Karnataka assembly passes 3 Bills. Here're details

News Network
September 17, 2021

Bengaluru, Sept 17: The Karnataka assembly on Friday passed the 'Identification of Prisoners (Karnataka Amendment) Bill,' which seeks to include collection of blood, DNA, voice and iris scan samples as "measurements" of offenders for effective surveillance and prevention of breach of peace and crime.

The bill, which amends the Central act of Identification of Prisoners with respect to its application to Karnataka, also empowers Superintendent of Police or Deputy Commissioners of Police, in addition to the judicial magistrate first class, to order for collection of measurement to avoid delay and workload.

Piloting the bill for the consideration of the House, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said "till now foo-print impressions were collected. Now we have added blood, DNA, voice, and iris scan samples to it. Earlier the measurements were collected for those with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year, now it has been changed to a term of one month."

He said the bill empowers SPs and DCPs to order destruction of measurement after a period of 10 years, unless otherwise directed by the court or any other competent authority.

Participating during the discussion on the Bill, Congress MLA Tanveer Sait sought to know whether collecting measurement was necessary when such details are available in an individual's Aadhar data. Another Congress MLA Priyank Kharge said the government intends to create a database of biometrics and forensic tools needed for investigation and also sought to know whether the necessary infrastructure was in place.

"Also, has the government thought about the right to privacy?"

Responding to the queries, the Minister said, measurements were collected for those with Rigorous Imprisonment for a term of one month and above and it will be stored in the criminal tracking system in Bengaluru, so there will be concerns of any breach.

He said it would also be helpful in identifying habitual offenders.

Also passed was a bill providing for the constitution of the Karnataka Prison Development Board for strengthening prisons and initiating correctional administrative measures. Titled 'Karnataka Prison Development Board Bill', it also provides for initiating measures for skill improvement, welfare of prisoners and prisons' staff and expanding prison industries.

The bill, in its statement of objects and reasons, said "it is considered necessary to provide for the constitution of the prison development board for development of modern prison industries and formulate a plan for job oriented technical programmes in different areas, to earn incentives."

The board can suggest ways and means for improving coordination between different stakeholders, examine the present setup of prison industries and formulate a plan for modernisation and to start job oriented programmes including technical oriented ones, keeping in view the needs of prisoners after release, it said.

Participating during the discussion on the bill, several legislators, including Congress' U T Khader said reforms are needed, but prisons should also be a place of deterrent for prisoners, while highlighting several illegal activities taking place in them.

Pointing out that the Minister for Prisons and other members of the board were all officials, some MLAs wanted non-official members like representatives of social organisations or journalists to be made members to have effective reforms, while others questioned powers of acquisition, maintenance and disposal of land and building given to the board.

The Minister, in his reply said the board has been constituted for all-round reforms of prisons and representatives from various departments will be its members and added that experts can be invited for its meetings to take inputs.

"States like Haryana are generating revenue of about Rs 600 crore from Prisons. Manpower at prisons should not go to waste," he said.

He also made it clear that there should be no doubts about disposing of immovable properties, as it cannot be done without clearance from the government, and there is a clause for it.

"The committee will rather look into effective utilisation of prison lands that have been lying unused."

Another bill passed today is 'The Code of Criminal Procedure (Karnataka Amendment) Bill' that provides for recording of the evidence of the witness by audio-video-electronic means in the presence of the advocate of the person accused of the offence.

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News Network
October 15,2021

New Delhi, Oct 15: India has slipped to the 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Eighteen countries, including China, Brazil and Kuwait, shared the top rank with a GHI score of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index that tracks hunger and malnutrition said on Thursday.

The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, termed the level of hunger in India "alarming".

In 2020, India was ranked 94th out of 107 countries. Now with 116 countries in the fray, it has dropped to 101st rank.

India's GHI score has also decelerated -- from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.8 - 27.5 between 2012 and 2021.

The GHI score is calculated on four indicators --undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who are wasted i.e who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition)  and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).

The share of wasting among children in India rose from 17.1 per cent between 1998-2002 to 17.3 per cent between 2016-2020, according to the report.

"People have been severely hit by Covid-19 and by pandemic related restrictions in India, the country with the highest child wasting rate worldwide," the report said.

Neighbouring countries like Nepal (76), Bangladesh (76), Myanmar (71) and Pakistan (92) are also in the 'alarming' hunger category but have fared better at feeding their citizens than India, according to the report.

However, India has shown improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food, the report said.

According to the report, the fight against hunger is dangerously off track. Based on the current GHI projections, the world as a whole -- and 47 countries in particular -- will fail to achieve a low level of hunger by 2030.

Food security is under assault on multiple fronts, it said, adding that worsening conflict, weather extremes associated with global climate change, and the economic and health challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic are all driving hunger.

"Inequality -- between regions, countries, districts, and communities -- is pervasive and, (if) left unchecked, will keep the world from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) mandate to “leave no one behind," the report said.

Further, the report noted that it is difficult to be optimistic in 2021 because the forces now driving hunger are overpowering good intentions and lofty goals.

Among the most powerful and toxic of these forces are conflict, climate change, and Covid-19—three Cs that threaten to wipe out any progress that has been made against hunger in recent years, it added. 

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News Network
October 15,2021

Dhaka/New Delhi, Oct 15: The Bangladesh government has promised swift action against those behind attacks on Hindu temples and Durga Puja celebrations amid criticism that the Muslim-majority country hasn't done enough to protect minorities.

Four people were killed in violence after some Hindu temples were vandalised during Durga Puja celebrations, prompting Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to deploy paramilitary force in 22 districts on Thursday.

"The incidents in Comilla are being thoroughly investigated. Nobody will be spared. It doesn't matter which religion they belong to. They will be hunted down and punished," she said while exchanging greetings with the Hindus during an event at Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka, news agency PTI reported.

"We are getting a large amount of information. This is an era of technology and those involved in the incident will definitely be tracked down with the use of the technology," Ms Hasina said.

India has sought action against the people behind the violence unleashed during the Durga Puja celebrations.

Videos on social media show large mobs breaking Durga Puja installations, throwing stones and vandalising Hindu temples. Some show idols of Goddess Durga broken by mobs.

India has called the reports of violence "disturbing". "We have seen disturbing reports of untoward incidents, involving attacks on a religious gathering in Bangladesh. We note the government of Bangladesh has reacted promptly to ensure the control of the situation including deployment of law enforcement machinery," foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, news agency ANI reported.

The authorities in Bangladesh enforced a ban on rallies in Haziganj where officials confirmed the deaths of four people with gunshot wounds, adding that two others were critically injured in the clashes, PTI reported.

According to officials in Bangladesh, the police were alerted about an alleged blasphemy incident at a Durga Puja pavilion in Cumilla, about 100 km from Dhaka, after which an investigation was launched. However, violence erupted after a mob attacked temples in parts of Cumilla, neighbouring Haziganj, northwestern coastal sub-districts of Hatia and Banskhali. Social media was used largely to instigate the communal tensions.

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News Network
October 24,2021

Bengaluru, Oct 24: Vice-Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, flag officer commanding-in-chief, Southern Naval Command, said here on Saturday that India had begun thinking of separating East Pakistan from West Pakistan from 1965 though it actually happened in 1971.

Chawla’s remarks came at a conclave at Air Force Station Yelahanka celebrating the golden jubilee of the 1971 India-Pakistan war victory.

Quoting “declassified” documents that he said were enough to show this, Chawla said: “The thinking started actively after the 1965 war, of how to separate East Pakistan from West. The principal reason was ISI’s interference in northeast insurgencies, particularly arming and training of Naga rebels in the Chittagong hill tracts. We used those lessons when we trained the Mukthi Bahini.”

However, he said, India was weak then as Congress had split and Indira Gandhi had barely held on to become prime minister. “She was called ‘Goongi Gudia’ by the opposition, which didn’t expect her to last long,” he said, adding that in Pakistan Yahya Khan had taken over from Tikka Khan in 1969.

 “He (Yahya) actually started this whole story by dissolving the “one unit geopolitical programme” of 1954, by which entire Pakistan was considered one wing to offset the population superiority of East Pakistan, and called for elections in 1970,” Chawla said.

Pointing out that the 1970 elections were the first one-person, one-vote elections in Pakistan, he said Indira Gandhi called for elections one-and-a-half years ahead of the scheduled February 1971 polls.

“Yahya was very firmly entrenched and Gandhi was on a weak wicket. It suddenly changed in December 1970 when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won 160 seats in East Pakistan and Bhutto only 81 in West Pakistan. Rahman was the natural successor to the prime ministership,” he said.

Stating that the thinking in 1965 was nascent, Chawla inferred that the January 30, 1971 hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft to Lahore by Kashmiri separatists may have been a trigger.

“The government of India stopped overflight facilities, preventing them from rearming in East Pakistan. They had to fly over Colombo, which was difficult and expensive. Also, Rahman winning elections and not being allowed to be PM started unravelling the whole plot. In March, once Rahman declared independence, India entered the war in April 1971,” Chawla said.

He added that the comprehensive Indian response included clandestine operations to sabotage shipping in East Pakistan. “It was not just inter-service collaboration, it was the entire government approach under astute leadership. On March 7, Indira Gandhi won a landslide victory that strengthened her position. Several things fell into place and she came to be called the ‘Durga of India’,” he said.

“While we go over individual battles, the most important thing is the immutable principles of war, which almost perfectly followed in 1971. Whether this is being done today or not is for us to judge, but the adversaries are different. Warfare is different and technology has changed everything. We need to look ahead and remember that adversaries, the geopolitical situation, and technology are evolving at an ever faster pace," he said.

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