From the ascent of Nirmala Sitharaman to the plight of Baiga women, from encounters in UP to the makeover the Taj Mahal. Here is your weekend reading list
GN Bureau | September 23, 2017
Today, Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first woman full-time defence minister, may appear a picture of poise and confidence. But 11 years ago, she wasn’t even sure if she should join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has allowed her political career – and, of course, her abilities – to flower. In fact, she had hardly aspired to a career in politics.
Read: The ascent of Nirmala Sitharaman
Patch by patch, the lucent dome of the Taj Mahal is being plastered with a mixture of Fuller’s earth. It’s a treatment other parts of the monument of love – minarets, walls and pathways – have received over the years. These mud packs, of two millimetre thickness, are believed to take away the grime and restore the marble to its ivory whiteness. Since the 1980s, toxins in the highly polluted air have turned the marble a sickening yellow. The mud packs will help, providing a temporary makeover. Of course, it’s no permanent solution.
Read: Muddy makeover of the Taj
The government is upgrading its electronic messaging service to a more secure network. The national informatics centre (NIC), its information technology arm, will migrate all services on ‘mail.nic.in’ and ‘mail.gov.in’ to ‘email.gov.in’. So in a few months all official email accounts and data will migrate to gov.in domain. The new domain, among other things, would ensure “robust security mechanism for government data”. The government email system, which is used by all officials, right from the prime minister’s office to three defence services to security and intelligence agencies, has been criticised for lack of adequate security. Hackers have relentlessly targeted the NIC network.
Read: Securing official communication
The Uttar Pradesh Police force is on steroids. They have just got back their licence to kill and they are killing at a fair clip, if not at free will. Of course, they don’t call it “killing". For elimination of life by the State there is a more legally-sanitised, more macho term. It has a Rambo-like ring to it and the public just loves it: Encounters.
So, it is raining encounters in UP. From 15 encounter deaths in six months before September 15, it has risen to 18 deaths in the batting of an eye as the timeline above shows.
Read: In Yogi regime, police return to notorious past of encounter killings
In 1979, the public health and family department of Madhya Pradesh issued an order which disallowed Baiga women and men to undergo sterilisation, until permission is sought from the government authority... “Earlier Baiga families had to take permission from the block officer but later they were supposed to take permission from the SDM (sub-divisional magistrate). In my knowledge in last two to three years there is a complete ban on sterilisation of Baiga women,” says Dr Jamuna Prasad Chicham, general physician at the community health centre, Bichhiya. Other doctors have the same information. They say as per the letter received from the chief medical officer based in the district headquarters they cannot operate on any Baiga woman or man. “These women frequently visit us. They also come during health camps. Although we know they have four or more children we have to send them back because of the government order,” says Chicham.
Read: No right to plan their families
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