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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

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#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)

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Cow Numbers in India Witnesses a Sharp Increase Since 2012

The female cattle (cows) population is 145.12 million, increasing by 18 per cent over the previous census (2012)

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Cow
The 18 per cent jump in the Cow numbers in 2019 is sharply higher than the increase in livestock population at 4.6 per cent and increase in bovine population by one per cent. Pixabay

There has been a sharp jump, by 18 per cent, in the Cow Numbers in the country, as per the latest livestock census report released on Wednesday, over the previous enumeration done in 2012.

he NDA government at the Centre and the BJP governments in various states have introduced many schemes for the protection and welfare of cows.

The 18 per cent jump in the number of cows in 2019 is sharply higher than the increase in livestock population at 4.6 per cent and increase in bovine population by one per cent.

The total livestock population in the country increased by 4.6 per cent over the previous census conducted in 2012, to a total of 535.78 million.

The female cattle (cows) population is 145.12 million, increasing by 18 per cent over the previous census (2012).

The 20th Livestock Census report was released by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying on Wednesday.

The total bovine population comprising cattle, buffalo, mithuns and yaks is at 302.79 million in 2019 which shows an increase of about 1 per cent over the previous census.

In addition, the total number of cattle in the country in 2019 is 192.49 million showing an increase of 0.8 per cent over the previous census.

The 20th Livestock Census was conducted in participation with all states and Union Territories. The enumeration was done both in rural and urban areas.

Cow
The 20th Livestock Census report on Cow Numbers was released by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying on Wednesday. Pixabay

Various kinds of animals including cattle, buffaloes, mithuns, yaks, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, camels, dogs, rabbits and elephants, and poultry birds including fowls, ducks, emus, turkeys, quails and other poultry birds possessed by the households, household enterprises and non-household enterprises and institutions have been counted at their site.

The data of more than 27 crore households and non-households have been collected in the 20th Livestock Census to assess and arrive at the livestock and poultry count in the country.

According to the census, there is a decline of 6 per cent in the total indigenous/ non-descript cattle population over the previous census. However, the pace of decline of this cattle population during 2012-2019 is much lesser than as compared to the 2007-12 period, where it was about 9 per cent.

The total buffaloes in the country numbered 109.85 million showing an increase of about 1 per cent over the previous census.

The total milch animals (in-milk and dry) in cows and buffaloes is 125.34 million, an increase of 6 per cent over the previous census.

The total poultry in the country, at 851.81 million in 2019, registered an increase of 16.8 per cent.

The total commercial poultry in the country is 534.74 million in 2019, increasing by 4.5 per cent over the previous census.

Cow
The NDA government at the Centre and the BJP governments in various states have introduced many schemes for Cow Protection and Welfare. Pixabay

The major thrust given to the latest census is the collection of data through tablets computers. This census is a unique attempt as for the first time such a major initiative has been take to digitise household level data through online transmission from the field.

In the whole operations, the state/UT governments engaged more than 80,000 field personnel who are mostly veterinarians and para-veterinarians for the smooth conduct of the exercise.

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The Livestock Census has been conducted in the country periodically since 1919-20 and covers all domesticated animals and their headcounts. So far 19 such censuses have been conducted. (IANS)