The role of the Delhi police during the communal violence that gripped the north-eastern parts of the city from February 24 to 26 turns out to be disturbing and chilling.
The circumstances and origins of the violence are important, but what is of utmost urgency for the rule of law is the behavior of the police and other arms of the state.
In one case, Faizan, a 23-year-old Muslim man, was seen in a video being beaten by the police who were forcing him to sing the national anthem.
Videos of personnel in uniform actively participating in violence, and smashing CCTV cameras installed by the Delhi government, have emerged.
The Delhi police also came under attack by mobs.
Not only have FIRs not been filed against four BJP leaders who were clearly instigating violence, there were more mobs roaming the heart of the capital city, unchallenged by the police in the days following the riots.
The Central and Delhi governments have either remained quiet or come out in support of them.
There can be no further loss of time in acting against the perpetrators of violence and those who miserably failed in their duty.
India needs an assurance that its security forces will uphold the rule of law at all costs, and not allow themselves to be manipulated by those aligned with the ruling establishment.
China’s high-tech battle against COVID-19
COVID-19: world is grappling with its rapid spread
March 1: Hubei had for the first time reported fewer than 200 new infections
March 4: China reported 119 new infections — the lowest in six weeks.
Wuhan authorities on March 1 closed the first makeshift hospital.
Chinese officials are rightly cautioning that the fight is far from over.
Two sides of the Chinese system
Nature of an authoritarian system, that prides security above all else and stability at all costs, tacitly encourages the kind of cover-up seen in Hubei.
The most prominent step was the January 23 lockdown effectively quarantining close to 60 million people, which slowed the spread outside of Hubei but also imposed untold costs on the people of the province.
As epidemiologist Bruce Aylward, who led the Joint Mission comprising 25 Chinese and international doctors, was quoted as saying, “I think the key learning from China is speed. The faster you can find the cases, isolate the cases, and track their close contacts, the more successful you’re going to be.” Two other key steps, he noted, were ensuring free treatment and testing, as well as providing prescriptions for patients for three months rather than the usual one month, to ensure supply of medicines.
Role of technology
New COVID-19 app that tells people whether they have been in close contact with anyone confirmed infected, based on flight and train records.
A government-run close contact detector platform allows companies to check if any employees have been in contact with those infected by checking their national identification numbers.
Pingan Good Doctor app: 300 million users and connects patients at home with doctors and pharmacies, has noted a surge in the number of users this past month.
Alipay app has rolled out a health QR code system, assigning colour codes to citizens marking their risk level, drawing on their travel history and contacts.
Then there are the privacy issues, with Chinese technology companies and mobile operators freely sharing users’ information with the authorities and police without their consent in the effort to trace and track possible patients.
Beijing-based Face++ has come up with a sophisticated temperature screening tool that can work in crowded places and screen thousands of people.
Two other prominent AI players, Baidu and SenseTime, are helping police identify people who aren’t wearing masks in public places and offices.
In northwestern Yinchuan, authorities have deployed drones armed with loudspeakers — reminding residents to keep a distance from each other and to wear masks — and to spray sanitisers.
While schools remain closed, classes haven’t stopped.
Sun Art Retail Group, the country’s biggest hypermarket operator, said its revenues hadn’t declined even though 80% of its outlets were closed.
An unrest, a slowdown and a health epidemic
India faces imminent danger from the trinity of social disharmony, economic slowdown and a global health epidemic.
Social unrest and economic ruin are self-inflicted while the health contagion of COVID-19 disease an external shock.
Delhi has been subjected to extreme violence over the past few weeks. Institutions of law and order have abandoned their dharma to protect citizens.
Institutions of justice and the fourth pillar of democracy, the media, have also failed us.
At a time when our economy is floundering, the impact of such social unrest will only exacerbate the economic slowdown.
Investors, industrialists and entrepreneurs are unwilling to undertake new projects and have lost their risk appetite.
Social disruptions and communal tensions only compound their fears and risk aversion.
COVID-19: It is still unclear how far this global health hazard will spread and impact the world.
But it is very clear that we should be fully prepared and ready to counter it.
Nations across the world have sprung into action to contain the impact of this epidemic
World Bank and the OECD have already pronounced a sharp slowdown in global economic growth.
China today accounts for nearly a fifth of the global economy and a tenth of India’s external trade. India’s economic growth was already tepid and this external health shock is bound to make things much worse.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi must convince the nation, not merely through words but by deeds.
The virus contagion and the slowing down of China can potentially open up an opportunity for India to unleash second -generation reforms to become a larger player in the global economy and vastly improve prosperity levels for hundreds.
Should the sedition law be scrapped?
Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that 194 cases of sedition have been filed since the CAA was passed on December 11, 2019.
The point of the sedition law is essentially that of suppressing free speech and free thought, both of which are unpopular with the government.
Where a critic can be silenced by the mere fact that there is a possible life sentence — that itself acts as a deterrent.
These cases are often invoked against show-piece dissenters so that the rest fall in line.
Supreme Court in Kedar Nath Singh (1962): it has to be against the state, not against the government. there has to be a direct incitement to violence.
Sedition is an offence which existed in our Indian Penal Code (IPC) before we got Independence. a concept comes from Elizabethan England Both Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak were tried under this law and sentenced.
As somebody correctly said, the essence of tyranny is in the making of harsh laws and then using those laws selectively against the people.
One thing here is that hate speech is a totally different offence from sedition.
Hate speech is when you provoke violence between two communities.
You are not abusing the state. You are not telling people to revolt against the state.
When you challenge the constitutional scheme of India, that is sedition.
Disabled and extremely poor
Of the world’s population, 15% live with some form of disability.
Are disabilities associated with economic hardships through loss of employment and consequent impoverishment in rural India?
The central argument resting on these building blocks is that disabilities are likely to rise; they are associated with loss of long duration of employment; and thus, with a rise in poverty.
Highly disabled are largely confined to extreme poverty.
They face barriers to long-duration employment including discriminatory practices in hiring the disabled.
Ironically, while the SDGs assign high priority to preventing and overcoming disability, the Budget for 2020-21 is almost cruel to those experiencing persistent health deprivation by cutting the health outlay.
PM’s visit to Brussels put off as COVID-19 cases rise to 30
SC to step in if Nirbhaya convicts are not hanged on March 20
“I am no astrologer... but they [the convicts] will find something to delay the March 20 execution... I am not in a hurry to execute them, but the system is suffering when the punishment keeps getting postponed. The convicts have been taking the system for a ride... Even now, it has been over two years since their review petitions were dismissed by the Supreme Court,” Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta submitted. At this juncture, Justice Banumathi turned to the convicts’ lawyers to come prepared on March 23 as the court would not entertain any request for adjournment.
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Yes Bank under moratorium till April 3
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LS suspends 7 Cong. MPs for rest of session
The Lok Sabha on Thursday suspended seven Congress members for the remaining period of the Budget session for “gross misconduct and utter disregard” for House rules after Opposition MPs snatched papers from the Speaker’s table.
India among least-free democracies, says study
The Freedom in the World 2020 report ranks India at the 83rd position, along with Timor-Leste and Senegal.