The Indian Express | 2 months ago | 28-03-2023 | 11:45 am
Our brave soldiers serve the nation with commitment and conviction, often leaving their families behind. They sacrifice their lives and it is only because of their “shahadat” (martyrdom) that we are safe in our homes today. It is not enough for the government to just give compensation packages and say that it has fulfilled its duty — rules regarding compensation should also be tweaked with time and on a case-to-case basis.As of July 2022, a total of 307 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles (AR) personnel sacrificed their lives in the line of duty in the five preceding years. As many as 156 army men and three IAF personnel were killed in terrorist attacks as well as counter-terror operations in the last five years. In the same period, 819 armed forces personnel committed suicide, with the Army reporting the maximum number of such cases at 642. These figures are an indication of the conditions — including staying away for long from their families — under which our soldiers perform their duties, which often results in mental health issues as well.The recent protests by the widows of Pulwama martyrs in Rajasthan are a grim reminder of the challenges faced by the families of soldiers who have made the supreme sacrifice. It is heart-wrenching to see them struggle to claim the benefits due to them, and running from pillar to post. The government should go out of its way, if needed, and ensure that the rules meant for the welfare of those who survive soldiers should not become a tool for denying them their legitimate demands. The protesting veeranganas (wives of jawans) were detained by the police and treated unjustly. They wanted certain demands to be fulfilled, which would require some amendments in the rules governing the welfare measures meant for families of martyrs.Consider some of the global practices when it comes to the welfare of the families of martyrs: The US provides financial assistance through the police department or local government to help families of fallen officers cover immediate expenses such as funeral costs, housing, and other expenses. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund provides financial assistance, scholarships, and other support to the families of officers who have died in the line of duty. Similarly, the Fraternal Order of Police provides financial assistance and other support to its members and their families. The UK has schemes like the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to provide compensation to military personnel who have been injured, are ill or have died as a result of service and War Disablement Pension schemes to provide tax-free financial assistance to military personnel who were disabled in the discharge of their duty.As a country which takes pride in its soldiers, we should listen to the legitimate demands of the veeranganas. The issues they have raised relate to the sentiments of the common man and are above any political considerations.Three major concerns must be addressed. The first is the demand for flexibility in the rules for providing jobs on compassionate grounds. This is a major bone of contention between the government and the veeranganas. The latter have demanded that not just the children of martyrs, but other members of the family, including brothers-in-law, should be given government jobs on compassionate grounds. The government’s argument that if the rules are altered for one case, then the future of all the children of the martyrs will be compromised, is technically sound. If the rules are amended to include distant family relations then they can also be used as a tool to blackmail the widows and pressure them for jobs, shunning them in case they fail to do so.It is argued that if the children are not academically brilliant or are unable to complete their education due to health issues, accidents etc., then having a job reserved for the family will secure the future of the child. The government should be liberal and amend the rules to remove any kind of restriction on the number of children of a martyr who are entitled to jobs on compassionate grounds. One child getting the job and his or her sibling being denied the same is unfair because the loss is equal for both.Second, there is a demand for the construction of multiple statues of martyrs. If other public figures have the privilege of having statues erected in different parts of the country, why can’t we have the same provision for martyrs? The government should amend the rules and a provision can be added that in case of more than one statue, it can involve local bodies like panchayat and municipal administration, local MLAs, NGOs and bhamashah (philanthropists) who can make matching contributions to the extent of 50 per cent for the construction of memorials or statues of martyrs. The government can also utilise corporate social responsibility funds for the same. These statues are not just brick-and-mortar structures, they are symbols of the sacrifice of our martyrs which will inspire the generations to come.Third, a department of welfare for the families of the martyrs, both at the central and state level, should be set up in order to facilitate social security benefits for them. The department should be allocated funds to provide housing grants to the families of the martyrs; marriage grants for their children; financial aid in the form of education, medical care and housing; in addition to offering counselling services to assist them in coping with their loss. By making these additional resources available to the families of those who have been martyred, we can demonstrate our support for them.The department should also work on providing benefits/concessions on utilities, free transportation via air, rail and bus, and benefits for the purchase of prescription medication and other healthcare services to the families of the martyrs. The issue of the welfare of the families of the martyrs is one that goes beyond politics and the solution has to be rooted in a rights-based approach.It is important to bear in mind that these families take pride in their sacrifice. Given the current state of affairs and the apathy of the administration, there is an urgent need for the sensitisation of not only the bureaucracy but also political leaders while dealing with these issues.The writer is Congress MLA from Osian (Rajasthan)
With just the clothes on their backs, M Joy Singh and his family of five fled their home in the hill district of Kangpokpi and arrived at a relief camp in Imphal West’s Lamboi Khongnakhong on May 7. They have been there ever since and see little hope of returning anytime soon, even as the violence that started on May 3 continues across the state.They are among the thousands of families currently in relief camps across the state, many of whom have been living as refugees within their own state for close to a month now.As of June 2, there were 37,450 people living in relief camps across 13 districts. And with the continuing incidents of shooting and arson, particularly in the areas at the border of valley and hill districts, this number is rising by the day.The relief camp in which M Joy Singh and his family are being housed is located in a government school. Set up by local residents from a group called Indigenous Development Mission, it is much smaller than many other camps — housing 67 people from 22 families, most from Kangpokpi district and a few from Churachandpur district. Because the school campus is small, organisers say they are already running over capacity and have not taken in any new people since May 24.“The provisions for the camp are mostly being donated by different NGOs and clubs. They have been asking us about our needs and contributing. We have also been receiving some basic provisions from the government’s side,” said S Milan Singh, one of the organisers. Since May 12, they have received 18 bags of rice, three bags of dal, a few bags of salt, potatoes and onions, three tins of cooking oil and 22,000 litres of water from the district administration.In Churachandpur, Kennedy, part of the Kuki Khanglai Lompi group which runs 50 relief camps in the district, said meeting basic needs is a daily challenge amid the swelling numbers and soaring heat. On Saturday evening itself, more than 100 people arrived at the camps from Moljol village. Currently, he said, there are more than 6,500 people living in these camps, set up in schools, churches and community halls. Another 2,000 people are living in relatives’ homes but depend upon the group for food rations.“Different stakeholders are providing us with supplies. There are other civil society organisations, the church, private organizations, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and the district administration… Right now, providing medicines to the people is a big challenge for us, especially since a lot of people are getting sick because of the heat,” he said. More than anything, however, it is the future that worries him.“We can’t just keep feeding them every day. Ultimately, people will need their own livelihood again,” he said.Back in Imphal, M Joy Singh — who was a teacher in a private school — said that for him, rehabilitation would ideally mean returning to Kangpokpi with protection so that he can restart his life there. “I have lived all my life there. My parents and grandparents have been cremated there. I don’t want to lose the place where I was brought up, but I fear it may take more than one or two years to return,” he said.At another relief camp in Imphal, M Baby, whose home was in Churachandpur town and who has been in the camp since May 10, said that her family would prefer a fresh start in the valley.“We came with nothing but our clothes. But there is nothing to go back to, everything is destroyed,” she said.According to the Deputy Collector of one of the districts concerned, there are primarily two sets of people in relief camps with differing long-term needs. People who have moved to the relief camps from border areas of the same districts, and those who have come from other districts dominated by people from another community.“Those from fringe villages will probably eventually go back. It is more challenging for the other displaced group. Until the question of where they will be resettlement is tackled, we want to at least find a better place for them to live where they can have some privacy and live as family units instead of all together, which is something we are working towards,” said the official.Among the inmates of the Lamboi relief camp are 14 children. While schools across the state have been shut since the start of the violence and will continue to remain closed till at least June 15, a small respite for the children is that some volunteer teachers have been visiting the camp for the past two weeks to conduct some informal classes for a few hours for them.
TBSE Tripura Madhyamik, HS Results 2023: The Tripura Board of Secondary Education (TBSE) will declare the board exam results for Class 10 or HS and Class 10 or Madhyamik today at 12 pm. Students who appeared for the exam, can check their results at the official website— tripuraresults.nic.in.This year, the Tripura Higher Secondary or Class 12 final exams began on March 15 and ended on April 19. While Class 10 exams began on March 16 and concluded on April 18.Step 1: Visit the official website— tripuraresults.nic.in.Step 2: Click on the result link on the website for your respective classStep 3: Enter your credentials such as roll number and date of birthStep 4: View and download the resultA total of 112 exam centres were set up for Class 12 exams. All the exams were conducted in one shift. For Class 10, a total of 162 centres were set up for 43,503 students to appear for the exams.Unlike last year, this year, the exams were held only once. In 2022, the exams were held in two terms and final results were declared on July 6.
The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed an order of the Allahabad High Court, which asked Lucknow University’s Astrology department to look into the horoscope of a woman to verify the claim by a man whom she had accused of raping her on the promise of marriage. The man has claimed he backed out after learning of “problems” in her horoscope — that she is “manglik”.A bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Mithal, which took suo motu cognisance of the May 23 order of a single bench of HC, stayed the order and asked HC to decide it on its own merits. The high court intervened after Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud took note of the matter.“At this stage, we say nothing on the merits of the case, except that in the interest of justice, the operation and effect of this order so far as it gives directions to the Head of the Department (Astrology Department), Lucknow University must be stayed…In the meanwhile, there shall be stay of the operation and effect of the order dated 23rd May, 2023 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench),” the bench said in its order.The top court said that while it respects the sentiments of the parties on astrology and astronomy, what happened was “totally out of context” and involved issues of privacy, etc.Though the Supreme Court is on summer recess, the special bench in this regard was set up on the instructions of Chief Justice Chandrachud, who is currently overseas. The CJI took cognisance of the reports in this connection and directed early Saturday morning that a bench be set up immediately to consider it.The high court order came while hearing the man’s bail plea.Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the order is “disturbing” and urged the court to stay it.He told the bench: “Astrology is a science. Whether a person should decide based on manglik or not in marriage, nobody is questioning. The only question is while entertaining an application by a judicial forum, can this be a consideration?”The counsel appearing for the complainant woman informed the bench that the HC order “happened by consent of both parties, and the court directed for expert evidence under Section 45 of Evidence Act”. He also pointed out that universities are now granting degree on the subject of Astrology, and it is a science.“But this was totally out of context,” Justice Dhulia said, referring to the HC order. “What has this got to do with the subject matter?… It involves so many other features; the right to privacy has been disturbed. We don’t want to spell out — there are so many other aspects.” The judge said: “We are not challenging anything. We are only on the subject matter in this context.”The counsel for the victim pointed out that it was argued that the marriage cannot be solemnised since the woman is manglik, which, some believe is unfavourable for marriages. “That’s why the court ordered. It is not out of context. It was the issue before the court,” the counsel said.Justice Dhulia, however, said, “We do not want to join issues with you on this fact as to what is the relevance of these aspects, what astronomy has to do, what astrology has to do, nothing. We have nothing on that. We respect your feelings as far as that aspect is concerned. We are only concerned with this subject matter linking to that issue”.S-G Mehta said while adjudicating the issue, the competent court cannot examine such a thing.The complainant’s counsel said the petitioner had taken the plea that the marriage cannot be solemnised. “Half-part of the ceremony was done. After that, they backed out on the question of manglik. This was argued,” he said.Justice Mithal said, “We have stayed the order and permitted the court to decide bail application on its merits. We don’t understand why this astrology report is called for.”
ALMOST 50 years ago, when Anu Aga moved to Pune from Mumbai with her husband and settled down on the Boat Club road, the city welcomed her with open arms — and lots of fish.“The Mula Mutha was a flowing water body with aquatic life. Back then, it was a pleasure to be located next to the river and see the boating, and fishermen catching fish. In fact, we used to buy small fish from those fishermen. Those were delicious,” says Aga.Today, 80-year-old Aga is better known as the former chairperson of Thermax, the sustainable energy solutions provider, and spends her time reading, travelling, sharing precious moments with family and friends, and contributing to various social causes — including saving Pune’s rivers.“Over the past many years, I have seen the city grow. I recall my husband and I occasionally rode bicycles to dinners from our house on Boat Club road to Aundh or Koregaon Park. After dinner, they would take a lift home from friends and have the cycles picked up the next morning. For cycling, I could wear only one dress and I used to call it my cycling uniform. Today, with the indisciplined traffic and lack of cycle tracks, it would be suicidal,” she says.“As far as safety is concerned, Pune was and is a relatively safe city and I felt comfortable driving back alone till midnight. But me being a bad driver, my family has forbidden me from driving at night — for the safety of others on the road,” Aga says with a smile.Company in crisis, sleepless nightsAga’s memories of Pune are also tinged with sorrow and stress. In 1966, when her husband passed away, the Thermax board insisted that she take over the role of Executive Chairperson. “Having been in HR prior to being the Chairperson, our employees knew me well and wanted me to succeed. Even the outside world was very supportive. In those days, there were employees who proudly stated that this was their first and the last job. But today, youngsters think that staying with any company for even five years brings down their market value,” she exclaimed.Soon after she took over — the company had gone public a year before her husband’s death — the economy went through a downturn. “Thermax’s performance started slipping and the share which was quoted at 400 tumbled to 36. I got an anonymous letter from a shareholder saying we had let him down. For the Aga family, ‘letting down’ anyone was a dirty word and I went through sleepless nights,” she says.She then convinced the board to engage Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to find the way forward. At the time, Thermax had diversified into many non-core businesses like IT, electronics, bottled water, which added to the top line but eroded profits. “We were, perhaps, the first company to enter IT but had no clue how to run those businesses. In order to come out of those non-core businesses, many divisions had to close down and several employees were asked to leave. Thanks to the graciousness of those employees, they left without bitterness. If I meet them even today, they do not hold a grudge against the company,” she says.Those were very difficult days, Aga says, but Thermax managed a turnaround. “Some of the most difficult decisions I had to make was to decide whether the family wanted to be board members or executives. Until this point, my daughter Meher and her husband Pheroz were in charge of businesses and were board members but it was decided that they had to choose one. They were very upset to be pushed to make this choice and decided to be board members. Today, they feel it is the best decision they have made for themselves and for the company,” she says.An unusual encounter on Main StreetAs for life in Pune, Aga has an unusual anecdote to share. During one of her visits to Main Street in the Camp area, she saw a group of young boys begging. “I had seen them doing this very often but on that day I asked them why they were not going to school. They gave a big yarn that their parents had forced them to bring a certain amount of money home every day and if given an opportunity, they would love to study. Two brothers even took me to their parents,” she said, pointing out that her own children were young at the time.“I explained the situation and the parents were delighted that they could stay with me and attend school. I gave the parents my address, took them home and enrolled them in a municipal school nearby since no private school would admit these kids who did not know how to read or write,” she says.Then came an unexpected twist. “They went to school for about a week. But one evening, they did not come home. The same day, their parents came to meet the children. Some of my friends, who were visiting, cautioned that it could be blackmail. But I intuitively knew it was a coincidence. I went to Main Street, found the two children there and returned them to their parents. A few days later, when I met the brothers again, I asked why they did not come back home that day. They replied that they valued their freedom more than anything — an answer that thrilled my husband,” recalls Aga.An end and a new beginningAccording to Aga, the family’s philanthropic journey started with an incident that involved her son, Kurush. “He returned to India after studying and working abroad for eight years. He was extremely keen that a substantial part of our earnings should go towards social causes. To make his point, he threatened that if I did not do as he wanted, he would go back abroad. I hated doing anything out of compulsion and calmly told him that he was free to leave. But later Kurush apologised, and the family agreed that now that they had dividend income, they should seriously look at giving. Soon after this conversation, Kurush died in a car accident at the age of 25,” she recalls.To honour Kurush’s wish, Aga started looking for NGOs she could associate with. Soon, she met Shaheen Mistri, the social activist and educationist, and was drawn by her passion for educating the underprivileged. “Meher and I were invited on the boards of Akanksha Foundation and Teach for India,” says Aga. “Thus started my philanthropic journey.”
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) Saturday claimed that the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration agreed to its student unit’s demands of an immediate notification for the PhD admission process, the ‘Barak’ hostel allotment, hostel renovation and library maintenance after its hours-long protest. “After the protest began in the school area at 10 am (Saturday), the students surrounded the dean of students. Even after sitting for eight hours, when the dean did not respond satisfactorily, the students exerted pressure to summon the registrar and vice-chancellor. Eventually, the registrar, both the rectors and the dean came together and had to yield to all the demands of the students,” said an ABVP statement.ABVP unit president Umesh Chandra Ajmeera said the admission process for PhD would commence in the next 10 to 12 days. Within six weeks of the start of the next session, the process for student union elections will be completed, he added.From this week onwards, the process for University Grants Commission (UGC) recognition will begin for the Ayurveda Biology course in the undergraduate programme. It has been running without recognition for the past three years. The PhD programme in Management, which was discontinued, will also resume in the next academic year, he saidHe added that the allocation process for the new hostel, which is almost ready under the name ‘Barak’, will begin in July.