Monday March 25, 2019
Home India India’s...

India’s Junior Foreign Minister M.J. Akbar Quits Following #MeToo Harassment Allegation By Women

Several female journalists welcomed the minister's resignation on television channels. "This is a moment to celebrate," said journalist Saba Naqvi

0
//
#MeToo, Victim, Harassment
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician M.J. Akbar takes the oath during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, July 5, 2017, at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. The Indian minister and veteran newspaper editor announced his resignation, Oct. 17, 2018, while still insisting that the accusations of sexual harassment are false. VOA

India’s junior foreign minister has resigned following allegations by more than a dozen female journalists of sexual harassment when he was the editor of prominent newspapers. He has dismissed the allegations as “baseless and fabricated.”

M.J. Akbar’s resignation is the highest profile since a #MeToo movement gathered momentum in India with women accusing prominent men in the media and entertainment industries of sexually inappropriate behavior.

Akbar stepped down two days after he filed a criminal defamation lawsuit against journalist Priya Ramani, the first to name him for sexual misconduct.

“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations against me,” Akbar said in a statement.

sexual harassment
M. J. Akbar flanked by Amb Syed Akbaruddin and Ambassador Tanmay Lal at an event at the Permanent Mission of India in NY City. Flickr

Ramani said she looks forward to getting justice in court, tweeting, “As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar’s resignation.”

The women who have accused Akbar of inappropriate behavior include journalists who are now in prominent roles in the media industry.

Political fallout

Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has made no comment on the allegations against Akbar, pressure is growing to respond to the charges. Women’s groups, journalists’ associations and the opposition Congress Party had demanded Modi act against him.

Political analysts said Akbar’s continuation would have hurt the government as it gears up for general elections next year, laying it open to charges of being insensitive to women. Modi has projected a pro-women image and launched several initiatives to prevent female foeticide and to educate girls.

Modi will be the chief guest for the inaugural session of the programme on Friday which is being held at Vigyan Bhawan by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. Wikimedia Commons
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“I am surprised the government did not ask him to quit earlier,” said Ajoy Bose, an independent political analyst in New Delhi, adding that it was difficult to ignore the accusations. “Too many women had come forward, there was a floodgate of allegations.”

Flood of accusations

Twenty female journalists who had worked under Akbar have rallied behind Ramani following Akbar’s defamation suit by writing a letter to the court asking it to consider their testimonies.

Ramani had written an article a year ago for Vogue India titled, “To the Harvey Weinsteins of the World,” without naming Akbar. After women began recounting their sexual harassment experiences, she retweeted the article earlier this month, saying it was about him and called him a “predator.”

Akbar was “an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer,” Ramani had said. She had worked with him in the 1990s.

#MeToo, women, sexual harassment
Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta presents a creation by designer Sanjeet Anand at the Bangalore Fashion Week in Bangalore, India. VOA

The spark for India’s #MeToo movement was lit by Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta, who named actor Nana Patekar for sexually harassing her during a film shoot.

Also Read: #MeToo Movement Shows The Decaying Soul of India: Mahesh Bhatt

Minister Akbar is the latest to resign following the flood of accusations that have followed. Two editors of leading dailies have stepped down in recent days, a Bollywood production house has closed, and India’s biggest comedy group is in disarray.

Several female journalists welcomed the minister’s resignation on television channels. “This is a moment to celebrate,” said journalist Saba Naqvi, who has also accused him of sexual harassment. “Akbar’s case was so blatant.” (VOA)

Next Story

India to Launch Electronic Intelligence Satellite Soon

In January, the space agency launched a defence imaging satellite Microsat R for the DRDO

0
TESS, rover, NASA, mercuryKeplar, NASA
TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is shown in this conceptual illustration obtained by Reuters on March 28, 2018. NASA sent TESS into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. VOA

India on April 1 will launch an electronic intelligence satellite Emisat for the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) along with 28 third party satellites and also demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of PSLV rocket, ISRO said on Saturday.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), a new variant of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket will first put the 436 kg Emisat into a 749 km orbit.

After that, the rocket will be brought down to put into orbit the 28 satellites at an altitude of 504 km.

This will be followed by bringing the rocket down further to 485 km when the fourth stage/engine will turn into a payload platform carrying three experimental payloads: (a) Automatic Identification System (AIS) from ISRO for Maritime satellite applications capturing messages transmitted from ships (b) Automatic Packet Repeating System (APRS) from AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation), India – to assist amateur radio operators in tracking and monitoring position data and (c) Advanced Retarding Potential Analyser for Ionospheric Studies (ARIS) from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) – for the structural and compositional studies of ionosphere, the space agency said.

The whole flight sequence will take about 180 minutes from the rocket’s lift off slated at 9.30 a.m. on April 1.

The 28 international customer satellites (24 from US, 2 from Lithuania and one each from Spain and Switzerland)- will weigh about 220 kg.

OSIRIS-REx, NASA, Asteroid bennu
Satellite To Conduct Biological Experiments In Space, Plans Space Kidz India. VOA

“It is a special mission for us. We will be using a PSLV rocket with four strap-on motors. Further, for the first time we will be trying to orbit the rocket at three different altitudes,” ISRO Chairman K. Sivan had earlier told IANS.

The PSLV is a four-stage engine expendable rocket with alternating solid and liquid fuel.

In its normal configuration, the rocket will have six strap-on motors hugging the rocket’s first stage.

On January 24, the ISRO flew a PSLV with two strap-on motors while in March, it had four strap-on motors.

The Indian space agency also has two more PSLV variants, viz Core Alone (without any strap-on motors) and the larger PSLV-XL.

Also Read- UAE Launches ‘Lose to Win’ Programme to Help Overweight Employers to Shed Extra Kilos

The ISRO selects the kind of rocket to be used based on the weight of satellites it carries.

The ISRO will also be launching two more defence satellites sometime in July or August with its new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

In January, the space agency launched a defence imaging satellite Microsat R for the DRDO. (IANS)