To offer NRIs the right to exercise their franchise by e-postal ballots or through proxy voting, the government on Tuesday called for an all-party meeting to discuss the proposal.
Law Minister, DV Sadananda Gowda, acknowledged the demand of Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha that their views should be taken into consideration while enacting legislation to award voting rights to NRIs and domestic migrant labours.
Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad, moved a motion in the house on this issue. Gowda, in response to the motion, said that the government was working on the Election Commission report regarding voting rights of over one crore NRIs and not as directed by the Supreme Court.
The debate heated up as the Opposition members blamed the government that it is acting against the Supreme Court’s directions. Azad said that the Opposition is not against the voting rights for NRIs, but it is the way the government has moved the proposal without even discussing it with the political parties.
“Today government has said goodbye to all consultation process. Parliament is being made aware of developments from newspaper reports. It has become the habit of the government to bypass the Parliament and the standing committees. When we object, we are being criticised,” said Azad.
Gowda stated that the report advocated the options of the e-postal ballot system and proxy voting. “E-postal and postal ballot voting methodologies are being worked out for the voting rights of the NRIs,” he said.
On the other hand, the minister agreed for an all party meeting as insisted by DMK, BJD, CPI, AIADMK, SP and JD-U. Gowda said, “I (will) request Election Commision to hold all party meeting to get their feedback.”
Facebook on Monday activated its election notification feature for India, requesting people to go out and vote for their candidates in the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly polls and post that they have voted.
Voting started in Maharashtra for the 288-Assembly constituencies, while over 1.83 crore voters in BJP-ruled Haryana are to cast their votes to elect the 90-member legislative Assembly.
Facebook began sending notifications from the morning to its over 300 million users in India, saying “get information about voting and share that you’ve voted.”
The social networking giant in April joined other social media companies in a voluntary code of ethics for the elections with the Election Commission of India (ECI).
It included measures like a dedicated communications channel for notice and take down after receiving valid legal order, processing of valid requests in the blackout period ahead of voting and voter education efforts.
“Facebook recently launched two new products in India to help people learn about issues they care about and engage with candidates and elected officials in meaningful ways,” Facebook India Vice President and Managing Director Ajit Mohan said in a blog post.
“Candidate Connect” is designed to give voters accurate information and help people learn more about different candidates.
“Share You Voted” lets people share with friends that they’ve cast their ballots in the elections.
“The products have been customised, based on what we’ve learned from local research, including the community’s desire to hear directly from their candidates,” said Mohan.
Google has also introduced a series of steps to urge the netizens and first-time users in the country to register to vote in the country. (IANS)
The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A by the two Houses of Parliament of India with a two-third majority, led to sharp criticism from the principal domestic opposition in India, a predictable denunciation from Pakistan and a range of responses — from an expression of understanding of India’s case to a positive support of the move — from the international community. The US, Russia, France and many other countries confined themselves to counselling India and Pakistan to reduce tension and sort out any issue relating to Kashmir through bilateral dialogue. They did not question India’s consistent position that J&K was an integral part of India and that the trouble in the state was caused by Pak-sponsored cross border terrorism. J&K housed many religions and cultural traditions and the dispute about it was territorial in the sense that a part of the state — as pointed out by India — was in adverse possession of Pakistan symbolised by the LoC. It was not a ‘Muslim issue’ even though the state had a Muslim majority — the reality lying in the finality of accession of J&K into India accepted by Maharaja Hari Singh the then ruler of the princely state, in October 1948. Vote
It is Pakistan that has taken a communal line on Kashmir, created a separatist lobby in the name of Hurriyat in the Valley led by the Jamaat supremo Syed Ali Shah Gilani to build pro-Pak opinion amongst the Muslims there and gradually established a large network of agents to cause civil disturbances as a way of protesting against the presence of security forces of the Centre. In a carefully crafted strategy, Pak ISI first destabilised the border state of Punjab by sponsoring the Khalistan movement and then — finding that attempt failing to achieve its objective by the end of the Eighties — added on the separatist campaign in Kashmir to its plan. In the early Nineties, it embarked on a replication of Afghan Jehad in Kashmir by pumping in battle hardened Mujahideen across the LoC.
The first group of terrorists sent in belonged to Harkat-ul-Ansar comprising the Taliban and Jaish-e-Mohammad elements and soon Lashkar-e-Toiba — Saudi funded Jehadis who had been on the forefront of anti-Soviet armed campaign in Afghanistan — came on the scene in the Valley to subdue the Kashmiriyat and spread Salafi extremism there. The Jamaatis were directed to take orders from them. The biggest misfortune of the Kashmiris was that the political leaders of the Valley, who governed them over these two decades through the democratic process, became a captive of the pro-Pak separatists just for gaining a political advantage. They continued with the practice of non-Muslims of J&K being deprived of basic human rights of equality and employment and connived with the communal plan of Pak ISI to cleanse the Valley of Kashmiri Pandits through violent means. India has taken the right step of providing for a new governance that will eradicate the internal contradictions in the state and ensure better development and protection for all citizens of this border state.
Pakistan being in no position to directly confront India is knocking at the door of its only ‘all weather friend’ China and hoping to rake up the matter of Kashmir at UN, International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). India has stuck to the stand that ‘talks and terror could not go together’ and explained it to all that the governance of J&K had been taken over by the Centre only to give a better deal to the law abiding Kashmiris. Stern steps to neutralise the mischief of Pak agents in the state were a necessary preemptive measure against the designs of a hostile neighbour. India is successfully holding out on Kashmir before the world community that was already distrustful of Pakistan — on the issue of that country providing safe haven to Islamic militants across the spectrum on its soil. Till recently President Donald Trump of the US himself was denouncing the Pak regime upfront on this issue and chastising it for playing a duplicitous role in the US-led ‘war on terror’ against the Islamic radicals of Al Qaeda-Taliban combine as well as the ISIS.
It comes as a curious surprise to Indians that President Trump has made some comments somewhat at the cost of India on the present situation in Kashmir — even though these seemed to have been driven primarily by his keenness to keep Pakistan on his side in the context of the ongoing developments in Afghanistan. Referring to the telephonic talks Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan had with him in the wake of the abolition of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution by the Indian Parliament, he stated that ‘it is a very explosive situation’ in Kashmir, ruled that it was all because of the conflict between Hindus and Muslims there and went on to say that religion was ‘the main reason for the uneasy ties between India and Pakistan’.
He reiterated his offer to mediate on Kashmir — Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan had already urged Trump to step in during his first meeting with the US President at Washington recently. Trump, it may be noted, had positively responded to what Prime Minister Modi had told him, by revealing that he had advised Pakistan to ‘moderate its rhetoric with India on Kashmir’. His subsequent reference to Hindu-Muslim conflict in J&K is somewhat raw since this integral state had been democratically governed for long by a leadership that was chosen through adult franchise. The leaders of Valley parties, in fact, always tilted towards the predominantly Muslim inhabited Valley to the neglect of non-Muslim regions. The US President implicitly put himself on the side of Pakistan which had projected the action of India in Kashmir as an anti-Muslim move.
The strategic analysts advising President Trump perhaps overlooked the fact that injecting a Hindu-Muslim narrative on Kashmir would bring back for India the historical memory of how the country was divided on religious lines in 1947 with disastrous results and how India could never permit a communally oriented debate on Kashmir. The democratic republic of India cannot allow Pakistan, an Islamic state, to play with any section of the Muslim population in this country. It is a matter of regret that the principal opposition in India has also criticised the new declaration of Indian Parliament regarding Kashmir as a move against Muslims of that state. The play of vote bank politics on India’s domestic scene apparently is on.
The comments of President Trump painting India and Pakistan with the same brush, however, need not upset India since these could be seen in the context of his current preoccupation with Afghanistan. Trump has said that the US was fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan despite being 7,000 miles away while India and Pakistan were not doing so ‘even after being next door’. We should use the opportunity of working with US, Russia and others towards a democratic outcome in Afghanistan. The US President has a visceral dislike of Islamic extremism and faith-based terrorism arising from the Pak-Afghan belt. India should, therefore, continue to build convergence with US against this common threat. (IANS)
In a bid to maintain the elections’ integrity, Facebook is set to ban ads that urge people not to vote ahead of the 2020 US Presidential election, according to its annual civil rights audit released on Sunday.
Following the 2016 US Presidential election, Facebook faced flak for failure to stop those who used the platform to spread misinformation. Some even published ads telling people not to vote in 2016.
“To protect elections, we have a team across product, engineering, data science, policy, legal and operations dedicated full time to these efforts,” Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a blog post announcing the report.
“They’re already working to ban ads that discourage people from voting, and we expect to finalize a new policy and its enforcement before the 2019 gubernatorial elections,” she added.
The new initiative builds on the work Facebook has done over the past year to prevent voter suppression.
“This is a direct response to the types of ads we saw on Facebook in 2016,” Sandberg said.
“Just as civil rights groups helped us better prepare for the 2018 elections, their guidance has been key as we prepare for the 2020 Census and upcoming elections around the world,” she added. (IANS)