Wholesale prices had been falling but are accelerating again, dampening purchasing power. All industries face slowing revenues and rising costs, eroding profits. Tax revenue may grow by hardly half the budgeted estimate of 19%.
Disinvestment can happen only at throwaway prices. Chidambaram is a determined disciplinarian, but may be powerless to stop global hurricanes. The threat of a credit downgrade has become very real.
Right now, there is a lull in the financial storm, and the rupee has regained some ground. But this storm will blow, off and on, for 12-18 months. Gird your loins.keep looking »