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June 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.    Wishing You All a Happy New Year.       June 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


Ill-treating journalists

Jagdish N Singh

The courage to voice one’s conscience on the issues of governance ought to be one of the finest virtues of an individual in a democracy. One, however, finds this quintessential principle of democracy hardly guides our Government’s treatment of independent-minded and non-partisan sections in the press.

Experience is the apparatus of the Government has generally been indifferent, if not hostile, to the concerns and views of conscientious journalists in the country. The system cultivates and promotes mostly such elements in the press as would project the image of those at the helm in the then ruling establishment.

Regrettably, the approach of our Government towards the genuinely free press seems to have worsened over the years. It does little to create an atmosphere for journalists to perform their functions without fear. According to an authentic report( on-line-of-duty-three-so-far-in-2018-3149642.html), several journalists have lost their lives on line of duty in the recent past . In 2018, three journalists, including Shujaat Bukhari, were killed . In 2017 four journalists , including Gauri Lankesh, were murdered.

According to the Reporters Without Borders, India today ranks 136 in the World Press Freedom Index. In India today journalists are “increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists.” The radical elements “vilify” and even threaten them with “physical reprisals.”

The Reporters’ forum says the situation in the last one year has worsened in nearly two- thirds of the 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index. Eight journalists have lost their lives while reporting conflicts. Over 193 journalists are lodged in jails worldwide. India is three points down in the Freedom Index from last year. Norway is at the apex and North Korea at the bottom of its list of nations.

The One Free Press Coalition, an organization of leading news organizations, including the Associate Press, Reuters, Financial Times, Forbes, and Time, too, does not have a favourable assessment of India. Last month, the Coalition published a list of the 10 most urgent examples of journalists who are or were incarcerated, under threat, or facing injustice for their work. The Coalition’s list includes Aasif Sultan, reporter, Kashmir Narrator (India), arrested on anti-state charges in August 2018. (

One hopes the Narendra Modi government, in its second term at the Centre, would take to selfintrospection and develop initiatives to promote the culture of democracy in its functioning . Our Court ,too, must contribute to ensure the freedom of press. S o m e t i m e s , some of our courts invoke the contempt of the court provision even when a j o u r n a l i s t seems to c o m m e n t scientifically and rationally on its judgment.

Patricia Mukhim Recently, a single Judge of the Meghalaya High Court found Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim and publisher Shobha Chaudhuri guilty of contempt of court for the publication of an article on the perks and facilities for retired judges and their families. The Court made them sit in the corner of court room as punishment till the judges rose for the day. The Court also fined them ₹ 2 lakh each.
The High Court was said to have invoked its powers under Article 215 of the Constitution to sentence the contemnors. This kind of judgment appears to amount to the contempt of our Constitution. The Constitution of India gives us the right to judge anyone in the public interest . Our Court must honour the spirit of our Constitution.

Irritants in ties

American Commerce
Secretary Wilbur Ross
All is certainly not well in India-U.S. relations these days . Speaking to Indian and U.S. businesspersons in New Delhi last month , American Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was highly critical of India’s “overly restrictive market access barriers”. Earlier , Washington decided to withdraw GSP benefits for Indian exports . Washington refused to waive its tariff increases on steel and aluminium.
Knowledgeable sources say Washington wants India “zero out” oil imports from Iran.
New Delhi may scale up oil imports from other top producers. New Delhi may see to it that the duties on motorcycles, cars and American liquor that India imposes are not much higher than those levied by economies such as South Korea and Brazil. The U.S. may show some flexibility on India’s price caps on coronary stents and other medical devices.
New Delhi needs to go beyond technology transfers, arms sales, joint exercises, and foundational agreements on defence and develop a robust and multifaceted strategic partnership.

Caring for Moms

No state can be called civilized and developed as long as it does not ensure the life of its women, without whom the idea of humanity cannot even be conceived . Ironically, the record of most of the states in our world is not encouraging at all on this front.

According to a Rockefeller Foundation estimate , every day, 830 women around the world die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. The maternal mortality rate is the highest in Sierra Leone today. It is on the rise even in the developed nations, including to the United States.

The causes of maternal mortality are often rooted in the social, cultural, and economic fabric of society. However, up to 98 per cent of all pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths can be avoided by providing the quality care to women in their lives and around childbirth.

The Foundation claims it is making new investments in digital health equity. It is leveraging more and better data to connect every level of a country’s health system. It is helping community health workers, doctors, and public health officials work together to deliver quality, equitable care to those who need it most—mothers and children.

One hopes more and more states would cooperate with the Foundation’s efforts to better the lives of our women folks .

Cruelty to children

Mehdi Sohrabifar and
Amin Sedaghat
One wonders when the Khomeinist regime in Iran would come to respect its children’s rights . According to an Amnesty International report , cousins Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat were arrested and convicted of multiple rape charges at the age of fifteen. They were secretly flogged on April 25 in Adelabad prison in Shiraz. The families were only informed of their fate the next day and asked to collect the bodies.
Knowledgeable sources say Iran has demonstrated a trend of executing juvenile offenders in secrecy and without informing relatives of their death sentence. Tehran does so in a deliberate attempt to avoid global outrage. At least 61 children have been executed by the regime since 2008. Over 85 children remain on death row in Iran today.