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New Delhi: Eminent Civil Society members, led by Justice (retd.) A P Shah, have launched ‘Citizens Whistle Blower Forum‘ on February 28 to fight Corruption.The forum was launched during the conclusion of the two-day ‘Act Now – National Convention on Corruption‘.
Here is the press release issued by the forum.
Concerned with the lack of effective systematic mechanisms to fight Corruption and acting in public interest, several eminent members of the Civil Society came together today to launch the Citizens Whistle Blower Forum (CWBF/Forum) with a firm resolve to contribute significantly in the fight against corruption. The founding members of the Forum is an eclectic and confidence inspiring combination of legal luminaries like Justice (retd.) A P Shah, Justice (retd.) N Santosh Hegde, senior ex-bureaucrats like Mr. E.A.S. Sarma, Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, ex-head of Indian Navy: Admiral (retd.) L. Ramdas besides a number of well known social and civil rights Activists represented by Ms. Aruna Roy, Mr. Jagdeep Chhoker and Mr. Prashant Bhushan (himself a noted lawyer also).
Corruption: the multi-faceted evil
Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had called corruption “a national economic terror” and called for stringent measures to control this social calamity. Several international organisations have echoed similar concerns earlier:
- In 2015, India was ranked 85th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’sCorruption Perceptions Index.
- The World Bank has earlier found corruption to be the single greatest obstacleto economic and social development.
- In his foreword to the UN Convention against Corruption, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi K Annan said: “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on society. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and it allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found in all countries, big and small, rich and poor – but it is in the developing world that its effects are more destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining the government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and the major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development”.
A. Mechanisms to fight Corruption
In its Charter, the Forum noted that the two main weapons to fight corruption, i.e., (A) legislation and (B) Whistleblowers have sadly not been allowed to develop and deliver adequately in India.
B. Weak and ineffective Legislations
As per the said Charter, pursuant to the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed while hearing Writ Petition (C) No.539/2003 regarding Shri Satyendra Dubey, who had to pay for his life for exposing the scam in the “Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project, the Central Government vide its notification dated April 21, 2004 authorised the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) as the designated Agency to, inter-alia, investigate written complaints or disclosure on any allegation of corruption or of mis-use of office, (b) recommend appropriate action against the wrong doers, (c) recommend taking corrective measures to prevent recurrence of wrong doing in future and (d) ensure protection of the Whistle Blowers from administrative harassment and victimisation. Despite receiving a large number of complaints during the last decade, the track record of CVC is anything but satisfactory, let alone impressive: it rarely took any action for either conducting independent & effective investigations or for protection of the Whistle Blowers. Two main reasons could be attributed to this: (1) Merit was overlooked and appointments were often driven by political considerations and (2) “conflict of interest” since the CVO had no independent investigative machinery.
The Whistleblower protection Act, 2011 (Act) is yet to be notified and efforts are already under way to dilute it further. Even in its present form, the Act is a weak piece of legislation and suffers from a number of lacunae/defects. Some of these are:
- Its scope is restricted to complaints against public servants only and private entities are outside its ambit,
- The Special Protection Group (SPG), Prime Minister, Chief Ministers of States, Judges of High Court & Supreme Court are not covered.
- The mechanism for investigation against a public servant by authorities such as the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) whose appointments are often driven by political considerations fails to inspire confidence.
- Whistleblowers hesitate to confide in public authorities for fear of disclosure of their identity and/or probable harassment.
C. Whistle blowing: The contrasting Global and Indian perspectives
Globally, Whistle Blowers have emerged as one of the most effective tools to fight corruption. Countries like USA even give substantial financial rewards to them. Sadly, in India, “Whistle blower” is still a dirty word. “Shooting the messenger” is a common phenomenon in India. Most have to undergo harassments of various kinds. Some have literally paid with their lives. Disillusioned by the inaction and lack of confidence in public authorities, most prospective Whistle Blowers now choose to remain silent. Corruption thereby continues to flourish.
Need for the Forum to step in
It is to fill this void, address the limited efficacy of the relevant legislations and acting in public interest, that the aforesaid distinguished members of the civil society have launched the Citizens Whistle Blower Forum. The Forum will, inter-alia,:
- Provide the much needed confidence to the Whistle Blowers to expose without fear, inter-alia, cases of corruption, commission of any criminal offense or willful misuse of powers by any person/entity including but not limited to any public, private, political, judicial or constitutional entity which, prime-facie, causes loss to the public exchequer, results in human rights violations, endangers national security and/or sovereignty or is against the larger public interest,
- Investigate and take such cases to their logical conclusion in a time bound manner including taking up the issues with the Authorities and Courts for investigation and/or prosecution,
- Keep confidential the identity of the Whistleblower if so desired by them and provide necessary support to them for preventing their victimization and harassment.
Procedure and contact details:
The procedure for exposing cases referred to in (1) above and bringing them to the notice of the Forum. The Forum can be reached at:
- Office Address: Citizens Whistle Blower Forum, Common Cause House, 5, Institutional Area, Nelson Mandela Marg, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi – 110070.
Hope and Optimism
It is hoped that the members of the public will utilize the Forum to fight corruption and contribute in building a better, ethical and stronger India that we can all be proud of.
By- Digital Hub
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The prestigious British-based, Booker Prize, is one of the most prestigious and acclaimed awards given annually to the best work of fiction. This award is given to a work of fiction which is primarily written in English language and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland by the writers of any nationality.
This year, six authors were nominated for their work of fiction, and the winner will be announced on the 3rd of November.
The books which were shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize 2021 are:
1. The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed
British-Somali writer, Nadifa Mohamed's novel, 'The Fortune Men', is a chilling reimagining of Mahmood Mattan's story. Mattan, who is the main character in the book, was a Somali seaman who was wrongfully imprisoned and executed for a murder in Wales.
2. Bewilderment by Richard Powers
Pulitzer-winner, Richard Powers' book is a story of a young astrobiologist, who is in search of finding life on other planets, and his troubled son, Robin. The book is a mixture of sci-fi and family romance. Interestingly, this is Powers' first book after winning the Pulitzer Prize in the year 2019.
3. Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
This book is about the lives of pilot Marian Graves and Hadley Baxter, who was a troubled Hollywood actress. In the 1950s, Marian embarked on a journey to travel the world but then disappeared without a trace. Fifty years later, Hadley is drawn to play Marian's character, which indirectly leads her to probe the mysteries of the latter's life.
4. No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockdwood
This is the first book by the American poet and memoirist. " 'No One Is Talking About This' is like a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature," reads the book's blurb. This book was also one of the finalists for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction.
5. A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam
The Sri Lankan author's book tells the story of a young man who travels to Sri Lanka's war-torn North. The story deals with the themes of loss, longing, the legacy of war, and how it affects everyone. The author had earlier won the DSC Prize for his debut book "The Story of a Brief Marriage".
6. The Promise by Damon Galgut
Damon Galgut is a South African author. In this book, the author pens down the story about a white South African family living around in Pretoria, and the crisis they face during the last few years because of apartheid.
Today, 17 September,marks the 133rd birth anniversary of Michiyo Tsujimura, who was a Japanese scientist, and worked extensively on decoding the nutritional value of green tea.
Tsujimura spent her early career as a science teacher. And, in 1920, she chased her dream of becoming a scientific researcher at the Hokkaido Imperial University, where she began to analyse the nutritional properties of Japanese silkworms, in which she was very much interested.
After a few years, Tsujimura transferred to the Tokyo Imperial University, and began researching the biochemistry of green tea alongside Dr. Umetaro Suzuki, who is well known for his discovery of vitamin B1.
In their joint research in this area, it was revealed that green tea contained significant amount of vitamin C, which is the first of many, yet unknown molecular compounds in green tea.
Later on, in 1929, Tsujimura isolated catechin, which is bitter ingredient of tea. Then, the next year, she isolated tannin, which is an even more bitter compound. All these findings formed the foundation for her doctoral thesis– "On the Chemical Components of Green Tea", and through all this hard work, she graduated as Japan's first woman doctor of agriculture in the year 1932.
Moreover, Tsujimura also made history as an educator when she became the first ever Dean of the Faculty of Home Economics at the Tokyo Women's Higher Normal School in the year 1950.
Even today, a stone memorial in honor of Dr. Michiyo Tsujimura’s achievements can be found in her birthplace of Okegawa City.