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Sachin Tendulkar asks second ever question in Parliament, govt responds

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(File Photo)

New Delhi: Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar has played long and bold innings on numerous occasions on the cricket pitch but seems to be making his moves only gingerly on the political one.

The former ace cricketer on Monday elicited a response from a union minister in the Rajya Sabha to his written query – only the second so far, more than three years since he became a member of the upper house of parliament – about “changes in provisions for issuance of driving licences”.

The government said there was a proposal to replace Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 with a new law to facilitate technological intervention and information technology-based systems to ensure efficient and safe transport network in the country.

“Whether under the proposed new Motor Vehicles Act, the government proposes to make driving licence procedure more transparent and stringent in order to curb fake licences; whether it is also proposed to implement strict guidelines to test and train the driving licence applicants; and what steps are being taken in the new Act to safeguard the rights of pedestrians, drivers, physically challenged persons and to curb the incidents of road rage?” the cricket legend asked.

In reply, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways P Radhakrishnan said the ministry was working on a proposal to replace the Motor Vehicles Act with ‘The Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2015’.

“The bill proposes to have a ‘unified driving licencing system’ that envisages simplified application and issuance procedures for driver licencing system, adopting technology for driving testing facilities. A unified biometric system is proposed to be adopted to avoid duplication of licences,” the minister said.

“The Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2015, inter alia, proposes to include regulation for pedestrians, non-motorised transport and motor vehicles. It includes sensitising and educating drivers and other road users. It also provides special consideration to vulnerable road users such as women, children, senior citizens and differently-abled persons,” the minister said.

“Combination of penalties and fines to enforce traffic rules, strict enforcement for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, rash driving, electronic detection and centralised offences information to identify repeat offenders have also been proposed,” Radhakrishnan said.

Tendulkar became a nominated Rajya Sabha member in April 2012. He has only seven percent attendance in the house, as per PRS Legislative Research, against a national average of 78 percent.

He has so far not participated in any debate, nor has brought forth any private member’s bill in the house.

His attendance in the current session of parliament so far is 17 percent, as per PRS Legislative Research website.

Tendulkar’s maiden involvement in the house proceedings came on Friday through a written question to the railway ministry, to which he received a written answer from Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha.

(IANS)

(Image courtesy: Firstpost)

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Catalonia Independence : Spanish PM plans to remove Catalonia’s leaders to take control

Many Catalans who want to remain in Spain will approve of this strident action. But those who want independence for their region are likely to see this as a provocation rather than a solution

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The Spanish Prime Minister said one of his aims is to restore peaceful co-existence to Catalonia by removing its leaders. VOA

Madrid, October 22, 2017 : Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has outlined plans to remove Catalonia’s leaders and take control of the separatist region.

Speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday, Rajoy stopped short of dissolving the region’s parliament but put forward plans for elections, BBC reported.

The measures must now be approved by Spain’s Senate in the next few days.

Large crowds have gathered in Barcelona to protest against direct rule from Madrid. It comes almost three weeks after Catalonia held a disputed independence referendum.

Spain’s Supreme Court had declared the vote illegal and said it violated the constitution, which describes the country as indivisible.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has ignored pleas from the national government to abandon moves towards independence.

Rajoy said the the Catalan government’s actions were “contrary to the law and seeking confrontation”. He said it was “not our wish, it was not our intention” to impose direct rule.

This will be via Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, which allows it to impose direct rule in a crisis on any of the country’s semi-autonomous regions.

Spanish law dictates that elections must be held within six months of Article 155 being triggered, but Rajoy said it was imperative that the vote be held much sooner.

Reports say that Spain’s interior ministry is preparing take control of Catalonia’s Mossos police force and remove its commander Josep Lluís Trapero, who is already facing sedition charges.

The government is also considering taking control of Catalonia’s public broadcaster TV3, El País newspaper reported.

Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras said Rajoy and his allies had “not just suspended autonomy. They have suspended democracy”.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said it was a “serious attack on the rights and freedoms of all, both here and elsewhere” and called for demonstrations.

The president of Barcelona football club, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said the club gave its “absolute support for the democratic institutions of Catalonia chosen by its people”.

But he called for any reaction to be “civil and peaceful” and said dialogue was the only way to a solution.

Eduard Rivas Mateo, spokesman for the Catalan Socialist party — which supports the Spanish government’s stance but also wants constitutional reform — said he could not accept a “harsh application” of Article 155.

ALSO READ Catalonia Protesters Demand Release of Separatist Leaders

But Ines Arrimadas, head of the centrist Ciudadanos party in Catalonia, which is against independence, said holding fresh elections would “restore goodwill and democracy” in the region.

Rajoy’s use of Article 155 had been widely anticipated, but his announcement when it came still had a huge impact. The article has never been invoked before, so there was a certain amount of mystery surrounding its potential reach and meaning.

Although Rajoy insisted that Catalonia’s self-government is not being suspended, many will disagree. The removal from office of Carles Puigdemont and all the members of his cabinet, to allow ministers in Madrid to take on their duties, amounts to a major reining in of Catalonia’s devolved powers.

The Spanish Prime Minister said one of his aims is to restore peaceful co-existence to Catalonia with these measures.

Many Catalans who want to remain in Spain will approve of this strident action. But those who want independence for their region are likely to see this as a provocation rather than a solution. (IANS)

 

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What Gives Husbands The Licence to Rape? Decoding Marital Rape in the Indian Legal Scenario

Can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman?

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While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India. Pixabay
  • Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence
  • Marital rape is yet to be categorized as a criminal offence in India
  • According to the central government, criminalizing marital rape “may destabilize the institution of marriage”

New Delhi, September 2, 2017 : Baby works as a domestic help; she says she cannot recall her age when her parents married her off to a man who was much older to her; a man she barely knew. She didn’t anticipate her husband would demand to have intercourse on their wedding night. She was still young and not ready, but that didn’t stop him. Baby was raped by her husband on her wedding night. But marital rape means nothing to her.

Sunita irons clothes for a living. She says has been married for more years than she can remember. The duo has four kids together, but that doesn’t stop her husband from raising a hand or two on her, every once in a while. Every night, her husband would get drunk, hit her and forcefully demand to have sex, paying no heed to her resistance. Sunita has three daughters, and a son, and the husband still wants to have progenies. “I told my mother that this man has raped me multiple times. She protested, arguing that he is ‘your husband’ after all,” she said.

But did she never decide to approach the authorities?

To this, Sunita promptly replied, “I once had a sore eye after he (the husband) hit me with his shoe when I refused to have sex. I went to the local hospital and then the police. I narrated the entire scene; they were very considerate, offered me water and then asked me to go home and ‘adjust’.”

Sunita is unaware of a term called ‘marital rape’.

This is the reality of a huge part of the society in real India.

Like Baby and Sunita, women who suffer such indignities are often asked to “adjust” with perpetrators of violence because of a deep –embedded fear of what the society would say. This notion of an ‘ideal woman’ impedes women to object to illicit treatment meted out by their ‘better halves’.

The debate around the issue has become ripe once again with the Central Government stating that what “may appear to be marital rape” to a wife “may not appear so to others”. In an affidavit to the Delhi High Court, the central government took a stand against criminalizing marital rape saying that it “may destabilize the institution of marriage” and also become easy tool for harass the husbands and the in-laws.

Rape v/s Marital Rape

Rape is defined in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, but with an irregularity: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

While rape is addressed as perforation without a woman’s accord in its main clause, the only remedy to forced intercourse provided to ‘married’ woman is specified under Section 498-A of the IPC and the civil provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestiic Violence Act.

Following the horrific 2012 Nirbhaya rape case that brought the entire world to a standstill, the Indian media has given paramount coverage to instances of rape across the country. But even after 5 years of the gut-wrenching incident, there seems no end to this crime.

ALSO READ The Hardships of Sexuality: Marital rape, violence and humiliation

Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence. However, rape by husbands within holy matrimony continues to remain an obscure subject in India and the exact number of cases is hard to gauge.

According to a 2015 report by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) tracing the proximity of offenders to the victims of sexual violence, it was revealed that in 95 per cent of all rapes, the offenders were familiar to the survivors. These, presumably include acquaintances, friends, relatives and colleagues.

And what about rape committed by husbands?

These cases continue to be an under-reported crime in India. This can be attributed to two major reasons,

  • Because of the stigma associated with it
  • Because of the presence of a defunct justice system

Furthermore, more often than not, these cases go missing because of several additional (and unnecessary) barriers stemming from a combination of familial and/or social power structures, shame and dependency.

Marital Rape In India

While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India.

A United Nations’ report titled ‘Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?’ published in 2013 disclosed that nearly a quarter of 10,000 men  in Asia-Pacific region, including India, admitted to have indulged in the rape of a female partner. The report traced their rationale to a deep-embedded belief that they are entitled to sex despite the consent of their partners.

The study also revealed that the majority of these instances were not reported and the perpetrators faced no legal consequences.

In 2014, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in association with International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) brought out a report titled ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’. Among other things, the report analyzed the average Indian male’s understanding and interpretation of the idea of ‘masculinity’ and how that molds their interactions with women.

Not surprisingly, the study revealed that a typical man in the Indian society associated the attributes ‘tough’, and ‘controlling’ with masculinity.

Segments of the present day Indian society continue to look at men as tough forces, who can (must) freely exercise their privilege to establish rule in personal relationships and above all, continue to control women.

Additionally, the study also revealed that 60 per cent of the Indian men disclosed the use of physical violence to establish authority.

In India, stiff patriarchal norms continue to tilt the gender balance firmly in the favor of men, as a result of which, women are forced to internalize male dominance in their lives.

Marital Rape in India : A Legal Perspective

Section 375 essentially distinguishes between two categories of women

  • Married women
  • Unmarried women

Much to the Indian society’s disappointment, the Indian legal system denies protection from rape to the married woman. This creates discrimination as the women belonging to one section are denied justice merely by virtue of being married.

But can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman? Is it justified to discriminate a woman just because she is married to the man who has raped her?

The Debate Around Marital Rape In India

Despite the piquant situation, the issue raised furor when Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told the Parliament that the question of criminalizing marital rape in India has no relevance “as marriage is treated as sacred here.”

Does marriage being a sacrament provide one with the legal right to rape a woman?

South Asia director at Human Rights Watch Meenakshi Ganguly had retaliated saying that it is particularly concerning when a government that claims to secure the safety of women inside and outside national territory shamelessly turn to justify a crime in the name of culture and tradition.

Group director of social and economic development at the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) Priya Nanda asserted in an interview with a leading portal that “the reason men don’t want to criminalize marital rape is because they don’t want to give a woman the power to say no.”

In 2013, a three-member commission headed by Justice J.S. Verma suggested remedial measures to combat sexual violence in India, following the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case. One of its recommendations was the criminalization of marital rape.

ALSO READ Reasons Why Marital Rape Should Be Recognised as a Criminal Offence

The recommendation was ignored by the government as a large amount of people questioned its efficiency saying if made a crime,

  • It might be misused by people
  • It will be difficult to prove
  • It might break up marriages

But, how fair is it to not have a law against marital rape, only because of the reason that it is ‘difficult to prove’?

In a broader understanding, it needs to be understood that the criminalization of marital rape must not be viewed as a step against men or the institution of matrimony, but as an attempt to demolish the patriarchal system that continues to clutch the Indian society.


 

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Want to Study at a Foreign University? Take Tips from My Experience!

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– by Aania Datta

March 31, 2017: During my growing up years, people would often ask me what I wanted to become, and I would promptly reply, that I wanted to be the doorkeeper of all the treasures in the world, just like the character in my magical fairy tales.

Seldom did I know that with the passage of time, my developing interest in the matters of business, trade and fiscal policies of my country would propel me to take up B. Com as my graduation subject in college. Hi, I am Aania Datta, aged 22, exploring opportunities to do my majors in Economics abroad.

Breaking the Barriers

Believe it or not, not a single person from my family has travelled abroad to pursue studies. We are a joint family of 15 members, staying happily in one of those huge bungalows of CR Park, Delhi. I have always been a rebel since childhood.

My keenness to watch the annual budget session in the parliament and the English news channels always irked my cousins because watching these programmes meant zero time for cartoons and Mahabharata episodes.

My selection of commerce after my class 10th annoyed many in the family as all of them felt that I was superb in English and so should take up humanities. My family profoundly believed that arts and humanities were always a source of professional salvation as they opened up a plethora of professional avenues for a girl. With very good grades in mathematics and after a lot of heated discussions with my parents, I finally took up commerce.

As time passed, my interest in the matters of economy grew and then in a logical progression of career; I went on to secure the first name on the St Stephens admission list for Economics (Hons). My entire family was baffled with this news and with this, I broke my very first barrier of being the first woman in the Datta household to take up economics as a graduation subject and that too in one of the most reputed colleges of the country.

Over a period of time, my diligence and hard work paid off and I scored well in all my exams. My teachers and mentors all encouraged me to pursue further studies abroad. The idea of studying abroad was revolutionary, and it meant a lot of groundwork and finding out the best study abroad consultants in Delhi.

Exploring the Possibilities with Mobile Marketplace

Finding a good consultant was a task, and after a fortnight of meeting consultants recommended by known people, I was on the brink of giving up. Something or the other was lacking. I remember it was my birthday eve, and I was on a long distance call with a cousin of mine who was studying in Australia.

She suggested me to explore mobile marketplace of services such as UrbanClap to scout around for the reputed study abroad consultants in Delhi. This kindled a fresh hope in me, and I immediately downloaded the marketplace app and placed in my requirement.

Within a single day, I got the quotes from a few of the best names in the industry and after having a thorough conversation with shortlisted consultants, I finally zeroed in on one based out of Chanakyapuri. Both my parents and I were greatly impressed by the fact that they had a concrete plan of action for not only short listing the best universities for me but also supporting me with the Student Visa, estimating the total expense of pursuing the course, accommodation in the student hubs, and part time jobs for expense support. All that they spoke and presented calmed down my delirious folks.

Taking off

Breaking free from all inhibitions and preconceived notions, I embarked on the journey of closely working with the deemed consultant to finalize between London School of Economics and Stanford University. It took us three months to figure out everything and finally, the day arrived when I was just standing there with my parents in the Delhi International Airport, teary eyed but excited to take on the new world of challenges. Thanks to UrbanClap for connecting me to one of the most capable study abroad consultants in Delhi.

Today, a lot of my cousins are motivated to take up courses abroad and I am happy to share that I have become a source of pride for my parents because I am funding my education through a student work-earn program.