Rubbish The Rubbish Food And Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

Rubbish The Rubbish Food And Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

Diabetes is a major health challenge, particularly in a developing country like India. Yet, we seem to be closing our eyes to this silent killer. Increasingly, younger people, including children, are developing diabetes, with the potential to cause serious complications that can derail lives and overwhelm health care budgets.

With India being at the threshold of an outbreak of obesity, insulin resistance syndrome and type-2 diabetes in children and adolescents, it is of immediate importance that we focus on the primary prevention of obesity and inculcation of healthy diet/ life style practices be started from infancy. Children/adolescents (especially those residing in urban areas) are at an increased risk for development of early onset of type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, more so due to nutritional westernization and sedentary life styles.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Dr Martin Silink, president of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). He lamented that schools were not encouraging sports and that computers were overtaking the play fields. He wished that people would go back to the sensible living of yesteryears and make the children rubbish the junk food and their sedentary life style. They need to walk/ cycle/ run/ play, rather sit for long hours before the television/ computers. Otherwise diabetes and other non communicable diseases will subvert the gains of economic development in India. He also advocated the concept of ‘health screening’ of children at the school level. Singapore is already doing this and so is Japan, which is witnessing an unprecedented increase of type-2 diabetes in children.

The aim of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is to alleviate human suffering related to diabetes by focusing on prevention and care right from womb to adulthood. The ultimate aim is to encourage governments, policy makers and funding bodies worldwide to prioritize prevention and care. If appropriate public health action is not taken, disability and premature deaths from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic heart disease will grow by more than 21% in Southeast Asia over the next 10 years.

The theme of the World Diabetes Day (WDD) for 2009-2013 is "Diabetes education and prevention." The World Diabetes Day (WDD) campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations. The WDD campaign calls on all those responsible for diabetes care to understand diabetes and take control. For people with diabetes, this is a message about empowerment through education. For governments, it is a call to implement effective strategies and policies for the prevention and management of diabetes to safeguard the health of their citizens with and at risk of diabetes. For healthcare professionals, it is a call to improve knowledge so that evidence-based recommendations are put into practice. For the general public, it is a call to understand the serious impact of diabetes and know, where possible, how to avoid or delay diabetes and its complications.

The World Diabetes Day (WDD) campaign slogan for 2009 is "Understand Diabetes and Take Control". Diabetes is difficult. The disease imposes life-long demands on the 250 million people now living with diabetes and their families. People with diabetes must deliver 95% of their own care, so it is of paramount importance that they receive ongoing, high-quality diabetes education that is tailored to their needs and delivered by skilled health professionals. In addition, IDF estimates that over 300 million people worldwide are at risk for type 2 diabetes.Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in the many cases by helping and encouraging those at risk to maintain a healthy weight and take regular exercise.

India’s former union health minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, voiced similar concerns. He was emphatic that the aim of policies on health promotion should be to stimulate health awareness and to promote conditions which favored positive health. He was of the opinion that food labeling should become mandatory in India, wherein all packaged food have to contain information about weight, and the nutritive/caloric value of the ingredients used. He emphasized that the threat from junk food should be taken seriously and that schools should ensure that no junk food—from pizzas to ‘samosas’ - is sold in school canteens, to create a facilitating environment for the students. He also underlined the importance of teaching Yoga compulsorily to school children, as it had proven beneficial effects on one’s physical and mental health.

Health initiatives taken at the family and community level will have the potential to snowball into a major health movement, which is indeed the need of the hour.

The role of parents, community, schools and teachers in contributing to the health of a nation is of paramount importance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s Awardee (2005) Professor (Dr) Rama Kant who heads the Diabetic-Foot Care clinic in Department of Surgery, CSM Medical University, Lucknow, is of the opinion that the role of family and community will determine which way we want to proceed: the sweet path leading to bitter results or a healthy lifestyle. According to him, glucose monitoring in type-1 diabetes (a metabolic disorder in which the body produces insufficient insulin), requires constant family support. Type-2 diabetes is linked to obesity which in turn is linked to modern lifestyle changes. Parents are overworked and find it convenient to let their children feed on fast foods from an early age. High burden of school work, craze for the internet and lack of appropriate play areas in schools and around homes makes it difficult for them to remain active. Keeping this in mind, Prof Rama Kant is currently running the diabetes education project called ‘MARG’ (path), in many schools of Lucknow, with a view to prevent obesity and diabetes through healthy eating and active living.

According to Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, the regional director of WHO’s South East Asian Regional Office (SEARO), one should not live to eat but eat to live. His simple mantra to avoid diabetes is to eat a proper diet (‘no gulabjamuns, please’ he said jokingly) and do regular exercise. He quoted himself as an example of bringing down his blood sugar levels simply by leading a disciplined life. He wanted the media to play a major role in advocating awareness about the benefits of a balanced diet and wished that the ‘anti cola drive’ should not lose its fizz and should be carried forward.

So the message is loud and clear. The prevention programme for diabetes and other non communicable diseases should start from the time of conception of the child in the womb. The pregnant mother should take all precautions to avoid gestational diabetes by managing her diet and physical activity. Once the child is born, proper food habits and tastes need to be developed in her/him right from infancy. Parents have to realize that feeding the toddler on coca colas and burgers is not a fashion statement. Rather, it is a diseased statement.

Television viewing and playing games on the internet should be drastically controlled, as this not only curtails the much needed physical activity, but also exposes young minds to the negative impact of junk food advertisements.

The proverbial seven to eight hours of sleep everyday are also very important. Recent studies have shown that insufficient sleep may trigger insulin resistance and reduced glucose tolerance.

So, when the unhealthy aspects of modern life styles are combined with reduced sleep duration, this might contribute to the increased risk of many overweight and sedentary individuals developing diabetes.

Only when we are healthy in mind and body, can we truly be called progressive as a nation.

Shobha Shukla

(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS), has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)

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A fake encounter

A fake encounter
Dr Sandeep Pandey, SR Darapuri, Aridamanjit Singh

There are reasons to believe that the killing of two alleged Pakistani terrorists by NOIDA police and UP ATS in the early hours (2:15 am) of Republic Day, 26th January, 2009, was a fake encounter and that these two killed are probably the same Kashmiri youth who are mentioned in the account ‘A Conscience Encountered’ reproduced below which had exposed a planned encounter in October, 2008, in Lucknow. It is possible that these two youth had become a liability for the police and therefore were eliminated. Reasons that this encounter appears to be fake are:

(1) The Pakistani identity is not conclusively established. The names given out by police and ATS are Abu Ismail and Farooq. One passport recovered from them is in the name of Ali Ahmad. Farooq has made a dying declaration that he and Ismail are Pakistani nationals. The police are yet to name a terror outfit to which the two belonged. The DIG Meerut claimed that the terrorists also had two identity cards in the name of students of two Indian institutions. (Two Kashmiri youth who were to be encountered in October were kept in Meerut – see the following account).

(2) Two AK-47 were recovered from the terrorists which were not used in self defence even when police used fire. (These guns are probably the same as ones bought for the planned October encounter in Lucknow – see the following account).

(3) There are conflicting claims about chase before the terrorists were shot dead. ATS claims that terrorists were chased from the Amity University check post, 6 km from Sector 97 in NOIDA whereas the NOIDA police claims that they were chased for 25 kms from Lal Kuan in Ghaziabad that would have crossed at least 5 police posts on the way. None of the police posts intervened.

(4) Sector 97 in NOIDA has also been the site of two other recent encounters.

(5) The terrorists had stopped at a NOIDA tea stall to ask for directions from a man, who coincidentally was a police informer.

(6) The Gypsy used by police in the encounter had a few number plates lying inside which were seen immediately after the encounter. The Gypsy has since gone missing.

(7) There is one bullet hole on the windshield of the Gypsy which could not have been caused by the AK-47s, the only firearm recovered from the terrorists, whereas there are no bullet marks on the Maruti 800 used by the terrorists.

(8) The credibility of the operation was questioned immediately on following two days by two national dailies.

Dr Sandeep Pandey, SR Darapuri (9415164845) and Aridamanjit Singh (9466283343)
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), UP
Reference: ‘New Encounter in an Old Bottle’ by Neha Dixit, ‘Tehelka’, 14 February, 2009, Vol. 6, Issue 6, p. 23-24.

Dr Sandeep Pandey: Magsaysay awardee (2002), noted social activist and President, People's Union for Human Rights (PUHR)
SR Darapuri: Inspector General (IG) Police (retd) and Vice President of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), UP
Aridamanjit Singh: Deputy Commandant (retd), Border Security Force (BSF)
--------------------

From the archives:
A CONSCIENCE ENCOUNTERED


I’ve often been blamed by friends and colleagues for not keeping secrets to myself. It has been my practice to share information with people whenever I feel my conscience burdened. From my experience I can say that whenever I’ve, under such circumstances, shared the truth, it may have put some people in inconvenient positions but in the long run it proved to be right thing to do. But, I must confess, I’ve never encountered something as big as this. Till now it has been only very personal things or at the most matters dealing with my friends or colleagues. But the information I possess now is of societal and national significance. I’m revealing it because it can save two lives. I’m quite aware, that in the process, I’m raising a finger at the departments concerned with internal and external security of the country and can possibly attract some punitive action too. But when I weighed the pros and cons of this I was convinced that if by revealing this information lives of two youth can be saved then I must do it. I must take the risk.

The UP Police in a planned joint operation with the army is likely to kill two Kashmiri youth (obviously Muslim), already picked up and in their custody somewhere in Meerut , in an ‘encounter’ with these ‘dreaded terrorists.’ The drama would be enacted in the Lucknow cantonment area, the most plausible location for an anti-national to be encountered in. Two AK-47 guns, already bought from Nepal and brought through the Bahraich route, would be shown to have been recovered from these ‘terrorists.’ Very high level police officials and Colonels of the Army are involved in planning this Jamia Nagar encounter equivalent of UP level operation. An encounter specialist, posted at the Cantonment Police Station till recently, has been chosen to implement the design. Recently, UP police has been presented in poor light because of contradictory (and competitive) claims made by Delhi and Mumbai police for having arrested terrorists which they claim were responsible for bomb blast incidents in UP. The question raised then is who are the people the UP police has arrested earlier who are being claimed to be responsible for these same incidents. UP police doesn’t want to remain behind in the game of bravery now being played by police elsewhere. They are anxious to demonstrate that they too can carry out high profile encounter operations like the one at Jamia Nagar in Delhi . It is a different matter that civil society groups and some media have questioned the bona fides of the Jamia Nagar operation itself and the credibility of the government is at stake.


The objective of the above operation is to bring laurels to UP police. The operation would be justified in the name of national interest. UP is under pressure because it has been projected as the breeding ground for terrorist. The UP police wants to show that it is doing its part in countering terrorism.


If this is true then nothing can be more shameful. Most of the newspaper reading citizens would go along with the police version and not question it in the national interest if such an operation takes place. However, I’ve decided that my commitment to my nation is in ensuring justice to its citizens or at least questioning what is not just. Killing of innocent citizens in such operations or incidents like hunger deaths and farmer suicides are all government’s responsibility and no such incident can be pardoned.

However, if what I’ve written above is totally based on imagination run wild and doesn’t have an iota of truth in it then I’ll be most relieved person, because I shudder to think that responsible government institutions could be engaged in such gross things. I obviously apologize to the police and army for having questioned their integrity. But the fact of the matter is that police has lost so much credibility in this country that I thought it fit to bring out the matter in open for the sake of two Kashmiri youth. We hope that not only they will not be ‘encountered’ but no innocent will be subjected to such a fate, ever.


[Dr Sandeep Pandey is a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee (2002) for emergent leadership, member of National Presidium, People's Politics Front (PPF), heads the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and did his PhD from University of California, Berkeley, USA. He taught at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur before devoting his life to strengthening people's movements in early 1990s. He can be contacted at: ashaashram@yahoo.com. Website: www.citizen-news.org]

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Journalists to set up information hub on children; UNICEF urged to facilitate

Journalists to set up information hub on children
UNICEF urged to facilitate


Senior journalists have pledged to set up an information hub, with all data and other information relating to children's issues. These journalists, associated with 'Media for Children' - a joint initiative of Media Nest and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) - have asked the UNICEF to use its converging power to bring together different agencies on this internet community. This centre will help scribes writing more in depth stories on development issues.

"This should be a converging platform for governments, UNICEF, development agencies and media," said senior BBC journalist Ramdutt Tripathi, who mooted the idea. Mr Tripathi said that very often journalists have to run around unnecessarily for reliable information that can be available on the click of a button.

The journalists made this demand at the bi-monthly Media Hour interaction at the UP Press Club on Friday, 28 August 2009 afternoon, where issues concerning children are taken up.

The UNICEF officials, Communication specialist Augustine Veliath and Programme Communication Specialist Ms Rachana Sharma, present on at the accepted the demand in principle. "We will work out the details before Novemeber 2009, which marks the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Rights of Children charter," Mr Veliath promised the scribes.

Earlier at today's Media for Children, Ms Sharma through an audio visual presentation talked to the media about how socially relevant issues have been weaved into a UNICEF led entertainment education serial "Kyunki… Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai" on Doordarshan Kendra - DDK (state owned national TV). The UNICEF is celebrating the completion of 200th episode of the
serial with all the emotional and dramatic twists and turns that make soaps so popular. At 8.30 pm on Monday, 24 August 2009, this serial completed two centuries. "Kyunki…" has emerged as an innovative and effective agent for behavior change communication amongst Indian television viewers. Watched by over 125 million viewers across India, the gripping social drama promotes life-enhancing, life-saving messages, critical to the welfare and survival of children and mothers everywhere. From safe motherhood to HIV prevention, infant feeding to girls’ education, "Kyunki..." promotes prosocial attitudes, behaviors, and practices that contribute directly to the reduction of infant and maternal mortality rates.

UNICEF programme Communication specialist, Ms Rachana Sharma, shared this information with members of the Fourth Estate at "Media for Children," a bi-monthly media interaction organized jointly at UP Press Club jointly by UNICEF and Media Nest.

Ms Sharma said that such television serials are a positive way of heralding behavioral and social changes in society.

Naysan Sahba, Programme Communication Specialist at UNICEF India Country Office, who conceptualized the serial said in a statement issued from New Delhi. "When we began to work on the show's concept about four years ago, at the height of the popularity of the "saas-bahu" sagas, everybody said impossible, there's no audience for this. Well, we went ahead, carefully if courageously, and you can imagine our delight in that not only is our show doing well but a new wave of socially conscious TV serials, serials tackling hard-hitting issues effecting women and children, have followed suit and are taking the country by storm."

"Kyunki…" has a rather unique viewership including unexpected regulars in the form of youngsters and men. A favorite of many across India, the serial is one of the top rankers in its primetime spot of 8:30pm to 9pm and is the leading daily soap on DDK national.

Not shying away from taking up socially sensitive issues such as the ill effects of child marriage and early pregnancy, gender equality, proper use of contraceptives and prevention of HIV/AIDS, "Kyunki…" has been a catalyst in encouraging dialogues amongst young girls and families in rural India about things that they earlier had next to no say about.

Concurrent audience research shows that there has been a consistent increase in the number of viewers who say they intend to take action as a direct result of watching "Kyunki…", including informing others about the importance of education, motivating children to join school, immunizing one’s own children and regularly washing hands with soap .

The serial has also become a helpful tool and an excellent reference point for frontline workers who promote positive changes in social and health behaviors through interpersonal communication. In depth interviews with health workers, teachers and other influencers has shown that "Kyunki…" in fact reinforces many of the same ideas they work with and introduces contemporary issues in an interesting, entertaining and practical manner.


Kulsum Mustafa
(The author is a senior journalist and Secretary-General of Media Nest)

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'Adivasi' and farmers meet MP Governor to demand justice

'Adivasi' and farmers meet MP Governor to demand justice

A delegation comprising representatives of adivasis and farmers from the districts of Badwani, Alirajpur, Khargone and Dhar met the Hon’ble Governor of Madhya Pradesh Shri Rameshwar Thakur and appealed to him to take appropriate steps to guarantee peace and good governance, as per the Constitution in the scheduled adivasi areas of the state. In particular, they urged him to ensure that the rights of the Gram Sabhas in the scheduled areas, as granted by the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA) Act, 1996, which was passed by the Parliament using the authority conferred on it by Article 243-M 4 (b) of the Constitution, are safeguarded.

Before undertaking any development project in these areas, the Gram Sabhas, as per the PESA Act, are to be consulted twice, once before land acquisition and again before resettlement and rehabilitation. This right of the Gram Sabhas has been re-affirmed by the Hon’ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh through its interim order dated 01-07-2009, whereby the Court directed a status quo into the land acquisition and excavation work for the canals of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Projects. Unfortunately, this significant Order is not only being ignored and side-stepped but also violated by the State Government which has created a lot of furore in the villages and tahsils Badwani, Dhar, Khargone and to an extent in Khandwa as well.

While the State Government was to follow the PESA Act and bring in amendment into its Panchayat Adhiniyam of 1993 by incorporating the non-negotiable features of the Act, the GoMP has done the diametrically opposite by removing any reference to the very clause of ‘Gram Sabha consultation’. The High Court of M.P. thus endorsed the rights of the Gram Sahas (local self government) and village communities, irrespective of what has been changed or omitted in the state enactment.

The sequence of events to derail the process and deny the rights, however, began immediately after the Order was passed. Firstly, the canal excavation work continued at many villages with the giant JCB machines for the next 15-20 days after which NBA filed a contempt petition to actual ‘stay’ the work and penalize the Government and contractors for contempt. Noting the gravity of the issue, the Court extended the status quo on the 6th August.

In many cases the State Government has actively pushed unlawful resolutions at the Janpad, without a quorum or in cases even by pressuring them, which has been objected to by many Janpad members (ex from Manawar, Badwani, Nisarpur).

Unlawful attempts have also been made to make changes in the Gram Sabha
resolutions. From the ongoing happenings, it is evident that some Panchayat CEOs and Collectors are both under pressure and also pressurizing the other officials.

Meanwhile, thousands of adivasis, farmers, fish workers and others from various villages of the districts of Alirajpur, Badwani, Dhar and Khargone assembled at a huge gathering in Badwani on the 24th and submitted a detailed memorandum to the Collector Mr. N.B.S Rajpur through the Tehsildar. They burnt the Order of the state government trampling upon the rights of Gram Sabhas and gave out slogans such as ‘Lok Sabha se oopar Gram Sabha’ and ‘Hamaare Gaon mein
Hamaara Raj’. Yesterday, i.e on the 25th, hundreds of adivasis, particularly those affected and displaced for many years due to the Sardar Sarovar and Jobat dams, marched to the Collector’s office in Alirajpur district and had an intense dialogue with him on various issues including their right to rehabilitation by consultation in the Gram Sabhas and the duty of the district and state administration to implement the rehabilitation Policy and Supreme Court judgements.

In such a context it is necessary, the delegation urged the Governor, to “seriously consider the integrity and constitutionally of the Order issued by the GoMP on the 30th of July, substituting consultation with ‘Janpad’ instead of Gram sabhas; particularly in the case of Narmada valley projects and that too when the Court stay order is in vogue and that a suitable direction be issued to rescind the impugned Order and instead insist that consultation with Gram Sabhas mandatorily takes place in the V schedule adivasi areas.

Addressing a large press conference, Medha Patkar
said that in none of the projects, neither is there is any guarantee of alternative land or livelihood nor is the command area work plan and execution even half-way through. But illegality and wrong tactics seem to be way to take forward evey Project. The series of letters (July, August 2009) written by the Minister and Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests to the Chief Minister and State Chief Secretary on the poor environmental compliances of the Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar and Sardar Sarovar Projects are indicative of this.

CAD works are no way near completion despite the fact that they had to be
completed by 1987 and 1994 for Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar respectively. “But the state govt. does not seem to have an iota of guilt in using urgency clause to push acquisition without consulting the adivasis in the Gram Sabhas”, she rued.

“In the case of many ongoing projects be it Goi where the Gram Sabhas’ voice was suppressed and the Project imposed by the State by using the brutal force of lathi charge and a misinformation campaign or in Gomai in Pansemal where even the Gram Sabhas are not being called and false resolutions are passed, every single law in the rule book of advasi rights is being eroded, said adivasis and farmers at the Press Conference.

All this only clearly brings out the fact of poor planning and monitoring in mega projects such as the Narmada Valley Projects, squandering away crores of rupees without public accountability and public participation and the tall claims of never-yielding promises of benefits and rehabilitation on paper.

Narmada is a classic example, where even after 15-20 years neither have canals
been built properly not has rehabilitation been done, as per law. Leave along the hope of ‘Green Revolution’, destruction of irrigated and fertile cultivable land along with problems of water logging, canal breaches and salinization is only looming large.

Later in the evening, the delegation later met senior authorities at the State Election Commission, Madhya Pradesh and conveyed to them as well ongoing violations in the Narmada valley, the inconsistencies in elections at the local government level, disrespect of Gram Sabhas’ rights and conspiracy to dissolve them in many villages (Pariseeman) in the valley. The authorities promised to take appropriate steps in this regard.

The people from the valley warned the State Government to implement the law and respect the Constitution, otherwise people will have to struggle, which is what is they are doing and constitutional authorities such as the Governor have a sincere mandate to safeguard the same.

- Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM)

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"Blatant violations of pictorial warnings on tobacco products in India": Study

"Blatant violations of pictorial warnings on tobacco products in India": Study

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (MOHFW, GOI) had mandated that all tobacco products manufactured/ packaged/ imported in India on or after 31 May 2009 have to display pictorial health warnings, as specified in the notification dated 15 March 2008.

However, a civil society led monitoring exercise has revealed blatant violations that are taking place across India, in the enforcement of this crucial public health and corporate accountability provision of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. A total of 60 tobacco product packages (from 9 states of India), manufactured on or after 31 May 2009 were analyzed (17 smoking forms and 43 smokeless forms). These products were purchased from retail sale outlets from 15 July 2009 onwards, considering that the already existing old stock of products available in the market would need a period of 4-6 weeks to be exhausted.

On close scrutiny, it has been revealed that a majority of the tobacco packs analyzed either do not display any pictorial warnings at all or the warnings displayed are not in conformity with the rules notified by the Government.

"The intent with which this provision was notified is not being fulfilled. The coming into force of the warnings was already delayed by two years and now this provision is ineffectively enforced. The notification 30 dated July 2009 which notified the officers responsible for implementing the packaging and labelling rules came two months after the enforcement date of this provision of the law. By then most tobacco product manufacturers had violated this law" said Monika Arora, Director, HRIDAY.

Some of the key deficiencies reported in this study include:

* Size of the pictorial warning: Pictorial warnings are occupying less than the stipulated 40% of the principal display area of the pack. Of the 60 products analyzed, 25 brands of gutka, 10 brands of khaini and 2 brands of bidi carry smaller warnings.

* Misleading descriptors on the pack: These are prohibited but still appear on some of the tobacco products analyzed. Five cigarette brands and 4 chewing tobacco brands contain such descriptors.

* Promotional messages on the pack: Messages promoting tobacco use appear on the packs of 10
brands.

* No pictorial warnings: Several tobacco products do not display any pictorial warnings at all. Eight brands of chewing tobacco and 9 brands of smoking forms of tobacco do not have any warnings. These include international brands as well.

* Incorrect warnings: Three brands were found carrying incorrect warnings

* Language: In some of the products, the warnings are not displayed in the regional language in which the brand name is mentioned, as mandated by the law.

"Some gutka companies are again circumventing pictorial warnings by covering 40% area of the pack with white colour and devoting much less space to the warning. The Government should hold them accountable in interest of public health and social justice" said Bobby Ramakant, Indian Society Against Smoking, Asha parivar.

"Enforcement of pack warnings is very weak in Kerala especially on bidi and chewing tobacco product packs. Today also lakhs of packets of Dinesh Bidi come to the market without pack warnings. The reason told by the company is the bulk stock of non-warning wrappers. The Government’s inaction on the violation reflects its attitude towards the health of the people" said Saju Itty, Executive Officer, Kerala Voluntary Health Services (KVHS).

"It is almost scandalous that even after such a long time many tobacco products do not carry stipulated warnings and those who carry it, try to circumvent the rules in every possible way. This situation has developed because word 'sold' used in the gazette notification was changed to the word 'manufactured/ imported' in the public notices issued by the ministry. This has clearly sent wrong signals to the industry about the seriousness of the implementation" said Dr PC Gupta, Director, Healis- Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Mumbai.

These violations have been documented and the report has been submitted to MOHFW, GOI, with a request to take cognizance of these violations and ensure that continuance and reoccurrence are prevented.

A set of recommendations have also been submitted to the Government to upscale the enforcement of pictorial warnings. These include:
- Introduction of a complaint mechanism
- Constitution of Inspection and Compliance Cells (ICCs)
- Issuing compliance guidelines for manufacturers, distributors and retailers of tobacco products
- Uniform placement of pictorial health warnings on all tobacco packs, preferably on the top edge of the pack
- Mandatory depiction of the warnings in at least one regional/local language specific to the region of sale

Civil society organizations are keen to work in partnership with the Central and State Governments to take stock of violations, improve enforcement and increase compliance at all levels. This includes the development of a thorough nation wide enforcement mechanism based on the recommendations submitted for the Government's perusal.

This study was collaboratively undertaken by Advocacy Forum for Tobacco Control (AFTC) member organizations: Cancer Foundation of India, West Bengal; Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Maharashtra; Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY), Delhi; Indian Society against Smoking ,Uttar Pradesh; Institute of Public Health, Karnataka; Dr Mira Aghi, Delhi; National Organisation For Tobacco Eradication (NOTE), Goa; Rajasthan Cancer Foundation, Rajasthan; Taleem Research Foundation, Gujarat; Voluntary Health Association of India, Delhi and Kerala Voluntary Health Services, Kerala.

Of Music And Divinity

Of Music And Divinity

'Music is not just entertainment. It is meditation. It is like talking to God.' And communicate we did with the Supreme Being through the eclectic musical recital of Pundit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (under the aegis of SPIC MACAY) in the auditorium of Loreto Convent College, Lucknow, on a sultry morning of Thursday, 20 August 2009.

The maestro proved his mastery over the 'Mohan Veena' – an instrument which he invented in the late '60s. This genius creation is a delightful blend of the Hawaiian guitar with the sitar, sarod and veena. The instrument boasts of 20 strings, each of which creates a sort of electric current under the deft fingers of pundit ji. He has also created the 'Vishwa Veena' having 35 strings.

Music expresses our emotions, be they melancholy or joyful. But it always exhilarates, elevating us to ecstatic heights. The basis of all ragas is the seven fundamental notes 'sa, re ga, ma, pa, dha, ni.' It is the permutations and combinations of these which create music. Just like forming as many words as possible with the given set of letters. It is left to the versatility of the artist to innovate, improvise, experiment, without infringing upon the basic principles.

He played the morning raag 'Nat Bhairav', showing his rare mastery over alaap, jod and jhala. He began with the alaap, rising slowly from the lower to higher octave, bringing out the importance of each note with mathematical precision. This was followed by the 'madhyam gat' wherein the 'mohan veena' was joined by the table, so ably played by Pundit Ramkumar Misra. The senses were teased, tantalized ,cajoled, before being led to the ultimate crescendo of 'jhala' of the 'drut gat.'

His music rose like a prayer and fell like a shower of blessings; it was like raising our hands in supplication and then falling at the feet of God. What he created was absolutely divine – pure and pristine – impossible to replicate. It flowed so effortlessly as if nothing was pre planned, which indeed was true. Pundit ji admitted that whatever he plays, most of it is composed at the spur of the moment. So, each of his renditions are unique and different from one another. Every recital brings out something different, something special. Obviously, all this requires tremendous concentration and focussing of the senses, which can come after years of sustained and disciplined practise.

As we got carried away with the lightning speed of his 'jhalas', pundit ji gently warned us that music is not only about speed and fast beats. It is much more than this. He rued that these days good music has become synonymous with fast music. The pace is important, but it has to be guided gently and persuasively and not led astray. Like the river hurtling down snow clad mountains, creating beauty and not destruction.

True to the meaning of his name, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt ji literally charmed us by his sheer virtuosity and soulful rendering. No wonder he bagged the Grammy Award in 1994, along with Ry Cooder, for their album 'A Meeting By The River.'

Shobha Shukla

(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS), has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)


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Rubbish The Rubbish Food And Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

Rubbish The Rubbish Food And Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

Diabetes is a major health challenge, particularly in a developing country like India. Yet, we seem to be closing our eyes to this silent killer. Increasingly, younger people, including children, are developing diabetes, with the potential to cause serious complications that can derail lives and overwhelm health care budgets.

With India being at the threshold of an outbreak of obesity, insulin resistance syndrome and type-2 diabetes in children and adolescents, it is of immediate importance that we focus on the primary prevention of obesity and inculcation of healthy diet/ life style practices be started from infancy. Children/adolescents (especially those residing in urban areas) are at an increased risk for development of early onset of type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, more so due to nutritional westernization and sedentary life styles.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Dr Martin Silink, president of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). He lamented that schools were not encouraging sports and that computers were overtaking the play fields. He wished that people would go back to the sensible living of yesteryears and make the children rubbish the junk food and their sedentary life style. They need to walk/ cycle/ run/ play, rather sit for long hours before the television/ computers. Otherwise diabetes and other non communicable diseases will subvert the gains of economic development in India. He also advocated the concept of ‘health screening’ of children at the school level. Singapore is already doing this and so is Japan, which is witnessing an unprecedented increase of type-2 diabetes in children.

The aim of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is to alleviate human suffering related to diabetes by focusing on prevention and care right from womb to adulthood. The ultimate aim is to encourage governments, policy makers and funding bodies worldwide to prioritize prevention and care. If appropriate public health action is not taken, disability and premature deaths from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic heart disease will grow by more than 21% in Southeast Asia over the next 10 years.

The theme of the World Diabetes Day (WDD) for 2009-2013 is "Diabetes education and prevention." The World Diabetes Day (WDD) campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations. The WDD campaign calls on all those responsible for diabetes care to understand diabetes and take control. For people with diabetes, this is a message about empowerment through education. For governments, it is a call to implement effective strategies and policies for the prevention and management of diabetes to safeguard the health of their citizens with and at risk of diabetes. For healthcare professionals, it is a call to improve knowledge so that evidence-based recommendations are put into practice. For the general public, it is a call to understand the serious impact of diabetes and know, where possible, how to avoid or delay diabetes and its complications.

The World Diabetes Day (WDD) campaign slogan for 2009 is "Understand Diabetes and Take Control". Diabetes is difficult. The disease imposes life-long demands on the 250 million people now living with diabetes and their families. People with diabetes must deliver 95% of their own care, so it is of paramount importance that they receive ongoing, high-quality diabetes education that is tailored to their needs and delivered by skilled health professionals. In addition, IDF estimates that over 300 million people worldwide are at risk for type 2 diabetes.Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in the many cases by helping and encouraging those at risk to maintain a healthy weight and take regular exercise.

India’s former union health minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, voiced similar concerns. He was emphatic that the aim of policies on health promotion should be to stimulate health awareness and to promote conditions which favored positive health. He was of the opinion that food labeling should become mandatory in India, wherein all packaged food have to contain information about weight, and the nutritive/caloric value of the ingredients used. He emphasized that the threat from junk food should be taken seriously and that schools should ensure that no junk food—from pizzas to ‘samosas’ - is sold in school canteens, to create a facilitating environment for the students. He also underlined the importance of teaching Yoga compulsorily to school children, as it had proven beneficial effects on one’s physical and mental health.

Health initiatives taken at the family and community level will have the potential to snowball into a major health movement, which is indeed the need of the hour.

The role of parents, community, schools and teachers in contributing to the health of a nation is of paramount importance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s Awardee (2005) Professor (Dr) Rama Kant who heads the Diabetic-Foot Care clinic in Department of Surgery, CSM Medical University, Lucknow, is of the opinion that the role of family and community will determine which way we want to proceed: the sweet path leading to bitter results or a healthy lifestyle. According to him, glucose monitoring in type-1 diabetes (a metabolic disorder in which the body produces insufficient insulin), requires constant family support. Type-2 diabetes is linked to obesity which in turn is linked to modern lifestyle changes. Parents are overworked and find it convenient to let their children feed on fast foods from an early age. High burden of school work, craze for the internet and lack of appropriate play areas in schools and around homes makes it difficult for them to remain active. Keeping this in mind, Prof Rama Kant is currently running the diabetes education project called ‘MARG’ (path), in many schools of Lucknow, with a view to prevent obesity and diabetes through healthy eating and active living.

According to Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, the regional director of WHO’s South East Asian Regional Office (SEARO), one should not live to eat but eat to live. His simple mantra to avoid diabetes is to eat a proper diet (‘no gulabjamuns, please’ he said jokingly) and do regular exercise. He quoted himself as an example of bringing down his blood sugar levels simply by leading a disciplined life. He wanted the media to play a major role in advocating awareness about the benefits of a balanced diet and wished that the ‘anti cola drive’ should not lose its fizz and should be carried forward.

So the message is loud and clear. The prevention programme for diabetes and other non communicable diseases should start from the time of conception of the child in the womb. The pregnant mother should take all precautions to avoid gestational diabetes by managing her diet and physical activity. Once the child is born, proper food habits and tastes need to be developed in her/him right from infancy. Parents have to realize that feeding the toddler on coca colas and burgers is not a fashion statement. Rather, it is a diseased statement.

Television viewing and playing games on the internet should be drastically controlled, as this not only curtails the much needed physical activity, but also exposes young minds to the negative impact of junk food advertisements.

The proverbial seven to eight hours of sleep everyday are also very important. Recent studies have shown that insufficient sleep may trigger insulin resistance and reduced glucose tolerance.

So, when the unhealthy aspects of modern life styles are combined with reduced sleep duration, this might contribute to the increased risk of many overweight and sedentary individuals developing diabetes.

Only when we are healthy in mind and body, can we truly be called progressive as a nation.

Shobha Shukla

(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS), has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)

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Legislator's death exposes non-availability of medical aid in UP House

Legislator's death exposes non-availability of medical aid in UP House
Kulsum Mustafa

Maut ka ek din muyyan hain,
neend kyu raat bhar nahi aati
(The day of death is predestined, so why does sleep evade us all night)

This is a poet's way of looking at the eventuality that is death. But even when we all know that death is the finality can we just let things go by and not does anything to ensure that life get a better deal, a better chance over death.


Fearless, vocal and a seasoned political leader Dr Sheema Rizvi died like she had lived-with her boots on. The former electronics minister, senior Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leader and member of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, Sheema just 50, breathed her last at the Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI) on 19 August 2009 morning. She had suffered brain haemorrhage and collapsed in her seat on 11 August 2009, after delivering a marathon speech of 45 minutes in the House on inflation.


But friends and family are appalled at the delay of over 50 minutes, during which she got absolutely no medical aid at the Vidhan Parishad itself.


Despite her serious condition Sheema was first taken to the nearby civil hospital from where she was referred to SGPGI. Though operated upon immediately for a brain clot by a team of neurosurgeons, so much of vital time had already been wasted Sheema never regained conciousness and was put on the ventilator critical and in coma.


The BJP big wigs in particular, in fact politicians sans party lines, must raise question about the poor medical services available to legislators in the House. If this is done and monitoring and checking of proper medical system is ensured it will help prevent such fatal lapses in future. Sheema's death will not go waste if it helps raise this vital issue.


I knew Sheema since we both auditioned for All India Radio (AIR) together. We often met at the Doordarshan later where she was an announcer and news reader and I programme anchor. Another cementing force between us was my candid interview of her father, late Aziz Rizvi in 'The Times of India.' Tiitled ‘Lone Muslim crusader in saffron brigade” the article written in the eighties presented the humane side of a man hounded by fanatics terming him as a non-Muslim who had joined BJP because he was an opportunist. Sheema told me one day with tears in her eyes "it was a true portrayal by a professional."


The bond that was established that day lasted throughout- though we met very less.
I vividly recall the deep pain in her eyes at the time of her father's death "I do not know how I will survive, he was my anchor in life," she had murmured between sobs. But I knew she would survive, she was made of sterner stuff.

A multi-faceted personality actor, news reader, the Head of the department of Urdu, Lucknow University, she kept herself very busy. Over the years Sheema moved on in life. Joining BJP as an active member in 1998, she had little time left for herself but she remained just as accessible and just as simple for friends and well wishers. That warm smile and hearty laughter were a part of her charm that remained undiminished as years passed by and she donned the mantle of a minister.


We met after a gap of years, but the camaraderie never faded. Whenever me met we picked up the threads of life and without any fuss carried on as if nothing has happened.


I recall how last year during Ramzaan at my son Abbas’s Roza Kushai, I called her at 2 pm on the day of the iftar. Apologizing profusely I told her how her card was lying at home undelivered - the reason being that I had personally wanted to come and invite her but somehow never did. "If you come today I will know that our relationship goes above any formality, if you don't I will not mind and understand." I told her over the phone.

Three and a half hours later she was there, one of the first to arrive. Later her secretary told me that she had dropped two invitations to be at my place.

On that Wednesday afternoon as I stood outside the BJP headquarters as I waited for her body to arrive her smiling face returned to me.

While the news of her death shook me deeply it disturbs me more that initially she did not get prompt medical aid.


Will her party for which she had to face so much flake all her life take up this issue?


Kulsum Mustafa

(The author is a senior journalist and Secretary-General of Media Nest)

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Fatwa against iftars hosted by politicians dampens annual minority wooing

Fatwa against iftars hosted by politicians dampens annual minority wooing
Kulsum Mustafa

The Darul Uloom Nadvatul Ulema, Lucknow’s fatwa against iftar parties hosted by political organisations has come as a dampener against the annual wooing of the minority community by the political parties.


The fatwa was issued on August 18, 2009 on a query made by (retired) Colonel MJ Shamsi. In the reply Mufti Zahoor Nadvi of the Darul Ifta stated that holding of iftar by political parties has no religious basis as that these parties organise the iftars invested interest. The fatwa seems to have made the obvious more clear. This certainly is one religious edict which will by and large find many supporters in the Muslim community.


Ever since the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna organised the first roza iftar in the state capital in the seventies the hosting of these functions is 'religiously' done by political parties to woo the Muslims. While the whose who of the city are invited to these functions, it is ensured that there is a fair sprinkling of the skull-caped and Muslim clerics among the invitees.

Keeping in mind the dictates of gender equality special arrangements of breaking fasts are made for the women too. Of course most of them are not purda observing damsels and prefer to mingle with the males after the namaaz.


While the style and audience differs from party to party the one hosted by the governor has an august gathering and more or less a fixed invitee list that has only been slightly amended over the years. It is often mandatory for government officers to be present at these does.


But it is true that in the heart of hearts most of Muslims invited to such 'iftar parties' have always found them to be in the way of them performing their religious duties in this pious month reserved for prayers and social work towards humanity.


"I highly object to the word party attached to iftar," said a senior Muslim bureaucrat who had attended several such iftars in the course of his duty. Many Muslims term these as "political iftars" where to be seen is a must otherwise you become a subject of great speculations in your social and professional circle.


Maybe the fatwa will now provide the Muslims a good opportunity and courage to refuse attending these political iftars in the name of religion. Whether this change proves to be effective or not- only time will change.


Kulsum Mustafa
(The author is a senior journalist and Secretary-General of Media Nest)

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Indian Police: Broken System

Indian Police: Broken System
SR Darapuri

"This week, I was told to do an encounter," a police officer told Human Rights Watch (HRW). He was referring to the practice of taking into custody and extra judicially executing an individual, then claiming that the victim died after initiating a shoot- out with police. "I am looking for my target," he said. “I will eliminate him. .. I fear being put in jail, but if I don't do it, I'll lose my position." This is the confession of an Officer from Uttar Pradesh but it is applicable to any officer in any state of India.

This is how Human Rights Watch report titled “Broken System: Dysfunctional, Abuse and Impunity in the Indian Police” starts its narrative. This report was released by HRW in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) on 7th August, 2009. The Repot was earlier released at Banglore on 4th August, 2009. (Full report available at www. hrw.com)


This 118-page report documents a range of human rights violations committed by police, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and extrajudicial killings. The report is based on interviews with more than 80 police officers of varying ranks, 60 victims of police abuses, and numerous discussions with experts and civil society activists. It documents the failings of state police forces that operate outside the law, lack sufficient ethical and professional standards, are overstretched and outmatched by criminal elements, and unable to cope with increasing demands and public expectations. Field research was conducted in 19 police stations in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, and the capital, Delhi.


"India is modernizing rapidly, but the police continue to use their old methods: abuse and threats," said Naureen Shah of Asia Division of HRW. "It's time for the government to stop talking about reform and fix the system."


The repot describes the story of a fruit vendor in Varanasi who narrates how police tortured him to extract confessions to multiple, unrelated false charges:


"[M]y hands and legs were tied; a wooden stick was passed through my legs. They started beating me badly on the legs with lathis (batons) and kicking me. They were saying, ‘you must name all the members of the 13-person gang.' They beat me until I was crying and shouting for help. When I was almost fainting, they stopped the beating. A constable said, ‘With this kind of a beating, a ghost would run away. Why don't you tell me what I want to know?' Then they turned me upside down... They poured water from a plastic jug into my mouth and nose, and I fainted."

Almost every police officer interviewed by HRW was aware of the boundaries of the law, but many believed that unlawful methods, including illegal detention and torture, were necessary tactics of crime investigation and law enforcement.

Human Rights Watch also said that while not excusing abuses, abysmal conditions for police officers contribute to violations. Low-ranking officers often work in difficult conditions. They are required to be on-call 24 hours a day, every day. Instead of shifts, many work long hours, sometimes living in tents or filthy barracks at the police station. Many are separated from their families for long stretches of time. They often lack necessary equipment, including vehicles, mobile phones, investigative tools and even paper on which to record complaints and make notes.


Police officers told HRW that they used "short-cuts" to cope with overwhelming workloads and insufficient resources. For instance, they described how they or others cut caseloads by refusing to register crime complaints. Many officers described facing unrealistic pressure from their superiors to solve cases quickly. Receiving little or no encouragement to collect forensic evidence and witness statements, tactics considered time-consuming, they instead held suspects illegally and coerced them to confess, frequently using torture and ill-treatment.


"Conditions and incentives for police officers need to change,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, Senior Researcher,HRW. "Officers should not be put into a position where they think they have to turn to abuse to meet superiors' demands, or obey orders to abuse. Instead they should be given the resources, training, equipment, and encouragement to act professionally and ethically."


"Broken System" also documents the particular vulnerability to police abuse of traditionally marginalized groups in India. They include the poor, women, Dalits (so-called "untouchables"), and religious and sexual minorities. Police often fail to investigate crimes against them because of discrimination, the victims' inability to pay bribes, or their lack of social status or political connections. Members of these groups are also more vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and torture, especially meted out by police as punishment for alleged crimes.


Colonial-era police laws enable state and local politicians to interfere routinely in police operations, sometimes directing police officers to drop investigations against people with political connections, including known criminals, and to harass or file false charges against political opponents. These practices corrode public confidence.


In 2006, a landmark Supreme Court judgment mandated reform of police laws. But the central government and most state governments have either significantly or completely failed to implement the court's order, suggesting that officials have yet to accept the urgency of comprehensive police reform, including the need to hold police accountable for human rights violations.


"India's status as the world's largest democracy is undermined by a police force that thinks it is above the law," Naureen said. "It's a vicious cycle. Indians avoid contact with the police out of fear. So crimes go unreported and unpunished, and the police can't get the cooperation they need from the public to prevent and solve crimes."


"Broken System" sets out detailed recommendations for police reform drawn from studies by government commissions, former Indian police, and Indian groups. Among the major recommendations are:


- Require the police to read suspects their rights upon arrest or any detention, which will increase institutional acceptance of these safeguards;

- Exclude from court any evidence police obtain by using torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in suspect interrogations;
- Bolster independent investigations into complaints of police abuse and misconduct through national and state human rights commissions and police complaints authorities; and
- Improve training and equipment, including strengthening the crime-investigation curriculum at police academies, training low-ranking officers to assist in crime investigations, and providing basic forensic equipment to every police office

The report also gives selected accounts of persons who wee tortured and kept in police custody. Some of the narratives are the following:

"She was kept in the police station all night. In the morning, when we went to meet her, they said she had killed herself. They showed us her body, where she was hanging from a tree inside the police station. The branch was so low, it is impossible that she hanged herself from it. Her feet were clean, although there was wet mud all around and she would have walked through it to reach the tree. It is obvious that the police killed her and then pretended she had committed suicide." –

- Brother-in-law of Gita Pasi, describing her death in police custody in Uttar Pradesh in August 2006.

The police officers have their own tale of woes as narrated below:

"We have no time to think, no time to sleep. I tell my men that a victim will only come to the police station because we can give him justice, so we should not beat him with a stick. But often the men are tired and irritable and mistakes take place."
- Gangaram Azad, a sub-inspector who heads a rural police station in Uttar Pradesh state

"They say, ‘investigate within 24 hours,' but they never care about how I will do [that]; what are the resources. ... There is use of force in sensational cases because we are not equipped with scientific methods. What remains with us? A sense of panic surrounds our mind that if we don't come to a conclusion we will be suspended or face punishment. We are bound to fulfill the case; we must cover the facts in any way."

- Sub inspector working near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

"Often, it is our superiors who ask us to do wrong things. It is hard for us to resist. I remember, one time, my officer had asked me to beat up someone. I said that the man would be refused bail and would rot in jail and that was enough punishment. But that made my officer angry."

- Constable in Uttar Pradesh

"With all the mental stress, the 24-hour law-and-order duty, the political pressure, a person may turn to violence. How much can a person take? ... We have to keep watch on an accused person, their human rights, but what about us? We live like this for 24 hours. We are not claiming that our power makes us born to work all the times. Sometimes we beat or detain illegally, because our working conditions, our facilities are bad. So we are contributing to creating criminals and militants."

- Inspector in charge of a police station in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

On the above occasion giving the details of fake encounter cases, SR Darapuri, a retired IPS Officer and Vice President Of U.P. PUCL who contested the general election-2009 from Lucknow said, “Only countable genuine encounters like that of Ghanshyam Kewat which took place on June 17, 2009 made U.P. Police cops to taste a real encounter, rest 99 percent are fake.” Darapuri said, “I had been a police officer for 32 years and I know how encounters are planned.” “A common man does not feel safe in the state,” said Darapuri.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, Director People’s Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR), while presenting the report said, “We studied 125 cases. In majority of cases justice was either delayed or denied to poor people for they had no approach to get the FIR lodged or to pursue the case fro proper investigation. There have been instances when cops violated even the basic policing norms. They a voided post mortem and even effused to hand over the body of victims of fake encounter to their families.”

It is the high time that the Indian government should take major steps to overhaul a policing system that facilitates and even encourages human rights violations, said the report. For decades, successive governments have failed to deliver on promises to hold the police accountable for abuses and to build professional, rights-respecting police forces. If the states
refuse to undertake the police reforms, the civil society, human rights organizations and all right thinking persons should bring pressure on the states and political parties to force them to do it. We should not forget that democratic nations need democratic police.

SR Darapuri, is a retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer (former Inspector General (IG) of Police), Vice-President of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), UP, and also represents the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and Lok Rajniti Manch (People's Politics Front). Email: srdarapuri@yahoo.co.in

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