The nation gets another revolting hit. The shocking scandal involving sexual abuse of minor girls and women in shelter homes is spilling over. After being named the most dangerous country for women, more shame is in store what with horrific tales emanating from States. Uttar Pradesh now joins notorious Bihar after a 10-year girl fled from a shelter home in Deoria district and informed authorities about the plight of inmates, who were ‘sexually abused’ like in the Muzzarfpur home. So far 24 girls have been rescued and 18 reported missing and there is yet another CBI probe. But it doesn’t stop here. Shelter homes in Pratapgarh, Piliphit and Hardoi districts too have missing women inmates following raids by the DMs. Obviously, the NGOs running these homes were ‘abusing’ the women and much to hide. Worse, public funds find their way into the running of these homes. And while the Supreme Court wants detailed reports, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has finally woken up and decides to dig in deeper. It has called for a social audit of 9,000 institutions within two months across the country which house girls–orphaned, abandoned or rescued. Predictably more skeletons will tumble out, but the big question is whether the ‘influential and powerful’ either running these homes or visiting these homes will be nailed.
Era Ends In TN
An era comes to an end in Tamil Nadu, with the passing away of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi. In politics for over six decades, the five-time Chief Minister has left an imprint in every sphere of Tamil public life, be it politics, administration, literature or cinema. His demise has left a huge void not only in State politics but also at the national level. And while there was a sea of humanity bidding him goodbye in Chennai, Prime Minister Modi and five Chief Ministers and top leaders paying homage, Parliament adjourning for the day as a mark of respect even though he was never an MP, ruling AIADMK and arch rival unfortunately indulged in petty politics. It did so when it came to his last resting place, the Marina beach in Chennai, where three former CMs are buried. Shockingly, the State government at this moment of public outpouring of grief, cited protocol, procedure and precedent to deny the DMK leadership’s request that the Kalaignar be buried near his mentor C N Annadurai’s memorial at the Marina grounds. The family moved the Madras High Court, which hearing the urgent plea shot down the government’s decision. Not only has this left a bad taste but also warns of what level political rivalry can stoop to. However, with both parties losing last of their titans it would come as no surprise that it would murkier and worse.
Delhi MLAs Bonanza
Decentralisation and development, appears to be Delhi AAP government’s mantra before it goes back to the voter for 2019 General elections and then Assembly polls 2020. On Tuesday last, Kejriwal’s Cabinet sprang a pleasant surprise for the 70 MLAs (66 its own and four BJP’s) by approving a whopping raise in their Local Area Development (MLALAD) fund from ?4 crore to ?10 crore annually-the highest amount being given by any government. Of course, the MLAs would be thrilled that their demand for a raise has been met so generously. However, there are nagging questions: where will the additional funds for the scheme come from; several MLAs haven’t been able to spend the existing amount available; whether this decentralisation of functioning would usher in development rather than appeasement of voters and most critical is whether the Urban Development minister’s proposal to change guidelines won’t get mired in bureaucratic wrangling, as is near normal by now. Did one already hear rumblings inside Raj Niwas?
MP Cheer For Cong
Madhya Pradesh offers Congress reason to cheer. The grand old party gave the BJP-ruled State a run for its money with a handsome win in the by-polls for the civic body elections, held across 14 districts. Recently anointed Congress State chief, Kamal Nath has had a good start indeed as the party bagged nine seats, of which three were wrested from his constituency. On the other hand, with the BJP winning only four seats, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan must worry as Assembly elections are slated for year-end. Nath believes winds of change are blowing and Chouhan’s Jan Ashirwad Yatra, by which he seeks people’s blessings to retain power “has been exposed.” As usual, the BJP rubbishes it saying the results are no indicator of people’s mood. While pollsters as of now are giving a 50-50 chance to either side, the ruling BJP should be wary as the rivals fared well in polls to presidential posts in civic bodies this January. Voter mood change is changing with the season?
Haryana Quota Struck Down
The reservation bandwagon gets a jolt in haryana. On Tuesday last, the Punjab and Haryana High Court set aside Khattar government’s 2016 order which allowed granting preference in recruitments and admission in educational institutions on basis of income within the Backward Class category. The sub-classification granting preference to those with income up to three lakh rupees among the Backward Class, said the Bench “is an arbitrary classification that ensures reverse discrimination which closes the doors of equitable distribution amongst the backward classes”. In effect it means that while the State government gave a benefit with one hand, it did so to take it away with the other! The order has given a fillip to MBBS students who had challenged the government’s decision. The court has ordered fresh counselling for the students and said a categorical no to any more sub-classification. Hope the government will adhere to the adage ‘once bitten, twice shy.”
Jharkhand No To Centre
Jharkhand is not open to new ideas and prefers old format. Fortunately, the Centre is agreeable, but this could open a Pandora’s box. New Delhi’s pilot project for direct transfer of food subsidy into bank accounts for beneficiaries in place of ration has not gone down well with the Raghubar Das government. On Wednesday last, it scrapped it after getting the Centre’s approval. Why? The administration apparently faced technical problems while implementing the project in Ranchi’s Nagri block. It so happens there are technical and legal hitches. Under the pilot project, the subsidy would not be paid if ration was not bought but under the National Food Security Act the beneficiaries should get ration at Rs 1 per kg every month. This is contradictory. Thus, the project launched in October last has been happily scrapped. Incidentally, it was launched in Karnataka, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh too. Will the beneficiaries take a cue from Jharkhand and demand reversal is what needs to be seen. —(INFA)