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November 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       November 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:Sep' 2017


Right to life of dignity is universal !

Jagdish N Singh

Democracy is supposed to guarantee everyone the right to live with dignity. Its laws are supposed to be executed by the state's agencies in ways that everyone gets a decent treatment while in prison for any court trial. Regrettably, our agencies have generally not treated properly the prisoners belonging to the have-nots . They are often humiliated or maltreated during their trial. In contrast , the agencies have remained too courteous to the members of the privileged class in similar cases . According to an estimate, the situation is so bad that between 2012 to 2015 alone, 551 prisoners met an unnatural end in custody. The good news is the Supreme Court has recently directed our high courts across the country to register suo motu Public Interest Litigations to identify and compensate the next of kin of the prisoners who died an unnatural death.

Ordinary prisoners are handcuffed and paraded on the road The bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta has said, "The constitutional courts can go on delivering judgement after judgement on this issue and award compensation, but unless the state realises that custodial death is itself a crime and monetary compensation is not necessarily the only appropriate relief that can be granted to the next of kin of the deceased, such unnatural deaths will continue unabated."
The Court has observed "even prisoners are entitled to live a life of dignity." The government can't "shirk its duties and responsibilities for providing better facilities to prisoners... If the fundamental right to life and liberty postulated by Article 21 of the Constitution is to be given its true meaning, the Central Government and the State Governments must accept reality and not proceed on the basis that prisoners can be treated as chattels."
The Court has asked the government to be "far more circumspect in arresting and detaining persons, particularly under-trial prisoners who constitute the vast majority of those in judicial custody".
The court has also observed : "The right to health is undoubtedly a human right and all state governments should concentrate on making this a reality for all, including prisoners."

Transparency is a must

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra The Supreme Court Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, deserves applause for having resolved to go public with all its recommendations to the government on judicial appointments, transfers and elevations to the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The Collegium has also decided to indicate the reasons for its recommendations or rejections of names in the cases.
Significantly, the Supreme Court has reportedly already posted online detailed reasons for its recent recommendations for judicial appointments to the Madras and Kerala High Courts. Ever since the system was introduced in the Second Judges case judgment in 1993, the Collegium's working had been shrouded in mystery.
One hopes now our Governments at the Centre and in the States would also follow the Apex Court in their own jurisdictions. The governments make many appointments and distribute awards on the basis of recommendations of certain bodies. Nobody knows the basis thereof. In the current process too many clowns get what they never deserve. All such r e c omme n d a t i o n -ma k i n g / manufacturing bodies must go public on their functioning.
Needless to add, the government in a democracy has little discrimination in its decisionmaking. All decisions have to be made on transparent, reasonable grounds

Reaching out to Rohingya Hindus

Rohingya Hindus' mass grave The predicament of minorities in most of the member-states of the United Nations is more or less the same. They suffer at the hands of the goons of the majority communities and their possible accomplices from within their own communities. Recent reports about the plight of Hindu minorities in Myanmar are highly disturbing.
According to one report, a mass grave containing the bodies of 28 Hindus, including women and children, in Rakhine State, has been discovered in the village, Ye Baw Kya, near a cluster of Hindu and Muslim communities in northern Rakhine. Thousands of Hindus have fled villages where they once lived alongside Muslims.
Clearly, the Burmese government has failed in honouring its fundamental obligation to protect its own people's right to life. According to some reports, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army has been behind this slaughter. Rohingya Muslims demand the first class red citizenship cards that the Moghs [Rakhine] have. Rohingya Muslim hard-liners resent the Hindus have accepted second class citizenship in Myanmar. They think that it is because of this that the government in Myanmar is willing to give Muslims only the second class citizenship.
Knowledgeable sources say the government should have looked into their demand for citizenship. The Burmese security and intelligence agencies should have protected the Hindus. All foreign governments should help out the suffering minorities – Muslims as well as Hindus --in Myanmar.
Unfortunately, some governments are ignoring this. They are too focused on their own present economic interests in the region. Pakistan has of late been negotiating with Myanmar for licensed production of its third generation fighter aircraft JF 17 (coproducing with China). The Gulf countries are interested in their own trade and investment opportunities. All civil society groups must find out the truth in the case and stand by the suffering minority Hindus. They should not be selective in defending human rights. The civil society groups must act in an enlightened manner.
Some rights groups are being highly selective in exposing and condemning elements behind communal incidents. This is not fair. Glossing over the rights violations of any individual or group is crime against human conscience.

Right to self-defence not absolute

Las Vegas shooting The mass shootings in Las Vegas last month show how the right to selfdefence is being misused in the United States today. According to reports, fifty-nine people were killed and at least 527 hurt that night when Stephen Paddock rained gunfire on a music concert in Las Vegas. The gunman fired on the crowd of about 22,000 people from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, several hundred feet southwest of the concert grounds. Knowledgeable sources say mass shootings have of late been frequent. The Las Vegas tragedy is preceded by several such incidents. In the last 16 years there were 52 mass killings. The mass shooting is defined as one involving more than four. That makes the number of mass shootings much higher.
At the root of this problem is the people' absolute right to own guns for their self- defence. The government must do something about it. It could introduce background checks in gun ownership. The National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers would better back the government in controlling the mass shootings.

Does the UN care for Tibet ?

Tibet Talk to Tibetan officials -in-exile and you are likely to get the impression they have high expectations from the United Nations. They seem to think the world body would help them achieve their goal of genuine autonomy. Are their expectations likely to be met? The pattern of the UN behaviour is hardly affirmative in the case.
It is well documented the Tibetan monarchy was a strong military power in 7th-9th centuries and had a tremendous influence over China. Mongol emperors in China converted to Buddhism. The situation changed in the wake of the decline of Tibetan monarchy. After the institution of the Dalai Lama came into existence in the 14th century, the Mongol rulers provided security to Tibet. China, however, was always too far to exert any influence on Tibet's internal affairs.
The Chinese imperial Manchu army conquered Tibet somewhere for the first time in 1909. It was only at the Shimla Conference (1914) that China had exclusive rights over the foreign affairs and suzerainty of Tibet. The Conference also established the McMahon Line as the international border between British India and China (it did not accept this). But the United Nations has never helped Tibet. After communist China attacked the Tibetan heartland in 1950, the Dalai Lama appealed to the United Nations for help. He wrote, "As long as the people of Tibet are compelled by force to become a part of China against their will and consent," it will be "the grossest instance of the violation of the weak by the strong." His appeal fell on deaf ears in the United Nations.
China forced the 1951 Sino Tibetan treaty, the first ever between Beijing and Lhasa. After what happened thereafter leading to the 1959 Tibetan uprising and compelling the Dalai Lama to escape to India, the United Nations International Commission of Jurists did report the Chinese action "points to a prima facie case of genocide" (against the 1948 Genocide Convention) and "a prima-facie case of systematic intention to destroy Tibetans as a separate nation and the Buddhist religion in Tibet." The UN General Assembly recognized the right of the Tibetan people to selfdetermination through its Resolution 1723 (XVI), December 20, 1961. There was a UN debate based on its resolutions of 1959, 1961 and 1965. But, again, there was little help on the ground.

Campaign against nukes

Berit Reiss-Andersen It is heartening that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has won the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Its efforts to rid the world of the atomic bomb have been commendable. Founded in Vienna in 2007, ICAN comprises more than 400 NGOs. It was a key player in the adoption of a historic nuclear weapons ban treaty. The ICAN must be encouraged to carry forward its mission.
Norwegian Nobel committee president Berit Reiss-Andersen rightly said, while announcing the prize in Oslo, "We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time... Some states are modernising their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea."
The nuclear weapons ban treaty has so far been signed at the UN by 122 countries. None of the nine known nuclear powers - the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—has signed it . The global atomic weapons stockpiles have plummeted — from around 64,000 warheads in 1986 at the height of the Cold War to more than 9,000 in 2017. But the number of nuclear-armed nations has grown. Russia has the world's largest atomic stockpile.