November 30, 2012

cash transfer of subsidy is just a better disbursement tool & notthing else

Earlier this week (beginning Monday, November 26, 2012), the government of India operationalised the first phase of its 'cash transfer of subsidy' scheme. A lot of debate has ensued since then. A day before the formal announcement, I contributed an editorial on this subject matter in the newspaper I presently work.

Here is what I wrote in it:

Gaining superficially

Cash subsidies are worth a try but can't replace need for propriety

An unknown animal is about to be unleashed by the government in the economy about whom the only two things known with certainty is its speed and the trail it leaves behind, somewhat like that of a cheetah which is the fastest sprinter on our planet and also leaves behind identifiable footprints. But among the things not known about this animal are the two most important ones -- whether it will target its intended prey or whether it will end up eating the wrong prey. 

The government is ready to go live with its direct cash transfers scheme for managing various kinds of subsidies under different welfare programs. To be implemented in phases, both with respect to the type of subsidy and the coverage of districts, with effect from the first day of 2013, the new cash transfer scheme is aimed at reducing the debilitating diversion of subsidies from the targeted needy beneficiaries to the un-targeted greedy intermediaries. There is no disputing this good aim. Even the technological tool chosen -- electronic transfer of subsidy amount to transfers to bank accounts of beneficiaries -- is very sound. 

But there are no other shortcuts to the aim. Those in charge of steering and administering the new scheme of cash transfers will still be expected not to be unscrupulous and dishonest so that there is no fraud in the transfers. Those responsible for providing necessary inputs to the scheme such as the identification of intended beneficiaries and collating their data, including the bank account numbers, will still have to do their job devoid of inaccuracies--deliberate or out of inefficiency--which can have the same effect of subsidy mis-use as the current regime has. Sure, an audit trail will be available in the electronic transfer mechanism and it will be easier to track and investigate later if there are allegations of continued mis-use. But there were elaborate laid-out procedures along with several checks and balances in the current in-kind subsidy system too, but which were skillfully manipulated by the pilferers. 

In other words, if the government is thinking it will, through the implementation of cash subsidies, be able to evade the biggest responsibility of ensuring zero leakages then it is being short-sighted. Effective monitoring mechanisms will still be required to be in place in the new scheme and be actually used. 

The question, therefore, still begs -- if there was no governmental and political will to seriously stop diversion of subsidies, and some even allege the monetary benefits of that going to political parties, will there be one in the new scheme of things? Still, a case exists for the new scheme to be tried out as otherwise we will never surely know whether the it is better, at least in parts, than the existing subsidy regime. More importantly, the dual pricing that exists in the current regime is not a desirable one given the temptations it poses to the manipulators. It is aptly stated by the government's June 2011 interim report on direct transfer of subsidies on kerosene, LPG and fertiliser that "ensuring that goods move in the supply chain at market prices can minimize the incentives for diversion." These three products, incidentally, will be in the first phase of the new cash subsidy implementation. 

Cash subsidies will also help in areas where there is no illegitimate diversion but there exists a cruel, though legal, use of subsidies. Diesel use is one such area and which also gobbles up a big chunk of the subsidy bill. Direct cash transfer to farmers and targetted transporters of essential goods will mean market-driven diesel price which will be hugely welcomed by one and all. But how soon will the government move to bring that in the cash subsidy regime remains to be seen.

November 28, 2012

rights-violating clauses in india's IT Act

The Information Technology Act has a clause or two which is extremely dangerous in terms of being violative of basic human rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

Below is a news report which sheds more light on it:

Where’s the hidden landmine? In the IT Act

A large pool of the legal fraternity describes section 66A of the IT Act as a “hidden tool” to curtail free speech and expression in the guise of controlling electronic communication.


November 27, 2012 09:18 IST

A friendly warning: think twice before uploading criticism against anyone, particularly public personalities and politicians, on social media.
Before you can say “Tim Berners-Lee”, the police can enter your premises without warrant, and arrest and put you behind bars in no time while acting on any complaint that may describe your criticism as “grossly offensive” or “of menacing character”.
Yes, in the age of information and technology, we appear to be kissing goodbye to the Constitution-guaranteed fundamental right of freedom to speech and expression ever since Section 66A was introduced in the Information and Technology Act (IT Act) in 2009.
Recent examples
Instances are plenty, the most recent, high-profile being the arrest of two young Mumbai women.
One posted a comment on Facebook on the megapolis shutting down after Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s death and the other ‘liked’ it.
Both were arrested and terrorised.
And who can forget the arrest of a Jadavpur University professor after he forwarded cartoons of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee earlier this year.
Ms. Banerjee went on the offensive terming the act of posting her pictures by the professor on the Net a cyber crime that deserved legal action.
Also arrested recently was a small-scale industrialist for posting what was called “offensive” tweets on the Union Finance Minister’s son, Karti Chidambaram.
Vaguely worded
A large pool of the city’s legal fraternity describes this section of the IT Act as a “hidden tool” to curtail free speech and expression in the guise of controlling electronic communication.
“Section 66A undoubtedly is not only vague, but also [strikes at] the very root of the Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression to every citizen,” says B.V. Acharya, former Advocate General and former member of Law Commission of India.
He wants these provisions to be immediately repealed or amended by Parliament to protect the Constitutional right of free speech and expression and to ensure that misuse of power is avoided or eliminated.
Power to the police
The worst part of the Section 66A is that its subsection (a) does not spare anyone from the offence even if their comments are found to be true.
Mr. Acharya says anyone disseminating information in electronic form — whether it is true or false — faces the consequences once the complainant claims that comments are “grossly offensive” or “of menacing character”.
However, terms such as these are “vague” and also not defined in the law, Mr. Acharya says and points out that this gives unbridled power to the police to interpret them as they please.
Pointing out that punishment prescribed in a law should be proportionate to the gravity of the offences, he says that offence under Section 66A is cognisable, non-bailable, and the police have power to arrest without a warrant.
Besides, he says, imprisonment (up to three years) is an automatic result of a guilty verdict as the courts have not been given the power of choosing imprisonment or fine as mode of punishment, unlike under Section 500 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) related to defamation.
‘Shoddy legislation’
Prakash K.M., an advocate practising in the field of IT law, confirms that provisions of Section 66A “can be interpreted in any way” and is certainly a “hidden tool” to restrict free speech in a democratic country.
“Section 66A, no doubt, is the result of a shoddy piece of legislative work. At the same time it reflects on the quality of debate that takes place on legislation in Parliament. One should find out how much time Parliament spent to pass the IT (Amendment) Act 2008, which introduced Section 66A,” according to Mr. Prakash.
Chandrashekar, another advocate, says that nowadays it has become common for people to express their views frankly on social media.
He says unprecedented levels of corruption, mainly involving bureaucrats and politicians, “and naturally criticism against them”, dominated all forms of media, including social media.
“Now people are beginning to experience the landmines buried in Section 66A by our administrators as a tool to protect them from criticism,” he says.
Hazy picture
Though the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics disclose a steep increase in the number of cases registered under IT Act and as well as the number of persons arrested (from 154 in 2008 to 1,184 in 2011) under various provisions of the Act, they don’t disclose either the number of cases booked or persons arrested under Section 66A.
Many legal experts say that the need of the hour is a countrywide online and on-road movement against Section 66A to protect our fundamental rights.

November 27, 2012

finance minister's furore over new bank licenses issue

India's finance minister, Chidambaram, is raising a furore over RBI's stance over the issue of new bank licenses. He wants RBI to initiate the process of inviting applications for new bank licenses right away. He is a great hurry and I suspect it comes from the pressure on the Manmohan Singh-Chidambaram-others gang of economist-extremists by the Indian corporate/industrialists lobby who wants to enter the banking industry without a strict legal oversight on the process.

RBI, which had come recently up with new draft guidelines for allowing news banks to set up shop, states it can initiate the process only after pending amendments to a key banking legislation is approved by the parliament of India. These amendments, it feels, are crucial for it to arm itself with updated powers to deal with new banks under the new guidelines.

Chidambaram claims existing regulations of RBI are sufficient for RBI to initiate the process and that the amendments are only formalising the powers. But he is silent (to the extent I have read up on his statements in news reports) abut what these existing regulations. Even if he were right then one would still question why the need to formalise the powers ever arose, and if the need to formalise the powers is a strong need then why should RBI simply bypass it.

Here is also an editorial on this matter that I contributed for the newspaper I work for presently (it provides more background info on the matter):

Patience is needed

It is not RBI's fault that banking laws amendment bill is still not passed

If a statutory financial regulator is expected to initiate a critical process of allowing new types of entrants in its regulatory domain without the necessary legal regulatory and enforcement powers given by the parliament of the country, there it is hard not to find such an expectation unreasonable and rashly impatient.

This is exactly what is happening with the crticial issue of allowing new entrants in the banking domain which falls under the regulatory domain of Reserve Bank of India. RBI is almost ready with its final guidelines for new banking licenses but need the necessary strengthening of its regulatory powers to deal with the new types of entrants which will allowed as per its proposed guidelines. Large and small corporate groups, who were till know specifically prohibited from promoting new banks, will be allowed as per RBI's draft new guidelines for new banking licenses.

But RBI, in its wisdom, believes that vital amendments to the Banking Regulation Act (1949) are needed before it issues the final guidelines for new banking licenses and invites applications for setting up of new banks. This stance of RBI is known to one and all for over a year and so are the details of the vital amendments it wants. These amendments to Banking Regulation Act are among the various clauses of The Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011 which is still under consideration by the two houses of the parliament and yet to be approved through a vote.

The vital amendments include, in RBI's own words, the removal of restriction of voting rights and concurrently empowering RBI to approve acquisition of shares or voting rights of 5% or more in a bank to persons who are ‘fit and proper’; empowering RBI to supersede the board of directors of a bank so as to protect depositors’ interest; and facilitating consolidated supervision.

But the finance minister has in recent weeks been telling the RBI not to wait for the parliamentary clearance since the sought-after vital amendments are directly or indirectly already present in existing other laws and RBI's own norms. He thinks that the BL(A) Bill will only formalise these further and emphatically.

The RBI governor, on the other hand, as recently as October 30, in a post-policy conference call for media, stated in response to a question on this matter that legislative amendments will give RBI the necessary authority, power, and dispensation to deal with corporates entering the banking sector. When asked whether the three amendments he wanted for RBI's empowerment applied only to corporate applicants and not for non-banking financial companies wanting to convert into banks the RBI governor was rather firm in stating that RBI's position was that it was best to open up the process for all potential applicants at the same time.

Ten new private-sector new banks were allowed from RBI's 1993 revised guidelines and only 2 from its 2001 revised guidelines. Clearly, there is a case for competition in the banking sector with the entry of new banks. This is particularly so for depositors in the banking system Take the case of savings account interest rate; the only banks who are offering 2-3 per cent more than the banking industry-prevalent 4 per cent are the two who came in after the 2001 guidelines. It is, therefore, no one's case that process should get delayed.

But without the parliamentary clearance RBI may be vulnerable to legal suits and challenges from rejected new applicants who may really pose a risk to a fragile banking system. Putting pressure on RBI now is therefore premature. Let the parliament be convinced of the changes being made and pass the pending bill first. Putting pressure on RBI thereafter will not be unfair.

November 21, 2012

bombay/thane police is among the worst in the country

As a Bombayite who is aware of the deliberate police inaction during the heinous violence against Muslims in Jan-Feb 1993 due to their Shiv Sena linkages, I am, therefore and unfortunately, not surprised by what the newsreport I give below represents. 

The Bombay police, Thane police and the rest of the police machinery in Maharashtra are hostages of the criminal elements (not discouraged the least bit by leaders of their party) of Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party and in subtle ways also those of the Congress Party and the Daiit parties.

Maharashtra may not be only state in India where one sees such a criminal police force, yet the incident reported below is nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism. 

Here is that newsreport:

Mumbai, November 19, 2012
'Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not respect'
Mumbai Bureau

Two young women were arrested here on Monday on charges of “promoting enmity between classes” and “sending offensive messages through [a] communication service,” after one posted, and the other ‘liked,’ a message on Facebook on Sunday, questioning the Mumbai bandh that followed Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s death. Both of them were released on bail by a local court on Monday afternoon.

“With all respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on,” read the message posted by 21-year old Shaheen Dhada and ‘liked’ by 20-year old Renu Srinivasan from Palghar in the neighbouring Thane district, her lawyer Sudheer Gupta told The Hindu. The post continued: “Just due to one politician died a natural death, everyone just goes bonkers. They should know, we are resilient by force, not by choice. When was the last time, did anyone showed some respect or even a two-minute silence for Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Azad, Sukhdev or any of the people because of whom we are free-living Indians? Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect.”

Following public outcry over what has been widely condemned as an attack on the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and expression — among others, Press Council of India chairperson Markandey Katju said the arrests were illegal and demanded action against the police — Maharashtra Director-General of Police Sanjeev Dayal ordered a probe into their arrest.

Shaheen and Renu outside the Palghar court on Monday. Photo: Special Arrangement
Shaheen and Renu outside the Palghar court on Monday. Photo: Special Arr

The women were earlier booked for hurting religious sentiments under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, along with Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. On investigation, the police altered the charges, withdrawing Section 295(A). They were formally arrested on Monday morning and later released on bail by a local court on a bond of Rs.15,000.

“On investigation, we withdrew Section 295(A) and booked them under Section 505(2) [of the Indian Penal Code],” Sangramsinh Nishandar, Additional Superintendent of Police, Thane Rural, told The Hindu. Section 505(2) pertains to statements which create or promote enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.

On Sunday night, mobs of angry Shiv Sainiks ransacked an orthopaedic hospital run by Ms. Dhada’s uncle at Palghar after they came to know of her comment on Facebook. Dr. Abdul Dhada has registered a First Information Report (FIR) in Palghar police station.

“There was some misunderstanding. Something was quoted by my younger brother’s daughter on Facebook. The Shiv Sainiks were unhappy about it. So yesterday [Sunday] night, they ransacked my hospital. But I would not like to talk about it any further as the matter is being resolved now,” Dr. Abdul Dhada told The Hindu from Palghar.

A request to speak with Ms. Dhada, who is a Bachelor of Management Studies, was refused. “She is traumatised. She is not in a frame of mind. It is not possible to talk to her right now,” he said.

But Shaheen’s Facebook page reflected her agony and anger, as her recently-changed profile picture showed a girl’s face whose voice has been muzzled by a tape sealing her mouth.

Her uncle said she had merely reposted the message someone had forwarded to her on Sunday. After she posted it, her friend Renu, a B.Sc (Botany) graduate, ‘liked’ it.

“She had not mentioned Balasaheb Thackeray’s name anywhere. But some Shiv Sena supporters who came to know about the post got angry and ransacked the hospital of Dr. Abdul Dhada,” Mr. Nishandar said.

The head of the Palghar unit of the Shiv Sena, Bhushan Anant Sankhe, filed an FIR against the two women at the Palghar station, even as a mob of Shiv Sainiks gathered there. Another mob of 80-100 Shiv Sainiks surrounded Dr. Dhada’s hospital and pelted it with stones. Police said the mobs broke glass and toppled beds in the hospital.

A case has been registered against 40-50 “unknown persons” under Sections 143, 147, 336, 427, 451 of the Indian Penal Code; Sections 3, 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and Section 4 of the Maharashtra Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institution (Prevention of Violence, Damage or Loss of Property) Act.

“The girl’s uncle [Dr. Abdul Dhada] received a call from the police on Sunday evening saying that his niece had posted some objectionable comment on Facebook. The police apparently asked him to tell her to withdraw it. Accordingly, the girl deleted her comment and tendered an apology saying that she did not do it with the intention of hurting anyone’s sentiments. Around 8.30, Dr. Dhada got a call from the hospital informing him that mobs were ransacking his hospital,” Mr. Gupta said.

Sources said that though the women were formally shown as arrested on Monday morning around 10.30, they were sent to the police station by the families on Sunday night itself. The FIR was registered against them at 9 p.m. on Sunday. They were produced before the court at 3 p.m. on Monday

Meanwhile, Mr. Sanjeev Dayal said he had directed the Inspector-General of Police of the Konkan Range to investigate the matter and submit a report by Saturday.

Online protests

Social media platforms were abuzz with support for the two women and anger against the arbitrary police action. Some reposted the message that Ms. Shaheen had posted on her wall, and offered to court arrest. Others offered legal aid to Ms. Dhada and Ms. Srinivasan.

“People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a bandh for that” — Shaheen got arrested for posting this. Let’s post this on our wall, and let them arrest us too,” Divya Rajagopal posted on Facebook.

“If anyone knows the girl arrested for posting a comment on Facebook, ask them to contact me! Would love to help them filing a case in SC,” media professional Sumit Nagpal posted on Twitter

I doubt that we are living in a democratic country.. We have the right to speech, thought and expression as per our Indian Constitution..
from:  Sree  Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 19:00 IST

The girls should file a complaint in the higher courts against the FIR filed and then sue Mumbai Police for making arbitrary (or unlawful) arrests, violating their fundamental right of speech and for causing emotional, physical and financial trauma. 

from:  Sunil  Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 17:48 IST

This incident should make all the Bollywood celebrities and prominent politicians, what Thakrey and his legacy truly represents. And the President's comment that his death is an "irreparable loss" should be contemplated by the people of the country and the President himself. What that is on offer in the future is really more worrying than what is happening. The whole country hopes that people of Maharastra and people of Mumbai in particular will see through Shiv Sena's ideology and show them their place in India. Jails and prisons. Not Assembly or the Parliament.
from:  Sai Karthik Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 17:47 IST

I was just wondering how someone who is not Shaheen Dhada's friend on fb could see what she has posted on fb. Isn't this violation of privacy? If someone is snooping on her profile then shouldn’t he/she be arrested? IT laws somehow don’t get applied here. Let’s for a moment forget what police has done and concentrate on the judge. The judgment was appalling. Any lame person would have given a balanced and better judgment. And the turnaround time after the FIR got registered and the girls got arrested was amazing. Our country would have been a best country if the same urgency was shown in booking corrupt officers and politicians.
from:  kalyan
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 17:20 IST

It a shameful and disgusting act by the police to arrest two young women who express their views. Politicians support vandals who instill fear among law abiding citizens.
Even the media is biased but not for the social networks will be toeing the politicians line. In India there is no freedom of speech. It is only freedom for poitician's speech.
from:  shiva
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 16:52 IST

I think the yesterday incident came into picture because it happened
in the city like mumbai and around.But atrocities of police and their
controller are much more and dangerous than that in other part of
India.This is what Bal Thackeray's footprint for us? or Do we need to
introspect as a society at this time?
Thank You The Hindu.That's why I like You.Please start an edition
from Mumbai.
from:  Sahil
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 16:42 IST

"It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by
that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing
more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it
has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am
offended by that.' Well, so *sic* what." -- Stephen Fry
We are following a dangerous trend if people feeling hurt by political
statements made by others can sue them or litigate them till they're
scared enough to apologize. There is no sentence in any language that
does not offend someone in some way as people are creative enough to
find offense out of anything. Aggressive restrictions on freedom of
speech would only result in total restriction of speech as an account
of that.
Litigations like this are nothing more than a way to silence
dissenting opinions of individual members of the public against big-
shots. I don't think any cop or judge would've followed the case had
another politician made the same statement.
from:  Harsh Patel Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 16:40 IST

"Why do we have to suffer during the bandh? Who is going to earn us food
on that day? Do these people who call bandh feed us?", said a cab driver
in Mumbai. This is the voice of a mango man. If not for fear, why are
people like them closing their business?
India is beautiful because of it wide variety of cultural coexistence.
Please don't separate people in the name of cast/community/region.
from:  Naveen Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 16:15 IST

Bravo Shaheen and Renu! Wish atleast 10 percent of our youth emulated you! The this country would have really been the Ram Rajya Gandhiji envisaged!
from:  P M Ravindran
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 16:14 IST

I am not of an Indian origin nor of Indian background. But as far as I know, this contradicts the notion that India, being the 'BIGGEST DEMOCRACY' in the world. Personally, I am not against India in any way. Nevertheless, most of the at most of the places, what is exercised by most of the people is not of a democratic element neither a democratic practice. I should not deviate from the issue being discussed in anyway. I call upon the Indian police to arrest the mobsters who vandalised the clinic and halt the destructive and cult movement that the  Shiv Sainiks are creating. This will only prolong the wreck havoc, that would cause irreparable damage both financially and psychologically.
from:  Mohamed R. Ahmed Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 15:43 IST

If restriction on "Right to Freedom" is like I'm in a sealed room without air. Right to Freedom is our constitutional right and no law can restrict us to use us these laws. I'm agree to use these right with more responsibility but police must also responsible to not to violate these Right to Freedom of Constitution.

Here, we can find that these young girls haven't violate any law but some officers of Maharashtra Police have violate sections of Constitution. This must be taken more serious same as unlawful arrest of these girls.
from:  Ishan Varade
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 15:41 IST

What i would say is that the statement released by the people saying that the people closed their shops for homage is utter nonsense. I was on the road at that time for repairing my mobile phone and the shop was
forced to close. And also the businessmen wanted to keep their shops/restaurants closed on saturday night and sunday to pay homage? I do not agree to statements of shivsainiks. My condolences with thackeray
and family but not to shivsainiks. 

from:  sartaj Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 15:37 IST

girls should be proud what they have highlighted.In my opinion police commissioner should be charged for wrongful arrest.Girls should be compensated for harrasment caused. All those who were involved in vandalizing clinic should be punished by law and asked to pay for refurbishment of the clinic and the loss suffered. Siva sena chiEf should be warned that this type of behaviour will not be tolrated in the is really indias shame. BAL THAKEREY WAS JUST A PERSON HAPPENED TO BE A KIND OF LEADER OF PEOPLE WHO FAILED TO REASON PROPERLY his motives.
from:  K N SAIGAL
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 15:36 IST

Girls , Whole rational India is behind you. You spoke what everyone else thinks, atleast you have the guts to speak out without hurting others , I and many dont find a small hint of derogatory , or enmity speech in your status update. To all other Indians out there , fight to bring down the draconian IT laws , It was pushed like all other bills without substantial thought process given into it. India should for time being officially announce its not a "democratic country".
Again , stay brave Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan. We are all with you.
from:  Ramesh
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 15:04 IST

This crackdown on free speech is uncalled for, to say the least. What was incendiary about her post? It was carefully worded and did not say anything offensive. The ones who took offence were those who were in fact creating the fear the post spoke about.
My sentiments are hurt, too - hurt by the vandalization and the unnecessary arrests.
from:  Jyothirmoyi
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 14:43 IST

@shreya: visit any south indian's Fb page.. u ll know how many comments are posted again yeddi, jaya and karunanidhi... none of them were attacked... this is just gundagiri and nothing else....
from:  manasi
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 14:41 IST

freedom of speech & freedom of expression are rights given us by
indian constitution. we should use them properly. it's our duty to
be responsible for what we post in social media. "With great power
comes great responsibility". we should use rights carefully. dont
hurt anybodys sentiments.
from:  prashant
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 14:36 IST

Freedom of speech is never denied but one should take care that no ones sentiments are hurt. Fundamental rights give freedom to speech not freedom to hurt. Here millions of people who were resilient due to the respect for " Balasaheb" and you hurt feeling of those millions. I dont support action of destructing hospital but nor i support the Shaheen's post. Trust me if someone has posted such comment for any other leader who has strong back up of particular religion or cast/community, their supporters would have reacted the same way.
from:  Shreya Prabhu
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 13:47 IST

Shaheen Dada has merely expressed her views. She deserves full credit
for showing courage to write something that many people would not have
dared to do. I read in one newspaper that police had earlier charged her
with "hurting religious sentiments"! What a mockery of Indian
from:  Sudhakaran T
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 13:47 IST

The arrest shows the the way of Great Indian Democracy being run.
Democracy is only for the rich and politically strong peoples.
Rest all are considered slaves. Shivsena should rebuild the hospital to improve their image and teach a lesson for their supporters not to indulge in ransacking public or private properties.
It is hightime that we raise our voice for freedom for expression . First of all I totally disagree with Shivsainiks policy. Now a days I can see many Marathis are happily working in Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Uttaranchal, Gujarat etc.. It is high time they should change their policy of Maharashtra only for Marathis considering the current scenario of globalisation. They should think in terms of global village rather than separation politics. Quality Education will only lead the people to think in this angle.
from:  sankar
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 13:45 IST

Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect.
from:  sharan
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 13:20 IST

Okay, that was Shivsena is all about, but the pattern is nothing new.
All parties use power (physical, police, old rules) to harass and
intimidate people. The education has failed miserably to teach values
of democracy.
from:  Jayan
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 13:02 IST

I am a north Indian but I respect Bal Thackeray as a leader, upholding the true identity of Indian nationalism and patriotism.Where other politicians try to garner vote bank through divide and rule, Bal Saheb always followed a single principal, "Be Indian, Act Like an Indian". It was his great quality to stick to what he commented, not like other politicians who always have an excuse to sidestep from their comments by saying "Press walo ne tod mod kar galat pes kiya".
I say India lost a great patriot. Even if Mumbai was shut due to fear or respect, it is true that majority Indians, be it politicians or others only seek their rights but forget about their responsibilities to the country and only with fear they tend to follow their duties.
The girl who posted comment on FB should have thought about the sensitivity of the issue on the crucial time. It is necessary people stop uttering negative comments on the crucial time that may add salt to wound.
from:  Subodh
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:52 IST

these ladies should not have covered their faces. they did a bold thing. so why hide like common criminals?
from:  vasudevan nambisan
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:26 IST

Uncle of J & K chiefminister openly says that India is the enemy of J & K, he is not interogated forget having him arrested. This is Indian democracy for Indian politician. They can arrest innocent girl and boys only and goes to barrach when terrorist come.
from:  SUSHIL
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:22 IST

Unbelievable stuff. A girl points out correctly on her private facebook
account that the economic capital of the country is being closed out of
fear and she gets jailed. And then the goondas ransack a hospital,
putting to danger the lives of the sick, and don't even get arrested for
actual violence. And there are people insisting that the bandh is not
due to fear but out of respect. Ransacking hospitals apparently earns
you respect.
from:  Aditya
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:11 IST

We agree that Bal Thackeray is powerful. But, we even realize that our own politicians made us the powerful "aam aadmi" while campaigning. Aren't we, capable of at least expressing our views?
from:  Venkat
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:09 IST

Police should have requested girls two remove the message for curbing
the outburst which may happen. But Arresting them will spoil their life.
Police also should arrest the people who damaged the hospital. Anyway,
it really shows the freedom is going far away from common people.
from:  Karthik
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:08 IST

This is sheer stupidity. Are we becoming so intolerant to criticisms and and counter thoughts? What is wrong with that question? Is it not true that Mumbai was shutdown by fear and not by respect? Police and the Government are playing second fiddle to these forces. What a shame?
from:  Santha Kumar
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:07 IST

Before blaming law enforcement agencies,let us ponder over this issue
and make an honest assessment of our own behaviour which is often out of
tune in a democratic country.We go berserk over matters of little or no
consequence.We say and do things that contribute to communal flare ups.
So are our political parties.
from:  Gajanan.Taman
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:06 IST

We call this country a democratic country, as Suresh commented, I think if the same message was run by a big politician I don't think police would have acted the same way they acted in this case. Country is going backwards with every passing day....
from:  Sas
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:02 IST

@Ratnam: As you said freedom of opinion is there only in the books and
we are not experiencing that in most cases
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 12:00 IST

The point has been proved by young girls.If you do not fall in line you are doomed.This is what happens with out spoken people now a days.Its a shame.
from:  Ravindra Raizada
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:59 IST

Wow, what a democracy we find ourselves in... This is totally unacceptable on part of police to harass innocent citizens for daring to express their opinion on whatever platform avaialable. Shame!!
from:  Shrenik
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:55 IST

I'm amused by the proponents of Thackeray's cause. So what if people are displaced from their homes? Protest, by all means. Stay within the framework of law and constitution and protest to your hearts content.
But the moment you step outside that perimeter to flirt with violence and intimidation to further your cause, regardless of what poignant epic be your cause to do so, you are no different from a terrorist. No different.
from:  Balaji R  Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:44 IST

Pathetic. Its even more pathetic that the police bring these young girls to the police station, leave alone arrest them. people like them are the future of the cuntry, not property-destroying goons. I am a Maharashtrian from Mumbai and love the city. but this is no way.
from:  Shirish Joshi  Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:44 IST

Pooof.. what rights do girls (or anyone) have in India? How dare they post their opinions on Facebook? What is wrong with them? Hasn't years of oppression and fear taught them anything? Are they free-thinkers? Ooo.. they are in for some big trouble. I am personally thanking the puny Mumbai police, and the mighty Shiv Sena for not molesting them.
from:  Abhay  Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:38 IST

Very unfortunate incident. Arresting should be the last resort and only for major crimes. This issue will also die down like the others without any action being taken against the police. What does the police do for all the hate comments that our politicians make? Will they start arresting them if the public makes compliants. I am surprised that the police agree for such FIRs knowing how FIRs related to heinous crimes are not even accepted till there is pressure.
from:  Suresh P  Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:36 IST

We lost the "LIBERTY of thought, expression" which stated in our Preamble to the Constitution of India
from:  Satheesh PM
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:34 IST

It is hightime that police machinery are functioning as Public servants and not as employees of powerful political parties. yesterday's arrest is a sad reflection of the deteriorated state of our public servant's services to the citizens. Why cant police machinery act swiftly the buisness establishements to close when political leaders however great they are. Police shud give protection to the traders instead the weak
govt directs the law and order to do the exact opposite. What will be
the fate of thousands of train travellerws who would have arrived on
17th morning at mumbai, shud they stay in the station without food and water for the whole day just because the funeral procession of the so called leader is going on. It was quite repulsive to note the english TV channels broadcasting the throught the day the funeral procession and glorifying the departed person, as though he has struggled for the nation.
from:  K.GOPU
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:31 IST

@Nachi, you want to stop commenting because someone will arrest you?
were u born in the country where Civil Disobedience and non-violence movement was born?
This is just stupid to run a Anarchy in a democracy and we the people are supporting it from the sidelines.
from:  Murali
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:29 IST

"With all respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the
world moves on, Just due to one politician died a natural death,
everyone just goes bonkers. They should know, we are resilient by
force, not by choice. When was the last time, did anyone showed some
respect or even a two-minute silence for Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Azad,
Sukhdev or any of the people because of whom we are free-living
Indians? Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today,
Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect."

I can't see how this hurts any religious or communal sentiments. The
very action of the Police and political activists confirm that Mumbai
shut itself down due to Fear and not Respect.
from:  Jai Suresh
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:27 IST

It's a mockery. Bal Thackeray has been spewing venom against
minorities/immigrants for decades. Raj Thackeray is following in his
footsteps. And it's not words but matched by actions as well. Did the
police ever move so swiftly against them?

It's not just right wing Hindu politics. It spans across the entire
political spectrum. There is a growing level of intolerance. And
apparently some people are more equal than others.
from:  Raj N
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:20 IST

Very very unfortunate indeed for Indian democracy .. Two young girls lost their
freedom of speech and vandalized .. foreboding something similar for many in
future. Everyone, including the seasoned politicians (including the govt - PM or the CM) seems to be afraid to stand on the side of the truth and justice. The culture of skewed self-interests giving rise to fear, arrogance, suppression and complicity to the acts of injustice. We sit muted in the homes of our own fear and indifference. We must dialogue and be educated about our own freedom...
from:  Harsh
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:19 IST

What the girls did, was not wrong at all, if you people like to blow the trumpet day and night that India is bold and free country then you must
prove it, not with mere words but with your actions. If I was living
there, I would have done the same thing by exercising my right of
freedom of speech!
from:  Syed Muhammad Wahaj
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:17 IST

Renu and Shaheen deserve support from all sections of the soceity for calling a spade a spade. Closing dowm Mumbai and causing untold hardships to millions of people and billions of ruppees loss to the exchequer, due to the death of one regional political leader? Wake up India, we should do better than that.
The Maharashtra Government should be sacked forthwith for not allowing the common man to earn his daily bread.
The police officers who arrested the girls should be sent back to police academy for a refresher course. All the cases aginst the girls should be withdrawn with an apology from the Governor.
The orthepedic surgery's loss to be compensated by Shiv Sena. Finally if Shiv Sainiks think the best homage to Balasaheb is to shut down Mumbai, they have lost touch with the common man. Imagine the number of daily wage earners went hungry due to the natural death of an old man. Thuggery should give place to pragmatism and patriotism.
from:  mani sandilya
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:17 IST

Earlier the arrest of anti-corruption cartoonist Aseem Trivedi by the Mumbai Police on sedition charges and now arrest of these girls on hurting religious sentiments by speaking against the bandh! Really where is our freedom of speech and so i am not surprised at the blatantly false and extraneous charges against them.
It seems to be the right time to start Indian chapter of Russian Pussy Riot.
from:  Aradhana
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:13 IST

I just wonder whether the police would have acted in this manner if the same
message had been posted by a politician. Does the police / judiciary / intelligence
agencies have the same will power to act against politicians involved in the various
scams ? In our democracy it is easy to target the "mango person" for all the trivial
things but it is sacrosant to go after the politicians who loot the country on a daily
basis. By the way did the police go after Robert Vadra for his tweet about the
"mango person"
from:  Suresh Venkataramani
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:09 IST

It seems as if Maharashtra & Mumbai is the fiefdom of Shiva Sena and all the law enforcement agencies dance to their tunes. There is no other explanation for what happened. The responsible police officers should be sacked with immediate effect and action should also be taken against the judge who instead of throwing the case out has entertained it. are we living in a civilised democratic society or in a society of goons and rowdies. We need military rule in our country for atleast 10 years to eliminate all these cancers.
from:  B Raju
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:08 IST

I want to comment , but I won't.
I am afraid Police will accuse me of disturbing law and order if I show my respect to Netaji Subhash,Bhagat Singh,Mahatma Gandhi and not to their favourite leader.
from:  P. Pandey
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:07 IST

Guy please stop commenting here. You could get arrested if your opinion is disliked by some powerful person.
from:  Nachiappan
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:02 IST

There limited freedom of opinion in our country. Your freedom of
opinion ends where it starts messing with the power structure in the
society. Even after death of Thackeray, Shiv-sena, his legacy and his
memory is still a formidable force... don't mess with it.
from:  Vijay
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 11:01 IST

Some People are being intolerent for others views. Police follows netas words than Constituation. Do not follow the path of our neighbours.
from:  Vishnu
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:59 IST

It is utter stupidity to think a city will mourn anyone and shut down on
their own. Respect=Fear of violence. It is unfortunate our judiciary
system allows this to happen time and again. Kudos to the girls for
expressing their views which is their birth right as citizen of
democratic nation
from:  Shiv
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:56 IST

I believe this was uncalled for. We all write almost anything on FB or twitter! When Vadra wrote that "mango" thing, there was a lot of discussion opposition. Now a 21 years old youths of our country are writing something and they get to go to jail for that? Are we becoming China!!
from:  Pragya Jain
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:56 IST

A personal opinion suppressed this way is not a way a democratic govt
should follow.
Moreover acts like this are also making us lamented.
from:  Prakash
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:52 IST

A reader, Ananda Prakash asks "Do we have freedom of opinion in our
country?" We certainly have the freedom, but we can be punished,
beaten, or killed for it. Even the media is afraid to publish opinions
against political personae because they fear that their offices will
get ransacked and their employees will be the target of violence.

Take this honorable newspaper, The Hindu, which is the only newspaper
in India that is worth reading. Even the Hindu edited and censored a
comment I had sent them yesterday that was critical of the attention
given to Mr. Thackeray. They published the parts that are not likely
to create offense. And I was polite and civilized. If The Hindu cannot
stand up and publish the opinion of reasonable and civilized citizens,
then who will?
from:  Ratnam
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:46 IST

Whatever the two girls posted and liked on facebook has been clearly
vindicated by the actions taken by the Shiv sena.
from:  bharath
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:44 IST

The best part was how quiet the media went on this issue? Perhaps they are also afraid of Shiv Sena. I remember all the hulla-balloo that went up in media when somebody was arrested by WB police for posting about Ms. Mamta Banerjee. This time every body played safe.
from:  Virendra
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:43 IST

Shame on Mumbai police...shame on all news channels (and others) for live telecasting for the whole day or beyond...shame on all news papers for having the headline on the front page for his death...I support the courageous fact I thought the same thing when I saw it live on the news channels...
from:  Periasamy
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:36 IST

Whoever ransacked the property of her uncle by seeing her post is the
coward. Why not Mumbai police arrest all the people who is spreading
hate messages in the social media sites? Licensed to arrest only weaker
from:  Hasbath
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:33 IST

Incidents like this reveal the insecurities of the state. A totalitarian form of Government that would like to control every aspect of human existence. Even right to express one's opinion.
from:  vinod bhatia
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:31 IST

Information Technology Act is a draconian law and this momentum should
be directed against it. It suppresses the right to dissent and free
speech and has caused many people to go to jail for petty reasons like
from:  Manjunath
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:30 IST

So am I allowed to comment here or are they going to arrest me as well?
from:  Vivek
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:29 IST

If we love someone dearer to our hearts ,it is not must that everyone
should do so.It simply questions our freedom rights and mocks at our
from:  Nila
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:27 IST

This is preposterous. Her points were valid.
No disrespect to the Late Thackeray, but atleast one should not shut
down a city, which Thackeray had done so much work for. Greatest respect
to the dead is paid when you fulfill his dream, and not by shutting down
the economic capital.

from:  Sabharwal
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:26 IST

That Mumbai shut down due to fear and not respect seems to be an opinion with merit. Ironically, the goons' as well as the government/police's action seem to corroborate that opinion.
from:  K Palaka
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:24 IST

This is so true, and this bundh happens only if a politician dies. because least level party members wants to show there power to the leads in the party. the freedom of speech in our country is long gone even press dont have it anymore are else this one would have came in press before a brave girl says it.
from:  KARTHIK
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:23 IST

Really absurd and unbelievable.
A small thing like a facebook comment can cause an uproar amongst
People are entitled to their own opinions in our country. We are a
democracy, let's not forget that.
Forcing your opinion down someone's throat is not the way to show your
support for someone or some cause.
from:  Smaran
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:23 IST

I fully support what the girl said, it was a real nightmare for people in a curfew like situation, during the bandh. Justice Katju published an article yesterday in The Hindu and his Blog. Why Shiv Sena is not reacting on that, The reason is that It's absolutely true, they can't defend themselves with words and logic. Now what was in their might, they did. This will never make Shivsena a political organisation which is respected, but will definitely progress towards fascism.
from:  Mohit Joshi
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:20 IST

We need to start a struggle to free the country from 'dons'.
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:19 IST

Vulnerability of democracy peaks in wrath against criticism. A public
personality engages with an idea or philosophy so the convictions and
challenges against it have to be welcomed. Weak minded followers were
unable to digest and arm twisted the communal harmony to seek
meaningless outcomes.
from:  Karthikeyan
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:14 IST

This is true of any bandh, in India. Cities shut down out of fear of retaliation not out of support for a cause.
from:  Rajagopal
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:09 IST

Exactly!! The heading says it all! 'God father' syndrome!!
from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:07 IST

I can sense the fear here also, such a controversial and radical issue
and only one fellow has commented. We have come to an edge.
from:  dalchand agrawal
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:00 IST

Are we living in a dystopian society?
from:  Bhaghyesh
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 10:00 IST

This is a shame. There are a few things left in India that we can be proud of. The democratic value is at the center of it. I am ashamed that these values are being abused so publicly by the very same people who are supposed to protect it. I am surprised there has been no reaction from the government. This is the testing time and the government cannot afford to stay quiet on this matter. Is this a reflection of eroding tolerance among the Indian masses? - cartoonists being arrensted, speaking against a CM will land you in jail or be branded a maoist and now this. The trend is alarming and it will lead to the country's demise. The democracy has been holding this country together for years despite the corruption, communal differences and economic divide. We better not play with it.
from:  A Raj
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:58 IST

Who will decide that what is our freedom of speech ? Is it political parties or Courts ?
from:  Harish Singh
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:56 IST

I thought Freedom of speech is a constitutional right in India. I just learnt that it is no more.. We can say.. it WAS a constitutional right in India. So sad to say though. oops!! I hope.. I dont get arrested.. :)
from:  Satya
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:48 IST

No, ordinary people don't have the freedom to express. Only the people
like Thackerays that can say anything they like and still get away with
it. The police did not have the guts to arrest him when he made
statements like that so many times and thus creating enmity and hatred
among people.
from:  Jayaprakash A
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:43 IST

In a landmark judgment of the case Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that the freedom of speech and expression has no geographical limitation and it carries with it the right of a citizen to gather information and to exchange thought with others not only in India but abroad also.

Indian Constitution talks about freedom of speech under Article 19.
Is it true?
from:  Rajkumar Gandhi K V
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:42 IST

The agony of every loss/protest can be expressed peacefully also without
affecting the normal life of others (avoiding bandh) and move towards
improving the nations cause. it is the cause which is important not the
path so a thoughtful approach towards this should be thought of by all.
from:  lakshmi
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:36 IST

Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression is above all politician bureaucrats and social workers and it should be protected first The post is absolutely right Respect is earned givenand definitely not forced This arrest clearly shows that incapability of Maharashtra police to handle shiv sena
from:  sumit singh
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:33 IST

Proscribing such innocuous comments flies in the face of liberty of
speech guaranteed by our Constitution.Police should have acted with some
sense of responsibility.
from:  Sunil Kumar
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:28 IST

The accused in this case should be the police of Palghar; they must be arrested,
prosecuted and punished for Criminal misuse of power and abuse of state
from:  Srihari Thekumparambath
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:26 IST

Today's The Hindu deserves an applause as it gave front page coverage to
the issue.
from:  Hari
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:17 IST

This shows how Right to freedom of speech is in India ...Even the girl
who liked that post is arrested..!!!??? What a Sincerity..!!:-)
from:  Dinesh
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:11 IST

This is quite disturbing in a so called 'vibrant' democracy such as India. People are entitled to their opinions; it may be worthwhile to think who / what incites religious sentiments - is it a lone adult expressing her opinion or organised groups?
from:  Anila
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 09:01 IST

This is not fair, everybody has a right to express their opinion. i feel we all should condemn
such arrest and protect our freedom.
from:  Priyanka
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:59 IST

It is time to dismiss the entire high command of the Maharashtra Police for having stooped to this level of sub-servience to a fascist political party in the state. Let us not forget the sheer incompetance and cowardliness shown by this police force in dealing with terrorism and organized crime in Mumbai for the last 40 years. The IPS at the top need to hang their heads in shame at this level of emasculation they have acheived. If the corrupt Police think they can get away with this level of brazen harassment of the people in Mimbai, it is time to dismiss the state government.
from:  Rajasekar Thunghabadra
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:52 IST

from:  Divya Rukmani
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:47 IST

Is India a true democratic nation....?
We have equal political right i.e. right to vote, but only possessing
it does not have the real sense of being called as a democratic
nation. Democracy has some core ideal values based upon the social,
economic, and political justice; equality of oppurtunity; freedom of
speech, expression, faith, belief, worship; a sense of being protected
and secured; and all those things which ensures that every individual
will be treated like a human being with some dignity. To achieve these
core ideals of democracy our forefathers had fought a long freedom war
against an authoritative rule. Mahatma Gandhiji's thoughts on non-
violence have been source of inspiration for a number of recognized
leaders of world order like Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Aung San
Suu Kyi, Dalai Lama, etc. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Laureate and
democratic leader in Myanmar, sees her freedom as connected to the
freedom of her people. Her book of essays bears the title "Freedom
from Fear". She says "for me real freedom is freedom from fear and
unless you can live free from fear you cannot live a dignified human
life." We must not, her word suggest, be afraid of the opinions of
other people, or the reactions of the members of our community to the
things we want to do, of the ridicule of our peers; or of speaking our
mind. Yet we find that we often exhibit such fear. Aung San Suu Kyi's
fear is a fear that exists in a country which doesn't have democracy,
freedom and justice. But the worst part of the story is that we are
living with such a fear in a country which has democracy, freedom and
justice as her basic and fundamental aspects of constitution.
from:  Piyush Tripathi
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:46 IST

we as a nation are going nowhere... pathetic people and pathetic police
from:  nitin joshi
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:38 IST

This outrage by the police is against the Indian Constitution and
the Fundamental Right to Free Speech, and they deserve strong
punishment to assert that India is indeed a democracy.
from:  V. Ramaswami
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:36 IST

Shameful for a democracy
from:  Ankit
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:35 IST

They just showed their opinion & disgust on a subject & you arrested
them on charges of “promoting enmity between classes” and “sending offensive messages through [a] communication service,” after one posted, and the other ‘liked,’ a message on Facebook on Sunday.
What kind of world we live in ?! I fail to understand how politician
think. Both should b freed.
from:  Maria
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:26 IST

What's genuinely puzzling in this and other cases of the abuse of the IT act and the IPC is the compliance of the magistrates and judges who allow the victims to be prosecuted. It's well-known that the police across the country are merely instruments in the hands of their masters and have no sense of public obligation. But it's after all the magistrates and judges who accept the ridiculous charges and let the cases go on. Why do they do this? It's high time the Supreme Court laid clear guidelines to lower courts on how to deal with cases like this, and also to impose severe penalties on the police and the state governments for patently wrongful application of the law. Provisions of the IT act must altogether be scrapped, along with the sedition law and Section 505 (2), which vaguely defines the offense.
from:  Bala Raja
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:14 IST

These girls have the guts that the so called men don't have - i.e.
voicing their true opinion! Geez...where are we going to end up? Let us
surrender our democracy back to some so-called Imperialist or even some
other nation that it known to operate its democracy in a proven manner.

Shame on all people keeping silent to such grotesque act of Police!
from:  prasanna
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:13 IST

its a shame...we say youngsters are the future of this country and then
the police goes on and books them under some false charges...and snatch
their basic rights!
from:  shobhana
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:07 IST

Freedom of expression.ha ha ha
When these 2 students posted something, which was not liked by another
section of society, the administration arrested these students in no
But while the goons indulge in forceful moral policing they are still at
large and are are openly causing further mayhem, but the administration
prefers to overlook these incidents.
This sadly refelcts the state of affairs in our country.
from:  zafar abbas
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:06 IST

Moral of the story - You express your opinion in a gandhian way, you would be arrested immediately on all possible sections of the law. But if you ransack a hospital or do corruption for many crores or even enagege in communal voilence killing 100s - everyone is afraid of you and don't even dare to charge you.
from:  Surya
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:04 IST

Shame on the Indian police for feeding into this mentality and killing freedom of speech in the world's largest democracy!
from:  Bryan
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 08:00 IST

No, we do not seem to have that freedom anymore. Remember most of the netas today were journalists/cartoonists/lawyers too. They might have been jailed earlier if these laws were in force then. We would not be in this situation if that was done.
from:  Satish N
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 07:58 IST

Probably facebook should also introduce DONT LIKE in addition to LIKE,
COMMENT and that every Indian could keep on hitting the DONT
LIKE button, even though he or she LIKES it , for fear of being
imprisoned or harassed. JUSTICE KATJU and the SUPREME COURT should enter
the fray , as FREEDOM OF SPEECH is being violated
from:  gopal
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 07:57 IST

The main question to focus is this. Do people have to observe bandh to protest or admire or condole etc. Nowadays, bandh seems to be a celebration of sorts for a forced holiday, without respect for individual attitudes. Soon it will become bandh for protesting a bandh. I feel bandh is instigated by vested interests -- not fear, not a feeling. Can a small percentage of people hold to ransom a much larger population and prevent them to carry out essential aspects of life. No doubt, this larger segment may feel sympathetic to the cause of the bandh, but they think it is indecent to prevent normal life.
from:  Hari Subramanian
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 07:46 IST

But why was Bal Thackeray given a State funeral? He was indicted by the
SriKrishna Commission set up to investigate Bombay riots of 1992/3.
from:  R.Saroja
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 19:11 IST

Then what's the meaning of our fundamental Right ?? I believe ours is a
democratic country.
from:  Tulasi Ram
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 19:11 IST

40 people vandalised the clinic and police did not put them behind the
jail, and a girl dared to talk sense in social media and she was sent to
jail. What a shame. Don't know till when people without senses will
continue to prevail in my motherland!
from:  Vikram
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 19:10 IST

This is high denial of Personal rights, moreover there is nothing wrong
in the comments.
from:  VRaamsamy
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 19:07 IST

Truly shocking! I have a new found respect for Mr. Katju.
from:  Sandeep Juneja
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 19:00 IST

Police arrested these girls and mentioned the "sections" Did they arrest the people who vandalized her uncle’s orthopedic hospital? This is something wrong....this is not democracy,
from:  Ehsan
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:59 IST

I wonder how many people from that mob were arrested for vandalizing a hospital. Freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right and cornerstone of a democratic system is a joke in India now. You can say anything you want and get away with it as long as you have muscle man and even if you make an innocent comment criticizing one of these people with muscle men you are going to get arrested under these colonial laws, your family will be harassed by the gundas. There is a poem by Martin Niemoller which aptly applied to the situation
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
from:  Chinmay
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:59 IST

This is atrocious! Looks like twitter, facebook etc. is only for the
from:  Prakash
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:58 IST

Careful! Or you'll have Shiv Sainiks destroying your house next. It's
impressive to see that those vandalizing Shiv Sainiks are roaming freely
while these girls are being arrested.
from:  Swapnil
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:49 IST

What the hell is going on here? Two girls arrested for marely presenting their opinion while the criminals and currupt politicians commit biggest of crimes under daylight? Shiv Sena has always promoted such level of intolerance. The guy died but the hatred and intolerance he spread would be felt for years to come. I state here now, there should be no bandh for such a divisive man. He did more harm than good to the society. Arrest me now if you can. Why can't we become tolerant to the views of other side. Salman rushdie is not allowed to have a, then the cartoonist is arrested and then this? where are we leading as a country? Can we come out our identities and start behaving like human beings for whom only the well being is utmost important. When we are born, we are not, rich or poor, hindu or muslim, shiv sainik or congressi: Our identities are influenced by our family and surroundings. Can we be just we and not what we are made by the societiy???
from:  Mahesh
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:49 IST

Personaly, I do not see anything in the girls statement, creating or promoting enemity, hatred or ill will between the classes. Infact I believe the girls are right.

Ideology of Shiva Sena is creating enemity between the classes, and their work methodology is Vanadalism. Again we saw how they responded to girl's comments on facebook.
from:  Jamshid Thalassery
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:47 IST

This what he & his Sena had been doing in Mumbai for decades.
from:  hardev singh
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:45 IST

Very interesting! Democracy at its best.
[505(2) statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes] Surprising this did not show up when Mr Raj Thackeray's men were bashing Biharis and other north Indian communities, who left Maharashtra trainfuls.
Does our constitution allow these local political leaders to change / use sections as per their personal wish?
from:  Rohit Dagar
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:44 IST

After hearing the news my heart beat increased. Maybe anyone can be the next.
from:  Tuhin
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:39 IST

"40 Shiv Sainiks allegedly barged into Ms. Dhada’s uncles’s orthopaedic
hospital at Palghar and vandalised" reminds you of dark days of Nazi
fascism! Shame on Mumbai police servility to Sainiks. Looks as though
the police will carry out with their head Sainiks order with their foot!
from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:27 IST

This tells me that India is a democracy ruled by mob.
from:  Vipin
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:18 IST

Freedom of Expression gone for a toss again. It is really surprising that the girl got arrested for her comments (which doesn't sound offensive in anyway). Shivsainiks - time to change!!!
from:  Ramesh
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:18 IST

This is really ridiculous. It is simply the misuse and abuse of govt.
machinery and law. this is simple case of violation of right of freedom
to express. if the language is not derogatory, then there is no reason
to take such action by police. this act of police and shiv sainiks is
totally condemnable and against our culture and spirit of constitution.
from:  dhiraj kumar garg
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 18:17 IST

I am still unable to fathom how could such a man with such hateful
princilples garner so much support..he was an insult to democracy
from:  Anup Choudhari
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 17:58 IST

Do we have freedom of opinion in our country ?
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 17:46 IST

November 19, 2012

tax implications for debt fund investors

Differential tax treatments inevitably hurt investors who do not understand them. One area this happens is in the investments made in the debt, or income, schemes of mutual funds. Months ago I wrote an advisory story/article on this issue it in the newspaper I presently work for.

Here is what I wrote:

Extract optimum returns from your debt fund
Tax implications affect net return of debt fund investors. So choose carefully between growth and dividend options.

Having a little or lot of your investments in low-risk fixed income instruments appears to most to be an easy task but it takes a lot of understanding of the complexities of returns in terms of tax liability, timing, interest rate fluctuations and other factors to be able to pull it off in the most prudent way.  Till a few years ago the simplest way to have a low-risk fixed income investment exposure was to put money into bank deposits available in multiple tenures from a few months to a few years.
But in recent years as increasing number of retail investors have got conscious of the option of debt funds offered by the domestic mutual funds such as open-ended funds--liquid, short term income, income and monthly income plans--and close-ended debt funds--fixed maturity plans and interval the need to understand the complexities has become quite essential.
After making the choice of debt funds an investor would face the next daunting task of choosing between  the three options of growth, dividend payout and dividend reinvestment every debt fund offers. A debt fund has a common portfolio for investors in it irrespective of the option they choose. So the gross return on all the three options largely stays the same. But the net return after factoring in tax implications and opportunity cost varies.
You do not pay an tax on the dividends declared by debt funds whether and paid out to you or re-invested in the form of fresh purchases. But since the fund has to pay a dividend distribution tax (DDT)—27.04 per cent if it is a liquid fund and 13.52 per cent if it is a non-liquid debt fund, the fund’s net asset value is less by the DDT.
Growth option, where no dividends are declared and the NAV rises by the accumulated earnings of the debt fund,  works the best if your intended investment period is more than one year as you will then bear only a long-term capital gains tax of 10 per cent without indexation or 20 per cent with indexation which will be lower than the DDT of 13.52 per cent.
Dividend payout in debt funds works best if you intend redeeming your investment in less than a year if dividends are regularly declared and you don’t incur any short-term capital gains. The DDT of 13.52 per cent in non-liquid debt funds works out to be lower than your tax liability if you are in the 20 per cent or 30 per cent tax slab as short-term capital gains are added to your total income.
Dividend re-investments serve no useful purpose for debt fund investors as it requires you to continuously juggle with the time horizon of your initial and subsequent dividend re-investments. Watch out, though, as most debt funds compulsorily re-invest your dividends even if you have selected the dividend payout if the dividend amount is small. Also, many internet-based MF distributors do not keep the dividend pay-out enabled for a vast majority of debt funds.

November 18, 2012

late bal thackeray's deeds were that of a terrorist

Bal Thackeray, who died yesterday (November 17, 2012), committed the worst form of terrorism through his deeds in December 1992 and January 1993 when he influenced his (Shiv Sena) party men to go on a murderous rampage of Muslims and devastation of Muslim livelihoods in Bombay.

I will never forget those unimaginably sad weeks of my life (I was a 23-year old Bombay resident at that time) when I saw in my beloved city wide-spread murderous killings of lay Muslim men, women, children, elderly by Bal Thackeray-led Shiv Sainiks. 

Bal Thackeray indulged in extortion and terrorism. May his departed soul be guided by his spirit guides into atoning for his evil deeds in his next human life.