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Rape Problem: India Needs Change In Law Or Mindset of People?

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Rape Problem: India Needs Change In Law Or Mindset of People?

Hathras rape case has taken the country by storm with people questioning every institution–religion, caste, politics, economy, job availability, mental health, indoctrinated misogyny, general “traditional” mindset–of the Indian society. The graph of rape cases in India has seen an exponential growth curve and is being countered by an array of socio-political issues which aggravate the conflict rather than addressing the cardinal question–what is the cause of rape?

The state of Uttar Pradesh is now the face of shame as it lays spectator to the inhuman gang-rape and murder of a 19-year old Dalit girl by four ‘upper caste’ men, followed by the cremation of the body by policemen at the middle of the night without consent of family members.

The whole country is in outrage demanding strict actions and death penalty for the accused, but the question remains whether that would curb the increasing number of rapes. Would public protests, social media petitions, candle marches or assurance of the government be enough?

However, in cases of sexual assault, victim-blaming and slut-shaming are the foremost options adopted by the government as well as the general public.

In the Telengana gang-rape and murder case of a veterinarian, the Home Minister of the state commented victim should have called the police instead of her sister. Nirbhaya had been blamed for wearing western attire and being out late at night with a male companion. It is a common belief that women transgressing the set boundaries and social norms are ‘asking for it’. It appears easier to blame the victim for jeopardizing her own safety, impose restrictions on women and take away their independence than making definite laws or resorting to stringent actions. The deep-rooted patriarchy in the Indian culture has reduced women to ‘second-class citizens’.

Legal loopholes:

According to Anuja Trehan Kapur, criminal psychologist and advocate, “rape is a non-bailable offence in the Indian Penal Code but people do get bail because of a lack of evidence (in many cases). The accused are often sheltered by police, or politicians, or even lawyers.” After the 2012-Nirbhaya case, there are multiple instances like that of Kathua and Unnao, where the state has given in to public demand and the law has been amended twice in 2013 and 2018 to make provision for death penalty for brutal rapes, repeat offenders and the rape of minors below 12 years, but the provision alone does not ensure that the death penalty would be granted.

Compulsory death penalty is against Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution which provide rights of equality and right to life and personal liberty. It would also oppose Section 235(2) of the CrPC which ensures the convict’s right to be heard while deciding a sentence, and Section 354(3) of CrPC which requires the court to provide special reasons for imposing a death penalty. Therefore, only ‘rarest of the rare cases’ in India is met with a death sentence where the crime is committed in a gruesome and barbaric manner. A Fast Track Court gave Nirbhaya case rapists a death sentence in Delhi in September 2013, but the execution took place seven years later in March 2020.

The Indian police registered 33,658 rape cases in 2017, Uttar Pradesh alone recorded 59,853 cases of crimes against women in 2019 according to the ‘Crime in India 2019‘ report by the National Crime Records Bureau.

Experts opine that a woman is raped in the country every 16 minutes. But none of the accused of these cases would be given a death sentence due to faulty laws and loopholes in the Constitution. The police shooting all four accused of the Hyderabad rape case is a glaring instance of resorting to vigilante justice in the absence of a competent judicial framework.

Social Conditioning:

Centuries-old patriarchy has indoctrinated a belief that men are superior to women–children internalize this notion from a very young age. A woman’s wishes, opinions and consent are not taken into consideration, and they are treated as subservient from the beginning. Whenever a woman is empowered and tries to break free from the set boundaries, she is violated sexually to ‘show her position’ and establish dominance and control over her. Lack of proper sex education, awareness, mutual respect and gender-sensitization form the root causes for sexual harassment, assault or character assassination of the victim.

  • Objectification of women

The other factors that passively contribute to the objectification of women are the cosmetic industry, entertainment industry–movie dialogues and song lyrics–which thrives on portraying women as consumable objects, and even sports which give greater importance to events of men than that of women.

  • Media Trials and family pressure

Media trials and sensationalizing of rape reporting also has a severe negative impact by fueling violent retributions, or instigating the criminals to take extreme measures to do away with any evidence, like burning the victim after sexual assault or cutting off of the tongue of the victim. A large number of victims never come forward to seek justice as they are considered to be responsible for saving the ‘honour of the family’.

  • Religion or Caste rivalries

Violence against women takes a horrible shape when caste dynamics enter the picture. A potent mix of caste-driven and religion-based rivalries become prime motivating factors for sexual violence. The gang-rape and murder of an 8-year old Muslim girl in Jammu and Kashmir drew global condemnation. The marginalized groups of the Hindu society–tribals and Dalits–forming the lowest strata of the caste hierarchy face tremendous oppression and sexual violence, wherein Hathras case is the latest in the long list of caste-based sexual violence.

In 2018, a Dalit girl who was allegedly raped for several months in Madhya Pradesh, went to the police station with a six-month-old fetus wrapped in a plastic bag. Caste-based violence has become a tool for domination of the lower caste women by the upper caste men.

  • Mindset of society:

The problematic mindset of the society in general comes to the limelight when prominent figures like the former judge of Supreme Court, Markandey Katju, make controversial statements to justify or explain the rape culture. Katju’s Facebook post blaming unemployment to be the cause for men to give in to their carnal desires has faced tremendous backlash and caused public outrage.

Katju claims sex to be a ‘natural urge’ in men and unavailability of a marital partner to fulfil such desires due to lack of jobs have increased rape cases. Such claims are derogatory on several grounds as they do not consider women’s sexual desires as ‘natural’, does not identify the need for mutual consent and neglects the issue of marital rape.

Politicizing Agenda:

The hurried cremation of the Hathras case victim by the UP Police without the consent of family members, confinement and threatening of the family members and restricting the media to interrogate the family has raised questions about political involvement in the matter. Though the BJP-lead Yogi Adityanath government has stated that appropriate measures would be taken against the convicts, the dubious role of the police has given a possible political tint to the issue.

On the other hand, the opposing Congress party led by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been continuously politicizing the brutal incident. They had to make multiple attempts to reach Hathras to express ‘solidarity’ with the victim’s family, as the police initially restrained them. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor who accompanied them to Hathras said that “Is it prohibited to do politics in a democracy? Yahi mauka hai.” This accidental admission of the senior leader has highlighted Congress’ agenda of brazen politicization.

Union Minister Smriti Irani condemned Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s attempts to play politics and advised them to go to Rajasthan instead to ensure justice to another gang-rape victim’s family over there. Both the rulers and opposition are eyeing the vote bank instead of expressing genuine remorse and concern for the sufferers.

Fundamental changes are required immediately in the country’s judicial system; investigations should be carried out with the aid of scientific and technological methods, general sensitivity and gender issues should be given utmost priority to make a safe environment for women.

Raising accountability is much more important than increasing the severity of punishment. The fear of being caught and not being spared must deter offenders from performing heinous sexual crimes, rather than harsher penalties.

Countries like Brazil, Netherlands, Austria and others, which have legalized prostitution have seen a significant reduction in cases of sexual offence. The morally stiff Indian society that considers sex as a taboo prevents intermingling of unmarried men and women, suppresses sexuality, considers addressing sexual issues and sex education as social stigmas, has increased the wrong beliefs, inappropriate or violent behaviour and gender inequality. However, the question still remains how many more Nirbhayas before this savagery comes to a culmination? The answer remains unknown.

An ardent literature lover with my mind constantly travelling through far-off unexplored worlds. A lover of languages and cultures--the sweetest language in the world being my mother-tongue. Chasing the Northern Lights...taking one step closer. My pen is my sword. #BongAtHeart

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All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

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National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.

Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)

With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.

Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.

The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.

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Fake News: Accountability Of News Organisations

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Fake News II News Aur Chai

Fake news is false news stories or hoaxes, which are deliberately released to misinform and to create chaos in society or among readers. Fake news is one of the main reasons behind the disruption of peace in society and it becomes more dangerous in volatile places. Fake news is generally shared with propaganda to mislead the audience by hiding or twisting the truth. However fake news isn’t new to the web, it recently became an enormous problem in today’s digital world. Fake news mostly comes from sites that are bogus or have sensationalized stories.

Most of the users do not check the facts before sharing the information on their social media, which can be a reason for widespread fake news. So, it is important to differentiate between fake news and authentic news to maintain harmony in society and to avoid false news and its repercussions.

Fake News Stories

  • On 2nd April, a team of doctors, health workers, and revenue officials were attacked by the family members of a 65-year-old man who died of COVID-19 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh because of the fake video which claimed that healthy Muslims were being injected with the virus, reiterating the risks and physical manifestations of misinformation.
  • On March 22, 2020, Mr. Modi’s new term ‘Janta curfew’ has sparked a buzz on the Internet. Social media users started interpreting PM Modi’s concept of ‘Janta curfew’ in their own ways. Social media was flooded with a certain ‘scientific explanation’ behind the curfew as to how it will break the chain of transmissions of the deadly coronavirus infection. The claim was found out to be misleading. PM Modi, while announcing the curfew, didn’t mention this particular ‘scientific’ logic behind it.
  • Rumours were circulated on WhatsApp groups about a kidnapping gang operating in India’s western state of Maharashtra in 2018. The rumors eventually cause a mob lynching, that killed five migrant workers because they were suspected of being kidnappers.
  • On November 13, 2016, when the government of India has demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and planned to replace them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes, rumors were spreading about Rs 2000 notes. Rumors claimed the new higher denomination currency comes with a Nano-GPS chip which acts as a reflector, giving precise location coordinates of the currency to permit every note to be tracked. However, the RBI officials had dismissed these as false and said the new Rs 2000 note does not have a Nano-GPS chip as is being claimed on social media, WhatsApp.
  • In the pandemic situation, where vaccination has become crucial, in a series of viral videos it was seen that people are claiming that magnet was attracted to the arms of alleged COVID-19 vaccinated recipients. This kind of fake news can create misconceptions about vaccines and people may not take their jab of vaccines. The Centre has declined the claims that Covid-19 vaccines can make people ‘magnetic’. It has also dismissed theories about microchips in coronavirus vaccines.

Need of Accountability

False information on social media can cause huge problems. It is often done to influence political processes. Need for Accountability increases in such situations because the false information provided by certain news organizations can create a ruckus in society. Before publishing the news, it is necessary to check the facts.

If the news organizations, shared misinformation unintentionally they must remove the content right away and they should apologize to the readers. If fake news is spread with propaganda to create chaos in society, then the news organization should be punished under the law. The information must be checked before sharing it with other people.

 

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Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained

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Pegasus II News Aur Chai

Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.

The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.

Pegasus Spyware and India

According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.

This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.

Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.

According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.

The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’

This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.

Pegasus Spyware and World.

 In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.

At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden.  After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.

If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.

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