Terror Strikes in again in Mumbai


27 Nov 08

Hostage situation in South Bombay.

The free and easy manner in which terrorists have been moving around in India and in Mumbai in particular bode ill for the country.

Politicians are responsible for not allowing action against terrorists for their personal gains.

Police have lost independance of action since many years.

The government has ceased to govern.

There is no security for the coman man.

Where do we go from here?

Clearing Roads: God never encroaches- Modi right in clearing temples on roads


Citizens Alliance is for free movement on roads for all legitimate traffic.
 Safety of Pedestrians should be priority.No encroachments shoild be allowed on roads.
Recently there has been some debate on removal of temples from roads in Gujarat.
Modi bashing is on as usual only this time from VHP, RSS and others.

A message from Janhit manch 

MODI DIMOLISHES 152 ROAD SIDE TEMPLES: ATTACK ON HINDU CULTURE: VHP.
MUMBAI VHP MORE SECULAR THAN GUJARAT'S: JANHIT MANCH
 
Dear friends,
 
        Have you visited Gandhinagar? Wide roads, lot of open spaces, no
traffic jams and rated as the greenest city of the country.
 
        God never enchroaches. Modi is right in demolishing the temples, put
up on public roads by illegal operators of business of religion.
 
        In 2003, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation had demolished 1100 illegal
temples, masjids, Gurudwaras, crosses and Baudhavihars on roads under
an order by the Bombay High Court in our PIL 2063 of 2002 between
Janhit Manch Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. Further 200 were
demolished in 2006. Political parties incl Shiv Sena and also Bajrang
Dal, openly supported the drive Mumbai's VHP kept silent. Many of the
demolished shrines have come up again and we had to file a review
petition  which is pending.
 
        Let us congratulate and support Modi on this issue. He has done a
good job in removing the illegal traders of God.
 
Bhagvanji Raiyani
President
Janhit Manch
 
 
--
use ubuntu.com instead of microsoft windows and remain FREE from
viruses and trojans
www.openoffice.org
http://www.janhitmanch.org/judicialdelayssolutions.pdf Reforms for the
Indian justice system

Delhi: Accident Capital of India


LETHAL STRETCHES

10 Traffic Black Spots, Mostly Intersections, Have Claimed 17 Lives So Far

Megha Suri | TNN

This year may have recorded a decrease in the total number of persons killed on Delhi roads, but a handful of stretches around the city have been proving to be problematic for the traffic police as an alarming number of accidents are reported from there. Times City lists 10 intersections or black spots which have claimed the maximum number of lives in 2008.

PROBLEM AREAS
This year, the highest number of fatal accidents — as many as 17 — have been reported from ISBT Kashmere Gate, in which 17 persons died and 23 were injured till October 31 this year. Next on the list is Dhaula Kuan with 15 fatal accidents, opposite Hyatt on Ring Road (14), Shastri Park (12), Burari crossing (12), Ashram crossing (8), Raja Garden crossing (8), Punjabi Bagh crossing (8), Mukarba crossing (7) and Sarai Kale Khan (7).

CAUSES
Interestingly, a majority of these spots — 8 of 10 — fall on the Ring Road, most of which is nearly signal-free. The government, in the past few years, has been building flyover after flyover on the road and widening it to allow fast movement of vehicles. But in the absence of facilities like subways or foot overbridges for pedestrians, the artery has become highly unsafe for those crossing the road.
Another major reason for the accidents, according to the traffic police experts, is the high volume of trucks passing through these stretches at night. Often intoxicated, truck drivers have little knowledge of city traffic rules and tend to overspeed. There have been several instances where overworked truckers have been unable to stop the vehicle in time, leading to an accident.
A classification of the time of occurrence of the accidents also reveals that a majority have taken place between 2am and 6am, when the movement of trucks is very heavy. Little police presence and inadequate street lighting have aggravated the situation, making the stretch very lethal.

TOUGH SPOTS
Certain stretches like ISBT Kashmere Gate and Shastri Park have been notorious for accidents even in the past two years. The traffic police also claim to have initiated corrective measures, including construction of foot overbridges, but to little avail. The lack of pedestrian facilities at Dhaula Kuan since the construction of a grade separator has been raised numerous times. But the spot opposite the ISBT on NH-8 remains prone to accidents.

THE WAY AHEAD
Once the black spots have been identified, the job of the traffic police is to identify what is causing the accidents and take corrective measures. Said joint commissioner of police (traffic) SN Shrivastava: “It was noticed that heavy vehicles have been a major cause of accidents so we started night checking of these vehicles and have also started turning them away from the borders during the day when they are not supposed to enter the city. Police presence has been increased at night to instil a fear of prosecution, which was missing earlier.’’
The cops are also planning to start drives to educate pedestrians and continue the drive against jaywalking. Also, emphasis will be laid on prosecution of two-wheelers as they, along with pedestrians, form a majority of the victims of road deaths.

OVERALL SITUATION
In the past year, the focus has been on quality prosecution where motorists have been checked for violations — such as overspeeding, jumping red lights, drunken or dangerous driving — which can lead to accidents. Till October 31 this year, the cops have prosecuted 10.44 lakh motorists for such violations. The figure is much higher for 2007, when 6.40 lakh motorists were booked.
The effect of the strict action is visible as figures of the traffic police show a decline of 6.7% in the total fatal accidents with 1,711 persons being killed in accidents till October 31, 2008, as compared to 1,826 persons for the same period last year. The number of those injured has also fallen by 15% from 6,503 to 5,526. The ‘killer’ Bluelines have also been reigned in as they have caused 98 deaths this year, as against 131 in 2007.

new-picture-88
megha.suri@timesgroup.com

RTI: Even CIC helpless against PMO and Cabinet Secretariat


RTI in chains

RTI in chains

RTI

It is a sad reflection on the sincerity of the government of India towards transparency and good governance. What is worse even the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat are not above procrastination.

Politically sensitive information is impossible obtain- even when the query is from a reputable journal.

What can be the condition of an ordinary citizen?

The CIC also appears to be helpless to prod government agencies.

The following is an extract from Mail Today

RTI

Much to hide, more to gain

ABOUT a fortnight ago, a colleague of mine at India Today received an email from the Central Information Commissoner Wajahat Habibullah.

The brief it said — “ Received and being looked into” — took a long time coming. In November last year, following reports that several union ministers were not declaring their assets despite instructions from the PMO — nothing surprising, since I don’t expect ministers, especially those belonging to coalition partners, to take orders from the Prime Minister — India Today had invoked the RTI to find out the truth.

We filed RTI applications before the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat seeking the relevant information. The reply from the PMO was swift but gave away nothing. It informed us that the information we sought lay within the domain of the Cabinet Secretary. A few days later, the Cab Sec wrote to us saying the domain lay with the PMO. For the next four months, we sent several reminders to both the PMO and the Cab Sec and the two kept lobbing the ball back and forth. So on March 17 this year, we wrote to the CIC detailing our experience with RTI and stating that by stonewalling our efforts, the PMO and Cab Sec were defeating the very purpose of the RTI. We requested the CIC to direct the officers in charge at South Block to make available the information we sought.

Around then, I ran into Habibullah at a social gathering and in the midst of informal exchanges reminded him about the RTI query. “ The matter is being looked into,” he assured me. Months passed and nothing happened. So two weeks ago, we sent an email reminder to the CIC. A day later came the above mentioned reply which certainly wasn’t very helpful anyway.

So much for transparency.

Things are no better in the states. Last week, I was in Kolkata where a top Opposition leader told me about an RTI query he had filed before the state Information Commission seeking details about the agreement the West Bengal government had signed with the Tata group for the now aborted Nano plant in Singur. That appeal too became a victim of sabotage as a senior officer in the state IC issued a writ that all information must be first delivered to him, in sealed envelopes!!!!! In May this year, at a function to mark the UPA Government’s four years in office, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh got so carried away with his regime’s record that he declared the UPA stood for open government: “ The UPA government has set a new standard for transparency and accountability in govern- ment”. He would have fooled none.

The RTI is supposed to enable ordinary Indians to seek information about the functioning of the government, its ministers and other minions.

But as the term of the government nears its end, the CIC which is supposed to address citizens’ queries on the government and governance seems to be abdicating its reponsibilities.

Of course you can get all the information you want about the truant District Magistrate in Barabanki or Jhumri Taliaya and similar small fry, but if you are looking for the big fish, you are likely to be denied.

The moral of the story: Transparency sounds a good idea but is not particularly popular with governments and IAS officers. One has much to hide, the other a lot to gain.

BSNL told to pay up : After a 12 year fight


Refund fight lasts 12 yrs

Consumer Commission Orders BSNL To Pay Up

Supriya Bhardwaj | TNN


Chandigarh: Ram Singh Paul, 55, had applied for a domestic telephone connection to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in 1996 by depositing Rs 3,000. The telecom firm kept the Model Town Extension resident in the waiting list, which never really ended. Each time he approached the telephone service provider for installation, he was asked to wait.

However, his patience began to wean in 2001, when he asked the company to either install the phone or refund the security amount deposited by him. Alleging that neither did Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited made the refund nor installed the phone, Paul moved a complaint under the Consumer Protection Act.

The UT state consumer commission recently held that the telephone at Paul’s residence was never made operational, indicating deficiency in service on the part of the company.

Setting aside the impugned order passed by district forum, the UT state commission, headed by justice KC Gupta, allowed the appeal and directed the telecom biggie to refund Rs 3,000 as security amount along with 12% interest and Rs 2,100 as litigation costs.

Holding that telephone company failed to prove that telephone connection at Paul’s residence was made operational, the commission, while taking note of three bills placed before it, held, ‘‘It is quite clear that there are no details of the metered calls and further there is no reference of any unpaid bills. The bills produced (before forum) have been fabricated to cover up the lapse on the part of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.’’

A notice was issued to the telephone company, and in its written statement, the firm stated that the complaint was time barred. It added a telephone connection was installed and rather

Paul defaulted in making payment of telephone bills. After hearing the arguments, district consumer forum dismissed the complaint in September 2003.

Hoping against hope, Paul moved an appeal in state commission, which was accepted on November 18.
CALLING TROUBLE
January 1996
Paul applied for domestic telephone connection with BSNL
November 2001
Sought refund of security amount
September 2003
Consumer forum dismissed Paul’s complaint
November 2008
State commission directed BSNL to refund Rs 3,000 along with interest and litigation costs

Ahmedabad: Accident Prone Roads


Death stalks these roads

Each Day, Amdavadis Take 51 Lakh Road Trips Across City & Most Risk Their Lives As There Are Unsafe Stretches Galore

Paul John & Parth Shastri | TNN

new-picture-78


Ahmedabad: These are roads with ‘killer’ distinction and you dare not tread on them without having a life insurance or helmet. Each day Amdavadis take 51 lakh road trips — drive cars, walk, ride bicycle or wait for buses on Ahmedabad roads, and most risk their lives unless they avoid these roads spread over 129 km, which notorious for taking way your loved ones.

A March 2008 survey by CEPT University and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) on 34 accident-prone roads warns that most accidents on busy stretches happen during afternoons when traffic cops vaporize from junctions and traffic lights blink amber.

From January 2007 to October this year, there have been 4,759 accidents in which 467 people died, according to traffic police department. A huge number happen to be two-wheeler riders and pedestrians. The reason, of 21 lakh, vehicle population 15.54 lakh are two-wheeler riders.

These accident victims were between 18 and 44 years. They lost their lives for want of certain regulatory enforcements like wearing helmets — which was a Gujarat High Court order — and changes in road design, traffic guiding, street signs and facilities for safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.

The study reveals that Anjali to Nehrunagar stretch witnesses maximum number of accidents — 38 per km, this is followed by Ankur crossroads to Naranpura railway crossing with 36 incidents per km with Astodia gate to Ellisbridge, while Prem Darwaza to Gandhi bridge stretch sees 32 incidents per km.

But, the notorious stretches of Narol-Naroda and Kalupur road, which sees 26 incidents per km is a nightmare for pedestrians, push cart and rickshaw pullers recording 3 fatalities per km. Accidents patterns over last six years have revealed that most accidents happen in January and September owing to festivals.

“Heavy vehicles are responsible for 40 per cent road fatalities, while in 55 per cent cases, two-wheeler riders are responsible who form 74 per cent of city’s traffic,” says a senior AMC officer of road department. 108 got over 3,000 calls in 3 months!

A true estimate of rate of accidents in city can be gathered from the number of emergency calls that Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI) received in last three months — August to November. The number is a staggering 3,076. Maximum percentage of calls came from areas, including SG Highway, Bopal Ghatlodia, Vastrapur, Sarkhej, Vejalpur.
ACCIDENT-PRONE AREAS
Areas & % of calls received by 108
NH8 | 38
Narol to Naroda highway, Bapunagar, Khokhra, Memco
SG Highway | 23
Sarkhej to Adalaj, Bopal, Ghatlodia, Vastrapur, Vejalpur
Ashram Road | 21
Sabarmati to Paldi, Navrangpura, CG Road
Station Road | 13
Delhi Darwaza, Kalupur, Khadia, Astodia, Lal Darwaza
132-ft Ring Road | 5
Akhbarnagar to Shivranjani

Jis Desh Me Ganga Behati Hai


new-picture-83

WALKING TROUBLE: Tribal women walk 10 to 15 kilometres to sell their products at the weekly market due to lack of transport facilities in the Visakha agency on Saturday

Unsung Angels:Pune, Bangalore, Bombay


CAPRG thanks TOI / TNN for bringing to notice the unsung heroes and heroines to public notice.

PATIENT FRIENDS (PUNE)

Laxmi Birajdar | TNN

For more information, contact Rugnamitra on 020-66093200/201.

new-picture-791

Ramakant Kulkarni (right) and Vilas Vaidya

with a patient at the hospital

A patient in critical condition rushed to the Sanjeevan Hospital, off Karve road, requires immediate help. What eases the tension when the ambulance reaches the hospital is a small desk just at the entrance. Senior citizens manning it not only help the patient get admitted, but also arrange for immediate blood and other medical requirements.

They are members of Rugnamitra, a voluntary help desk started by social worker, Ramakant Kulkarni on December 15, 2003. Its eight-odd members have been staying put during peak hours at the hospital, lending support to patients and visitors.

From providing instant information to needy patients, coordinating with the hospital and the blood banks for blood and other medical facilities, they do it all, free of cost, from 8 am to 1.30 pm and from 4 pm to 6 pm, six days a week.

Kulkarni, a former helper at the Hindustan Antibiotics, has been lending a helping hand at Niwara old age home. Since 1987, Kulkarni has been admitting patients to Sanjeevan. “I came to know all the people in the hospital and I informed the authorities of the need to have a help desk, for supplying instant information to the needy,” says 77-year-old Kulkarni on the genesis of Rugnamitra.

A friend to a ‘rugna’ or patient, is a ‘rugnamitra,’ he says with a bright smile. And he’s been at his charitable best right since his youth.

When Kulkarni was 15-yearsold, he had admitted his neighbour, an ailing grandmother, to a hospital during the last stages of her illness. She didn’t survive and Kulkarni had to arrange the money for her funeral since her family members were not available.

“Money was short and I had to literally beg for the funeral expenses. That was my first experience with death. Since then, I’ve felt the need to help anyone suffering from illness,” says Kulkarni.

This incident led Kulkarni to widen his philanthropic horizon. Until a few years ago, he was busy conducting several blood donation camps. “A bevy of blood donors would be ready to donate blood when the need arose. And to this day, I have a list of donors, especially of rare blood groups,” says Kulkarni.

He is also one of the co-founders of Hridaymitra, a voluntary organisation to help those suffering from heart ailments. And on the insistence of his well-wishers, who he has befriended over the year, Kulkarni even helped found an old age home in Belgaum.

For the last four decades, he has also been coordinating for patients between doctors and leading hospitals in the city. Not just that, he is a registered body donor at the BJ Medical College. Kulkarni even donated Rs 18 lakh to the Sanjeevan Hospital, recently.

But manning the Rugnamitra counter is currently his prime concern. Along with fellow volunteer, Vilas Vaidya, Kulkarni knows how to provide immediate help. “Go out of your way to help those in need, but never expect anything in return. Only selfless dedication works here,” says 64-year-old Vaidya.

Five years of dedicated service has led to an enthusiastic response among the patients and medical fraternity. “That’s why we need more ward boys and volunteers who can be of service to the patients,” says Vaidya.
For more information, contact Rugnamitra on 020-66093200/201.

Bangalore

COMPUTER SAVVY: These training sessions are a passport to a better life for these women

new-picture-811
Women from the socially disadvantaged section usually bear the brunt of unemployment and lack skills to forge ahead in their lives. But impart some skills to them, and watch their confidence grow as they land jobs and make a new life for themselves.

This is what the Rashtriya Sikshana Samithi Trust’s Centre for Women’s Empowerment and Skills Training (WEST) on Mysore Road has been doing for the past two years.

“We started WEST in 2006 to provide such women training in computer skills,’’ said principal, S C Sharma. Now, rural as well as urban women come here and undergo electronic data processing training. Some are homemakers, others discontinued their studies. Last year, even destitute women were part of the programme.

The free programme is held once every three months with 20 students each time. Around 3,000 women have been trained.
What’s advantageous is that the centre is located at R V College of Engineering and hence,can avail the best of laboratories and other facilities.

One of the objectives of the centre is to enable the women to be self-employed and to motivate them to be self-confident. The objectives have been met in most cases.The transformation is obvious.

The women already feel empowered. Says Sudha, a homemaker, “I wanted to learn computer, but knew nothing about it.” That was before she enrolled for the programme. Two months into it and she claims, “I can teach my kids now.’’

Many such women have now secured jobs in companies as data entry operators earning Rs 3,000 and above. And some were afraid of computers not so long ago.
R V Centre for women’s empowerment and skills
Contact: R V College of Engineering, Mysore Road, Bangalore 560059

Phone: 080 67178074


MUMBAI

This apartment is their safe haven

Joeanna Rebello I TNN

new-picture-82

Even UK singer, Amy Winehouse, who has been in and out of rehab centres, wouldn’t find too many faults with this one. The drug de-addiction centre, housed in the 105-yearold Roosevelt House, Colaba, doesn’t conform to the stereotypical image of a sterile, white-sheeted, metal-bedded rehabilitation station.

For starters, Jeevan Dhara has no beds. The room is a wood-panelled throwback to 1960s interior design, and on the second floor, a once 4,000 sq ft apartment—a luxury in spacecrunched Mumbai—has been halved to make room for a 20-patient rehab centre.

Fr Richard Lane Smith, whose family moved to Roosevelt House in 1945, wanted to volunteer half his apartment to a more noble cause, rather than simply renting it out to well-heeled tenants. It was when Gene D’Souza, director of the non-profit organisation, Jeevan Dhara (of which Fr Smith is chairman), suggested they make room for recovering drug and alcohol addicts, that the space found its vocation.

In the centre of the room, a tablecloth performs the function of a rug; six users, who are battling alcohol and drug addiction, sit cross-legged on matching placemats. A man, who could pass off as a village school master, addresses the group. “This too shall pass,’’ he says. That is the lesson of the day. He’s Sharad Deshpande, the home’s inhouse counsellor, who kicked the habit after a 25-year struggle.

“How do you regain respect in society? In your own home? How many crimes has addiction made you commit?’’ he asks. This is probably the closest most of the patients have come to a classroom.

”Look at me,’’ he says “I’ve been clean for nine years by taking it one day at a time.’’
Deshpande has trained himself to help addicts, and is a mentor to the people in the centre. “It’s easy to say that you’ll give up the habit tomorrow; but now you’ve got to say, ‘I’ll abstain from it, starting today’.

Addiction is not curable, but it is conquerable.’’

He draws out the words for emphasis: “It is possible.’’

“We locate addicts in Mankhurd, Kurla, Govandi and Chembur, and ask them if they want help with their problem,’’ says D’Silva, who emphasises that admittance is voluntary, and preference is given to the destitute, especially those suffering from TB and HIV.

Volunteers are taken to Bhardawadi Hospital in Andheri for detoxification, following which they are escorted to Colaba for a month-long rehab.

They live in the centre for the period, but don’t pay rent. All they need to do is follow a daily regimen that begins at 6am. Prayer sessions,time-out for physical exercise, group and individual counselling sessions, recreation time, and doing home chores are all part of the healing process. While a physician visits them on a weekly basis to administer to their physical health, the counsellor lives with the addicts, to support and help them through the process. “They get especially restless by evening, when they crave their daily fix,’’ says Deshpande.

But the rehab centre is not dark or gloomy. Sunlight filters through unimpeded, and a light breeze does the rounds. Here, they live as they would at a chummery. The men lounge on cane chairs in the sun-lit verandah, play cards, carom or table tennis. When they want to rest, they pull out their mat and bedding, and lie down. A cable TV serves to distract the patients from their cravings. “We give them a quota of 10 bidis every day,’’ says Gene. “You can’t take away every addiction at once.’’

Once the month is up, and they’re more confident of stepping back into the real world, Jeevan Dhara tries finding them gainful employment. Many choose to work for the NGO, and help other users with their struggle.

A recovered addict, Naushad, is the cook, and spends the better part of the day in the kitchen. Today, the menu is fish curry and rice. The night guard, Oswald, another addict on the mend, helps Naushad prepare the fish. Downstairs, the day watchman, 58-year-old Syed Ali, guards the entrance from vagrants, and stops them from skulking into the building to shoot up. Ali has just completed treatment for TB, and is on a cocktail of medicines that keeps AIDS at bay.

For this band of blood brothers, the fight against their affliction is the common bond that keeps them together, the centre is their salvation.

DRUG SHEET

The addictive potency of drugs varies from substance to substance and from individual to individual
Codeine or alcohol requires many more exposures to addict its users than drugs such as heroin or cocaine

A person who is psychologically or genetically predisposed to addiction is more likely to suffer from it. In the US, most psychologists do not consider dependency on hallucinogens like LSD to be addictive

BRIGHT FUTURE: Addicts live in the centre and follow the month-long treatment


NRI Sikh woman wins NY lawsuit against NWL for discrimination


NRI Sikh woman wins NY lawsuit

November 18, 2008 – A Sikh woman who suffered racial, religious and sexual harassment on the job has obtained justice by standing up to her employer. In a settlement agreement, National Wholesale Liquidators (NWL), Mrs. Sukhbir Kaur’s former employer, agreed to make changes to their employment policies and pay money damages to nine victims of harassment, including Mrs. Kaur.

The settlement sends a strong message to private employers that discrimination against Sikhs is illegal and will be harshly punished.

Harassed On Account of Her Faith

Mrs. Kaur’s lawsuit alleged that in 2004 an NWL store manager harassed Mrs. Kaur because she was a Sikh, a woman, and Indian. The manager told her to remove her turban because she “would appear sexier without it.”  When she refused the manager’s repeated advances, he told her that she was not permitted to use the bathroom and would have to wear a diaper to work.  NWL failed to take appropriate action to address and correct the harassment, even after Mrs. Kaur complained.  Instead, she was fired.

Mrs. Kaur’s matter was first brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) attention in July 2005, when the Sikh Coalition filed a charge of discrimination on her behalf with the agency. The EEOC subsequently conducted an investigation and found that many South Asian workers at NWL’s Long Island City store in Queens, NY were being harassed. They endured constant taunts about their national origin and religion, such as “All Indians are nasty,” “Sikhs are thieves,”or “I’m tired of seeing old Indian faces all the time.”

The Sikh Coalition Takes On the Case

Mrs. Kaur and the EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement with NWL once the charges were filed.  When these efforts failed, the EEOC and the Sikh Coalition both filed lawsuits in 2007. Mrs. Kaur was co-represented by the Sikh Coalition and attorney Ravinder Singh Bhalla.

On October 23, 2008, NWL settled the case with a consent decree filed in court. Under the agreement, NWL must do two things:

  1. Provide monetary damages of $255,000 to the nine victims of harassment, including Mrs. Kaur;
  2. Make changes to its workplace and policies that would rid the company of discrimination. These changes include adoption of an anti-discrimination policy and complaint procedure approved by the EEOC, workplace posters about discrimination, and anti-discrimination training.

The EEOC will monitor NWL’s obligations under the consent decree for three years.

“[T]he EEOC hopes this settlement encourages employers to take steps to educate their managers and employees: harassing employees based on national origin, sex or religion is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Margaret A.Malloy, the agency’s lead attorney on the case.

A Real Hero

The Sikh Coalition congratulates Mrs. Kaur on the resolution of the lawsuit and commends her for standing up for her rights.  “Despite being subject to such degrading, discriminatory treatment, Sukhbir Kaur fought back.  Because of her courage, NWL is a better workplace for all of its employees.  I hope that her story will inspire others to stand up when their rights are violated.  And, I hope it equally serves as a warning to employers who tolerate discrimination in their workplace,” said Harsimran Kaur, Legal Director of the Sikh Coalition.

The Sikh Coalition would like to thank attorney Ravinder Singh Bhalla and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, particularly attorney Margaret A. Malloy, for their tireless work on the case.

[Update:  As some of you may know, last week NWL filed for bankruptcy.  The effect of the bankruptcy on the monetary aspect of the settlement is as yet unclear. However, the provisions for policy changes that correct the workplace discrimination remain in effect.]


The Sikh Coalition is a community-based organization that works towards the realization of civil and human rights for all people. The Coalition serves as a resource on Sikhs and Sikh concerns for governments, organizations and individuals.

The Sikh Coalition relies on your financial support to sustain its initiatives and broaden its services. In addition to supporting the Sikh Coalition directly, we encourage you to use matching donation programs offered by many employers. The Sikh Coalition is a 501c (3) non-profit organization. Thank you for your support.

AFTER a legal battle lasting more than three years, a Sikh woman, who faced racial, religious and sexual harassment at her workplace, has forced her employer to not only pay her compensation, but also make changes in its employment policies.

“ The settlement reached between Sukhbir Kaur and her employer, National Wholesale Liquidators ( NWL), sends a strong message to private employers that discrimination against Sikhs is illegal and will be harshly punished,” non- profit organisation Sikh Coalition said in a statement on Wednesday.

In her lawsuit filed with the help of Sikh Coalition, Sukhbir had alleged that in 2004, a store manager of the NWL had harassed her because she was a Sikh, a woman, and an Indian.

She alleged the manager told her to remove her turban because she “ would appear sexier without it”. Sukhbir also said she was harassed by the manager, when she spurned his repeated advances.

Despite her complaints, NWL failed to take appropriate action to address and correct the harassment. Instead, she was fired. Sukhbir then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which conducted an investigation in 2005. The investigation revealed that many South Asian workers at NWL’s Long Island City store in Queens, New York were being harassed. Having failed to persuade the NWL to reach a voluntary settlement, both the commission and Sikh Coalition finally filed a lawsuit against it.

The case was finally settled late last month with a consent decree filed in the court.

Under this settlement, NWL agreed to pay compensation of nearly Rs 13 million to the nine victims of harassment, including Sukhbir. It also agreed to make changes to its workplace and policies that would rid the company of discrimination.

Prominent among these changes include adoption of an anti- discrimination policy and complaint procedure approved by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workplace posters about discrimination, and antidiscrimination training.

“ Because of Sukhbir’s courage, NWL is a better workplace for all of its employees,” said Harsimran Kaur, legal director of Sikh Coalition.

IANS

Maintanance:Estranged hubby will have to foot wife’s med bills: SC


Maintenance:Estranged hubby will have to foot wife’s med bills: SC

Follows Another Judgment Expanding Meaning Of ‘Maintenance’

Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN


New Delhi: Cost of estrangement continues to mount for husbands — who are mandated by law to pay the wife maintenance — with the Supreme Court churning out judgments giving a very expansive meaning to the word ‘maintenance’.

Soon after its ruling that maintenance for estranged wife included a house at par with the one in which the husband lived, the court has now said that he also has to reimburse her medical expenses.

These two rulings will surely make men think twice before seeking separation from wives, especially after the SC had made registration of marriages mandatory under Special Marriage Act, 1954, for all couples irrespective of their religion.

The recent judgment came on a petition filed by one Rajesh Burman, who had married Mithul Chatterjee on January 26, 2000, in Kolkata. The couple started living in Mumbai from February 25, 2001. But differences arose between the two within months. It led to a scuffle on June 16, 2001, in which Mithul got injured.

She filed a petition in an Alipore court seeking dissolution of marriage as well as reimbursement of the money spent by her father in the treatment of her injuries, which required two surgeries.

The husband had moved the apex court challenging an order of the Calcutta High Court, which had upheld the trial court decision asking him to reimburse the medical expenses. The husband resisted it, saying he was already paying maintenance to her.

Dismissing his appeal, the apex court said, “Under the Act, it is clear that a wife is entitled to maintenance and support.” Expanding the meaning of the two terms — ‘maintenance’ and ‘support’ — a Bench comprising Justices C K Thakker and D K Jain, in a judgment earlier this month, agreed with the estranged wife’s counsel to say that they included her medical expenses, which was a little over Rs 2 lakh.

“The terms are very wide so as to include medical expenses and both the courts were right in granting medical reimbursement,” the Bench said. “We see no infirmity in the decision or reasoning of the courts below which calls for our interference in exercise of discretionary and equitable jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution. The appeal in our view has no substance and must be dismissed,” it said.

When the husband, after losing the case, pleaded for permission to reimburse her medical expenses in instalments, the apex court agreed and asked him to pay the total sum by December 31, 2008.