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Absurd to say returning awards is paid propaganda: Shantha Sinha

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Shantha Sinha

Jamshedpur: Child rights activist and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Shantha Sinha says it is “absolutely absurd” to say that returning state awards as a show of dissent in the ongoing debate over intolerance in the country was “a paid propaganda”.

“I’m as worried as most in the country on the issue that there is polarisation that is happening through national discourse, especially going against the very mettle of the Indian Constitution – diversity,” Sinha told IANS in an interview here, where she is attending ‘Samvaad’, a pan-India tribal conclave.

Sinha added it was “absolutely absurd to say that people are returning awards because it’s a paid propaganda”.

Though she did not name anyone, her comment was obviously a retort to union ministers V.K.Singh and Arun Jaitley, who trashed both the debate on intolerance and the return of awards by artists and intellectuals.

“This particular debate (on intolerance) is no debate. It is the unnecessary creation of very imaginative minds who are being paid with a lot of money,” Minister of State for External Affairs Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

“Those returning awards are playing politics by other means. Follow their tweets and their stances on various social and political issues. You will find a lot of rabid anti-BJP elements in them,” Jaitley told reporters on October 29.

“I had already called it a manufactured rebellion. I stand by my phrase. And I think, the events as they are unfolding only indicate that kind of manufacturing is going on at faster speed,” Jaitley said when asked about artists returning awards to protest growing “intolerance”.

Stoutly defending the artists and intellectuals, Shantha Sinha said returning state awards was a form of protest and a way of making a statement that one was against what was happening in the country. She added that it was a way of creating consensus in the country in favour of a secular India.

“Due to the present kind of politics, there is no mature understanding of our society,” she said.

Sinha, who served as the first chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for two consecutive terms, was also honoured with the civilian honour, Padma Shri.

Asked if she would return her awards, Sinha answered in the negative, saying the awards were for the “idea that children should not be allowed to work, and not for me alone”.

The anti-child labour activist remarked that the amendments mooted by the current government to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, which allow children below 14 years of age to work in “family enterprises” or entertainment industry, were “extremely disappointing”.

She said it “reinforces invisibilization of child labour”.

Sinha added that it was the state’s responsibility to ensure a child gets all the support he or she needs so as to go to school and not to open him or her to greater exploitation.

“Need of the hour is to make a separate ministry for children, considering we have 420 million children in the country, out of which at least a 50 percent are school dropouts,” the activist said, and added that it would also be a way of fighting the thinking that it is a woman’s job alone to take care of children.

Sinha also expressed opposition to the move to lower the legally defined age of a “juvenile” as an adult for purposes of trial in the heinous crime. In the December 2012 Nirbhaya rape case, it was the “failure of the state to give guidance to the child”, she said.

Expressing discontentment with Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi’s move to allow the Juvenile Justice Board to decide whether a child had reformed or not, Sinha said, “It is against the very mettle of juvenile justice system, which is to help a child reform and give him/her a second chance at life.”

(Bhavana Akella, IANS)

 

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Congress To Use Tribal Card to Regain Power in the Country

Congress to use tribal card to improve countrywide position

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Congress Chhattisgarh
Congress will be using the tribal card to regain dominance and their plan of action will begin from Chhattisgarh. Wikimedia Commons

BY SANDEEP PAURANIK

In order to regain dominance in the country, the Congress is mulling using the tribal card. This plan of action is to be first implemented in Chhattisgarh.

Riding on the success of the Assembly and urban body elections, the Congress feels that it can increase it base through tribals as they constitute 8 per cent of the total population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the first three Assembly elections in the state, after its formation in 2000, recorded huge victories and came to power. But after the Assembly elections held last year, the scenario changed. After registering a victory in the Assembly elections and then in the urban body polls, the Congress showed that it still dominates the tribal areas.

Rahul Gandhi Congress
Former President of Congress Rahul Gandhi gave an important message while innaugrating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur. Wikimedia Commons

The Congress gave the responsibility of the tribal areas to the tribal leader of Madhya Pradesh Umang Singhar which eventually helped the party. Now, the party is planning to spread out nationwide through Chhattisgarh.

Former party president Rahul Gandhi, while inaugurating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur, gave a message to the tribals who are here to participate in the festival that the Chhattisgarh government is working for all the sections and this is the reason why there has been a downward trend in naxal attacks and the state economy has also improved.

The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country because the tribal population in the state is 32 per cent.

BJP media panellist Sandeep Sharma, however, claims that the party’s base has not shrunk. He said till Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were not divided, the Congress was strong in the area but in the elections held after three years of the bifurcation, the BJP won the Assembly elections and was in power for 15 years. Though we faced defeat in the 2018 elections, the only reason was that people wanted a change but they were not angry with the BJP, he claimed.

The BJP won in the Lok Sabha elections and the margin in the urban body elections was also not much. So, it would be inappropriate to say that the BJP’s base has shrunk, he said adding that in one year the Congress’ base has declined by 9 per cent whereas in Assembly elections it got 12 per cent more votes and in urban body elections the margin was 3 per cent.

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The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country. Wikimedia Commons

Analysing the political landscape of the state, political analyst Rudra Awasthi said, “When it was Madhya Pradesh then the Congress had stronghold in Chhattisgarh. Several big leaders were also from the state but after the formation of Chhattisgarh since Ajit Jogi was accused of being a fake tribal the Congress lost its stronghold over the tribals. Though it continued to dominate in some of the areas which helped it in regaining the power.

“As of now, the Congress has started including the tribals with the backward class. First Bhupesh Baghel was the state chief of the party and he was replaced by Mohan Markam as he became the Chief Minister. During the Assembly elections, the Congress talked about the identity of the tribals which helped the party. After winning the elections, the decisions of the Congress government were in favour of the tribals which helped the party in the urban body elections,” said Awasthi.

Also Read- Unity in Diversity is the Strength of the Country: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress is mulling over spreading its message to the tribals across the country through the three-day festival going on here. For this several senior leaders of the party will attend the festival and share the government’s schemes while giving the message that the Congress government in the state has brought a positive and a significant change in the lives of the tribals. (IANS)