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Archive for the ‘Law and governance’ Category

AMRI: Boycott Emami and Shrachi

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I am reposting the relevant paragraphs from my previous post:

Boycott the Emami group and its brands: Emami Baby Massage Oil, Boroplus Antiseptic Cream, Boroplus Prickly Heat Powder, Fair and Handsome, Hairlife, Himani Fast Relief, Malai Kesar Cold Cream, Mentho Plus, Navratna Cool Talc, Navratna Extra Thanda, Navratna Lite, Navratna Oil, Sonachandi Amritprash, Sonachandi Chyawanprash and also all Zandu products, as well as Starmark bookshops and the Emami/Landmark market in Lord Sinha Road.Say No to Emami products

The Shrachi group is mostly into real estate development and agricultural machinery, but it has a few restaurants which can be boycotted: Blue Hugli/News at the Hometown mall in Rajarhat New Town, Sarson in the South City mall, and Buzz Court at the Junction mall in Durgapur.

If you are willing to go a bit further, boycott the South City mall, which is a joint venture between these two groups (and some others) and the Junction mall, Durgapur, which is purely Shrachi.

It may not be possible to strictly boycott all of these for all time, but you may want to consider boycotting all of these for a month. And please copy the list of brands from above and paste to your blog and to facebook and ask your friends and family to boycott these brands. Thank you.

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AMRI: Boycott the guilty

December 10, 2011 1 comment

Yesterday’s fire at the AMRI Dhakuria killed at least 90, of them 87 were patients. Many of them were probably under sedation, or so ill that they might not have been able to save themselves even if they knew what was happening. All the more reason for a hospital to make fire exits and have enough external openings for firemen to get in and out.

Many stories are heard about how the fire started, and how the hospital had violated regulations by turning a basement parking lot into a storage area where inflammable stuff was kept (diesel and motor oil for generators, rumors say). But that part is not the most important: would it have made a difference if the fire spread through legitimate, non-regulation-violating, objects in the hospital?

The real issue, and where the hospital authorities are guilty, is what happened after the fire started. The fire alarms did not work. Local slum-dwellers alerted the security guards to the fire, but the guards did not call the fire service. (Apparently some years ago, a guard had called the fire department during a smaller fire that was put under control by the guards themselves. That guard was nearly fired himself,  and was allowed to continue working after a stern warning. Probably because the hospital owners did not want the fire dept to know that fire safety regulations were being grossly violated!) When the fire engines arrived, they could not come close to the hospital because it was in a narrow lane, with only one entrance. The entire building was glass, essentially sealed,  so most people actually died of suffocation.

The hospital owners are guilty of ignoring many regulations to maximize their profit (and the doctors who work there also did not care about such things, even though many of them have trained abroad, where there are strict fire regulations). They have been arrested, and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who also holds the health portfolio, wants to see them punished.

But our courts are slow, and these people will stay in jail while their bail petitions are heard, and their bail petitions will go all the way up to the Supreme Court if necessary, and quite likely they will ultimately make bail and it will be several years before the courts will decide on their culpability. In the meanwhile, there is something we can do — we can boycott the owners.This will serve the additional purpose of providing them with less money for hiring the top lawyers.

Boycott the Emami group and its brands: Emami Baby Massage Oil, Boroplus Antiseptic Cream, Boroplus Prickly Heat Powder, Fair and Handsome, Hairlife, Himani Fast Relief, Malai Kesar Cold Cream, Mentho Plus, Navratna Cool Talc, Navratna Extra Thanda, Navratna Lite, Navratna Oil, Sonachandi Amritprash, Sonachandi Chyawanprash and these day, all Zandu products, as well as Starmark bookshops and the Emami/Landmark market in Lord Sinha Road.

The Shrachi group is mostly into real estate development and agricultural machinery, but it has a few restaurants which can be boycotted: Blue Hugli/News at the Hometown mall in Rajarhat New Town, Sarson in the South City mall, and Buzz Court at the Junction mall in Durgapur.

If you are willing to go a bit further, boycott the South City mall, which is a joint venture between these two groups (and some others) and the Junction mall, Durgapur, which is purely Shrachi.

It may not be possible to strictly boycott all of these for all time, but you may want to consider boycotting all of these for a month. And please copy the list of brands from above and paste to your blog and to facebook and ask your friends and family to boycott these brands. Thank you.

Women are property

June 9, 2011 Leave a comment

After the khap panchayats, it was the turn of the Karnataka high court to demand an amendment in the Hindu Marriage act. Both demands are based on the belief that women cannot decide what is good for themselves, and need to be guided by their elders. To be precise, the High Court sets an age limit of 21 after which women may be allowed to choose their partners, but “Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21”. So For women between 18 and 21, the Karnataka High Court views them in the same way as khap panchayats, namely the property of their `parents’ or `elders’. (They are `property’ because they may be given away, not because they are to be protected, although the latter one is the argument given by both parties.)

For the specific case mentioned in the news report, the girl in question was reported missing some days before she turned 18 and she turned up after she turned 18 and got married (so that it would not be an underage marriage). It strikes me that a case of kidnapping could have been established without too much difficulty as she went away with the accused before she was 18. Surely there are statutory provisions for this in criminal law, without requiring amendments in the apparently unrelated marriage laws?

Ramdev: Wronged is not Right

June 5, 2011 Leave a comment

What the government did to Baba Ramdev is wrong. But that does not make him, or his demands, right. While it is difficult to maintain a nuanced view in the middle of such high drama, I hope the civil society will remember that it is the nuances that makes a democracy.

Corrupting the movement

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The day opened to a very strange piece of news: the megastar yogastar Baba Ramdev has refused to call off his `fast unto death’ on the issue of black money. Ok, it’s not very strange if we simply view this as a publicity stunt. But is it only for publicity or does he have deeper reasons for this fast? Some think that he is doing this at the behest of his political masters to derail the Jan Lokpal Bill. I think the bill is a bad idea, and I think Ramdev has other, more personal reasons to go on this fast. The trusts that he is associated with are enormously wealthy, and little is known about the source of their income, or the source of income of people who donate to these trusts. One politician did ask for an investigation into the source of his assets, but nothing else has been heard about it since. My feeling is that Ramdev is trying to establish himself as a leader of the anti-corruption lobby in order to avoid any serious charge of corruption for himself or his financial backers. Right now, any investigation into his amassed wealth, or even of his followers, can be projected as an underhanded scheme by the government to undermine his credibility. So all his financial dealings remain unseen by the probing eyes of the Income Tax department — and I think he is only the face of an organisation, not the brains — there are others behind the financial dealings of his organization.

Someone really should go on a fast unto death for investigating the finances of Ramdev.

Paint the town green

May 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The people have spoken. Congratulations Mamata Banerjee and her motley crew of the (All India) Trinamool Congress. The Left Front was in power for 34 years, more than a generation, always with an overwhelming majority.

Many feel disconcerted that the AITC, and in particular Mamata Banerjee, does not have a discernible political philosophy. I would say that in this election the people have rejected political philosophy as a basis for governance. But it is not difficult to argue that even the Indian National Congress has no political philosophy. Only the Left, and the ultra-right BJP, swear by political philosophies. And in general they keep getting rejected by the Indian public.

One might say that the rejection of political philosophy as a basis for governance is in fact an international phenomenon, seen both in the failure of fascist or right-wing dictatorships as well as of communist dictatorships to survive a proper election.

Supreme Court loses its cool

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t know what others think of this story, but I find it very strange to find a Supreme Court bench literally yelling at someone. Judges are not supposed to lose their cool! People have faith in the law because it is expected to act rationally and unemotionally. If the highest court of the land starts showing its rage on just about anything and starts speaking in hyperbole, the common public will stop taking it seriously. Judges are not schoolteachers bringing a class to order, they are unbiased arbitrators of disputes. Supreme court judges even more so, and they need to remain visibly unbiased and rational  even when the supreme court itself is a party to the dispute. Otherwise things may reach the point where their opinion would be like that of anybody else and would be treated like that of anyone else. Some might say that has already happened.