The IIT Delhi Alumni Association, which was vehemently opposed to bringing IITs under a common entrance test, has said it has “mixed reactions to the IIT council decision regarding new entrance process to IIT.” The association will meet later today to discuss the compromise formula that has been approved by the IIT Council.
Speaking to Firspost, Somnath Bharti, president of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association said: “As far as the autonomy of the IITs is concerned, except our demand of no change in format till 2014, other issues have been addressed. But the new condition that only students who are in the top 20 percent of their school boards will qualify is a very dangerous condition. It will be psychologically very stressful and will only fuel demand for coaching institutes.”
Asked how the new formula addresses their concern of autonomy to the IITs, Bharti said: “The Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Advance is now going to be academically and administratively conducted and controlled the IITs. And it will be held on a different day.”
Responding to whether the new formula had in effect ended the stand-off between the HRD ministry and the IITs, he said: “It has more or less ended.”
Restricting the eligibility to JEE (Main) to top 20 percentile of school boards, said Bharti was “pro-rich and will be detrimental to the interests of students from rural India.”Reuters
The two issues, however, that remain unresolved are the question of implementing the new format from 2013 and impact the new eligibility criterion will have on rural students.
Restricting the eligibility to JEE (Main) to top 20 percentile of school boards, said Bharti was “pro-rich and will be detrimental to the interests of students from rural India.”
Whether IIT Delhi Alumni Associations will take up these issues and, if so, how remains to be seen. Founder director of Super 30, Anand Kumar, who had described the original common entrance formula as being ‘anti-poor and anti-rural’, has slammed the new eligibility criterion.
Kumar, in a press statement, said: “The poor students don’t have access to elite schools. This decision will go against them. The results of the Plus-Two are often controversial due to use of unfair means in examinations and manipulation by some colleges to ensure good results for their students. Under such a situation, you could be killing for genuine students.”
Pointing to the class bias of the new system, he said: “For students in rural schools that lack even basic facilities and quality teachers, it will be a big deterrent. So far, they had a level playing field, where their hard work and performance mattered, not their past. Now their past will haunt them.”
More information: IIT alumni: The compromise formula is ‘very dangerous’
In the following case, US Appeal court has addressed the issue of laches in a suit for prospective injunctive relief.
Ray Communications, Inc. v. Clear Channel Comm., Inc., et al.
Court: U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Docket: 11-1050, Opinion Date: March 8, 2012
Areas of Law: Communications Law, Trademark, Intellectual Property
Plaintiff filed this action alleging trademark infringement under Section 32(1) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 114(1); federal unfair competition under Section 43(a) of the Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a); unfair competition and deceptive trade practices under the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA), N.C.Gen. Stat. 75-1.1, thereby challenging the use of its federally-registered AGRI-NET trademark by defendants. Plaintiff appealed the district court's order granting summary judgment to defendants on its affirmative defense of laches. The court concluded that the district court erred in determining that defendants established its defense as a matter of law, and, separately, in failing to consider whether laches barred plaintiff's claim for prospective injunctive relief. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings.
View Case: http://j.st/MV4
TT Correspondent | | 09 Mar 2012
Taking next step towards the auction of 2G spectrum the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday issued consultation paper on auction of spectrum seeking comments of all the stakeholders.
The Supreme Court of India in its judgment dated February 2, 2012 had cancelled all 122 licences allotted in 2008 during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja and directing the regulator to make fresh recommendations for grant of licence and allocation of spectrum in 2G band in 22 Service Areas by auction, as was done for allocation of spectrum in 3G band, keeping in view the decision taken by the Central Government in 2011.
As per the directions of the apex court, TRAI had issued a pre-consultation paper on February 2012, on the issue of allocation of spectrum in 2G band in 22 Service Areas by auction.
“On the basis of the comments received from the stakeholders on the pre-consultation paper and considering the international practices, the draft Consultation paper on
“Auction of Spectrum? has been prepared”, TRAI said in a statement.
“The key issues raised in the Consultation paper are quantum of spectrum to be auctioned, liberalization of the spectrum, refarming of spectrum in 800/900 MHz bands, structure of auction, spectrum block size, eligibility criteria for participating in the auction, reserve price, roll out obligations, spectrum usage charges and spectrum trading, it said.
TRAI has asked the stakeholders to send their comments by 21st March 2012 and counter-comments by 28th March 2012.
As per the consultation paper, the cancellation of 122 licences will make 60 Mhz and 413.6 Mhz of spectrum available in 800 Mhz and 1800 Mhz spectrum bands respectively.
TRAI has not specified minimum price for spectrum to start auction but has asked for model that should be used for determining the base price.
But most of the Telecom operators, whose licences are set to be cancelled in the wake of SC February 2 decision are insisting that it should be fixed at around Rs 1,658 crore which is equivalent to the licence fee that has charged for allocation of pan-India licence to new telecom players after 2001
March 8 2012 at 01:07pm
IN the “most far-reaching court case about the right to basic education”, Equal Education has filed court papers to compel the government to provide equal infrastructure to all schools.
In an unprecedented action, the NGO announced at a press conference in Cape Town yesterday that it had filed papers in the Bhisho High Court against Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and all the Education MECs.
“The papers seek an order compelling Minister Motshekga to prescribe minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure. This is the most far-reaching court case about the right to basic education to have been launched in democratic South Africa,” said Equal Education co-ordinator Doron Isaacs.
He explained that proper standards for schools would also help to address the problem of under-spending: “The Eastern Cape has spent only 28 percent of its R1.45 billion school budget because (Motshekga) refuses to set standards which the
province must meet,” he said. There were various challenges in SA education including quality of teaching and textbook availability, and that campaigning for infrastructure was a step in a long process of transforming education.
“… the connection between infrastructure and outcomes is clear. Research from developing countries around the world shows this, and the minister herself has explicitly acknowledged it,” he argued.
Equal Education policy head Yoliswa Dwane said:
“EE has been campaigning for minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure for two years. Thousands of people across the country have joined our campaign.”
She said Equal Education members, teachers, parents and communities had petitioned, picketed, fasted and slept outside Parliament, and protested repeatedly. Despite this, Motshekga had failed to exercise her powers – as set out in the SA Schools Act – to prescribe minimum norms and standards. “Because of Minister Motshekga’s refusal… South Africa’s pupils have continued to be taught under unacceptable conditions. EE believes that it has exhausted alternatives and it is with great regret that it has had to resort to legal action.”
She added that school infrastructure was a vital component of basic education, yet schools were not required by law to have functioning libraries, effective sanitation facilities, well-stocked laboratories or even safe classrooms.
Motshekga had admitted that school infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, was in an “appalling state”.
She said almost 3 600 schools did not have electricity, 92 percent did not have a functioning library, in KwaZulu-Natal alone over 600 schools did not have toilet facilities and in the Eastern Cape there were 395 “mud schools”.
“The right to a basic education cannot be seen as separate from the conditions under which pupils are taught. Without a uniform standard, the education system will continue to be defined by historical inequality,” she said.
Part A of the court papers refers to two Eastern Cape schools, Mwezeni Senior Primary School and Mkanzini Junior Secondary School. According to the papers, the schools do not have adequate infrastructure and have to conduct classes in mud classrooms or corrugated iron shacks.
The NGO is applying for the schools to be provided with “emergency relief to remedy the crisis they are currently attempting to function under”.
Part B seeks to compel Motshekga to prescribe minimum norms and standards for infrastructure. The papers do not suggest what minimum norms and standards Motshekga should prescribe – this is her prerogative. All the NGO is asking for is that she sets a standard so that she can begin to hold provinces accountable.
Motshekga’s spokeswoman, Hope Mokgatlhe, said Motshekga declined to comment because the department was studying the papers.
Rob Wallis for SchoolBookThe Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington
Lessons about the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are presumably going on in classrooms all over the city this week, in anticipation of the holiday on Monday to honor Dr. King.
Or maybe not.
Some teachers have complained privately about the need to freshen up their approach to this important chapter in American history, and studies have shown that many teachers could use some help: students are woefully ignorant about that era.
How are you teaching about Dr. King and the civil rights movement? The Learning Network, a blog about using Times content for teaching and learning, is collecting best classroom practices, which it will then round up and re-post before Feb. 1, when Black History Month begins. The blog also offers a trove of teaching materials.
And on Sunday, Jan. 15, WNYC is once again offering a community event with a panel hosted by Brian Lehrer at the Brooklyn Museum at 3 p.m.
The program is sold out, but there is a waiting list. The event, which is co-sponsored by SchoolBook, among others, is free. Its theme: “In MLK’s Footsteps: Education as a Civil Right.”
WNYC listeners and SchoolBook readers can weigh in on the idea of education as a civil right by answering the query below. Responses may be incorporated into the program on Sunday, and into radio reports.
What would it take to ensure education as a civil right shared by all Americans?
We must invest equitably, innovate practice and pedagogy with passion and focus on outcomes, reform and operate with efficacy, and accountability...all free from ideological and political handcuffs. Even more important, I believe that we must also re-establish with the citizenry (both student and parents/family) the social contract that defines the meaning and purpose of education and the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of not just teachers and the "system," but ourselves as students, and parents/guardians thereof.
More information: Looking at Education as a Civil Right
PTI | 09:01 PM,Jan 11,2012
New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) The city government today told the Delhi High Court that it has not violated any law by allowing schools to admit children below four years to pre-school or nursery classes. The Delhi government's Directorate of Education's counsel said the Right to Education Act, which came into force in 2009, supersedes the Delhi Education Act. The lawyer said RTE Act permits schools to give admission to children below four years of age to pre-school or nursery classes but the Delhi Education Act is silent about such classes. The counsel said although Ashok Ganguly committee had recommended four years of age for nursery classes and the duration of the pre-primary class should be one year in 2007, the government was not able to frame norms as the high court's order endorsing the same was pending in the apex court. Appearing for civil society Social Jurist advocate Ashok Agarwal had, earlier, argued that keeping the child's interest in mind, the Ganguly Committee had recommended four years as the admission age of children to pre-school classes and it was endorsed by this court. He said even the state act prescribed the same age criteria but under the garb of RTE Act, the government has allowed private schools to give admission to children in nursery at the age of three. After hearing the argument of the Delhi government and NGO, the court deferred the matter for tomorrow to hear the arguments on behalf of the private schools. The court was hearing a petition filed by an NGO challenging the government order, passed on December 16 last year, allowing schools to admit children in nursery classes at the age of three instead of four, in violation of the Delhi Education Act.
More information: Nursery admission of kids below 4-yr not against law: Del govt
National council meeting in April to chalk out course of action
All India Students Federation (AISF) national council meeting in April will decide the future course in the second phase of agitation against the controversial Foreign Educational Institution bill, Education Tribunal bill, Higher Education bill and the Right To Education Act-2010 which are contrary to the interests of the student community, according to AISF national general secretary Abhay Taksal.
Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, he said that the AISF is totally opposed to the bills which were referred to the standing committee of Parliament, the Chairman of which was Oscar Fernandez. The Education Tribunal bill is being opposed only to prevent tribunalisation of education. If this is passed issues relating to education would be relegated to controversies and will be in danger of getting blocked in tribunals. A bill of the kind is not good for democracy, he said. Similarly the Foreign Education Institutions bill does not guarantee quality of education through foreign institutions nor were any checks ensured for verifying the bona-fides of foreign institutions. The bill has not created any mechanism to detect fake foreign institutions. Many students are in danger of falling into the trap of bogus institutions.
The AISF general secretary said that the government has no plans to strengthen the government schools and institutions which were experiencing 85 per cent drop-out at the primary school level throughout the country.
Earlier, addressing Industrial Training Institute (ITI) students who participated in the state conference at Andhra University campus here on Wednesday, Abhay called upon the students to fight for qualitative education and employment opportunities to the ITI diploma holders.
About 400 delegates from around the state participated in the conference.
AITUC state honorary president B.V.Rama Rao said that the ITI students should be given scholarships and hostel facilities apart from creating job opportunities to students who complete their respective courses.
AITUC state convenor A.Ayyaswamy and CPI district secretary J.V.V.Sathyanarayana and several district leaders participated.
More information: AISF opposes education bills
New Delhi: On the eve of winter session, social activist Anna Hazare today raised the pitch on Lokpal issue, threatening to launch another agitation if a “weak” bill is brought in Parliament.
“Currently it is with the Standing Committee and they (MPs) are discussing it. I do not know in which form it will come. But if they bring a weak Jan Lokpal Bill then again I will go to Ramlila ground,” Hazare told NDTV.
Winter session is beginning tomorrow and the government has listed the Lokpal Bill 2011 for discussion and passing in parliament among other Bills.
“It is an honour to die for a cause and I will resort to agitation again for a strong Lokpal Bill,” Hazare said.
Hazare had launched and indefinite hunger strike in August at Ramlila Ground here to press for a strong Lokpal. He ended his 12-day fast after Parliament endorsed in principle three of his key demands to deal with corruption.
More information: Anna threatens agitation if Lokpal Bill is ‘weak’
New Delhi: The next parliament session will focus on passing the controversial Lokpal bill, overshadowing calls for a renewed push on economic reforms seen as urgent as growth slows and inflation stays stubbornly high.
The legislation to create an ombudsman's office, or Lokpal, to investigate and prosecute suspected government corruption is seen as crucial for the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as parliament reconvenes for a month-long session on Tuesday.
If the bill is delayed or watered-down, the Congress party-led coalition risks renewed national protests organized by the legislation's architect, social activist Anna Hazare, who led a hunger strike in August to protest a string of corruption scandals in the past year.
"The prime minister has assured us of a strong Lokpal bill and we sincerely hope that we get it in this session," said Arvind Kejriwal, an aide to Hazare, on Friday.
"If the parliament fails to pass the one it promised us, then there will be another agitation."
It is still unclear whether the bill will give the ombudsman powers to investigate the prime minister, judges or lower grade civil servants, key demands of activists.
Bills to expand food subsidies for the poor and share the profits of mining firms with local communities may also be introduced during the session, as part of a populist push to shore up support ahead of polls due by May 2012 in Uttar Pradesh, a political weather vane.
"I think the Lokpal bill will likely be a focus, but there's still a lot of discussion and uncertainty on whether the bill can be brought for consideration and passage," said Seema Desai, an Asia analyst at the Eurasia Group, in an email.
"I think that the worst of the policy paralysis has lifted in the sense that the government has partly regained its footing."
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will attack the government on slowing growth and inflation, which is close to 10 percent despite 13 interest rate rises by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) since March last year.
The BJP may also try to once again disrupt the session to stall any votes, a party source said.
"The details have yet to be decided, but naturally if the government does not agree to our demands, then there may be disruption in the house," a senior party leader who declined to be named told Reuters.
Much-anticipated economic reforms -- such as rationalising the messy tax system, liberalising the insurance sector or giving farmers a better deal when their land is acquired for industrial projects -- are not slated for passage.
A bill that could open Indian pension funds to foreign direct investors for the first time however has made major progress, although it could still get bogged down in wrangling between Congress and the BJP.
"I wouldn't be surprised if very little work gets done," said political analyst Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.
MR Madhavan of PRS Legislative Research said there appeared to be a logjam in parliament even on smaller, relatively uncontentious bills such as letting chartered accountant institutes form Limited Liability Partnerships.
But another analyst said the Congress party has looked stronger in recent months and the political opposition and anti-corruption movement divided, creating guarded optimism.
"We've seen the government try to pick up pieces and actually push through certain things," said Abheek Barua, chief economist at HDFC Bank.
"There is a chronic deficit in governance, policymaking, which maybe we have gotten used to. But within that, I think things have certainly have become a little better over the last few months."
More information: Lokpal Bill tops Parliament agenda
In a setback to construction companies, the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of a parliamentary legislation levying a special cess on builders and contractors to create a corpus to fund welfare measures for unorganised sector workers.
The judgment, delivered by Justice DK
Jain and Justice AK Ganguly, would enable better working conditions for workers in the construction industry. The bench rejected the plea of Dewan Chand Builders and other contractors questioning the legislative competence of the Parliament in framing the act. The petitioner had claimed there was no nexus between the levy and the intended purpose.
"There does exist a reasonable nexus between the payer of cess and the services rendered for that industry and, therefore, the said levy cannot be assailed on the ground that being in the nature of a 'tax', it was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament," the verdict noted, while dismissing the builders' appeal.
In their plea, the builder lobby had challenged the Delhi high court judgment dismissing their plea challenging the cess levied under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 (BOCW).
Interpreting the Act, SC ruled: "It is thus clear from the scheme of the BOCW Act that its sole aim is the welfare of building and construction workers, directly relatable to their constitutionally recognised right to live with basic human dignity, enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
The bench further held that levy of cess on the cost of construction incurred by the employers on the building and other construction works was for ensuring sufficient funds for the welfare boards to undertake social security schemes and welfare measures for the workers.
More information: SC upholds cess on construction companies
Reuters reported that India's Supreme Court has put off until January 20 hearing an appeal against its partial ban of iron ore mining in a key producing state, possibly delaying resumption of full supplies from a region contributing a quarter of the country's exports.
Earlier this year, the court banned iron ore mining in three districts of southern Karnataka state citing environmental concerns and asked a federal government body to carry out an environmental impact assessment.
It later allowed state run NMDC to mine up to one million tonne per month from its captive mines in the state while making a final decision on the matter.
The federal government body, the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education has reportedly recommended restricting iron ore mining in the state to 30 million tonnes per year for local consumption.
On Friday, the court asked petitioners against its ban to go through the ICFRE report and come back for a hearing on January 20. The court had banned mining in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts.
More information: Indian iron ore mining mess - Supreme Court defers case hearing till Jan 20
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the former Air Chief, S. Krishnaswamy, and others questioning the appointment rules of Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
When the Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, heading a three-judge Bench described the PIL as a “publicity seeking petition” and a repetition of an earlier PIL, senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the petitioners sought permission to withdraw the petition, and it was dismissed as withdrawn with liberty to file a fresh one confining it strictly to constitutional issues. Justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar were the other Judges on the Bench.
‘No vague allegations'
The CJI told counsel: “I am sorry this petition is all for publicity. This court will strictly go by Constitutional issues. If you are going by mala fide, say so directly. You can't make vague allegations.” Mr. Subramaniam submitted he was concerned about appointment of regulators.
But the CJI told counsel the petition had nothing to do with the constitutional principles. He said: “You say, the question is about regulatory independence, but I don't find a single sentence on it. The averments are leading to some pending matter which we cannot touch in this petition, which lacks the constitutional points.”
The CJI made it clear that the petition was aimed at an individual (SEBI chief U.K. Sinha) in the guise of raising legal and constitutional issues. The Bench, in its order, said: “On going through the petition, we find the basis of petition does not involve the points which senior counsel wants to argue. This writ petition is identical to the writ petition which was dismissed as withdrawn. We expect proper pleadings in the matter where constitutional doctrines are involved, particularly relating to regulatory independence.”
The petition filed by Air Chief Marshal (retd.) S. Krishnaswamy, the former Punjab police chief, Julio Riberio, and others alleged that SEBI rules were amended before filling the post of Chairman showing a clear nexus between the Finance Ministry and certain corporates.
Why no extension for Bhave?
The petitioners had also questioned the government's decision for not granting extension to C.B. Bhave who was the SEBI chief before Mr. Sinha. The Centre defended the SEBI chief selection procedure and said the PIL seemed to espouse certain disgruntled former officers of SEBI.
More information: Supreme Court rejects plea against SEBI chief appointment
NEW DELHI: Employees cannot be compelled to work under a new management and are entitled to retirement or retrenchment benefits, the Supreme Court
The apex court rejected the argument of Philip's India Ltd
that since the employees had neither retired nor retrenched, hence they were not entitled to the benefits.
"It is settled law that without consent, workmen cannot be forced to work under different management and in that event, those workmen are entitled to retirement/retrenchment compensation in terms of the Act.
"In view of the same, we are of the view that the workmen are entitled to the benefit of such direction and it is the obligation on the part of the management - Philip's India Ltd., to comply with the same," the apex court said.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and J Chelamewar passed the judgement upholding the appeal filed by aggrieved workers of erstwhile Philip's India Ltd which had sold its consumer electronics factory at Salt Lake, Kolkata to Kitchen Appliances India Ltd.
The aggrieved workers were not keen on continuing with the company and instead sought VRS from new management which was turned down by the company on the ground that the earlier scheme had lapsed in 1997.
The Calcutta high court
while upholding transfer of the ownership however, on October 10, 2001, directed the management to pay retirement, retrenchment benefits to the workers who were not keen to continue with their association in the company.
As the management failed to comply with the direction, the workers appealed in the apex court.
More information: Employees can't be forced to work under new management: Supreme Court
New Delhi: With the Winter Session promising to be a rough ride for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, a whole lot will depend on the political acumen of the senior leaders of the treasury benches in piloting crucial legislation through both houses of Parliament. (Read: NDA to boycott Chidambaram in Parliament)
For HRD minister Kapil Sibal reform is on the agenda for the education sector. He's had opposition from both within and outside but he's hoping that this 30-day session will be different. "Everyone believes in reforms so of course it will happen," Mr Sibal told NDTV a day before the winter session.
In order to build consensus, Mr Sibal has briefed MPs from not just his own Congress party, but also allies and Opposition.
Mr Sibal's list of pending bills is a long one. The Education Tribunals Bill of 2010, which is meant to resolve disputes involving, teachers, other employees, students and universities. Also on the list the Prohibition of Unfair Practices Bill, which is meant to tackle capitation and donation issues, and has already been cleared by the Cabinet. There are also other bills like the Foreign Education Providers Bill, which seeks to provide much needed regulations in the fast-expanding education sector.
Mr Sibal also hopes to fulfill one of the promiese he made when the Right to Education Bill was passed. He had been criticised for bringing in a legislation which did not include disabled children, and the HRD ministry hopes now to bring in the ammended bill in which disadvantaged children will included.
Judicial Accountability Bill
The long-promised Judicial Accountability Bill is also all set to make an entry into the Parliament in this session. This bill will be replacing the Judges' Inquiry Bill of 1968.
Critics, like Anna Hazare and his team, remain skeptical about how this bill will effectively deal with judicial corruption
The main highlights of the bill include -
-setting up of a 5-member oversight committee to look into complaints against judiciary
-the committee will be headed by a former Chief Justice of India
- it will have the Attorney General as a member
- all complaints will be kept confidential
-judges will have to declare their assets and that of their spouse and their children
Law Minister Salman Khurshid said "it will be a good and effective bill" and sought to assuage the concerns of the civil society activists. Activists have problems with clauses in the bill which says the judiciary cannot make comments about the government but the Law Minister says that is a matter of debate. " All points can be debated. The bill has been tabled before. It was sent to the Standing Committee and we will try our best to have a strong law."
Activists point out that there are still many loopholes in the bill. For instance, does the judge whose removal has been recommended by the oversight committee and the Parliament, still have the right to appeal to Supreme Court. They want the government to clear these gray areas before the bill is introduced..
Right to Food Bill
Another crucial piece of legislation, the Right to Food Bill on shaky ground, barely days before it is tabled in Parliament. The government still does not know how many and who will benefit.
It all began with the Planning Commission's affidavit, to the Supreme Court, in September this year, saying that Rs. 25 in rural areas and Rs. 32 a day in urban areas are adequate for food, health and education.
The affidavit caused a massive outrage forcing the panel to lift the ceiling. The Planning commission said it will not impose any ceilings on the number of households to be included in different govt schemes. Entitlements and the elgibility of rural households would now be determined after the Socio-Economic Caste Census, being conducted by the Rural Development Ministry. The results of that census are expected only by January 2012.
This change has led to sharp disagreements between the Planning Commission, the Food Ministry and Chief Ministers of various states on issues like corruption in Public Distribution Scheme, the number of poor in each state and the mechanisms adopted for identifying beneficiaries, and delivery of benefits. The Prime Minister will soon be meeting all chief ministers to take stock of the situation
More deserving households, including the transient poor, may now find place in the government's schemes. The fresh parameters, which sources tell NDTV have been pushed by both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi are -
 Automatically excluded: If you pay income tax, earn more than Rs. 10,000 a month you are ineligible. However the controversial parametres are that even if you own a two wheeler, a landline-phone or a refrigerator, you'll be excluded.
 Automatically included: The destitute, homeless and primitive tribal groups among others
would be automatically included. Each household would be eligible for 7 kilograms of grain.
 Deprivation criteria - This category of deprived household is expected to cover the transient poor. Households having a person with disability, people without shelter and families run by a single woman would be counted as deprived among others. Households with one deprivation would get 5 kilograms of grain; those with 2 would get 6 kilograms and households with 3-7 deprivations would get 7 kilograms of grain.
The government plans to bring about 30 new bills. About 24 bills, including the Lokpal Bill, are pending.
With Opposition all set to move adjournment motions on issues like price rise and black money, and the NDA and Left working out a coordinated floor strategy, it remains to be seen how man of these bill will actually be introduced and passed into law, before December 21.
More information: parliament's winter session begins today, govt under pressure over crucial bills
Islamabad—Comprehensive sector plans and coordinated action are urgently needed to deliver the right to education to all Pakistani children as promised in Article 25A, stated a recommendation of the citizens’ dialogue with international donors held here today.
The dialogue was organized by Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE), Society for the Access to Quality Education (SAQE), Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE) and Foundation of Open Society Institute.
The speakers argued that citizens needed to be engaged in transforming the education sector through political and governmental action.
They said that the 18th Amendment has unfolded both a serious challenge and a huge opportunity to set things right in education sector.
The speakers asserted that the provision of free and quality education was responsibility of the State, and all the governments were bound to commit financial resources, embrace the private sector and ensure that all children attend school and stay there to learn.
The dialogue debated the findings of citizens’ perceptions about sector wide approaches in education.
The key findings suggested that the parents were disappointed, dismayed and therefore disengaged from the public sector, therefore it was incumbent upon the political leadership to lead the transformation in education.
Arshad Bhatti, the lead researcher presented the key findings; Zehra, the National coordinator of PCE hosted the dialogue; S A Hasan Al Farooque, ASPBAE representative in South Asia shared background of the initiative with the participants, while Nargis Sultana from FOSI concluded the session.
More information: Efforts needed to deliver children’ right to education
Even as the government is trying various methods to ‘divide’ Team Anna, it can do nothing about the agenda at hand, which is passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, said social activist Medha Patkar during an interaction with volunteers of various organisations involved in anti-corruption movements, at St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science.
“The government has not been able to divide Team Anna on issues with regard to the Jan Lokpal Bill. Differences will crop up as we fight other issues, but we need to be able to keep egos apart and work in a democratic manner,” she said.
Answering questions from volunteers on how to take the movement forward, Patkar said, “It is important to continuously maintain dialogue with those involved — be it the government, which has to ultimately pass the bill, or the people who are affected by corruption. People still have genuine concerns with
regard to the bill as to whether the bill can actually help fight corruption. It is important to maintain dialogue on the issue.”
She added that getting the bill passed is only the first step in the entire process and those who join the movement must have the courage and commitment to make sure that the law is implemented. “Establish centres that will dig out corruption and bring it to the notice of the public so that when the bill becomes an act and even after, it is properly implemented. Be like characters from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven. Dig out corruption and fight them,” she said.
“Apart from activism, we also have to bring a change in the mindset of the people, as corrupt behaviour comes from corrupt thoughts,” said Patkar.
On getting more momentum to pass the Jan Lokpal bill before the winter session of the Parliament, Patkar said that more mass movements need to be organised. “Organise signature campaigns, write letters to the ministers, initiate dialogues with local leaders,” she said.
More information: Government hasn’t been able to divide Team Anna: Medha Patkar
The Lokpal Bill and the Judicial Accountability Bill are aimed at bringing much-needed transparency in the system, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Sunday said, who also hailed the Right to Information Act as a watershed initiative in this direction.
"The current existing
structures in India usually culminate in conflict of intrests...legislations like the Lokpal, Judicial Accountability and Public procurement Bills etc will bring more transparency in the existing system," he said at a seminar.
"Business ethics is the ultimate oxymoron I can think of... the irony today is that ethics at the end of the day cannot be enacted in its true sense...The central dilemma of the corporate world is that it does not have a soul or body," he said.
The seminar 'Sustainable development through ethics and value-based education' was held by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.
On the occasion, BJP leader Prakash Javedkar emphasised on 'inclusive human development' based on value-based education process.
"Consumerism is not the only way of achieving desired develpoment...I believe growth and development is incomplete, unless an inclusive human development is achieved, which should have virtue and ethics as its essence.." the BJP spokesman said.
President PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Salil Bhandari said that the education and skill development, industrial development, agri-business and agricultural development, health, housing, infrastructure are imperative for the overall growth of the society.
"To attain sustainable development, ethics imbibed through well-designed and orchestrated value based education have to penetrate into organisational development at micro and macro levels," he said.
More information: Lokpal to bring more transparency: Singhvi
NEW DELHI: Accusing the government of reducing the proposed Lokpal to an "empty tin box with no powers", Team Anna on Monday said they were surprised at the move to exclude Citizen's Charter and lower bureaucracy from the ambit of the ombudsman, contrary to a Parliament resolution.
"The government proposes to remove CBI, judiciary, citizen charter, whistle blower protection, Group C and Group D employees and CBI from Lokpal jurisdiction. Wouldn't that reduce Lokpal to an empty tin box with no powers and functions?" a Team Anna statement said.
The statement said Anna Hazare suspended his fast in August on the basis of a resolution passed by Parliament which was termed as 'Sense of House' by some people but was referred to as a 'resolution' by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his letter to the Gandhian.
"This resolution clearly stated that three issues would be addressed through the Lokpal Bill namely Lokayuktas in states would be created through the same bill and lower bureaucracy and citizens charter would be included in the Lokpal Bill.
"However we are surprised that contrary to that resolution, the government proposes to exclude citizen charter and lower bureaucracy from Lokpal's jurisdiction and bring a weak and ineffective bill to deal with citizens grievances," it said noting that the reports filtering out of Standing Committee discussions were a cause of concern.
Demanding inclusion of Group C and D employees under the ambit of Lokpal, Team Anna said they strongly oppose the move to exclude the lower bureaucracy.
"Would this mean that they could indulge in corruption and they would not be investigated by any agency? Aren't we giving them a license to indulge in corruption? A common man has to deal with Group C and Group D employees on a daily basis. Lakhs of people who participated in this anti-corruption movement wanted a solution to this day to day corruption," they said.
On the issue of keeping CBI out of Lokpal's control, Team Anna said the Standing Committee proposal on the agency would reduce Lokpal to merely a post office - receive complaints, forward it to CBI, receive CBI's report and present it before the court.
They also demanded that criminal investigation of judges, which has been left out of Judicial Accountability Bill, should now be included in the Lokpal Bill.
More information: Proposed Lokpal 'empty tin box with no powers': Team Anna
ISLAMABAD, Nov 20 (APP): National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has devised a procedure to establish identity of Eunuchs for their speedy registration, though no medical proof is demanded from them.Deputy Chairman NADRA, Tariq Malik said in addition to registration centres across the country, the Authority has also deployed Mobile Registration Vans (MRVs) to facilitate eunuchs for their registration in remote areas.Talking to APP here on Sunday, he said their registration is carried out without any medical proof on their given particulars and details at the time of registration.
He said as per Supreme Court’s instructions the third genders can have male transgender, female transgender or “Khunsa-e- mushkil” written on their ID card as per their own will.
Tariq Malik said NADRA is already issuing Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) to third genders and instructions have been sent to all NADRA offices to facilitate eunuchs for the registration in the light of Supreme Court’s instructions.
He mentioned all registered eunuchs will be eligible to cast vote as citizens of Pakistan in general election and their names are added in electoral rolls.
He said NADRA being guardian of national database ensures registration of all citizens irrespective of their caste or creed.
NADRA is the first organization in Pakistan which is providing job opportunities to the third gender at its regional offices in order to engage them as productive citizens of the society, he said and added eunuchs, working in NADRA are not only an example for other organizations but also helping in registration of other eunuchs.
He said after the registration of third gender as eunuchs their rights are more protected and it will pave the way for more job opportunities to them in government and private sector.
More information: Registration of Eunuchs being carried out without any medical proof
ISLAMABAD: More than three years after the approval by the cabinet, a bill to set up an independent and powerful human rights commission will finally be tabled in the National Assembly on Monday.
The government will also introduce in the house the much-awaited bill to determine the term, salary and allowances of the newly-appointed members of the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Moula Bakhsh Chandio will present the Members, Election Commission (Oath of office, term, salary, allowances, perks and privileges) Bill, 2011, and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar will table in the house the National Commission for Human Rights Bill, 2011. The bill seeking to set up the human rights commission was approved by the cabinet in October 2008. The National Assembly´s Standing Committee on Human Rights had approved the draft bill with major amendments in August last year.
The original draft had proposed that the commission would only be headed by a serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court or high court but the committee has amended the draft making it possible for any person having vast experience in the field of human rights to become its chairperson.
The proposed commission will comprise 11 members â€“ one each from the provinces, two representing minorities and one each from Islamabad, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan and the secretary of the human rights division will be its ex-officio member. The chairperson and members would be appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister for a period of four years.
After establishment of the commission, every citizen will have a right to register a complaint in case of human rights violations against any individual or institution. The commission, while inquiring into complaints, will have the powers of a civil court and can summon any individual, public or private department.
The proposed commission will also have the powers to take suo motu notice of any incident and may seek assistance of any agency, police officer or any other official, organisation of the government. The commission will also have the powers to “intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court”.
Moreover, its members will be authorised to visit any jail or detention centres to examine living conditions of the inmates.
The commission shall send a copy of its inquiry report together with its recommendations to the government or the authority which shall, within a period of one month, or such further time as the commission may allow, forward its comments on the report, including the action taken.
The commission will also be required to submit an annual report to the federal government which will then be bound to lay it before parliament.
The commission will have complete administrative and financial autonomy and its accounts will be audited by the auditor general of Pakistan.
“The Statement of Object and Reasons” attached to the bill states: “In pursuance of UN General Assembly Resolution No. 48/134 of December 20, 1993, and such other relevant resolutions of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the UN member states are under obligation to establish independent national human rights institutions which is considered as a singular criterion to judge a state´s commitment towards the protection and promotion of human rights.
“Presently, the national human rights commissions are functioning in 54 countries of the world out of which 13 are Asian countries, including India.
“The formation of NCHR would not only fulfil the international obligation of establishment of such a Commission, it shall also serve as driving force for negating the propaganda of human rights violations in Pakistan.”
ECP MEMBERS´ BILL: The government is bringing the Members Election Commission Bill to determine the term and salaries of the ECP members only after a strong criticism from the PML-N.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has criticised the government for not doing legislation that had become necessary after the passage of the 18th Amendment.
The PML-N leader said that he had suggested to the prime minister to promulgate an ordinance to end uncertainty among the ECP members who, according to him, had been working for the past many months without salary.
Four ECP members, one each from the four provinces, were appointed in June this year, by the prime minister after consultation with the opposition leader and with the approval of the parliamentary committee concerned in the light of the 18th Amendment, under which, only the retired judges of the superior courts could become the members, instead of the serving high court judges as prescribed in the Constitution previously.
More information: Rights commission bill to be tabled in National Assembly