Thursday, 24 Apr 2014
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Enough is enough…It’s time for change

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“If the rape victim can be sent to Singapore for better treatment, why can't the rapists be sent to Saudi Arabia for better punishment?”… Even though this question seems to be merely a satiric one, frustrated over the toothless anti-rape law of the country, Indian women are repeatedly posing the same question in front of the government, which seems to be still unconvinced about the danger of the ‘highest form of terrorism’ against feminine gender.

The tragic end of the 23-year-old paramedical student, who was gang-raped and brutally assaulted with screw drivers and iron rods inside a moving bus on one of the busiest roads of India’s rape capital in December, symbolises the danger faced by women every day in a country which is now known as one of the least safe in the world for women. The incident can rather be termed as a part of the continuum of violence against Indian women.
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A glance into the statistics compiled by the National Crime Record Bureau, the statistical arm of Indian Police under Ministry of Home Affairs, makes it clear that the country has registered over 200% jump in rape cases in recent years. Moreover, top cops in all the states of India unanimously admit the fact that most cases of rape go unreported for several reasons in the country. The severity of the situation has reached such an extent that you could find rapists in parliament and assemblies too.

The loopholes in Indian law as far as rape and sexual assault on women is concerned, and the collective failure of the police, judiciary and leaders in fulfilling their responsibilities, galvanized India as a whole, at the end of 2012, to erupt in protests to affirm the dignity and safety of its women. The outrage of the people after the brutal Delhi gang-rape was quite natural in the absence of a powerful tool to curb rapes.

That is the very reason a majority of Indian women are now favouring Saudi Arabian or Iranian model punishment for rapists. Meanwhile, ‘stoning to death’, ‘public execution’ and ‘chopping off hands’ of criminals, which were till recently dubbed by a majority of people as ‘most barbaric, uncivilized and inhuman solutions of an outdated religion’, all of a sudden took shape of ‘public opinion’ in India! A modern country like Singapore, where Delhi rape victim breathed her last, too has come out with a strong statement that it would cite the ‘heart-breaking case’ as an example to reject demands for abolition of death penalty.

However, rulers of India, who initially waited for a shift in the focus of the country from violence against women to some other less-serious issues, have now resorted to an eyewash strategy with the proposal of an increased punishment including a provision like chemical castration of perpetrators of rape in rare cases and setting up of fast track-courts to decide the cases. But, the timely demand of people in the country to implement capital punishment or death penalty for rapists has been completely side-lined by the government. It is the time for civilized man to understand the grave consequences of upholding human rights of a criminal at the cost of lives of the victims.

Nevertheless, death penalty cannot be the complete solution for rape in a polluted society, where commoditization of women is rampant. There is something profoundly wrong in the values the new generation is taught in our society.

The Delhi gang-rape also points out the necessity to re-define the “juvenile” and lower their age while dealing with criminal cases, as one of the accused in this case, who inflicted maximum brutality on the victim, has managed to bag the privileges of juvenile as he is aged a few months less than 18 years.

However, if the common man of India forgets the severity of the situation after a few weeks of protest, as he did in the past, and if those who rule once again fail to learn lesson from such incidents, the cases of violence against women will continue to mount unabated, rape victims will continue to die and rapists will continue to wander freely in India.
 

BJP now a divided house in coastal Karnataka

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Within hours of the installation of Jagadish Shettar as Chief Minister, the ruling party is facing a fresh wave of dissent and acrimony over the composition of the new ministry. Surprisingly the backlash is more pronounced and vocal in the coastal Karnataka, where BJP MLAs and office-bearers always stood by the diktats of the party. The outrage against denial of ministership to Haladi Srinivasa Shetty, the third-time MLA from Kundapur, has spilled on to the streets of the coastal town, with his supporters observing a bandh on Friday. Similarly voices of dissent were heard from Sullia, the home-town of the dethroned chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, over sidelining S. Angara, a four-time MLA. The office-bearers of the local unit have tendered resignation en masse in protest.

 

Even as the party leadership at the State and the district was grappled with the unexpected acrimony and protests, the BJP heavyweight from Bantwal B. Nagaraj Shetty dealt a severe blow by announcing his resignation from the party as well as from the chairmanship of the Coastal Development Authority. Although Mr. Shetty is known for somersaulting, the decision clearly brought to the fore the caste chasm within the BJP, which has always used the Hindutva plank in the coastal belt to mobilize the votes. The dominant Bunt community looks visibly upset with the shoddy treatment meted out to Halady  Srinivasa Shetty, who was dumped at the last minute following interference by Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, the RSS stalwart.

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With the party leadership deciding not to re-induct Krishna Palemar for his alleged involvement in the porngate, it was speculated that Mr. Angara would get a Cabinet berth. It was also thought that the highcommand would try to assuage the heartburn suffered by the people of Dakshina Kannada after the unceremonious exit of Mr. Gowda. It was also important from the political point of view to secure a representation in the cabinet to retain BJP’s stranglehold on the coastal districts. But as is customary, every major decision related to the BJP in the district has to be vetted by the Kalladka stalwart. With both Nagraj Shetty and Palemar rubbing the Kalladka leader on the wrong side, it was evident that a relative lightweight and a staunch RSS loyalist would get the nod and the lucky person this time turned out to be Kota Srnivasa Poojary, an MLC.

 

According to sources, the factors that went against Halady were that he had defied the diktats of the Kalladka leader couple of times in the recent past. The Kundapur MLA had vehemently opposed the appointment of Kallada leader’s handpicked man as the chairman of the managing committee of the Kollur Mookambika temple. He had also defied Kalladka during the selection of the president of the BJP local unit. Mr. Shetty has also gone on record saying he had been denied ministerial berth at the instance of Kalladka Prabahkar Bhat. This is the first time in the history of the coastal Karnataka that the RSS stalwart has faced the ire of a BJP MLA for the “unsolicited interference” in the affairs of the BJP.

 

The BJP in both Dakshina Kannada and Udupi now appears to be a divided house, with equations like RSS loyalty and caste factor splitting the party vertically. This bodes ill for a party which has not long ago lost the Udupi-Chikcmagalur Lok Sabha byelection to Congress’s K. Jayaprakash Hegde, who is also a Bunt. Many in the community feel that they have been dealt a blow even before overcoming the agony of Sadananda Gowda’s unceremonious exit. With Assembly elections scheduled to be held in less than a year’s time, will the unprecedented bickering within the BJP lead to a major political upheaval in the coastal districts?

 

 


 

 

Kannada Press Day: Let us resolve to uphold the values of journalism

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Reams of newsprint and hours of broadcast time has been spent debating if it was proper on the part of a section of the Kannada media for subjecting the controversial godman Nityananda to a witch-hunt following revelations in the wake of his alleged sexual misdemeanor with his women disciples. Some media critics consider the attack as a classic case of trial by media and journalistic overreach. The newspapers and television channels should have, they argue, just placed the facts before the public and allowed the law to take its own course. A leading Kannada news channel has also been accused of dictating the course of justice and whipping up a mass hysteria against the controversial godman.

 

At a time when there is a raging debate about regulating the media, the actions of some media groups in the backdrop Nityananda episode has given a shot in the arm for people favouring an independent ombudsman to rein in the ‘wayward’ fourth estate. But, quite significantly, Mangalora Samachara, the first Kannada newspaper, in its very first issue (July 1, 1843) had spelt out the rules and regulations of the paper, which could even today be a model for the contemporary media. Hermann Mogling, the publisher of the newspaper, which was printed using stone slabs, has spelt out the reason behind its publication in a very interesting way. “If a man in Bunder or near the Office area (today’s DC office?) speaks to someone in a loud voice about some news, which is just a figment of his imagination, there are chances that a third person overhearing it would spread the same news to some more people. By evening, the entire town will be filled with this false news. By the time people realize that yesterday’s news is false, a fresh rumour would have started doing the rounds,” reads the opening line of the first edition of the Samachara.

 

“Therefore, in order to give the correct information to the people, it has been decided to bring out a paper on a fortnightly basis,” declares the first ‘editorial’ of the newspaper.

 

It is also interesting to note that the content of the first newspaper was far ahead of its time. It contained seven sections with ‘Voora Varthamana’ being the first one. Here Mogling explains the reason behind publishing the newspaper. “If the government or its head undertakes a good deed, it has to be communicated to the people. If any illegal activity has taken place, it has to be informed to the people in such a way that it should deter them from committing a similar act,” the edit adds. It also has separate columns for publishing government’s order/directive, national-level news, strange-but-true stories, international news. It is also quite amazing to find a separate section for ‘thought for the day’ and fables and stories similar to ‘speaking tree’ and other such columns being published in today’s leading newspapers.

 

Unfortunately, the media today has also forgotten the principle of upholding the truth and making sure that falsehood did not creep into the newspaper pages. The first issue of ‘Mangalora Samachara’ also comes through as an exemplary model for today’s media when it comes to verifying facts before publishing any report. In the eighth section (read page) it provides space for people to send in reports that they think need to be published in the interest of the people. But Mogling has clearly stated that any news would be published only after verifying its truthfulness. At a time when the media as a whole, including the Kannada press, presents a picture of despair and gloom, it would be apt for all of us in the media to revisit the maiden ‘editorial’ of the ‘Mangalora Samachara’, which was priced at one duddu (equivalent of 4 pai), to  renew our commitment to the profession.

 

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Third anniversary note from the Chairman

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Even though online journalism, which spearheads the rapid growth of new media technology, has had a very short history compared to the traditional forms of journalism, the former has overpowered the latter in modern times – both in positive and negative aspects. Sadly, online journalism has forgotten its ethics and responsibilities, multiple times faster than print and other electronic media. asifCD

When Coastaldigest.com, with its headquarter in the South Indian city of Mangalore, took a small but firm step exactly three years ago, towards becoming ‘A Voice for All’, predominantly aiming at focusing on news and issues of West Coast of India, online journalism had already lost its credibility and ethical values.

Nevertheless, swimming against the high tides, Coastaldigest.com, true to its claim, remained ‘A Voice for All’ highlighting issues and concerns of all strata of the society, with a special focus on the marginalised and weaker sections.

Our aim also includes promoting ‘harmony’, ‘unity’ and ‘brotherhood’ among the people of all communities and sections.

Our team which comprises of editorial, reporting and photography sections, besides a large network of freelancers and stringers, gives utmost priority to maintain ‘strict neutrality’ in reporting, especially in matters relating to religion and politics. Our editorial policy is based on universally accepted values of truth, fairness and justice.coastaldigest.com

We must admit that our ever-alert readers, with their speedy reactions have helped us in maintaining our professional disciplines. The lovely bond between us and our readers has been strengthening with every passing day.

As a result, within a short period of three years, Coastaldigest.com has emerged as a trusted news portal of the country. Yes, the biggest achievement of our lovely caravan of three years, is earning the ‘Trust’ of the readers across diverse sections. With this, we feel worthy to change our slogan from ‘A Voice for All’ to ‘The Trusted News Portal of India’.

In the last three years, many of our exclusive and special reports have created a great impact in the society, which has brought us tremendous satisfaction of doing our bit to the society.

Without exaggeration, whichever country they may live in, a large number of Non-Resident Indians, especially from coastal districts of Karnataka and Kerala today begin their day with Coastaldigest.com. We will continue to be with Indian expatriates in Middle East in all their concerns and problems.

At the threshold of the fourth year, let me also reiterate our commitment to continue our silent movement against all the bad practices currently prevailed across world of media, through remaining a truly plural, multi-ethnic and democratic media outlet, committed to value-based journalism and ethos of social justice.

Probably, a glance into our new layout, which includes new sections like ‘Editorspeak’, ‘Matrimony’, ‘Education & Career’ and so on would drive you home our enhanced commitments. In the days ahead, we hope to reach out to more people and achieve higher goals.

At this moment Coastaldigest.com is proud to announce its new Editor-in-Chief, Naeem Siddeeq, who has been a part of the news portal since the day of its formal launch in Mangalore in 2010.

We are also grateful to each of our present and former staff in India and abroad, contributors, columnists, readers, advertisers and well-wishers across the globe. We also expect guidance, suggestions and support from you all to continue our journey in a meaningful way. Wish you all a happy New Year and happy third anniversary of Coastaldigest.com.

Yours Sincerely

Asif

Muhammad Asif

Chairman

Coastaldigest.com

 

 

Jayaprakash Hegde: A triumph of values in politics

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The victory of K. Jayaprakash Hegde in the byelection for the Udupi-Chikmagalur parliamentary constituency has come as a tonic for the Congress which was reeling under a series of defeats since 2008 Assembly elections. The principal opposition party, which had won just one of the dozen by-elections held in the last four years, romped home by a margin of over 47,000 votes in the traditional BJP strong-hold goes on to prove the fact that the electorate are ready to give Congress a chance if they shun infighting and dissidence. Contrary to BJP, the Sonia Gandhi-led party got everything right in this election; from the selection of candidate to the campaigning, from media management to the choice of electoral issues.

Much has been said about the unblemished public image of Mr. Hegde, who comes across as a sincere, honest, approachable and down-to-earth politician unlike many of his colleagues in his own party and other parties. In fact Mr. Hegde is one of those rare breed of politicians who practices value-based politics ever since he made a foray into the political arena as the general secretary of youth Janata Dal in the late 80s. He was greatly influenced by the socialist philosophy of Jayaprakash Narayan and was an ardent fan of leaders like Ramakrishna Hegde and Nazeer Sab. He successfully contested the Assembly election in 1994 from Brahmawar and was made the Minister for ports and fisheries by the then Chief Minister H. D. Deve Gowda.

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Mr. Hegde showed his administrative acumen by handling the portfolio quite efficiently and became one of the popular ministers in the cabinet. However, with Janta Dal getting bogged down by the internal feud and splitting into JD(S) and JD(U) led by Deve Gowda and J.H. Patel respectively, Mr Hegde had no choice but to chart his own course of action. He was one of the few politicians who could neither identify with Gowda nor with Patel and stayed as ‘neutral’ along with like-minded leaders like B.A. Mohidin and M.C. Nanaiah. But, unlike the two senior leaders, young Hegde had a support base of his own and could easily win the 1999 and 2004 elections as an independent candidate. Although he joined Congress subsequently, he did not lose his identity and self-respect unlike many others who get accustomed to the ‘jee-huzoor’ culture of the party. The change of constituency due to delimitation made Hegde taste his first defeat in 2008 Assembly elections from Kundapur, but the biggest setback was the defeat against Sadananda Gowda in the Lok Sabha election from Udupi-Chikmagalur held the following year.

Mr. Hegde’s victory also proves the point that even in an era where politics is riddled with caste equation, money and muscle power, the electorate do acknowledge honesty and sincerity. The results also show that the voters can be won over by articulating your ideas and dreams for the development of the constituency you seek to represent. Mr. Hegde was far ahead of his rival Sunil Kumar of the BJP when it came to connecting with the voters. Along with the personal credibility of Mr. Hegde, the series of blunders committed by the BJP leaders both locally and at the state level also worked to the advantage of the Congress. The rave party, the porngate fiasco, the allegations of corruption against a host of ministers including the former chief minister left the voters with no choice but to punish the BJP. Its stand on issues like United Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) also made voters cynical about the politics of the saffron brigade.

The myth about JD(S) candidate eating into Congress votes has also proved wrong in this election with Bhoje Gowda securing a substantial chunk of votes in the Vokkaliga-belt in Chikmagalur district. The attempts by BJP to divide the voters on communal lines by undermining the value of Muslim and Christian votes also came back to bite the saffron party. The scant regard for the constitutional propriety, rule of law and the aspirations of the electorate reflected in the speech and action of top BJP leaders has been summarily spurned by the electorate. The victory also offers a ray of hope for the beleaguered Congress, who need to shun their difference and discover their core strength to present a viable alternative to the BJP, which is currently wilting under the burden of its own sins.


 
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