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SC said Aadhaar must to avail Govt benefits, but it caused 25 hunger deaths in 2017-18



SC said Aadhaar must to avail Govt benefits, but it caused 25 hunger deaths in 2017-18

When it was launched in 2009, the pitch behind Aadhaar was that the ID would increase efficiency, reduce leakages and make life easier for India’s vulnerable citizens. The Union government’s ministers boasted that Aadhaar was an instrument of ‘inclusion’.

In reality, it has produced many stories of exclusion and suffering and been behind deaths of scores due to hunger, caused by deprivation of rights due to lack of Aadhaar linkage.

In a signal failure of government, despite Right to Food, MNREGA, public distribution system in place – all to prevent people from starving and ensure their fundamental Right to Life – the country saw as many as 56 deaths due to hunger over the last four years. The highest number of deaths has been in 2018.

Of these 42 hunger deaths took place in 2017-18 itself, according to data compiled by prepared by Right to Food activists Reetika Khera and Siraj Dutta, with contributions from Swati Narayan and the right to food (RTF) campaign in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Delhi.

More seriously and significantly, at least 25 out of these 42 hunger deaths in 2017-2018 were related to Aadhaar: ‘significant’ because yesterday, September 26, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar and Indian government using it as the primary proof of identity for citizens to access essential services.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad termed it a ‘historic judgement’ that would bolster good governance, and the delivery of services to the poorer sections of society.

Facts belie the government claims.

Number of reported hunger deaths Aadhaar-related deaths Aadhaar in PDS/pension?
2015 7 0 No
2016 7 2 Some states
2017 14 11 Yes
2018 28 14 Yes


“By hunger death we mean that the victim died after prolonged hunger because there was no food or money in the house, and that, quite likely, he or she would have survived otherwise,” the RTF activists said.

They say the reported hunger deaths over the past few years is the tip of the iceberg. “This is a partial list, based on Google searches in the English and Hindi media,” they clarified, releasing their data. (See it here)

The RTF campaign said while starvation deaths continue apace, instead of taking corrective measures, state government and local administration expend their energy in denying starvation as the cause of these deaths.

“For every person who has died, hundreds other languish with hunger and under-nutrition. Instead of expanding people’s legal entitlements to social support, the last few years have seen a brutal attack on people’s right to food, work, employment, natural resources, education etc,” said the RTF secretariat in a statement.

News reports of “starvation deaths” have been coming in a steady trickle over the past few years. One particularly tragic episode was that of eleven-year old Santoshi Kumari in Jharkhand. She died one year ago, on 28 September, begging her mother for rice as she slipped into unconsciousness. It was later learnt that her family had lost their ration card because it had not been linked with Aadhaar: in mid-2017, the Jharkhand government mass-cancelled Aadhaar-less rations cards.

The hunger deaths are a telling reminder of the precarious living conditions of the Indian poor. Many of them depend critically on social security pensions and the public distribution system (PDS) for their survival. Denial of PDS rations or pensions accounts for most of the hunger deaths. Most of the victims are from disadvantaged groups, e.g. Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims.

Out of 42 hunger deaths in 2017 and 2018, a large majority (25) were related to Aadhaar. At least 18 of these deaths were directly due to Aadhaar.

Common reasons include losing one’s ration card or pension for lack of Aadhaar linking, and failure of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA), which is compulsory – for practical purposes – in several states. Now this would be applied all across the country as Supreme Court has upheld the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar to avail benefits of government schemes.

Another 7 deaths were possibly related to Aadhaar. These are mainly cases where a person was denied PDS rations or a ration card for unspecified reasons, which are likely to be related to Aadhaar in some cases at least.

Reports of hunger deaths are particularly frequent in two states: Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh (16 cases each). In Jharkhand, ABBA is effectively compulsory in most ration shops. Uttar Pradesh has implemented the National Food Security Act in a belated and haphazard manner, said the RTF activists.

Two of the most recent deaths happened just weeks ago. Five-year-old Govinda, and two-year-old Aishwarya, from Buxar in Bihar, died on 31 August and 1 September, respectively. The two children belonged to the most backward ‘maha-Dalit’ community. Their father had been jailed, allegedly for participating in a violent protest, and the family had no access to rations for eight months, because they could not link their ration card to Aadhaar, explained the children’s mother, Dhana Devi.

Initially, the family survived with the help of neighbours and friends, but this support waned over time, and slowly, the two children succumbed to starvation.

In fact, the list of starvation deaths that Khera and Dutta shared includes 10 children, mostly around three-six years old, reported The Wire. The oldest child in the list is 11 and the youngest two.

In Karnataka, three Dalit brothers Narayan (55), Subbu (52) and Venkatrama (46) died on July 2, 8 and 12 respectively. They were reportedly denied ration for six months preceding their death as their ration card was deleted as it was not linked to Aadhaar.

India News

Enforcement Directorate officer caught taking Rs 20 lakh bribe in Tamil Nadu

Ankit Tiwari had been blackmailing many people and was taking bribes worth crores from them. He was also distributing bribes to other ED officials as well.



An Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer was arrested by the State Vigilance and Anti corruption department after he was caught taking a bribe of Rs 20 lakh from a government employee in Tamil Nadu’s Dindigul.

The name of the officer is Ankit Tiwari and he has been sent to judicial custody till December 15. After his arrest, the Dindigul district Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) at the ED Madurai’s office, the officials also searched Ankit Tiwari’s residence.

According to reports the investigation carried out showed more officers from Chennai and Madurai were involved in the case. Ankit Tiwari had been blackmailing many people and was taking bribes worth crores from them. He was also distributing bribes to other ED officials as well. Some documents have been seized from him and more ED officials at the Madurai and Chennai offices which may be may be searched further in connection with the case.

Ankit Tiwari contacted a government employee from Dindigul in connection with a DVAC case against him on October 29. The case had already been closed by. He told the employee that the Prime ministers’s office (PMO) had asked the ED to conduct an investigation into the matter.

Ankit Tiwari asked the employees to meet at the ED office in Madurai on October 30 for further investigation. On the employee arrived at the office, the ED officer allegedly sought Rs 3 crore as bribe from him to close the investigarion.

He told the employee that he had spoken to senior officials and agreed to lower the bribe to Rs 51 lakh. On November 1, the government employee purportedly gave the first installment of RS 20 lakh to the ED officer. The ED officer later asked him to pay the full amount and said the amount had to be shared among higher officials.

He also threatened the government employee of severe action, if he failed to make the payment. Later the government employee filed a complaint against him with DVAC’s Dindigul unit on November 30.

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India News

5 state elections: Exit poll projections range from a farce to the far-fetched

Pollsters run full time advisories on election management charging hundreds of crores. They can make or break political careers with their advice “based on research” leading to denial or offer of party tickets.



By Neeraj Mishra

Every year, some states have elections and every year, a farcical drama is played out on television channels, for days adding up to the actual counting hour. Familiar faces create and discuss highly improbable situations, stereotyped characters indulge in violence of words and extravagant exaggeration.

It is all aimed at creating confusion in the voter’s mind, infusing satta markets with more punters and general joy at the expense of viewers. This year is no different. India Today thinks the BJP can get 162 seats in Madhya Pradesh bettering its previous tally by more than 50. It does not pause to think why and how this is possible. The perceived anti-incumbency of 20 years has been turned on its head and a Gujarat-like result is possible without a similar communal situation or voter mindset.

At the same time, there are three other channels which think it’s a close race giving an average of only 100 seats to the BJP, 16 short of majority. Psephology is now a full time business with at least a dozen big companies that employ innumerable fake scientists.

Some of these companies have taken this to the next level like Prashant Kishor. They run full time advisories on election management charging hundreds of crores. They can make or break political careers with their advise “based on research” leading to denial or offer of party tickets. Clearly, winning is the only thing that matters as stakes are too high and the prize is control over the entire system at the state level.

Back to the exit polls though, the song on Chhattisgarh is quite identical in every channel. Every psephologist worth his salt knows that the BJP was so far behind in 2018 at 15 seats compared to the Congress’ 70 that to recover and beat it would be next to impossible, so every channel has the Congress ahead. But in a house of 90 to say that BJP will get between 36-46 seats and Congress will get 40-50 seats is a joke at the very least.

It would mean both parties are forming the government and the researcher is not sure so he has played safe. Keeping a two per cent margin in predictions is absolutely unacceptable here, since traditionally the difference between the two parties has been less than 2 per cent, except in 2018. Even a 0.75 per cent difference in votes can lead to a BJP-50 and Congress-38 situation in 2013. So to say, the BJP can get between 36 to 46 seats is absurd.

It’s the difference between losing and forming the government. After having covered more than two dozen elections, one has seen that the safest way to predict results is based on the prevailing mood about three months before the elections are announced. Barring something as drastic as Pulwama, people are unlikely to change their mind at the last moment.

So to say all along the campaign period that such and such party is improving its position is mostly low conjecture. Another noticeable thing in this elections has been the freebies on offer by sitting governments in all states. Shivraj Singh Chouhan beat them all by announcing he would give Rs 3000 per month to every married woman if voted back to power.

He even delivered two installments during the campaign period while the Election Commission did nothing about it, it did stop K. Chandrashekhar Rao from dispensing his pro-farmer cash. So have the labharthis (beneficiaries) then appropriated this round of elections? They certainly have caused a major rift among psephologists.

The wide difference in their predictions is perhaps also caused by which set of Labharthi they talked to. Labharthis also tend to aggregate their votes regionally. For instance in famine-ridden Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh, Rs 3000 means a lot but not so much in more affluent Malwa-Nimad.

The Congress’ offer of loan waiver may trump the BJP’s offer of Rs 12000 per annum to every woman over 18 in the Chhattisgarh plains but in the hilly tribal areas, it still rings a bell. Exit poll is an effective salve to pacify nervous candidates and supporters. No one really remembers or credits the channels with anything even if they were spot on. It is only a three-day carnival and should be treated as such. Real life happens on counting day.

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India News

PM Modi proposes to host COP33 in India in 2028

The 28th conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC), refered as COP28, is currently taking place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.



Prime Minister Modi was addressing the COP28 climate summit in Dubai on Friday, he proposed hosting COP33 in India in 2028. PM Modi said  India is committed to UN framework for climate change process. That is why, from this stage, he proposed to host COP33 Summit in India in 2028.

The 28th conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC), refered as COP28, is currently taking place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.

As a special gesture by the UAE, PM Narendra Modi was given the honour of speaking at the Ceremonial opening of the summit, in which discussion will held on issues regarding climate change in the coming days. He said he announced one more pro planet, pro active and positive initiative- green credit initiative.

PM Modi said India’s goal is to bring down the emissions intensity by 45 % till 2030 and also said the country has decided to increase the share of non fossil fuel to 50%. He said India will keep going ahead towards the goal of net zero by 2070.

PM Modi will also attend three other high level events on the sidelines of the summit. Bilateral meetings with World Leaders like Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Israeli President Issac Herzog.

The COP28 conference brings together the heads of the state, climate activists, government ministers, scientists and other stake holders from all over the world so that discussion can take place and action can be taken on climate change. The key themes of the conference include slashing energy emissions before 2030 and fast tracking the energy transition, transforming climate finance, putting nature, lives, people and livelihood at the heart of climate action and mobilizing for more inclusive COP ever.

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