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AAP Vs BJP: Is Centre creating hurdles for the functioning of Delhi government?

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By Prachi Mishra

The recent events related to the national capital have highlighted the nebulous relationship of Delhi government with the Central government.

The tension between the Centre and the state ensued with the lengthy debate between Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung over the appointment of bureaucrats. Since then, several other issues have also instigated the sparks between the Centre and the state. Let’s look at some of these issues which have questioned the authority of the Central government in its involvement with the state government’s affairs.

Arvind Kejriwal versus Najeeb Jung

Senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment as acting chief secretary for Delhi triggered a full-blown war between the AAP and LG Najeeb Jung. Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the Lieutenant Governor was trying to take over the administration.

Later, Kejriwal took this row to the Prime Minister, appealing to him to allow the Delhi government function independently. He even accused the Centre of trying to run the Delhi administration through Lt. Governor.

“In Delhi, Central government is trying to run government unconstitutionally through the Lt Governor. Let Delhi government function independently,” Kejriwal was reported as saying.

However despite several pleas, later the Central Government issued a notification giving Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, Najeeb Jung, the final say in posting and transfer of Delhi government bureaucrats.

According to the notice, the Lieutenant Governor was not bound to consult Delhi’s council of ministers. In a released statement, the Centre said, “The Lieutenant Governor, “may, in his discretion, obtain the views of the Chief Minister… wherever he deems it appropriate”.

Debate over Delhi’s heritage status

Another issue regarding national capital’s chance to become the first ‘world heritage city’ in India triggered one more feud between the Centre and the State.

The Centre withdrew the capital’s nomination from UNESCO”s list of ‘World Heritage City’ fearing that heritage tag may hamper development in the city.

“The heritage tag will slower the development program in the national capital as it imposes lots of restrictions in bulldozing the ancient buildings,” a minister of Central Government was reported as saying.

Reportedly the Delhi government has already spent Rs 2 crores for the nomination. The officials refused to believe the reason given by the Centre as good enough.

“I have written to the central government asking them to reconsider their decision. It has taken a lot of time and effort to reach this far, and the heritage tag would be a matter of great pride. The nominated zones are a very small area. This will not impact development,” said Delhi Tourism minister Jitender Tomar.

Authority to Delhi Police to file cases; reducing AAP govt’s role

At the latest, the Centre has proposed to give Delhi Police Commissioner the authority to file an appeal in court cases and appoint public prosecutors in cases handled by the Delhi Police. This decision would ultimately reduce the power of the Delhi government.

Currently, the Delhi Police seek the consultation of the Delhi government’s home department before filing an appeal or appointing a prosecutor.

Delhi police have also prompted the Centre to make Lieutenant-Governor as the final authority to issue the order on behalf of Ministry of Home Affairs.

“As far as law and order in Delhi is concerned, it is not with the Delhi government, therefore for other matters, the state government officials have no interest which leads to delays. It also means several rounds of persuasions for us to get a file cleared from the Delhi Secretariat. By making this amendment, we can reduce one layer of decision making and expedite the whole process of delivering justice,” an official was reported as saying by ET.

Public Opinion:

Manoj Khushwaha, a software engineer told NewsGram, “If the state government is wrong, then the Centre should definitely interfere with its affairs”.

Shalini Kaushik, a DU student had a different opinion. She told NewsGram, “I think India should not be called as the union of states anymore. India as the union of pseudo- states would be more appropriate seeing the Centre’s perpetual involvement with the state’s affairs”.

NewsGram contacted the BJP for their opinion on the issue, however till the time of publishing this article they maintained their silence.

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India Can Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?

A total of 548 global experts on women’s issues , 43 of them from India

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BJP Leader Asks Parents Of A Rape Victim To Express Gratitude To Them
Can India Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?. Flickr

-By Deepa Gahlot

You read with a mixture of alarm and scepticism, the poll report by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation that India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to reports, a total of 548 global experts on women’s issues — 43 of them from India — were asked about risks faced by women in six areas: healthcare, access to economic resources and discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and human trafficking. And shockingly, India comes out as the worst!

We see women progressing in every field in India, but, there is also the increasing violence against women and young girls reported every day; not long ago, female tourists felt safe in India; but now, women travelling solo are constantly targeted. Everyday there are reports of the rapes and murders of minor girls, often accompanied by unimaginable torture and mutilation.

There has been outrage in India, and also holes punctured in the survey that has such a small number of respondents, but can we really take an ostrich approach to the condition of women? Even as education and healthcare improve for women — at least in metro cities — the contempt for women is socially and culturally ingrained in the Indian psyche. In a city like Mumbai considered progressive and relatively safe for women, the girl child is unwanted even by many educated and wealthy families. In spite of laws being in place, female foeticide and infanticide is rampant, to the extent that there are large territories where there are no girl children and brides for the men have to be ‘imported’ from other states.  As dowry murders and rapes rise, the more unwanted the girl child becomes.  The fact is that India’s gender ratio is deplorable.

And if the male child is valued over the girl child, he grows up believing that he is special and if he is thwarted in any way, he can resort to violence. In spite of education and exposure to progressive ideas, in the case of rape or sexual violence, the tendency to blame and shame the victim persists.

To give just one small example, in the West, accusations of sexual harassment resulted in united shunning of a man as powerful as Harvey Weinstein and many others in the wake of the #MeToo movement, that helped many women speak out about their experiences.

In India, Malayalam actor Dileep, who has been accused in the abduction and rape of an actress, and was boycotted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), was recently reinstated. This caused shock and dismay among women in the film industry.

A statement by a group of over 150 women film practitioners says it like it is, “A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

“We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused. We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

“Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today, women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.”

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Indian women. VOA

The preference for male children has had some unexpected ramifications. In a working paper published by the American non-profit, National Bureau of Economic Research, by Northwestern University’s Seema Jayachandran and Harvard University’s Rohini Pande (quoted in Quartz Media), finds that stunting in Indian children could also be blamed on the cultural preference for sons.

“In India, on average, the first child — if he is a son — doesn’t suffer from stunting. But, if the first — and so the eldest — child of the family is a girl, she suffers from a height deficit. And, then, if the second child is a boy, and hence the eldest son of the family, he will not be stunted. This happens because of an unequal allocation of resources to the first child”.

According to the report, “When Jayachandran and Pande compared India and Africa results through this lens, they found that the Indian first and eldest son tends to be taller than an African firstborn. If the eldest child of the family is a girl, and a son is born next, the son will still be taller in India than Africa. For girls, however, the India-Africa height deficit is large. It is the largest for daughters with no older brothers, probably because repeated attempts to have a son takes a beating on the growth of the girls.”

Also read: Has Legal Framework Turned a Blind Eye towards Under-representation of Women in Indian Politics?

In spite of all the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao rhetoric, the required shift in the male-centric attitude towards a more egalitarian one is simply not happening; or, it is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The Thomson Reuters Foundation report may be unfair and skewed, but being known as the rape capital of the world does nothing to improve the image of India in the world or even in its own eyes. (IANS)