Convivial Verdict by the Apex Court on Ban of Firecrackers

Convivial Verdict by the Apex Court on Ban of Firecrackers

Just a fortnight before the Diwali festival that falls this year on November 7, the Supreme Court’s verdict, comprising of 54 pages, came in response to a petition on the lookout for a ban on manufacturing and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution. The Apex Court has repudiated imposition of a countrywide blanket ban on the sale of firecrackers.

This case has been dealt with a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan. On August 28, 2018, the bench had held in reserve its verdict. In its judgment given on October 23, 2018, the court said only green firecrackers, which are less polluting, will only be allowed for sale. Besides, the court banned the online sale of firecrackers and put a stay on e-commerce portals from selling them. The court also imposed a perimeter restriction on both decibels as well as emission norms.

According to the court’s verdict, people will be allowed to burn crackers between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali while on Christmas and New Year, the timings are from 11:45 pm to 12:15 am. The court has also engaged all states to sightsee the possibility of community cracker bursting during festivals.

Getting back into the details of the case, a Writ Petition i.e. Civil No. 728 of 2015 was filed on September 24, 2015, on behalf of three infants. The infants were just aged 5 months, 5 months, and 14 months, respectively. This petition has been filed through their parents, who are concerned very much about the health of their children. According to them due to the distressing squalor of the air quality, which was leading to severe air pollution in the city of Delhi, their children’s health might be spoiled.

The verdict was given after more than 3 years. In my opinion, the verdict given by the Apex Court is welcoming for the reason that it has not imposed a blanket ban on the sale of firecrackers while striking so many restrictions on the usage of firecrackers that would in turn ensure the environmental protection to a certain extent — if not completely.

As far as Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights is concerned, it is celebrated to symbolize the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. During the celebration homes, offices, and business areas are radiantly floodlit. However, with the changing times, the congenital meaning of the festival also changed to an inordinate point. The lights have been replaced with the firecrackers. Thus, the hidden connotation of the festival itself is transformed.

In India, almost every festival, these days, has become a source of problematic incidents. Let it be Holi, Dussehra or Diwali — besides the joyous celebrations, there have been concomitant perils. We often hear about the loss of lives during the pointed out festivals and beyond. For example, the recent Amritsar train accident was a case of a pure human error that was caused due to the noise generated by the firecrackers.

In my view, the judgment given by the Supreme Court is genial because the ban on firecrackers is more or less accompanying with religious sentiments. For sure, a complete ban on the firecrackers would have led to another parallel status quo like what is going on in Sabarimala after the Apex Court’s verdict. So, not considering an unmitigated ban, while drawing so many precincts, which compensates a great loss in itself, is a good outcome from the Apex court.

One of the best things that won over me much is — the court asked the states to explore the possibility of community cracker bursting during festivals. It is the need of the hour. Instead of wasting billions of rupees on firecrackers, small sections of people may come together, assemble and enjoy the cracker show. Such a thing has been in practice in various organizations like the Indian Air Force. It gives both the feeling of coming together for gratification, apart from wasting of the money and material. At the same time, it can control environmental pollution to a greater extent.

Secondly, the court has restricted the timings to burn firecrackers. It is another warmest thing for the reason that as there were no restrictions in the timings, it has been a practice that people start burning the firecrackers as early as 4 a.m in the morning till almost the same time on a coming day. Such a run through not only creates sound and air pollution but also infuriates the people ailing from various diseases.

In concluding words,  the Apex Court’s verdict on the ban on the firecrackers is convivial. Nonetheless,  the consequences would also become convivial only when the judgment given by the Supreme Court is followed in both in letter and spirit. The responsibility for the same lies on each and everyone’s shoulders. Let’s make on the horizon Diwali festival, a pollution-free festival of lights!

–  Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi


An Upshot of Diesel Becoming Overpriced Than Petrol in Odisha

An Upshot of Diesel Becoming Overpriced Than Petrol in Odisha

While creating a never estimated class of record, for the first time in the country, diesel has become a costlier thing than petrol. Conservatively, as it is acknowledged by every Tom, Dick, and Harry, the diesel costs not as much of petrol for the reason that the taxes imposed on diesel are less than that of petrol.

However, the present situation in Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar is  — a liter of diesel costs 12 paise more than that of petrol. As on October 21, 2018, a liter diesel was sold at ₹80.69 while a corresponding quantity of petrol was sold at ₹80.57.Unsurprisingly, the blame game among the ruling and opposing political parties has been continuing over the issue. The inference arrived at is against the policy of the central government for the rise in the price of diesel. One interesting fact is — Odisha government inflicts 26% of VAT on both diesel and petrol. The varying prices of petrol and diesel thus attained a level of point wherein the diesel price has become dearer than that of petrol.

Coming to the point of our argument, Odisha is the 11th most densely inhabited state in India, and it is home to more than 42 million people. Despite the fact the state persisted mostly in poverty for a long-term, there has been a palpable reduction in the poverty levels in the state, after 2005. Nevertheless, even on this date, the poverty level is still very tall. The surprising figures about Odisha are — the south and west districts in the state are among the poorest places in the country. Moreso, the state is home to more than 14 million poor people.On the other hand, the state is slowly picking up the gear to move forward. The growth of the state is higher as compared to low-income states of India. As far as the state’s ranking among the most poverty states is concerned, Odisha stands second among the 14 States in the country with the highest incidence of poverty. It is placed just next to Bihar. According to the latest available statistics, while Bihar outdid the list with record-keeping percentage of 33.34% of poor people, Odisha followed with 32.59%. As far as the state administration is concerned, they expressed satisfaction that it has recorded the highest reduction in poverty among all major States in recent times.

Now, there arises a million dollar question: what concern the poverty of Odisha has to do with the burning diesel prices that have beaten the petrol rate. There is a convinced connexion between poverty and rising fuel prices. Even though it is not said, the hike in fuel prices is a squat spell affair. The rise in fuel prices, mostly that of diesel, would burden the common man indirectly in many ways. The transportation costs that would incur for the transportation of goods and commodities would have its effect on the rising prices.The shrewd presiding administration, after increasing the fuel prices by 15% or so in less than four months, has reduced it just by 2% — it degrees to a meager drop. Also, it is nothing more than a sort of the action that the government is simply icing an injury without taking any serious action to reduce the fuel prices, eternally.

Clearly, the present case in point speaks that the fringe difference which used to be more than 30 rupees between the diesel and petrol has become very thin, these days. This is a vibrant warning that the prices of diesel have become dearer than that of petrol. This change has a very deleterious reflexion on the well-being of the masses.

In this background, there is a great need that the presiding governments should grasp the rippling effect of the rise in petrol prices. The prices of all the commodities will increase compliant with the rise in the petroleum products. Ultimately, the burden will be on the common man, who lives on the daily wages. Due to the hidden threats imposed by the rise in fuel prices, the government needs to arrive at a perpetual policy, instead of considering the instantaneous measures whose impact is not seen over a period of time.

– Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi

Was Sartre’s Refusal of the Nobel Prize for Literature Precise?

Was Sartre’s Refusal of the Nobel Prize for Literature Precise?

Jean-Paul Sartre, also known as Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a multifaceted French philosopher. He was also a playwright, novelist, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. All the way through his life, Sartre was grief-stricken about the purpose of literature. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature, which was publicized on the same date in 1964 i.e. on  October 22, 1964. However, he snubbed to take the honor. In declining the honor, Sartre was upset that the Nobel was held in reserve for the writers of the West or the rebels of the East.

Though Jean-Paul Sartre had not damned the Nobel, he, however, smoothly pointed out its Eurocentric flaws. On the occasion of refusal, he himself explicated the reasons for his denial in accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature.

According to Sartre, he had deeply regretted the fact that the incident had become something of a disgrace — a prize was awarded, and he refused it. In line with his statement, he was not aware at the time that the Nobel Prize was awarded without consulting the opinion of the recipient, and he believed that there was time to prevent this from happening — he was not informed soon enough of what was in progress. However, of late he grasped that once the Swedish Academy had made a decision, it could not subsequently revoke it. Satre held neither Swedish Academy nor the Nobel Prize in itself as reasons for his refusal. In his letter to the Swedish Academy, on his decision of the refusal of Nobel Prize, he talked about to two types of reasons — personal and objective.

The personal reasons had it that he never accepted any honors per se — so was with the Nobel Prize. He held this attitude was based on his conception of the writer’s enterprise. In keeping with his belief, a writer who adopts political, social, or literary positions must act only with the means that are his own i.e the written word. All the honors he may receive expose his readers to a pressure that he did not consider desirable. As regarded by him, if he would sign himself Jean-Paul Sartre it was not the same thing as if he would sign himself Jean-Paul Sartre, the Nobel Prize winner.

On the word of Sartre, the writer who accepts an honor of this kind involves as well as himself the association or institution which has honored him. In this locale, his sympathies, said Sartre, for the Venezuelan revolutionists commit only himself, while if Jean-Paul Sartre the Nobel laureate champions the Venezuelan resistance, he also commits the entire Nobel Prize as an institution. As a consequence, he said that a writer must, therefore, refuse to let himself be changed into an institution, even if this occurs under the most honorable circumstances. He held this attitude as entirely his own.

Then again, he also parroted his objective reasons behind the denial. As stated by Sartre, the only battle possible those days on the cultural front was the battle for the nonviolent coexistence of the two cultures — that of the East and that of the West. He did not mean that they must embrace each other for the reason that he was aware that the hostility of these two cultures must inevitably take the form of a conflict. However, as held by Sartre, this conflict must occur between people and between cultures, without the intervention of institutions. These were the reasons he cited for not accepting any honor awarded by cultural authorities, those of the West any more than those of the East, even if he was sympathetic to their existence.

Further, Sartre held that he was aware that the Nobel Prize in itself was not a literary prize of the Western bloc, but it was what was made of it, and events might occur which were outside the province of the members of the Swedish Academy. In this background only, Sartre opined that the Nobel was held in reserve for the writers of the West or the rebels of the East.

On the word of Sartre, the Nobel Prize was a bourgeois prize, but such was the bourgeois interpretation which would inevitably be given by certain circles with which he was very familiar.

In a nutshell, consistent with Sartre’s views, he always refused official distinctions for the reason that he never wanted himself to be institutionalized. Sartre rejected the Nobel Prize for fear that it would limit the impact of his writing. He also expressed regrets that circumstances had given his decision the appearance of a scandal. There have been two blocks of French opinions over the refusal of Nobel Prize by Jean-Paul Sartre, who is aptly known as the Father of existentialism. While the first block defends Sartre, the other articulates distress for the loss of status.

Whatsoever the case may be, I admire Jean-Paul Sartre’s decision of refusal of Nobel Prize — because — I consider Jean-Paul Sartre’s unnoticed philosophy is very contiguous to my own philosophy:

“It is better to stand up for one’s own beliefs and get kicked in the shin rather than lie down and get hit on the face”.

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi

The Blame Game Begins Over Amritsar Train Accident

The Blame Game Begins Over Amritsar Train Accident

On the fateful evening of September 19, 2018, there is no doubt that many families have been left with nothing else than the heartache caused due to the loss of their family members’ lives. It is evident that on a pivotal evening at around 7.10 pm, the train which was coming from Jalandhar caused an accident at Joda Phatak near Amritsar. As many as 300 people were watching ‘Ravana Dahan’ at a ground next to to the tracks. In this major smashup, 61 people were killed while 72 others sternly injured.

Just within a few hours after the shocking train misfortune, the blame game has begun. According to the railways, the congregation of people was very close to tracks near Amritsar where the train mowed down Dussehra revelers. The Railway officials held the episode as a clear case of trespassing, for no permission was accorded for the event by the railways. While trying to find fault for the catastrophe on the Amritsar administration, the officials of railways said the local authorities were aware of the Dussehra programme. It was also said that the event was attended by a senior minister’s wife. In the interim, the Amritsar Municipal Corporation also upheld that no permission was accorded by the local civic authority.

As far as the local folks are concerned, it has been a tradition for them for more than 20 years that people from neighboring villages would meet at the unoccupied plot at Joda Phatak, which is scarcely 50 meters from railway tracks — to witness the burning of Ravana effigy as part of Dussehra celebrations. Consistent with them, before the train going to Amritsar from Jalandhar that mowed down the revelers, two other trains passed through the tracks, but they slowed down their speed.

Absolutely, everybody has their own version, which seems very much binding. Until and unless something goes wrong, nobody ever bothers to make inquiries whether what has been done is correct or not. If we deeply analyze the instance, it is a fault of the organizers of the event for they have neither obtained permission from the local civic authorities nor from the railway authorities.

Indubitably, the train which was traveling at a speed of 91 kmph would not be in a position to stop all of sudden regardless of the fact that the loco pilot intends to avert the accident. It is learned that after spotting the crowd on the track, the train was slowed down to 68 kmph before the first impact. It clearly indicates the efforts put in by the loco pilot of the train.

In this occasion, what the railways have said is unequivocally right that there was no carelessness on the part of the national transporter for the reason that they were not kept in the loop and they have not provided any permission for the event. Surely, it was a strong case of trespassing. Of course, to a certain extent, the local administration is blameworthy, in case they are aware of the fact that the Dussehra celebrations have been held at the same location for the past 20 years.

It cannot be taken for a guarantee that if nothing has happened, few and far between, for past 20 years means it would endure incessantly. The same has been once again proven in this annoying incident. Though the blame game has been at its peak, all the fretful civic authorities and the event organizers should alone be held responsible for this major accident, without any hesitation.

In this tragic accident, what has been a source of joy and enthusiasm to the locals for over two decades has turned out to be a nightmare. Prevention is always better than the cure and the palpable reckless attitude of organizers and civic authorities is seen behind such an untoward incident. It’s only when something goes wrong then we realize about the importance of the rules and regulations. Why it is so? Tragedy after tragedy has been taking place and where is an end to it? It’s a case of pure human error and nothing more than that.

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi

71 Years of Consensual Association between Pakistan and United States

71 Years of Consensual Association between Pakistan and United States

It was on the same day in 1947 i.e. on October 20, 1947, precisely two months and six days after Pakistan’s liberation, the United States established a two-pronged bond with Pakistan. As a consequence, the United States became one of the first countries to establish a relationship with the newly born country — Pakistan. It is obvious that Pakistan allied itself with the U.S. during the Cold war era, counter to the Soviet Union.

In these 71 years of the bilateral relationship between the US and Pakistan, ostensibly, sometimes the bond looked as if it was very strong while at times it gave an impression of a frailer connexion. During Operation Cyclone in the 1980s, following the election of the left-inclined Pakistan People’s Party under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the rapport between these two nations swiftly improved and expanded.

However, the relations once again curdled after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, when the United States permitted sanctions against Pakistan by passing a revision, which was endorsed against Pakistan for its nuclear weapons program. The congealing of relations was instigated after the war with India in 1971 and zipped after India exploded a nuclear bomb in 1974.

Later, Pakistan once again presumed an important role in American geopolitical interests in the region following the attacks of September 11, 2001 (also called 9/11 attacks), and the ensuing War on Terror. As the United States termed Pakistan a major non-NATO ally in 2002, the bilateral relations were reinforced, once again.

As the time elapsed, relations began to rinse as both sides began to criticize each other as far as their strategies in the War on Terror were concerned.  The United States government frequently accused Pakistan of harboring members of the Afghan Taliban and Quetta Shura. In this background, Pakistan has alleged that the United States has hardly done anything to regulate safekeeping in eastern Afghanistan, where Pakistan’s most-wanted terrorist, Mullah Fazlullah has been believed to be thumping.

While discussing the topic of the bilateral relationship between these two countries, it becomes imperative to discuss the death of Osama bin Laden. On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden, the then head of the militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan by a United States special forces military unit. The codename of the operation was Operation Neptune Spear, which was ordered by the then United States President Barack Obama. According to administrative officials of the US, they did not share info about the raid with the government of Pakistan until the operation was successfully concluded. However, Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials said they were also present in the operation and cited the Operation Neptune Spear as a joint operation.

One more important thing concerning the twofold affiliation between these two countries is — the United States has been involved in wide-ranging economic, social, and scientific assistance as well as vigorous military relations with Pakistan. Also, Pakistan continues to occupy a strategic position in the United States’ interests in Central and South Asia.

According to the Washington Post, American culture has profoundly pierced into Pakistan. However, the public judgment in Pakistan recurrently ranks the U.S. as one of its least favored countries and vice versa. On the word of Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey conducted recently, only 15% of Americans had a favorable view of Pakistan.

Despite the fact that there has been a bilateral relationship of changing dimensions between Pakistan and the US, maintaining 71 years of the dual bond itself is a marvel.

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi

Translations without Command over Language Blemish Minds

Translations without Command over Language Blemish Minds

At times, inadvertently the poor translation aspects can create a blot on the image of the leaders. For many people, translation may come out as a very easy task. But, in actuality, it is not so.

The basic definition of translation is — the process of transferring text from one language into another. A translator should not undertake the work of translation without having sufficient knowledge on the language from which it is translated — and the language into which it is translated.

We can have much number of good examples of what happens if the translation is done without having adequate knowledge of the phrases and idioms, specific to one language. Surely, the blame could not be bestowed upon the translator, for most of the times the translator is not a native speaker of the language.

In this milieu, I would like to refer to one of the Humphrey Davies rules of translation, which states, “Consult the author about everything you don’t understand, and if s/he’s not alive, consult another native speaker who reads widely and intelligently”.

The translators whosoever undertake the task probably translate of their own with the basic knowledge they have, or else, if at all they consult someone, they might have consulted people and sought the meaning, without bothering to explain the context in which they were seeking the information. I see no other probability behind such great slip-ups, which ultimately lead to the tarnishing of the image of the situation or a person.

In order to justify my argument that translation misunderstandings can blemish leadership image, I would like to refer to the idiom “Pain in the neck” in the English language as an example. If an educated and intelligent person is asked about the same, he would swiftly say that it means “irritation” or “annoyance”, whereas, there is a definite probability that it can be misinterpreted as the neck pain by the general public. Is it not so?

While explaining to my students about the importance of understanding the phrases and idioms of the languages, I used to emphasize the importance of understanding phrases and idioms properly. Such mistakes are sure to happen for obvious reasons. In one of the debates held in a national news channel, what a political party leader has uttered has become a point of debate, just for the reason that the spoken words of the leader in his own dialect have been truly translated into the national language — which otherwise carried the meaning of his intentions. But it has led to a very long debate. In this case, I saw no other reason behind the debate other than the misconstrued translation sides. Any sharp and educated person with command over native dialect could have interpreted it otherwise while undertaking the translation, but surely not the way it was understood.

Let it be a translator or a journo or any individual for that matter, it should be realized that translation is not a simple task as thought by many since there are always hitches in the job. There is a definite need to understand the context and cultural aspects native to the region, before any such practice!

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi

Will the Gajwel Constituency in Telangana Break the Record?

Will the Gajwel Constituency in Telangana Break the Record?

From the time when OP Rawat, the Chief Election Commissioner, on October 6, 2018, has declared that the state of Telangana would go to the polls on December 7, theories have been heading in the different direction amongst the people as well as the politicians. All highs have been worried only with the winning party. A few days before news made rounds that Amavasya, the new moon, is falling on the polling day — December 7, 2018. It has come to stomping ground the reigning TRS Party — no sooner the Election Commission publicized the polling date than the social media was inundated with posts pointing out that it was Amavasya and the date may not grow into favorable for TRS as it is deliberated as inauspicious.Now, it is the buzz time for the gossips around the Gajwel Constituency, which is being represented by none other than the present Chief Minister of Telangana. Gajwel is a town in Siddipet district of the Indian state of Telangana. For quite some time, the Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao, has been implicit as a firm follower of numerology, astrology, and vaastu. Now, in the same background, much as it is being spread that if KCR contests from the Gajwel constituency, he may not win. Grapevine had it that it is the record of Gajwel constituency since its origin in 1978 that no MLA candidate has twice gript the victory in this constituency. It is worth considering that till 2004 General Elections, Gajwel Assembly constituency was reserved for SC and from 2009 General Elections it was made unreserved. The detailed list of both winners and losers in the MLA race is appended below:

Year Winner Party Loser Party
1978 Gajwel Saidiah INC(I) Allam Sailu JNP
1983 Allam Sailu IND Gajwel Saidaiah INC
1985 B. Sanjeeva Rao TDP Gajwel Saidiala INC
1989 Dr. J. Geeta Reddy INC B. Sanjeeva Rao TDP
1994 G. Vijaya Rama Rao TDP Dr. J. Geeta Reddy INC
1999 B. Sanjeeva Rao TDP Dr. J. Geeta Reddy INC
2004 Dr. J. Geeta Reddy INC D.Durgaiah TDP
2009 Tumkunta Narsa Reddy INC Lasmannagari Prathap Reddy TDP
2014 Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao TRS Pratap Reddy Vanteru TDP
2018 ?? ?? ?? ??

For sure, the above list gives us the customary throb of the voters of Gajwel, who never give the same judgment as far as the endearing political party is concerned.

Then again, there are unindustrialized gainsaying opinions as well that KCR, as the first Chief Minister of Telangana, has done so much to the constituency’s development. So, he would win for the second time, if he opts to contest from the same constituency.Of course, there is no overtone for the Chief Minister representing a constituency as compared to any other previous instances. However, news has been making rounds that KCR would likely to contest from Medchal constituency as well. If so is the case, there are two main probabilities behind him choosing Medchal constituency. While the first likelihood being KCR’s style of picking different constituencies for contesting in each election, the second possibility turns out to be his unproven faith in the fallacies.

However, keeping all the irrational dogmata aside, if KCR races and wins from the Gajwel constituency, it would be a new record as far as Gajwel Assembly Constituency is concerned.

–  Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi

Why Shouldn’t There Be a Mandatory Educational Qualification for a Politician?

Why Shouldn’t There Be a Mandatory Educational Qualification for a Politician?

Have you ever felt that it is iniquitous that even for a priestly job you need to have some qualification but for PM’s job, which is the highest post in India, there is no need of any mandatory prerequisite?

In the Indian setting, there have been many instances that the education minister himself/herself was proximate illiterate and the law minister had a criminal background. Isn’t this totally absurd? I wonder how such things could be rationalized.

India, the largest democratic country in the world, has guaranteed identical rights to all citizens irrespective of any sort of discrimination that includes discrimination by education levels or rises. Of course, the very idea for such a noble thinking has its roots in a reflection to provide equal offers to everyone.

If we clearly examine the present day Indian scenario, the purpose and meaning of everything have been changed as desired by the prominent people. For example, the Upper House Rajya Sabha known as Council of States is one of the two houses of the Parliament of India. The membership is limited to 250 members, 12 of whom are nominated by the President of India for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services. The residue of the body is elected by the state and territorial legislatures.

I wonder how many justifiable people who contributed to art, literature, science, and social services got elected to the upper house in the recent scenario. It has become customary that all those who could not get elected to the lower house, in general, are sent to Rajya Sabha. A similar situation arises in the state councils, from the other corner.

The million dollar question here is if there was any formal qualification that is required to get elected as people’s representative? The answer can be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I would like to rationalize in the following manner: First of all, ‘No’, because the Constitution of the Republic of India guarantees every individual many rights that include chipping in the elections, without any sort of discrimination. So, everyone can get elected to the legislative institutions without any sort of discrimination. Thus, there is no formal criterion necessary to get designated in this manner. Secondly, ‘Yes’, because if we clearly look into the present day politics, it is a process of the pure fixture of money in both direct and indirect ways. A person who is not rich will not be offered a ticket to contest in the polls even by an insignificant political party. There is an almost negligible number of candidates who get elected to the polls as an independent candidate for not having supported by any political party. Also, political parties prefer to give tickets only to rich people who could fund the party, apart from spending lavishly towards election campaigning.

To excerpt, there are many instances wherein a person who is not a member of any house gets ministry in the government first and later sent to one of the houses before 6 months, by hook or by crook. At the same time, there are cases in point wherein a candidate is kept away just because he/she cannot afford poll expenditures.

At this juncture, indubitably, I would like to assert that there is a binding criterion required for getting elected to the legislative institution i.e. to be well-heeled. Is it not a point to ponder?

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi

The Significance of Bathukamma Festival

The Significance of Bathukamma Festival

Bathukamma is a ten-day festival that begins on the closed moon day of the Telugu Bhadrapada month, which is far and wide celebrated in Telangana state. This festival just falls before the festival of Dushera or Dasara. Significantly, this festival begins soon after the ending of monsoons.

During this festival, Goddess Gauri is worshipped by the name Bathukamma. The word Bathukamma in the local Telugu language literally means “Mother Goddess, Come Alive!” This is the festival of colors and the flowers. The flowers are arranged in a conical pattern that signifies the mother goddess — and is called the Bathukamma.

In the evenings, all the women assemble at a commonplace and place the conical stacks in the center and then dance around it singing their traditional songs and clapping in harmony. The festival is filled with fun and total thrills. For the nine days, the goddess is worshipped in various ways and on various names — Bathukamma remains common as a suffix to the name; and on the tenth day of the celebrations, the goddess is immersed in the local waters with proper rituals following a ceremonial way. There is a sumptuousness associated with the festival as far as the history is concerned.

According to the historians, the festival has a similar resemblance to that of Sankranthi. Both festivals are celebrated when the yield of the crops arrive at home. It is considered as the Siri (goddess of Fortuna) coming at home. So, these days are celebrated in a festive mood mainly by the women, the representatives of Lakshmi in every home. Also, in Telangana, it has been customary that women are given much freedom. The festival of Bathukamma symbolically indicates the same with the massive gatherings to celebrate the festival with dances and songs.

According to the bioscientists, the festival denotes the collection of flowers and leaves which are rich in medicinal values. The immersion of huge quantity of the same in the water observes all these ingredients and makes the water rich with medicinal values.

Whatsoever may be the significance of the festival, the festival makes the presence of the women, who are otherwise confined to their homes, most of the times.

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi

A Blitzkrieg Counter to #MeToo: What Do the Defamation Laws Say?

A Blitzkrieg Counter to #MeToo: What Do the Defamation Laws Say?

Priya Ramani, a journalist, who came out first with her version, reproving MJ Akbar, the current minister of state for external affairs and a former journalist, of sexual harassment, has to now face a criminal defamation case. It is evident that MJ Akbar has been accused of his alleged involvement in sexual harassment of 14 women. Through Akbar’s advocates — Karanjawala and Co — the case has been filed in New Delhi’s Patiala House Court.

Akbar, in his complaint, has stated that Ramani has resorted to a series of spitefully made-up allegations. He also mentioned that she has been diabolically and brutishly spreading such rumors using media.

In the same approach, Alok Nath, a senior Bollywood actor, has denied Vinta’s accusations that he had sexually assaulted her. Ashu Singh, the wife of Alok Nath, has now approached the court against Vinta. It is worth recollecting that a few days ago, Vinta Nanda, a Bollywood writer cum producer, came out with a tear-jerking explanation of how 19 years ago she was allegedly assaulted sexually by Bollywood actor Alok Nath on more than one occasion. Later, actor Sandhya Mridul has also come out with her story of sexual harassment by Alok Nath.

In this row, author Chetan Bhagat has stated that Ira Trivedi’s allegations of sexual harassment against him were false. In order to defend his statement, he has posted a screenshot of 2013 email sent to him by Trivedi, on his twitter wall. Though he has not drawn near the court as of now, it is likely that he may also approach the court under defamation law.

It seems Newton’s third law — for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction — holds good in the #MeToo row. Seemingly, all those men who have been exposed by the women in the #MeToo are in the mood of knocking the doors of the court. In this background, it is very much essential to appreciate what amounts to defamation and what does the defamation laws in India say.

In general, defamation is an oral or written statement that hurts someone’s reputation. According to Article 21 of the Constitution of the Republic of India, reputation is an essential and significant part of the dignity of the individual and Right to reputation. It is a natural right, which is an inherent right guaranteed under Article 21.

The Right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India is not complete for the reason that it has imposed reasonable restrictions for exercising rights in the interest of the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency, morality, contempt of court, defamation. However, Defamation Laws protect an individual’s private interest and reputation.

In India, unlike in many foreign countries, defamation can be viewed as both civil offense as well as criminal offense. It may be defined as the writing, publication, and speaking of a false statement which causes injury to reputation and good name for private interest. The remedy for a civil defamation is covered under Law of Torts.

In civil defamation, a victim can move high court or subordinate courts for seeking damages in the form of monetary compensation from accused. Section 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code provides an opportunity for the victim to file a criminal case for defamation against the accused. Punishment for the convicted for criminal defamation is simple imprisonment which may extend to two years or fine or both. On the other hand, under the criminal law, defamation is non-cognizable and compoundable offense.

Defamation statement must be in a spoken or written or published or visible manner and must be false and injured directly or indirectly to the reputation of an individual or his family members or caste and lowers the moral of the victim and statement is unprivileged statements. Likewise, like any law has some precincts, the following Statements can’t be deliberated as defamation:

·         Any truth statement made in public interest;

·         Any opinion given by the public in respect of the conduct of a public servant in discharge of his functions, his character appears;

·         Conduct of any person touching any public question;

·         Publication of any proceedings of courts of justice including any trial of court and judgment.

There is no doubt that if there is any truth in the contentions of the #MeToo, the defamation cases may become annulled. Also, it would ultimately demonstrate the allegations thus made by the #MeToo campaigners.

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kastur