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South Asia Times Vol.18 I No. 3 - 4 I OCT - NOV 2020 I FREE s o u t hasiatim es.com .au Editor: Neeraj Nanda

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Melbourne is almost out of lockdown. It’s time to trust Melburnians to make their own COVID-safe decisions By Catherine Bennett*


ELBOURNE: After days of speculation, the announcement by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was pretty much as we expected: a significant lifting of restrictions, albeit only a half-step out of lockdown. Now, Melburnians will be able to travel up to 25km from home, with no time limits on exercise or recreation, bringing the chance to play a round of golf or visit the hairdresser. Even more encouragingly, we may only have to wait a week until the lockdown is lifted, the “four reasons” to leave home are removed, and retailers and other businesses can once again open their doors. Andrews said the planned move to step three of the COVID-19 roadmap could be brought forward a week from its provisional date of November 1 if case numbers — now tracking at 7.5 new cases a day for metropolitan

Melbourne and just 0.5 in the regions — remain favourable. “Victorians have stayed the course, and we just have a little longer to go,” he said. I agree Victorians can rightly be proud, because this lockdown was a very big ask. In fact, I see no

reason why we can’t remove blanket rules such as the 25km radius and Melbourne’s “ring of steel” immediately. Buying time The blanket restrictions in Melbourne, which have been

in place since early July, have bought time to rebuild our public health response, with stronger measures for testing, contact tracing and isolating outbreaks. The idea is to “bring the restrictions to the virus”, meaning we can now contain it wherever

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it might appear. As a result, restricting the general public’s movements with the help of blanket rules makes less sense, because many Melburnians now have a minuscule risk. I don’t understand why we need to impose a 25km limit. It’s such a big radius but will still exclude people who live at opposite ends of the city from seeing each other. Perhaps the fear is too many people will congregate in popular or scenic places. But surely that can be managed by scrutinising those particular places. In contrast, when Singapore was coming off its second wave, it lifted restrictions when COVID-19 cases were at 60 per million people, per day. Melbourne’s current average is just over 1 case per million people, per day. If Andrews were to promote Victoria’s strategy to the rest of the world, I’ve no doubt they would agree it’s been a success, but they would probably also wonder why it is taking so long. CONTD. ON PG 4

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United States’ standing wanes on Lowy Asia power index By Michelle Grattan*


he United States has registered the largest fall in relative regional power of any country in the IndoPacific during the last year, according to the Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index. The index, started in 2018, ranks 26 countries and territories according to the power they wield in the region. It uses multiple indicators across military capability and defence networks, economic resources and relationships, diplomatic and cultural influence, and resilience and future resources. While the US is still the most powerful country in the region, it has gone from a 10-point lead over China two years ago to five points in 2020, scoring a rating of 81.6. “Despite its continuing pre-eminence, US standing has waned in all but one of the eight Index measures,” the report says. It says the closing power disparity with China suggests America, “far from being the undisputed unipolar power, can more correctly be described as the first among equals in a bipolar Indo–Pacific”. The US lost the most points in measures where China is ahead – economic relationships, economic capability, and diplomatic influence. Despite the US’s significant advantages, “the current US administration’s unilateral inclinations mean the United States is an

underachiever in its ability to wield broad-based power in Asia. In addition, the coronavirus has contributed to a loss of US prestige. "America has suffered the largest reputational hit in the region for its domestic and international handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The report says while China has been

“diplomatically diminished” by COVID it is “holding ground in its overall power”. “In conditions where most countries are less powerful than a year ago, China’s fast economic rebound from COVID-19 will widen the power differentials between itself and the rest of the region.” China, which ranks

second at 76.1 on the regional power index, has an unchanged score. “China leads in four of the eight measures of power: economic capability, diplomatic influence, economic relationships and future resources. But the country delivers inconsistent results in the other measures, with stark strengths and weaknesses. By contrast, US performance in the Index still appears more rounded.” Australia and two other middle powers – Vietnam and Taiwan – were the only countries to gain in comprehensive power in 2020. “Their competent handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was a necessary, but not sole condition for improving their regional standing.” Australia ranks number 6 on the index with an overall rating of 32.4. It was previously 7th and has overtaken South Korea. Its greatest improvement was in cultural influence. “Australia’s comparative advantages as a middle

power are most evident in its defence networks, where it ranks second behind the United States. Despite a far more modest military capability, Australia is ranked ahead of the United States for its defence diplomacy with non-allied partners. "Canberra has led the way in forging variable geometry — bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral and ‘quad plus’ — defence partnerships with a diverse range of countries, including India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam. Australia carries less ‘great power baggage’ and has demonstrated it can be far nimbler in Southeast Asia than its US ally.” But the report warns of the effect of the contraction of migration to negative levels. “Dropping out of the demographic ‘Goldilocks zone’ will have adverse implications for Australia’s fundamentals as a young and growing middle power. The failure to reverse this trend in the next few years would result in a smaller, poorer and ultimately less secure nation.” The report also concludes that Japan will take much of the next decade to recover economically from COVID. It says that of all the countries, “India’s economy has lost the most growth potential through the damage inflicted by the pandemic”. * Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra Source- The Conversation, October 19, 2020 (Under Creative Commons Licence)

Melbourne is almost out of lockdown. It’s time to trust Melburnians to make their own COVID-safe decisions CONTD. FROM PG 3

We had an extended blanket lockdown that was enough to quash the virus multiple times over in households. But we weren’t able to contain it in aged care, certain workplaces, and complex households. With cases now so low, the idea that all public movement equals viral spread is not true. There’s a lot more to this virus than this sort of reductionist approach. We know probably 70% of people don’t even pass it on, and

that many cases are the end of a chain of infection. If we do get a cluster, we will likely pick it up. This gives me confidence Melbourne will be able to open up fully next weekend. The wholesale rebuilding of our contact-tracing means we are now very much on the front foot. Health authorities should continue urgently interrogating and isolating new cases, particularly mystery ones. But for the wider public, it is now important to instil a sense that the government trusts people to be sensible for themselves. The more

rules we have, the harder it is for people to have a sense of agency. The rules should now be focused on areas where there is greatest risk. Unnecessary blanket rules might get in the way of people buying in. For instance, the ring of steel shouldn’t be necessary, given the testing and tracing measures we now have in place. What’s more, I think it will be a long time before people go back to their old patterns of movement, given that people have become acclimatised to staying at home.

This also means it’s easier to consider lifting border restrictions. While we’ve been busy fighting off the second wave we’ve built the health response to a point where we can live with the virus. So things like borders become less crucial. If authorities aren’t busy policing things that don’t make much of a difference, such as the 25km rule, it will free up resources and also mean people have one less rule, and one less fine, hanging over them. I would also urge authorities to allow people to wear masks only in

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situations where it makes a real difference, as opposed to everywhere. It’s easier to trust the public to do that when they’re not being told to wear them all the time. Over more than three months, Victorians have grown used to being told what to do in intense detail. Now it’s time for people to get back some control, and I’m hopeful we can do that in a way that’s safe.

* Chair in Epidemiology, Deakin University Source- The Conversation, October 18, 2020 (Under Creative Commons Licence)

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IFFM-2020 Online Oct. 23-30: Over 50 films in 17 languages, 34 International Premiers, 56 Aussie Premiers By Neeraj Nanda


ELBOURNE, 13 October: Movie bonanza for film buffs is not far off. The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2020s (IFFM-2020) cinema magic will cast its spell from 23-30 October, as the pandemic lockdown eases and life inches towards a normal. The announcement of IFFM2020 online, in line with coronavirus gathering restrictions, screening of over 50 films in 17 languages, including 34 International Premieres and 56 Premiers Australian, is no surprise. The IFFM has been doing this feat for years now. IFFM Festival Director, MituBhowmick Lange says, “Indian filmmakers – from independent short filmmakers to our most powerful directors – turn their gaze to issues of freedom and equality in the contemporary world and celebrate the diversity that defines us all. The film is a powerful way to bring people together be they sitting in a packed cinema or in 2020, in their own homes.” All films will be available for viewing free of charge across Australia from October 23 to 30 in recognition of the pressures this year has placed on many people, IFFM is partnering with Mental Health Foundation Australia and encourages festival participants to

donate to the MHO when booking. Opening the Festival are two outstanding films addressing disability and gender equality – NATKHAT (The Brat) and HABBBDI: NATKHAT (transl The Brat) is a 25-minute film produced and starring VidyaBalan. One of India’s most powerful and acclaimed actors, widely recognized as pioneering a change in the portrayal of women in Hindi Cinema, Balan plays an abused mother teaching her son about gender equality and empathy through the telling of a simple bedtime story.“Natkhat makes you confront the

reality that most women in this country live on a day to day basis and how we are bringing up children and how if we want to see a change, we have to bring up our children differently,” says VidyaBalan The delightful feature HABBBADI focuses on Kabaddi a popular contact sport in Southern Asia that first originated in Ancient India and shows how sometimes our biggest weakness becomes our biggest strength. When the news of his village’s Kabbadi team traveling to Mumbai breaks out a 10-yearold boy with a speech impediment sees the

opportunity to meet the girl he adores. But will he be able to chant kabbadikabbadi without stammering? An IFFM-2020 media release says, ” The 2020 Festival features five dynamic program streams of new and classic films from India and the subcontinent.‘Hurrah Bollywood’, the best mainstream Hindi cinema from the last twelve months; ‘Beyond Bollywood’ art-house and cinema in regional Indian languages; ‘Films from the Subcontinent’ – Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal; ‘Film India World’ focussing on Indian films that cross international borders, and the Documentary section including a number of critically acclaimed documentaries. Stand out highlights include the micro-budgeted, guerilla-filmed noir LORNI THE FLANEUR; THE ILLEGAL,” a timely film about immigrants in the U.S” (Variety);EEB ALLAY OOO!, award-winning director Prateek Vat’s uses monkeys as a metaphor to satirize blind faith and superstition in modern India, and MOTI BAGH, a documentary film based on the struggle of a farmer in a remote Himalayan village which is India’s official entry in this year’s Oscars.” The festival will pay special tribute programs honoring the works of 3 of India’s finest actors Rishi

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Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, and Sushant Singh Rajput, all of whom sadly passed away this year. “‘Together’ is the theme of the 2020 IFFM Short Film Festival Competition which this year received a remarkable and unprecedented 3000+ entries indicating people’s creativity during the lockdown. A selection of the best films submitted is available for viewing during the Festival and the winner will be announced. The winning film is being judged by Varun Sharma, our 2011 Short Film Competition. This year, Varun is making his directorial debut with the feature film BUNTY AUR BUBLI 2, starring Rani Mukherji and Saif Khan. We are hugely proud,” says MituBhowmick Lange. The festival is being supported by the Victoria Government/Film Victoria, City of Melbourne, BlackMagic, Mental Health Foundation of Australia, Singapore Airlines, G’Day India, South Asia Times (SAT), Civic Outdoor, IndusAge, RRR, and Radio Hanji. Full festival information can be accessed at – iffm. com.au Facebook – @ IndianFilmFestivalOf Melbourne @FilmVic @ MBFWorld Twitter – @iffmelbourne @FilmVictoria @MBFWorld Instagram – @IFFMelb @ FilmVic

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Laxmmi Bomb' director reveals why film's title was changed from 'Kanchana' By Neeraj Nanda


umbai (Maharashtra) [India], October 17 (ANI): Raghava Lawrence, the director of Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani starrer upcoming film 'Laxmmi Bomb' recently revealed why the film's title was changed from the original title 'Kanchana'. On being asked about the reason behind changing the title for the Hindi remake of his Tamil film 'Kanchana', Lawrence said, "Our Tamil film was named after the main lead character Kanchana. Kanchana means 'gold' which is a form of Lakshmi. Earlier I considered going the same way for the Hindi remake but we collectively decided that the name must appeal

to the Hindi audience as well and what better than Laxmmi." "By god's grace, it was turning out to be a cracker of a film, so we named it 'Laxmmi Bomb'. Like a dhamaka of Laxmmi Bomb cannot be missed, the transgender lead character is powerful and radiant. Hence the name fits perfectly," he added.

The filmmaker further talked about why he chose to film a story that emphasises on the transgender community. To which he responded saying, "I run a trust and a few transgenders approached my trust for help. When I heard their story, I felt like I wanted to tell their story to everyone through the

character called Laxmi in this movie. After watching the film audiences will know what I am talking about." The director further dished on his thoughts on the idea of helming a movie that for the first time had a mainstream Bollywood actor playing a transgender character. He said, "after 'Kanchana' released in Tamil, the movie received huge appreciation from transgenders. They directly came to my home and blessed me. So, in Hindi when Akshay sir is playing the role, I believe that the message will reach an even wider audience. My special thanks to Akshay sir for accepting and playing this role." Last week, the 'Khiladi' actor shared the trailer of 'Laxmmi Bomb' Akshay is

playing the characters of 'Asif' and 'Laxmmi', one is trying to convince the parents of Kiara, while the other has come to take revenge. The character of 'Asif' does not believe in ghosts as a dialogue confirms-- "Jis din sachmein mere samne bhoot aayana, toh maa kasam choodiya pehnlunga. (The day a ghost appears before me in reality, I swear by my mother that I will wear bangles)." Later in the trailer, he is seen admiring his hands full of red bangles, while the same dialogue can be heard in the background. As the trailer moves forward, the carpet of both comedy and horror rolls out in snippets. The movie is set to premiere on November 9, 2020, on DisneyPlusHotstar.

Priyanka Chopra introduces her character 'Pinky' from 'The White Tiger'


ew Delhi [India], October 16 (ANI): Sharing a few stills from her upcoming film 'The White Tiger,' actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas on Friday introduced her character of Pinky from the film. The 'Baywatch' actor took to Instagram to share stills from the film featuring her and penned down a caption explaining the film and her role in it. While one of the pictures sees Priyanka seated on the couch with newcomer AdarshGourav, the other one sees her seated on the floor

with her eyes downwards. She explained in the caption, that her character in the film is that of a first-

generation immigrant in America. "In TheWhiteTiger, I play the role of Pinky madam, who

is a first generation immigrant in the US. She is in India with her husband, who is travelling for business. And then... life changes! Pinky madam is such a specific character, to play her unravelling in the story was such a joy," she wrote in the caption. "This is a story that needs to be told and it comes alive with its characters so compellingly in Ramin's hands. The White Tiger, coming soon to Netflix globally," she further wrote in the caption. Alternatively, in a separate Instagram post, Priyanka described the story of the film

about a family and the "plight of one man - BalramHalwai," which portrayed by newcomer AdarshGourav in the film. Another set of stills of the 'The White Tiger' see actor Rajkummar Rao in them and Priyanka said that Rao will be showcasing depths in his role. The Netflix original is based on the New York Times Bestseller and 2008 Man Booker Prize-winning novel of 'The White Tiger.' The film is helmed and bankrolled by RaminBahrani. The release date of the film has not yet been revealed by the makers of the film.

QUICK REVIEW: Bad Boys Billionaires: India, Netflix, 2020 By Neeraj Nanda MELBOURNE, 10 October 2020: A Dalit man who works as an assistant under an upper-caste scientist promotes his promising son through a shortcut. The son who has good scientific knowledge gets additional knowledge through a hearing aid – blue tooth combination at functions. Basically, merit is everything in an unequal world. The son moves up the social ladder but life goes out of control. The movie is an adaptation of Tony Joseph’s novel of the same name. This streaming

service movie comes at a time when India is discussing the alleged rape and killing of a 19-year-old Dalit girl by four upper-caste men in Uttar Pradesh. The fact that caste

thrives in today’s India has reflected in all spheres of social life whether it is crime, employment, and day to day talks. Stark discrimination in blunt and scuttle ways is

news each day. Serious Men is a family’s determination to make their son move ahead in an adverse social milieu. The director succeeds in

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highlighting the issue with a rather sweet narrative. Many scenes and dialogues highlight the issues a Dalit family faces. It’s the way out of this that makes an interesting step by step film rooted in its delicate but real subject. Nawazuddin Siddiqui gives a brilliant performance along with others doing justice to their roles. One wishes Sudhir Mishra’s bold social drama effort makes a dent in the otherwise dismal conservative atmosphere. It is not easy to crack the mold. But Serious Men is a step ahead.



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QUICK REVIEW: Serious Men, Netflix, 2020

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 10 October 2020: A Dalit man who works as an assistant under an upper-caste scientist promotes his promising son through a shortcut. The son who has good scientific knowledge gets additional knowledge through a hearing aid – blue tooth combination at functions. Basically, merit is everything in an unequal world. The son moves up the social ladder but life goes out of control. The movie is an adaptation of Tony Joseph’s novel of the same name. This streaming service movie comes at a time when India is discussing the alleged rape and killing of a 19-year-old Dalit girl by four upper-caste men in Uttar Pradesh. The fact that caste thrives in today’s India has reflected in all spheres of social life whether it is crime, employment, and day to day talks. Stark discrimination in blunt and scuttle ways is news each day. Serious Men is a family’s

determination to make their son move ahead in an adverse social milieu. The director succeeds in highlighting the issue with a rather sweet narrative.

Many scenes and dialogues highlight the issues a Dalit family faces. It’s the way out of this that makes an interesting step by step film rooted in its delicate but

real subject. Nawazuddin Siddiqui gives a brilliant performance along with others doing justice to their roles. One wishes Sudhir Mishra’s bold

www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082

social drama effort makes a dent in the otherwise dismal conservative atmosphere. It is not easy to crack the mold. But Serious Men is a step ahead.

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Little India’s ‘Dulhan’ makes & distributes free pandemic masks amidst the lockdown By Neeraj Nanda


ELBOURNE, 13 October: The one and only ‘Little India’ in Greater Dandenong’s Foster Street has almost been shut because of the pandemic for months now. The oncebustling enclave of subcontinent culture, food, and garments has a deserted look. Business is down and retailers with their staff face a grim future. But during these times one retailer Hitesh Shah, who runs the ‘Dulhan’ garments store is along with his wife Bina Shah and staff is making face masks for essential workers, elderly and vulnerable people and managed to keep a few people in employment. “About 1,000 non-woven shopping bags lying in

the shop came handy and some elastic added to them and smart tailoring by international students led

to well-made masks. We were able to make 6.000 masks and distributed them free

in aged care homes, to health care staff, and to vulnerable elderly people. Some of the masks were

posted to needy addresses, ” Hitesh told South Asia Times (SAT). Meanwhile, the compulsory order to wear face masks came, and Dulhan was flooded with many requests. We also made it a point to make the masks with strict hygiene and maintain social distancing during the production process, says Bina Shah, one of the Founder-Director of JITO Australia, and runs the IAEC Education & Immigration business. Say the husband-wife team, ” We feel happy doing this work and turning this negative and depressing period into positive activity for the community and business.” Dulhan/Hitesh Shah/Bina Shah can be contacted at – dulhanexclusives@gmail. com

English requirements plan for partner visas ‘smacks of racism’, says Labor By Our Community Reporter


ELBOURNE, 12 October 2020: The Labor Party today came down heavily on the Morrison Govt’s Budget 2020-21 plan to have English requirements from next year for a spouse visa and those applying for it. Using strong words Labor’s Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Shadow Minister Assisting for Immigration and Citizenship Mr. Andrew Giles MP today said, it “smacks of racism”. He was speaking at a Virtual Zoom press conference for multicultural media along with Deputy Labor leader in the Senate, Senator Kristina Keneally. “What business is it Minister Tudge or Mr. Morrison to say you can meet someone and seek to form a life with them in Australia if they come from a country where English is spoken, but not if they don’t. It seems to me to be an extraordinary

proposition that’s entirely inconsistent with how this country has been built, entirely disrespectful to the contributions of hundreds of thousands of Australians. A few days back the Acting Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge in a multicultural media conference said,” The success of Australia has been built on inviting people to our shores and migrants becoming central to Australian life. But you can really only be central

to Australian life if you can fully participate in it. You can only fully participate in it if you at least have a basic grasp of English. The issue is we want people to have a real go trying to learn English before they put their application in and demonstrated they’ve had a proper go, then that visa will be granted, as long as the other checks are assured as well.” In her remarks, Kristina Keneally said,” Now under

the Liberals, there are currently 100,000 people on a waiting list for a partner visa. That’s 100,000 partner visa applications sitting in the Department of Home Affairs. This is 100,000 Australians and their partners who are waiting for the opportunity to begin or to continue their lives with their loved ones in Australia. Now Australians and their partners, their husbands and their wives, can’t put down roots, get

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jobs, buy homes or build communities in Australia because of the Morrison Government’s go-slow partner visa processing.” “This English language test for partner visas smacks of racism. And if that was the Government’s intent, well, shame on them. If it’s a mistake by the Government, then they should fix it immediately and they should scrap this policy of imposing an English language test on partner visas,” she said.



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Dating apps and sexual assaults in Victoria By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 18 October 2020: Detectives from the Sexual Crime Squad are urging anyone with experiences of sexual assault, harassment or other threatening behaviour linked to people they have connected with on dating apps to contact police. While many people choose to initially report the behaviour via functions on the apps, contacting police is the only way to initiate an investigation into potentially criminal behaviour. This report allows police to take a number of steps – the information can be carefully assessed by specialist detectives to determine if any criminal offending has taken place, a formal police report can be lodged, and police will connect victims with a range of support services. Officer in charge of the Sexual Crimes Squad, Detective Inspector Juliann Goldrick, said it was important that the community understands there are no barriers in reporting these matters to police. “I want to assure the community and victims of sexual assault that Victoria Police is committed to investigating these matters and holding offenders to account.” she said. “We believe that these matters are under reported and that can be for a range of reasons, including fear or embarrassment, and sometimes feeling unsure if an offence has occurred or if they will be believed. “ “In terms of dating apps, we might have people who are unsure about making a report because the person has blocked or removed their profile on the app, or maybe a lengthy period of time has passed and victims are worried it has been too long. “It’s crucial for police that we play a role in clearing up any misconceptions around reporting sexual assault, especially where the victim has connected with the offender via a dating app,” Det Insp Goldrick said. “I cannot stress enough that it is never the victim’s responsibility to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to investigate a sexual offence or solve a crime. “While a victim may believe there may be limitations to proving the identity of an alleged perpetrator, police have a number of methods to identify suspects and we have specialist investigators who do this successfully. “Police can also request information from dating apps to assist in solving sexual offence investigations, however this is only one avenue of inquiry in which police can identify suspects and bring a case before the courts. “I think it’s crucial that victims understand that reporting to the dating app is not reporting to police, and so we encourage people to speak to us when they have been subject to concerning behaviour. Dating apps have become a common way for people to connect

and many people who use them have a positive experience and find lifelong partners. Police also recognise that with restrictions in place on movement across Melbourne and Victoria more generally, it’s become one of the few ways for people to initially connect with a new partner. However, on occasion, police do see instances of predatory sexual behaviour on dating apps. This can take the form of people meeting up in person where consent is not provided for sexual activity and one party is then sexually assaulted. It also includes instances where unsolicited illicit images are sent via the messaging ability on the apps. On other occasions, the dating app may simply be the function for people to connect and predatory or criminal offending occurs some time later. “We know that women are far more likely to experience violence – both physical and sexual – from a family member in their own home, than a stranger or someone they have just met,” Det Insp Goldrick said. “However, we also acknowledge that in some cases online dating sites and applications are used as a means for offenders to form a relationship with victims and groom their targets. “Something we commonly see with victims is a sense of obligation – a feeling that they “owe” the offender something because this person has spent time messaging them, or travelled to see them, or bought them a meal or drink. “I really want to be absolutely clear that you do not owe anyone anything, ever. “Everyone in our community has a right to go about their lives, meet new people or start a relationship without fear of being a victim of crime, including sexual harassment or assault.” One of the most important things police are able to do for sexual assault victims is give them advice on and connect them to a wide range of support services. Even if someone ultimately decides they do not want to make a formal report or for an investigation to be conduct, police can still assist them with seeking further support such as medical services or counselling.

you met via a dating app, we strongly encourage you to contact police and discuss the circumstances with us • Anyone who contacts police will be supported and treated with respect, courtesy and dignity • COVID-19 restrictions do not stop you from leaving your home to make a report to police or seeking further assistance • While we encourage victims to report as soon as possible, it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, we are always able to investigate a sexual offence • Dating apps are not investigators – police are the only ones able to conduct a criminal investigation and hold perpetrators to account • Police can also conduct a criminal

Important things to do report to the police: • If you are subject to any type of concerning behaviour from someone www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082

investigation even where one party has blocked or deleted someone from the app • Support services are available for anyone who is the victim of a sexual assault, even if you do not choose to make a police report • Consider your safety plan when meeting a stranger for the first time for any reason – this could include choosing a location with lots of people around, meeting during daylight hours, and sharing your location with friends • Always view an app’s community guidelines, terms of service and safety tips prior to using their service to ensure that you are comfortable with how they will support you if you encounter an issue • While a dating app user can take steps to minimise their risk, the responsibility is always on the perpetrator who commits these crimes, and never the fault of the victims Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com. au Further information and links to key organisations are available at the following: https://www.police.vic.gov. au/sexual-offences Inputs- Victoria Police

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can undertake their 14 days’ quarantine on return at the Howard Springs facility, Northern Territory, 25 kilometers south of

quarantined at Howard Springs will pay $ 2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families. “Once people have completed their quarantine and tested negative for the virus they’ll be allowed to fly to their home state where, depending on the border rules, they may have to quarantine again, ” says abc.net.au. “The Government is underwriting the cost of the flights, and airfares will be available at commercial rates to passengers, with loans through DFAT available to those who need assistance, ” says a media release from the Prime Minister’s office. More details on the flights are available on smartraveller.gov.au and qantas.com

5,000 Australians to fly home in 6 months, 14 days paid quarantine in Darwin, those in UK get first preference By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 16 October 2020: More than 5,000 Australians are expected to return home in the next six months on special commercial flights from UK, India, and South Africa. These are among the 29,000 Australians currently registered with DFAT wishing to return to Australia. The Australians return amid the unprecedented travel disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first two flights with Qantas will depart London on 22 October and New Delhi on 26 October. Each flight will carry 175 passengers. As more quarantine facility space has become available with fewer domestic travelers

needing to quarantine, we have been working with the Northern Territory Government so Australian passengers from overseas

Australia India Institute’s 'India Week 2020' online bonanza By Neeraj Nanda


ELBOURNE, 16 October 2020: This year’s ‘India Week 2020′, Australia India Institute’s annual event will be online with many events. A celebration of all things India, the five days event from October 26 – 30 will have many events. One has to register to join. On Monday, October 26,4 PM (AEDT) there will be a one-hour interactive session that aims to provide insights on occupational demand, future trends, and potential employment opportunities in Australia and India. A panel of industry professionals and alumni will discuss key industry trends, skills needed in a post-COVID 19 world, the importance of having work experience and networking. Speakers at the event are Nandini Shetty, Head of Talent Acquisition, APAC, Infosys, Manorani Guy, Co-Founder/President, VicWISE, Siddharth Gupta, University of Melbourne alumni representative and

Keeratdeep Kaur, University of Melbourne alumni representative. On Tuesday, October 27, 12,00 PM (AEDT) anyone can have an online yoga class, from beginners to intermediate levels. The one-hour free class will be run by Nupur Biswas, live from Mumbai, India. One has to make sure to login with comfortable clothes and space to practice. On Tuesday, October 27, 4:00 PM (AEDT) there will be a live recording of the ‘Asia Rising’ podcast as part of the Australia India Institute’s ‘India Week’ via zoom. The subject is – Assessing India and Australia’s strategic partnership. Guest: Dr.Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan (Distinguished Fellow and Head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi) Host: Dr.BecStrating. On Wednesday, October 28, 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM (AEDT) a webinar on Humanitarianism in South Asia – How can Australia help South Asia

during the Covid-19 crisis? Panel members – Cherian Thomas Regional Leader, South Asia & Pacific Region, World Vision International and Emma Mawdsley, Geography Department, University of Cambridge, Director, Margaret Anstee Centre for Global Studies, Vice Principal, Newnham College, Cambridge. This webinar will allow 20-30minutes for audience interaction and Q&A. On Thursday, October 29, 5:00 PM (AEDT) a Panel event on India’s Heritage: Preserving the Past While Embracing the Future will take place. Panel: Dr. Kiran Shide (Planning, La Trobe University), Professor Utpal Sharma (Dean and Director at the Institute of Architecture and Planning at NIRMA University, India) and Dr. Anita Smith (Archeology and History, La Trobe University). Chair: Dr.BecStrating (La Trobe Asia). This is a La Trobe Asia event. Separate registrations have to be done for all the events and it can be done at aii. unimelb.edu.au

Darwin. According to abc.net.au the cost from the UK will be around $ 2,000 and from India a little less. People

Candlelight vigil for Hathras rape & murder victim in Sydney


olunteers of THE HUMANISM PROJECT (THP) & the AMBEDKAR INTERNATIONAL MISSION (AIM) hold a vigil and candlelight protest in Sydney against the alleged rape and murder of a

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Dalit girl by upper-caste men in Hathras, UP on 16 Oct 2020. Former Greens senator Lee Rhiannon too attended the protest and expressed her solidarity with the Hathras case victim, says a media release. Photos: NK/THP.

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Population control promotes female foeticide, ignores Cairo declaration, national policy By Rajiv Shah


HMEDABAD, 17 October 2020: Recently, I did a story, based on an official communique of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, on a book launched by it on bonded labour, authored by a retired IAS bureaucrat, Lakshmidhar Mishra. At the virtual book launch ceremony, Justice PC Pant, who happened to be Supreme Court judge between 2014 and 2017, and currently is National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member, linked bonded labour with population explosion, going so far as to say that, to abolish bonded labour you need a population policy as adopted in 1975-76 during the Emergency. I don’t know if the illustrious Nobel laureate, Satyarthi, present on the occasion, was also shocked or reacted to it. I, as a college pass-out in Delhi, had witnessed how population control was being implemented during the Emergency days under the eagle eyes of Sanjay Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi. All know what happened then: In the name of two-child norm, forced sterilisation became a norm. Family planning became a bad word, at least in popular perception, thanks to the manner in which it was sought to be implemented. Targets were given to government officials, teachers, health staff for stetilisation! Anyone, especially poor, having the second birth was sterilised forcibly. Much water has flown down the Ganges, as the phrase goes, since then. The year was 2000. Posted in Gandhinagar as the Times of

India man, I was personally witness to the plan by the then BJP Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel to come up with a new bill in the state assembly making two child norm compulsory. Several disincentives were provided for those having more than two children, including in providing government jobs and government schemes. Despite receiving support from both BJP and Congress legislators, there was one bureaucrat who ensured that the bill didn’t go through: the then Health Secretary SwarnakantaVerma. Verma told me, of course off the record, how the bill goes against the letter and spirit of the 1994 Cairo Declaration on Population and Development, adopted under the auspices of the United Nations Population Fund, as also the National Population Policy (NPP), adopted in 2000 by by the Government of India. NPP, Verma told me, was prepared on the basis of the Cairo declaration, hence the bill shouldn’t go through. If I recall correctly, at that

time, No 2 in the Keshubhai ministry, Suresh Mehta, was industries and parliamentary affairs minister. Verma briefed Mehta – under whom, if I recall correctly, healthcare also came – about it, and the matter was settled. I did several stories on how the bill would not be dropped, something Mehta announced in the state assembly, pointing towards how the two child norm went against the UN population policy as also the one adopted by the Government of India. The bill was dropped. Officially, there the policy still remains intact, as is clear from a February 2020 Press Bureau of Information communique. Whatever I could learn from the Cairo declaration and NPP is this: they stressed on the need to improve healthcare and educational facilities, on one hand, and poverty alleviation, on the other. If necessary goals in these areas were achieved, people would stop producing more children, they suggested. NPP talked of making school

education up to age 14 free and compulsory and reduce dropouts at the primary and secondary schools; reduce infant and maternal mortality rate; achieve universal immunization of children against all vaccine preventable diseases; promote delayed marriage for girls, not earlier than age 18, and preferably after 20 years of age; and to ensure institutional deliveries. The Cairo declaration was surely more forthright, pointing towards how, while there is “delicate balance between population and natural resources”, the population issue “should be seen not in isolation, but within the larger context of sustainable development of the planet for the betterment of humankind: economic activity that increases the quality of life for all people through curbing excessive consumption and generating productive growth; alleviating poverty; achieving sustainable agricultural and industrial production, energy and natural resources in harmony with the environment; and improving health care and the quality of, and access to, education.” Even family planning, it said, should be seen in the “broader framework of reproductive health care”, pointing towards the need for the “empowerment of women and the improvement of their political social, economic and health status” as “highly important ends in themselves.” It underlined, “Human development cannot be sustained unless women are guaranteed equal rights and equal status with men. In this process women should be seen not merely as the beneficiaries of change but as the agents of change as well. This entails an enhancement of their own gender awareness.” However, what neither NPP nor the Cairo declaration said highlighted a factor which appeared have acquire strange legitimacy today: Any move towards “restricting” population would lead to female foeticide, as what happened in China, which sought to implement one child norm in order to restrict population control, suggests. In India, there are many advocates for this as

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At the virtual book launch ceremony, Justice PC Pant, who happened to be Supreme Court judge between 2014 and 2017, and currently is National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member, linked bonded labour with population explosion, going so far as to say that, to abolish bonded labour you need a population policy as adopted in 1975-76 during the Emergency. well. Some states have also passed laws for this. Thus, the Gujarat government came up with a law 2005 disqualifying anyone with more than two children from contesting elections for bodies of local selfgovernance -- panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations. In Rajasthan, for government jobs, candidates who have more than two children are not eligible for appointment. Somewhat similar laws exists in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, and Odisha. Interestingly, in 2005 Madhya Pradesh dropped its two-child norm law which barred candidates of local body elections for contesting after it was found to leading to female foeticide, though the official explanation said that it was being dropped.

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Reports chronicle continuing violence and discrimination against Rohingya community Violence against the persecuted Rohingya minority community has persisted despite demands to Myanmar state authorities to ensure their safety By Peoples Dispatch


n October 12, Monday, international human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, claimed to have gained conclusive evidence about indiscriminate attacks against civilians inside Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The groups have collected testimonies, visual evidence, and analysis of satellite imagery to prove that violence against the persecuted Rohingya community has continued. In the last week, as many as nine Rohingyas lost their lives in separate incidents in Myanmar and Bangladesh, where thousands of Rohingya refugees now live in camps. On October 6, two minors belonging to the community were killed during a gunfight between the militant group Arakan Army and the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw), northeast of the Pyin Shae village in Rakhine State. According to locals, clashes erupted hours after 15 civilians from the Buthidaung township were conscripted by Tatmadaw to be used as human shields in a terrain believed to be mined by militants. Military spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun categorically denied that the soldiers had fired upon civilians. He blamed the Arakan Army for the casualties, adding that the soldiers had reached the area to investigate, only after hearing the artillery blasts. A day earlier, on October 5, three Rohingyalaborers were allegedly gunned down by patrolling soldiers near a bridge in Minbya township in Rakhine State. The civilians have been identified as Nu

Violence and discrimination against the Rohingya community continues in Myanmar and Bangladesh: Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Russell Watkins/Department for International Development

Mahmad (40), Noru Salam (50) and Mar Dawlar (45). All three belonged to Latma village and were moving in a boat towards the town market. A statement issued by the military claimed that the civilians were in violation of the curfew-restrictions imposed in the area since April 2019. They were ordered by the soldiers to stop, who fired warning shots in the air. As per the military, their vessel continued to move after which they were fired upon. Violence against the minority Rohingyas has persisted in Myanmar despite demands to the state authorities to ensure their safety. In its 183-page report titled “An Open Prison Without End”, Human Rights Watch noted that around 130,000 Rohingyas living in different camps in Rakhine State are “denied freedom of movement, dignity, and access to employment and education, without adequate provision of

food, water, health care, or sanitation.” After conducting 30 interviews, the rights group concluded in its detailed report that Rohingyas continue to live in squalid and abusive conditions, “beyond the dignity of any people.” Nearly 600,000 Rohingyas living in Rakhine State were found to be “at risk of further crimes and urgently need protection.” Since 2018, as many as 300 civilians have lost their lives in the State, and over 650 have been injured. The report also highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed “the extreme vulnerability in which Rohingya live.” According to the report, “Rohingyas face threats from overcrowding, aid blockages, and movement restrictions that increase the risk of transmission, as well as harassment, extortion, and hate speech from authorities.” Casualties of

refugee camps On October 6, at least four Rohingya refugees were killed and 20 others wounded after two armed groups clashed with each other in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar. Half a dozen houses were burnt in the fighting between the two rival factions in the Kutupalong camp in Ukhiya, the largest refugee camp in the world. The Rapid Action Battalion of the Bangladeshi government forces later told the media that they have “arrested nine Rohingya armed miscreants from different camps” and “recovered four locally made guns and bullets.” Around 750,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar fearing persecution by the military headed by General Aung Hlaing. As per Amnesty International, nearly one million Rohingya refugees currently live in threadbare camps in Cox’s Bazar, located in southeastern Bangladesh

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and sharing a border with Myanmar. Ukhiya and Teknaf are the two areas of Cox’s Bazar where currently almost 34 refugee camps are spread over around 6,800 acres of land. Bangladeshi officials have repeatedly accused the Rohingya refugees of being involved in “drug dealing, human trafficking and robbery,” allegations denied by the Rohingya leaders and activists, who have instead blamed the Sheikh Hasina-led Bangladeshi government of structural violence and blatant discrimination. Amnesty, in a 27-pagereport, revealed that despite four decades of persecution, the ordeal of the Rohingyas is far from over, with the pandemic only adding to their distress. The World Health Organization recently said that nearly 20% of Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh are struggling with mental health issues. Source: October 13, 2020, Peoples Dispatch

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Festival Season An artist getting ready with make-up and costume to perform in Ram Leela on the first day of the Hindu festival Navratra, in New Delhi on 17 Oct 2020. Photo-ANI

Girls take a selfie in their costumes as an NGO organized a ramp show for underprivileged children, in Kolkata on 17 Oct 2020. Photo-ANI

Devotees standing in a queue to offer prayers on the first day of the Navratri festival at Kalkaji temple, in New Delhi on 17 Oct 2020. Photo-ANI

Assamese women light earthen lamps in a paddy field on the occasion of Kati Bihu at Sonitpur district, in Guwahati 17 Oct 2020. Photo-ANI

Artists perform Ram Leela on the first day of the Hindu festival Navratra, in New Delhi on 17 Oct 2020. Photo-ANI www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082



in India

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Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurating various Durga idols and pandals for the upcoming Durga puja festival, in Kolkata on 17 Oct 2020. Photo-ANI

Devotees stand in the queue to enter Durga temple on the first day of the Navratri festival, in Varanasi on 17 Oct 2020. Photo-ANI www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082

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Why opposition protests are a turning point in Pakistani politics G By Shamil Shams

eneral Qamar JavedBajwa, you packed up our government, which was working well, and put the nation and the country at the altar of your wishes," former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told his supporters at a massive opposition rally in Gujranwala city on Friday (16 October 2020). "General Bajwa is responsible for rigging the 2018 elections, curbs on the media, abduction of journalists and forcing judges to give decisions of his choice," he added. It is common for opposition leaders in Pakistan to criticize the incumbent government; it is, however, quite extraordinary that they confront the powerful military, which is considered a "holy cow" in the South Asian country, in such a direct manner. But Sharif, a three-time former prime minister, who is currently in London for medical treatment, believes that Pakistan's main problem is the military's "unconstitutional" role in politics. Therefore, he is not holding Prime Minister Imran Khan responsible for the multiple crises wracking Pakistan. Instead, Sharif is blaming those who "brought him (Khan) to power." "Today, our struggle is against those who installed Imran Khan and who manipulated elections to bring an incapable man like him into power and, thus, destroyed the country," Sharif said in an address to last month's opposition conference via a video link. In Sharif's words, the Pakistani military is now "above the state." "It is saddening that the situation has escalated to a state above the state. This parallel government illness is the root-cause of our problems," Sharif said. The tone of other opposition leaders at the Friday demonstration was also anti-military. "I tell you, Imran (Khan) Niazi, you are but a puppet and selected," Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the son of late Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto and chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), said in his speech. "In Karachi, on

October 18, we will throw a challenge to the selected and the selectors," he said in a reference to Khan and the military. Why has Sharif turned against the military? Last month, nine major opposition parties formed the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to launch a nationwide protest movement to unseat Prime Minister Khan. The Friday rally in Gujranwala was the first in a series of demonstrations planned to increase pressure on Khan, who came to power in 2018 promising to rid Pakistan of corruption. The parties plan to end the campaign with a march on Islamabad, the capital, in 2021. But the anti-government campaign has quickly transformed into an antimilitary movement. "It is quite extraordinary in Pakistani politics. The military's continued interference in governance has forced a popular politician from Punjab province – Sharif – to take on a confrontational approach," Arshad Mahmood, an Islamabad-based political analyst, told DW. "Historically, Punjab was a pro-military province. Most of the military generals and soldiers come from Punjab. So Sharif's challenge to the army generals is a turning point in Pakistani politics," Mahmood added. Experts say the civilian political class in Pakistan increasingly sees the military as an opponent not only in matters of political governance but also of the

economy. "The military is not only involved in politics, it also has huge stakes in Pakistan's economic affairs. To protect these interests, it has captured the state. The situation is so grave that elected representatives have become totally powerless," Mahmood underlined. Nadeem Akhter, a Karachibased columnist and political commentator, is of the view that Pakistan's politics have radically transformed in the past few years due to changing economic patterns. "The middle-class population in Pakistan has increased manifold in the past decade. It is now close to 42% of the total population. The same pattern can be seen in Punjab, which is Sharif's political stronghold. Punjab's rural areas have economically prospered due to the infrastructure set up and their connectivity to bigger markets in the province. This constituency and the changing economic dynamics have forced Sharif to assert the civilian authority over the military. This is the requirement of his political constituency," Akhter told DW. "Sharif, who is a businessman, also understands that Pakistan has to take the path of regional cooperation sooner or later. Inability to do so would be damaging for Pakistan's economy and his business interests. The military establishment is against this policy, hence, the clash between Sharif and the generals," he added. Waseem Altaf, a political

analyst and social media commentator, shares this view. He told DW that Sharif is popular because he completed many development projects during his tenure as prime minister. "When he was ousted from power, the country's annual GDP growth was around 5.8%," Altaf said, adding that it plummeted after Khan came to power. "The resentment against the military is growing in Pakistan because the generals have captured all state institutions. They installed a totally incompetent government after removing Sharif so that they can control everything," Altaf said. How will the military react? The military has denied meddling in politics, but is yet to comment on the opposition's latest allegations. Ghulam Mustafa, a retired army general and defense analyst, is in favor of a dialogue between the military and the opposition parties but believes that Sharif is not ready for it. "Nawaz Sharif works in an authoritarian way. He does not want to pay heed to the advice of national security institutions," Mustafa told DW. "Similarly, the Pakistan People's Party (headed by former president Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari) needs to take security matters seriously. Only these steps could lead to reconciliation. The military is in favor of a

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friendly environment," the general added. Habib Akram, a Lahorebased analyst, said the army also enjoys public support, so it would be incorrect to say that the conflict is between the people and the military. "The army controls the mainstream political narrative. Many Pakistanis support the army and consider politicians corrupt," Akram told DW. Haroon Janjua, a DW correspondent in Islamabad, is of the view that Sharif's direct confrontation with the military generals is a decisive moment in his political career. "For Sharif, it is a do-or-die situation. We have to see whether he will come out victorious or it will end his political career." The Friday rally will nonetheless pile pressure on Khan's government, Janjua said. "The government is already blamed for bad governance, rising food inflation and unemployment in the country. The protests will add pressure on Khan as his popularity is already waning," he added. Analyst Mahmood believes that the military establishment will try to find a middle way to resolve the current political crisis. "I think the generals will reevaluate their support for Khan. Both Sharif and the army will have to concede some demands. Absolute civilian supremacy in Pakistan is still a distant dream, but I think politicians can slowly reclaim their lost space in coming years." Source- DW, 17 October 2020.

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India grapples with legality of same-sex marriage

Two years after homosexuality was decriminalized in India, activists are debating if now is the time to push for legalizing same-sex marriage. The government says it is "against Indian culture." By Tanika Godbole, New Delhi


yesha (name changed), who identifies as bisexual, lives with her girlfriend in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. "My mother knows about my relationship, but my father doesn't," the 26-yearold told DW. "I hope samesex marriage becomes a reality in India. Then I would have validation for my relationship. We wouldn't have to hide it or pretend to be roommates," she said. After decriminalizing homosexuality in 2018, the legality of same-sex marriage is now being raised in Indian courts. While India does not currently recognize same-sex marriage, some state courts have recognized the rights of same-sex couples who live together. The High Court in the northern state of Uttarakhand ruled this year that same-sex couples have the right to live together,

even though they may not have the right to get married. A public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to legalize same-sex marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act has been filed in the country's Supreme Court. The petitioners Gopi Shankar M., Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, G. Oorvasi, and GitiThadani argue that there is no language in the act preventing same-sex marriage and that nowhere in the act is marriage restricted to "only between man and woman." India's solicitor general has taken a stance against the legalization of same-sex marriage, telling the Delhi High Court in September that "our laws, our legal system, our society and our values do not recognize marriage, which is a sacrament, between same-sex couples." 'What's Indian culture?' India's LGBT+ community does not hold the same view as the government. For them, same-sex marriage does not go against Indian culture,

citing Indian mythology, art and folklore with their many depictions of homosexuality and intersex people. "What is Indian culture? There are so many differences in how people live across the country," Rituparna Borah, co-director of Nazariya Queer Feminist Resource Group, told DW. "When the central government talks about our culture, they are referring to the Hindu upper-caste culture. This particular petition doesn't seem to challenge Hinduism. In fact, it tries to glorify the fact that Hinduism allows for transgressions," she said. There is no uniform law for marriages in India. Marriages are registered under specific acts such as the Hindu Marriage Act, the Christian Marriage Act, Muslim personal law and the Special Marriages Act. There have even been modern instances of trans couples getting married in religious ceremonies in India. Recently, a lesbian couple

also petitioned the Delhi High Court to allow samesex marriages as part of the Special Marriages Act. The couple argued that things like opening a joint bank account or buying family health insurance, transactions heterosexual couples take for granted, are extremely challenging for them. "Economic rights, adoption rights and protection against domestic violence are just some of the things that happen within the purview of marriage. Legalizing gay marriage will afford these rights to same-sex couples as well," added Borah, who does not personally subscribe to the institution of marriage. A further hearing at the High Court has been scheduled for January 8, 2021. Inclusivity versus acceptance However, activists say that the current Supreme Court petition is not inclusive.

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Sukhdeep Singh, editor of Gaylaxy magazine, an online news portal for the queer community, called the petition misguided as it doesn't include non-Hindus or inter-religious couples. He also does not think that it is the right time to be pushing for same-sex marriage. "India's LGBT community is not focused on marriage equality right now. What they want is acceptance from their families, communities and society. Can marriage really fix this issue?," Singh told DW. Singh and Borah agree that the Indian queer community has a lot of work to do before same-sex marriage can become a legal reality. "We face a lot of illtreatment and discrimination in education, employment, housing and other aspects of daily life," he said. "I believe minorities in India — sexual and others — should come together to fight for an antidiscrimination law." Source- DW, 19 October 2020.

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Bangladesh: Death penalty for rape stokes heated debate

By Arafatul Islam


angladesh's Cabinet recently approved an increase in the maximum punishment in rape cases to death from life imprisonment after a series of recent sexual assaults triggered protests on streets and social media. Demonstrations have broken out nationwide after harrowing footage of a group of men stripping and attacking a woman went viral on social media. The clip sparked outrage in the South Asian country, where activists say only a tiny percentage of sexual assault victims see justice. "Over 1,500 rapes were reported in the last eight months. The number could be higher as many more rapes remain unreported. We are not safe anywhere, not even in our homes. It has to change," a female demonstrator told DW from a protest in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka. "We want to see the death penalty brought in immediately for rapists," she added. Labonno, another protester — who asserted she was molested on a public bus just before joining the protest — believes that Bangladesh has become a country of rapists. "We can't take it anymore. We

want to change this situation. That's why I'm protesting against sexual violence," she told DW. In response to the protests, the Bangladeshi government approved the death penalty measure. Is capital punishment a solution? Nearly 1,000 incidents of sexual crimes were reported between January and September, more than a fifth of them being gang rapes, according to local human rights organization Ain-oSalish Kendra. Its statistics suggest a sharp rise in such crimes in the country, especially in the past two years. Experts, however, said tougher penalties would not be enough to tackle the problem and that authorities needed to immediately address systemic problems in rape trials and the extremely low conviction rates. "It's a bad decision, not only because capital punishment is inherently inhumane and should be abolished, but because it is not a real solution to sexual violence," MeenakshiGanguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "There is no conclusive evidence that capital punishment curbs any crime,

including rape, and it could end up deterring reporting or even encouraging rapists to murder their victims to reduce the likelihood of arrest," she added. A 2013 survey conducted by the United Nations found that, among men in Bangladesh who admitted to committing rape, 88% of rural respondents and 95% of urban respondents said they faced no legal consequences. Ganguly said that the South Asian country's criminal justice system needs to be improved to ensure that sexual assault crimes are properly investigated and prosecuted. "The low conviction rate for rape in the country gives rapists every reason to be confident that they will get away with their crimes," she said. Sultan Mohammed Zakaria, a South Asia researcher at Amnesty International, echoed a similar opinion. "Executions perpetuate violence, they don't prevent it," he said in a statement, adding: "Instead of seeking vengeance, the authorities must focus on ensuring justice for the victims of sexual violence including through delivering the longterm changes that would stop this epidemic of violence and prevent it from recurring."

It 'will reduce rape' However, MitiSanjana, a lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, is of the view that capital punishment will help curb sexual crimes. She stressed that her country needs the death penalty. "I strongly believe that the death penalty is the most severe punishment and that will provide a greater deterrence than life imprisonment. It also registers in the minds of the people that rape is one of the most heinous crimes," she told DW. She pointed out that Bangladesh's existing laws allow for the death penalty in cases of murder. So, it's highly unlikely that the amendment of the sexual crime-related law will encourage the rapists to murder their victims, Sanjana stressed. "By introducing the death penalty for rape, Bangladesh has recognized rape as one of the most serious crimes, which is certainly a timely response,'' the lawyer said, adding: "Under the amended law, trials in rape cases have to be completed in a speedy manner. It's a key milestone in rape law reform in Bangladesh." Bangladesh has hanged 23 people since 2013, while at least another 1,718 are on death row. Although many countries worldwide have

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"Over 1,500 rapes were reported in the last eight months. The number could be higher as many more rapes remain unreported. We are not safe anywhere, not even in our homes. It has to change," a female demonstrator told DW from a protest in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka. abolished the death penalty, the South Asian nation has so far not shown any inclination in following this path. Source- DW, 14 October 2020.

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Surge in Nepal rape cases triggers death penalty discussion By Arafatul Islam


spate of gruesome sexual crimes in Nepal has thrown the spotlight on the issue of gender violence and the culture of impunity in the country. Calls have been growing louder for rape convicts to be sentenced to death. A 12-year-old girl from Bajhang district in western Nepal went missing on September 23. After a long search, her family members found her semi-naked body at a nearby temple. An autopsy report confirmed that the girl, who belonged to the Dalit community, was sexually assaulted prior to her death. Police have arrested a local youth in connection with the case but the victim's family fear that he may be freed by the authorities citing a "lack of evidence." This was not the only rape case reported in that week. Another 12-year-old girl from eastern Sunsari district was also found dead at her home on September 25. A teenager confessed that he killed her after she resisted his sexual advances, according to police. These cases are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problem of rape and sexual assault in Nepal. The number of reported crimes has surged exponentially over the past few years.

reaching the trial stage. Santosh Sigdel, a lawyer and activist, told DW that many victims fail to report their cases due to threats, local "settlement" and the victim-blaming culture. PushpaBhushal, a member of Nepal's parliament, told DW that perpetrators are mostly targeting young girls and women, particularly those from socially marginalized groups. "The exponential rise of rape and sexual assault cases has now become a pandemic," she said.

'Pandemic' of rape and sexual assaults These are just tip of iceberg about widespread rape and sexual assaults against women in Nepal, which has been surged exponentially in recent years. There were only 112 rape cases reported in the country in 1998, but last year that figure was 2,144, according to Nepal police. Nepal police spokesperson KuberKadayat told DW that rape cases surged during the coronavirus lockdown from mid-March to midSeptember. At least 1,221 cases, or seven cases per day, were lodged during this period, he said. Rights activists say the actual number of crimes committed is far higher than the officially reported figure. A recent report by the NGO Anti-Slavery International has identified that only around 5 in 100 cases of rape and sexual violence are reported to police, with even fewer

Culture of impunity Rape and sexual assaults are serious criminal offenses in Nepal, with convicts facing prison sentences ranging from 7 to 25 years. Despite stringent laws on paper, the number of cases has been on the rise. Weak criminal investigations, attempts by officials to protect perpetrators, the politicization of rape cases and dilly-dallying in delivering justice, have collectively led to a worsening of the problem, said Bhusal. It's widely reported that victims of sexual assault are being prevented from seeking legal action in the name of local "settlement" and "reconciliation." Community elders and even elected politicians have been found involved in such activities. Recently, a 15-year-old gang-rape victim in Dhanusa district of southern Nepal was offered 1.2 million rupees (€8,670, $10,243) by a

group of community elders, including some elected representatives. After her family refused to accept the deal, they started receiving "death threats," reported a local daily newspaper. A recent report by the NGO Trial International revealed that police themselves are often engaged in such settlements, even though they're responsible for the victim's safety and security. Police spokesperson Kathayat maintains that the law enforcement agency has not been involved in such acts, but accepted the weakness of the police to act swiftly in certain cases. The police department has instructed all its agencies to take action against those involved in extrajudicial settlements. Neelam Sharma, a researcher at Anti-Slavery International, told DW that insensitive remarks by politicians and officials point to the lack of seriousness and understanding among some influential figures in dealing with the problem. Speaking at a parliamentary panel recently, Nepal's Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa downplayed the issue, saying that many economically advanced countries witness a higher number of sexual assault crimes per capita than Nepal. In September, lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari from the ruling Nepal Communist Party had said that 90% of rape cases in the country involving adults "are not rape cases." Their remarks drew

widespread condemnation, forcing Home Minister Thapa to publicly apologize. Growing calls for death penalty Activists have launched street protests and social media campaigns against sexual crimes, in an attempt to seek justice for rape victims. The issue has also become a subject of discussion in the nation's parliament, where women lawmakers have unequivocally called for harsher punishments for rape convicts, including the capital punishment. "We should not consider a sympathetic law for those who commit gruesome crimes," Shanta Chaudhari, an MP from the ruling party, argued. Nepal's constitution — promulgated in 2015 — has categorically barred any law to be made that prescribes the death penalty. Kathmandu has also been a signatory to a host of international human rights charters — including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) — which are in favor of the abolition of the death penalty. The women lawmakers in the parliament, however, have formed a nine-member taskforce to review the existing laws and the country's international legal obligations and come up with suggestions on how to incorporate the death penalty for convicted rapists. Separately, a parliamentary committee has also asked

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the government to look at the possibility of bringing such a law. Bhushal, also a member of the taskforce, shares the view that those who rape minors should be sentenced to death. Speaking to DW, she stressed that the death penalty has become necessary after other efforts proved unsuccessful in controlling the problem. The idea of capital punishment, however, has not been received warmly by everyone in Nepal. Mohna Ansari, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, says that existing legal instruments are enough to punish the perpetrators, if the authorities pursue the rape cases seriously and deliver justice impartially. Advocate Sigdel shares a similar view. "Are such crimes being repeated just because of not having a provision of the death penalty?" he questioned. Professor Sanjeev Upreti, who did his post-doctoral research at Harvard University on the subject of masculinity, told DW that rape and other forms of gender violence are outcomes of the larger structural problems that women are facing in Nepal. "Women are dominated by men on all fronts — socially, politically and economically. Only enacting laws isn't enough to address such problems," he said. "We need to address it structurally, legally and ideologically." Source-DW, 12 October 2020.



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Handwashing an effective tool to prevent COVID-19, other diseases

By Shamila Sharma*


ew Delhi, 15 October 2020: Ten months into the pandemic, handwashing with soap remains one of our best defences against the virus, along with other public health measures such as maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowded places, practising cough etiquette and wearing a mask wherever recommended. Global Handwashing Day observed annually on October 15 to raise awareness and highlight the importance of handwashing as an effective means of disease prevention – this year marks a critical reminder for the world and the Region that this simple, cost effective practice can save lives. ‘Handwashing has always been one of most effective ways of keeping diseases at bay. It is a simple act that pays in dividends when it comes to keeping ourselves healthy and safe. Handwashing is also one of the key cornerstones of COVID-19 prevention. Now more than ever as we embrace the new normal and live with COVID-19, hand hygiene needs to become an integral part of our daily routine and our lives, as we live through this pandemic, and beyond, to protect us from diseases,’ said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region. With COVID-19 transmission mainly spreading between people through direct, indirect (through contaminated objects or

surfaces), or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions, washing hands with soap and running water is of critical importance. To stop the spread of COVID-19, along with other COVID appropriate behaviours, the practice of handwashing at regular intervals is a must, after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, after using the toilet, before eating, while preparing food and after handling animals or animal waste. Handwashing after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs or handles, or after one comes back home from visiting a public place will keep ourselves and others around us safe. “Promoting hand hygiene at all levels of health care is also critical. Hand hygiene, a very simple action, is well accepted to be one of the primary modes of reducing health care-associated infection and of enhancing patient safety,” the Regional Director said. The pandemic is still among us and it is far from over. We must remind ourselves of the basics that we as individuals can do to keep ourselves safe, she said. This year’s Global Handwashing Day theme was Hand Hygiene for All and calls for all of society to achieve universal hand hygiene. To beat the virus today and ensure better health outcomes beyond the pandemic, handwashing with soap must be a priority now and in the future. *Public Information and Advocacy Officer WHO South-East Asia Regional Office www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082

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1.4 million people died globally from TB in 2019 By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 15 October 2020: Tuberculosis (TB) remains the top infectious killer in the world claiming close to 4000 lives a day. Millions of people continue to fall ill with TB- a preventable and curable disease each year. Approximately 1.4 million people died from TB-related illnesses in 2019. Of the estimated 10 million people who developed TB that year, some 3 million were not diagnosed with the disease, or were not officially reported to national authorities. The situation is even more acute for people with drug-resistant TB. About 465 000 people were newly diagnosed with drugresistant TB in 2019 and, of these, less than 40% were able to access treatment. There has also been limited progress in scaling up access to treatment to prevent TB. “Equitable access to quality and timely diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care remains a challenge,” said Dr TedrosAdhanom Ghebreyesus, DirectorGeneral of WHO. “Accelerated action is urgently needed worldwide if we are to meet our targets by 2022.” About 14 million people were treated for TB in the period 2018-2019, just over one-third of the way towards the 5-year target (2018-2022) of 40 million, according to the report. Some 6.3 million people started TB preventive treatment in 2018-2019, about one-fifth of the way towards the 5-year target of 30 million.

levels in the context of global commitments and strategies.

and inform the multisectoral actions required to end the TB epidemic.

Funding is a major issue. In 2020, funding for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care reached US$ 6.5 billion, representing only half of the US$ 13 billion target agreed by world leaders in the UN Political Declaration on TB, says a WHO media release.

The report features data on disease trends and the response to the epidemic in 198 countries and territories. This includes trends in TB incidence and mortality, data on case detection and treatment results for TB, multidrugresistant TB (MDR-TB), TB/HIV, TB prevention, universal health coverage as well as financing. Also included is an overview of pipelines for new TB diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.

In recognition of the enormous health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report also includes a provisional assessment of how the pandemic will affect the TB epidemic, people with TB and progress towards global TB targets.

The WHO’s Global TB Report 2020 provides a comprehensive and up-todate assessment of the TB epidemic, and progress in the response, at global, regional and country

Additionally, the report outlines a monitoring framework that features data on SDG indicators that can be used to identify key influences on the TB epidemic at national level

The report complements and expands on the United Nations (UN) SecretaryGeneral’s 2020 progress report on TB, which was prepared with WHO support. Tuberculosis (TB), the world’s deadliest infectious killer, is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most

often affect the lungs. It can spread when people who are sick with TB expel bacteria into the air – for example, by coughing. Approximately 90 percent of those who fall sick with TB each year live in 30 countries. Most people who develop the disease are adults, and there are more cases among men than women. TB is preventable and curable. About 85% of people who develop TB disease can be successfully treated with a 6-month drug regimen; treatment has the added benefit of curtailing onward transmission of infection. Since 2000, TB treatment has averted more than 60 million deaths – although with access to universal

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Equitable access to quality and timely diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care remains a challenge,” said Dr TedrosAdhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. health coverage still falling short, many millions have also missed out on diagnosis and care.

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What it means to be ‘locked down’ in Melbourne?

By Neeraj Nanda


ELBOURNE, 5 October 2020: Or, was it just ‘restrictions’? Whatever one may call it, it meant staying at home. It started in the last week of April 2020 and continues till today. The beginning days were more active with cleaning the backyard, throwing away useless stuff (old newspapers, magazines, years of bank statements, empty bottles, plastic take away containers and so on) and dusting around even if not needed. The euphoria to use the so much time seemed to be never ending. Oh, the green area in front of the home needed to be mowed and the side grass trimmed. The Green bin was full and the leaves from trees around needed to be cleaned. The Pomegranate tree in the backward is full of all sizes of red fruit and ready to be picked. The

birds are eying the fruit as the ripe ones just start splitting on their own. This fruit has come after a gap of one year. It was done and the herculean task of ripping out the small red things from the fruit remained scary. The three whitish butterflies with black dots became four as I wondered their Corona free (my guess) hip hop on flowers and plants in the vegan patch. I envied their freedom and stared at the almost empty road. Less noise and, I suspect, less fossil fuel pollution. Still, the thin patch of dust (could be pollen) kept coming inside rooms over the furniture and reading stuff. Meanwhile, social distancing, washing hands and staying at home (almost an ideology) seem to grip everyone’s mind. ABC Breakfast ShowDailyCorona updates keep one reminding of the spreading virus in the world. As the day passes the streaming

services take over unless you are a book reader. A search for all the books one never read reveals an intellectual treasure trove ready to beat the Corona isolation. William Dalrymple’s ‘The Anarchy – The Relentless Rise of the East India Company’, made good reading, making me wonder what would have happened if the Coronavirus had stuck during it’s time. Farzana Shaikh’s ‘Making Sense of Pakistan’ is continuing to rattle me from chapter to chapter. This scholarly product looks intellectually honest and intensely analytical.

Skipping to social media, no doubt, is not ruled out unless the laptop is not working. One quality find has been DW. It’s live 24 hours on You Tube and is a big change after being glued for years to the BBC, AL Jazeera, NDTV and RT. DW is Germany and Europe centric but has much more in terms of global

issues and a variety of subjects. So, what the lockout has taught me is that live TV stations on You Tube in English (at least some) are nothing but propaganda tools of countries funding them. It’s sophisticated and crisp laced with all the news (unless you call it whatever).

Surfing the net, Facebooking, and Tweeting can be a massive time-pass, unless one is knowledge-crazy focussing on a few subjects. COVID-19 information is all over and, I feel, I am now almost an expert in it. Being in the media and reading the WHO releases each day can, in fact, make anyone a Corona analyst. WHO live media conferences on the net from Geneva are an example of technology at its best. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Daniel Andrews live TV Corona briefings are gems and a journalist’s convenience.

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So much has been seen on streaming services that I have started confusing the movie plots. You Tube is also quite handy. There is a tsunami of Indian, Hollywood and British classics. Alfred Hitchcock stuff is all around. Too many talk shows, You Tube channels and documentaries have endless variety. I wonder what locked out people did during the early pandemics. Talks on the iPhone can easily cross an hour and What’s App (WA) message notifications are a nuisance. There are people who have an endless appetite for sending messages, videos, photos and jokes on WA. WA messages with Carona home remedies could easily make a big volume. But the virus does not seem to leave the world. * These are random thoughts and were written slowly in the last two months.

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When Roopmati and Baz Bahadur Fell in Love

By Mehru Jaffer


andu by Malathi Ramachandran is a picturesque journey to the abandoned fortress on the Malwa plateau. The landscape is lush here, north of the river Narmada, as the author escorts readers to magnificent Mandu, built from the 15th century into a vast complex of courtyards, palaces and lakes, to recreate the 450 year old romance between Roopmati and Baz Bahadur. The 16th century love story of Roopmati, a peasant girl and Baz Bahadur, independent Sultan of Malwa is kept alive by locals in various versions. Now the romance is documented in English as well, for unfamiliar readers. Mandu’s lavish landscape is roped in to add to the romance. When Spring arrives in Malwa the Narmada bursts into dance, and the valley in song. Its meadows and forests are brushed with colours most vibrant. Up on the plateau in Mandu, the season tiptoes from terrace to terrace singing like the whispering of wind in the rains. The ancestors of Baz Bahadur left him a sultanate stretching from the river Kali Sindh to the shores of the Narmada. This land between the Vindhyas and the Aravallis is fed by the river’s fertile soil. Its valleys are dense with forests rich in game, timber and honey. In the mid 16th century, Baz Bahadur was badshah of this wondrous land. It was possible for him to have any woman he wanted. He already had many, as he drifted daily from one desirable woman to another taking them all to bed, but none to heart. Then he finds Roopmati, a young girl with the voice of an angel. It was her voice that first made a home in his heart. As he canters around his kingdom along the grassy banks of the river one monsoon day, he pauses to wonder if that was a song he just heard, or only the sound of rain falling on the leaves above him. Or was it the wind sighing again? Baz Bahadur lingers on, listening to the bits and pieces of a melody brought by the laden

The 16th century love story of Roopmati, a peasant girl and Baz Bahadur, independent Sultan of Malwa is kept alive by locals in various versions. Now the romance is documented in English as well, for unfamiliar readers.

breeze. The air is fragrant with chameli as he follows the voice, till he is standing before the leafy canopy of a large tree. He found the singer sitting there, her face lifted towards the river as she tried to weave the tones of raagMalhar into melody. When she moved to the main raag, Baz Bahadur joined her in singing. As their voice rose and fell, his eyes never left her face, and her eyes did not open. Afterwards Baz Bahadur is loath to leave the singer behind. He asks her to come with him to

his palace. She declines, saying she will not survive away from Narmada. The river is her mother, the source of her song, and without its daily darshan she will surely perish. Eventually she tells him her name. He realises that Roopmati is a child of nature. She likes the colours of the earth: soft greens, warm browns and brick reds. Mellow mustard and burnt orange. No man-made perfumes for her, as she bathed herself in the scent of wet red mud, in grass cropped by cattle and in the scent of the river, thundering on

its way to eternity. ‘Sweet smells do not fill my senses. My mind and heart must be empty for the muse. For when the notes and beats pulse through the self, for everything else, there will be little use,’ recites Roopmati, who is also a poet. Roopmati does travel to Baz Bahadur’s palace in Mandu with the promise that she will get to see the mother river every day. She accepts that she has been caged, but for her art and not for her body. Baz Bahadur treats her with such respect that she is

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inspired to explode into verse: Voice of an angel, showering your favours on me as the tree showers her petals down. Your song has shrouded all my griefs, and buried them, covered with flowers. The relationship between Roopmati and Baz Bahadur blossoms leisurely from partners in song to lovers. Above his hawamahal, Baz Bahadur builds a pavilion from where Roopmati can see her beloved river every day. The restless Baz Bahadur was finally at peace with himself. Then the Mughal army marched upon his territory to claim Malwa, the last kingdom independent of the Mughal Emperor. Akbar is determined to get Malwa, not because he desires the beautiful Roopmati, but because it is the road leading to the Deccan and the rich ports of Gujarat. Malwa is at the crossroads, central to the trade route since ancient times. It has been part of every military campaign, sought by empire builders since the mighty Maurya. After Baz Bahadur is defeated in battle, Roopmati has no wish to be alive. She kills herself before Adham Khan, the dreaded general of Akbar’s army takes over Malwa. Mandu is published by Niyogi, 2020 Source- thecitizen.in, 5 September, 2020.

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“Mainstream Media is a Protection Racket for the Privileged”

Author Pankaj Mishra talks about socio-political movements around the world, liberalism, political manipulation on digital platforms and more. Salim Yusufji, in conversation with Pankaj Mishra


n Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race and Empire Pankaj Mishra examines a range of opportunistic appropriations of and attacks on liberalism, particularly from the late twentieth century onwards, along with the political shapes into which liberal thinking has bent itself in its association with global power broking. In this conversation with Salim Yusufji, he talks about sociopolitical movements around the world, liberalism, political manipulation on digital platforms and more. Slim Yusufji (SY): Do you distinguish between two kinds of identitybased political movements worldwide: the statusquoist majoritarian ones that are dead against universalism, and those based on Enlightenment values, arguing for a truer universalisation of rights? The latter are also identitarian in cast, but with an agenda of greater inclusiveness. Where would you stand these movements — of women, dalits, ethnic minorities, indigenous people, sexual minorities — in relation to the Modis, Putins and Orbáns of the world? Pankaj Mishra (PM): I would argue that what you call identity movements — that is, movements of women and minorities — are actually movements for social justice and rights, and that it is a mistake, often deliberately made by their detractors, to call them identity-based movements — easier to belittle or dismiss them, or insist on a deceptively vague "common good," when they are presented as a form of identity politics. I would also argue that the universalisation of rights is not a strictly Enlightenment value — many of the leading figures, Voltaire or Kant or Hume had only contempt for the rights of blacks, native Americans and women. I think we need to stop reflexively invoking the Enlightenment in this way, and learn to draw upon other resources in the fight against injustice and cruelty. You are of course right that majoritarian figures and parties seek to build large platforms by offering an identity built around

hatred and marginalisation of minorities; they have little interest in substantive questions of justice. SY: How would you respond to the view that liberalism is a mere stalking horse to fascists and authoritarians worldwide? When Putin and Duda claim to fight anti-national liberals, it is the gay community and feminists they go after. Muslims in India are hardly at the vanguard of the international liberal order, but they are the real target of the Sanghparivar. Those whom Trump calls "leftist radicals" are often enough members of marginalised communities. We see this in the growing numbers of political prisoners in India. A Nehruvian elite forms no part of their numbers. PM: Yes, for many demagogues and their followers, the word "liberal" and "liberalism" are a kind of shorthand for the old elite — Nehruvians in India, Kemalists in Turkey, East Coast and West Coast metropolitans in the US, BBC-watching, Guardian-reading Londoners, pro-American free-market reformers in Poland, and so on. They may have lost political power but these old elites still wield intellectual and cultural power, hence the great loathing of them among majoritarian far-right movements. At the same time,

this loathing finds easier and more vulnerable targets among ethnic and sexual minorities (who are often seen as under the protection of, or being "pampered" by, the "liberals"). SY: Would you say the twentieth century's leading liberal thinkers failed to imagine a shared habitation of ideas? Isaiah Berlin, for instance, regularly viewed ideas in the context of personal biography. Both he and Karl Popper saw the individual as the true agent and object of political ideas. They measured the health of a political system in terms of the individual liberty it afforded. They were responding to the totalitarian character of communist governments, and were suspicious of any talk on behalf of "the people", but do you think they discounted oppression as a collective experience and source of collective ideas? Berlin did make an exception for Jewish people and Israel, but it stands out as an exception. PM: Coincidentally, I have been writing about how both Berlin and John Rawls failed to consider the implications of liberty and justice for the newly independent nations of Asia and Africa — and they were theorising about these ideals precisely during the most hectic period of decolonisation. Surely, selfdetermination and nation-

building offered a case of positive liberty. But, as you say, Berlin was interested in this subject only in so far as it intersected with his Zionism. I think cold war liberalism was an incredibly parochial and self-regarding intellectual culture. One reason why it has little to say to us today is that it failed to acknowledge, let alone discuss, the ambiguous experience of modernity in most of the world, which called for a radical reconfiguration of most of the political concepts drawn from the experience of imperialist nations like Britain and America. SY: Timothy Snyder contrasts the politics of inevitability — which you have characterised as liberal smugness — with the politics of eternity: anti-historicist above all things. Do you view this as a useful contrast? Where does it leave the politics of hope? PM: I am not sure what Snyder means by this. I have not read his book. SY: Your essay on Jordan Peterson looks at his writing, while noting that he is still more of a presence in the digital world. In India, there is mounting evidence of political manipulation on digital platforms, but there is also a view that these platforms are the true bahujan media, successful in bypassing the

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savarna filters of traditional media operations. How would you characterise the digital space? PM: I think the mainstream media everywhere is to largely blame for ceding its moral and intellectual authority to digital media. If it had been self-critical enough, accommodating of people from other classes and castes, and not such a protection racket for the privileged, it wouldn’t have faced this destructive crisis of legitimacy. Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race and Empire is written by Pankaj Mishra and published by Juggernaut. Pankaj Mishra is an acclaimed writer and essayist. He is the author of several books of fiction and nonfiction including, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia and most recently, Age of Anger: A History of the Present (July 2019), winner of the Tata Literature Live! Non-fiction Book Award. Salim Yusufji was a schoolteacher for fifteen years. He has previously edited Ambedkar: The Attendant Details, a selection of reminiscences by people in close proximity to B R Ambedkar, and co-edited Battling for India: A Citizen’s Reader. Source: ICF/Newsclick, 19 October, 2020.

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Bribery widespread phenomenon in international business transactions: Transparency International By Neeraj Nanda

data is compiled separately. The OECD Convention was adopted in 1997 to address the fact that: “Bribery is a widespread phenomenon in international business transactions…which raises serious moral and political concerns, undermines good governance and economic development, and distorts international competitive conditions.”


xecutive Summary of the “Exporting Corruption Progress Report 2020: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention”, with Gillian Dell as lead author, published by Transparency International, a global movement with the claimed vision of having a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption: Bribery of foreign public officials has huge costs and consequences for countries across the globe and those costs have become more severe during the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many cases of foreign bribery occurring in health care, we cannot afford for corruption to cost any additional lives. Transparency International’s 2020 report, Exporting Corruption, rates the performance of 47 leading global exporters, including 43 countries that are signatories to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention, in cracking down on bribery of foreign public officials by companies operating abroad. The report shows how well – or poorly – countries are following the rules. More than 20 years after the Convention was adopted, most countries still have a long way to go in meeting their obligations. In fact, active enforcement has significantly decreased since our last report in 2018.

Top cases of foreign bribery More than a decade ago, increased enforcement against foreign bribery, especially in the United States, exposed egregious, multi-country bribery schemes of companies like Siemens and BAE Systems to the detriment of the people in the countries affected. Enforcement uncovered large-scale bribery of highlevel officials by companies like Halliburton, enabling them to win major infrastructure projects. These cases sent shockwaves worldwide.

Yet, despite these scandals, bribery continues to be used by companies from major exporting countries to win business in foreign markets.1 In recent years, multinationals like Airbus, Ericsson, Odebrecht, Rolls Royce and many more have been caught redhanded in systematic and widespread bribery schemes. Corruption in international business transactions undermines government institutions, misdirects public resources, and slows economic and social development. It distorts cross-border investment, deters fair competition in international trade and discriminates against small and medium-sized enterprises. Foreign bribery during COVID-19 Those costs have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pervasive cross-border corruption in health care will cost additional lives unless robustly countered. But the dangers of corruption during COVID-19 go beyond the health sector. Triggered by the pandemic, a global economic crisis is also depleting public treasuries. Wasting precious public resources on corruptionfuelled deals with unscrupulous companies and intermediaries is even more deadly and damaging than before. As companies’ profits shrink, the temptation will grow for them to win business in foreign markets at any cost and by any means. The

states where multinationals are headquartered may hold back foreign bribery enforcement on short-sighted economic grounds. The need for robust foreign bribery enforcement is as urgent today as when the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention was first adopted in 1997. Now more than ever, we need stronger foreign bribery enforcement and international cooperation and coordination. About the report Exporting Corruption is an independent assessment of the enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (short for OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions), which requires parties to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials and introduce related measures. This is the thirteenth edition of the report. Country implementation of the Convention is monitored in successive phases by the OECD Working Group on Bribery (OECD WGB), which is made up of representatives of the 44 signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The reviews also cover implementation of the 2009 Recommendation of the OECD Council for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (2009 Recommendation). The 2009 Recommendation is being updated by the OECD WGB.

Classification The report classifies countries into four enforcement categories: Active, Moderate, Limited and Little or no Enforcement. Countries are scored based on enforcement performance at different stages, namely the number of investigations commenced, cases opened and cases concluded with sanctions over a four-year period (2016-2019). Different weights are assigned according to the stages of enforcement and the significance of cases. Country share of world exports is also factored in. The report covers 43 of the 44 parties to the Convention. Iceland is not included, due to its small share of global exports. In addition, the report assesses foreign bribery enforcement in China, Hong Kong SAR, India and Singapore. While not part of the OECD Convention, China is the world’s leading exporter, with nearly 11 per cent of global exports. The others are also major exporters, each with a share of approximately 2 per cent of global trade. All four countries are also signatories of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which requires countries to criminalise foreign bribery. The analysis of Hong Kong SAR is separate from China, as it is an autonomous territory, with a different legal system and its export

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OECD Convention preamble The report assesses enforcement performance and highlights key gaps in information about enforcement, as well as slow country progress in introducing central public beneficial ownership registers, a crucial tool for detecting, investigating and preventing foreign bribery and related money laundering. In addition, the report examines the critical issues of victims’ compensation, international cooperation, parentsubsidiary liability and country performance in improving legal frameworks and enforcement systems to address foreign bribery. Key findings 1. Active enforcement is down significantly. Only four countries actively enforce against foreign bribery, which represents 16.5 per cent of global exports, a decrease of more than onethird (39 per cent) since 2018. 2. Moderate enforcement has more than doubled. Nine countries moderately enforce against foreign bribery, more than double the four countries in 2018. This represents an increase in share of world exports from 3.8 per cent to 20.2 per cent since 2018. 3. No country is immune to exporting foreign bribery. Nearly every country has companies, employees, agents, intermediaries and facilitators involved in foreign bribery or related money laundering. 4. Most countries fail to publish adequate enforcement information. Most countries do not publish national statistics on foreign bribery enforcement. CONTD. ON PG 29

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Bribery widespread phenomenon in international... CONTD. ON PG 28 Courts often do not publish judgements and information on non-trial resolutions is frequently inadequate. 5. Lack of public information on beneficial ownership hinders enforcement. Results show very slow progress in establishing central public beneficial ownership registers of companies and trusts. Such registers are key to prevention, detection and investigation of foreign bribery. 6. Compensation of victims is rare. The countries, groups and individuals harmed by foreign bribery rarely receive compensation, and most confiscated proceeds of foreign bribery wind up in the state treasuries of the countries exporting corruption. 7. International cooperation is increasing, but significant obstacles remain. Insufficient or incompatible legal frameworks, limited resources and expertise, lack of coordination, jurisdictional competition and long delays hinder progress in international cooperation. 8. Weaknesses in legal frameworks and enforcement systems persist. Despite some improvements, significant weaknesses in laws and institutions hamper enforcement in nearly every country. Problems include weak or nonexistentwhistleblower protection, low sanctions, inadequate training of enforcement officials, insufficient resources and limited independence of enforcement authorities. 9. Major non-OECD Convention exporters still fail to enforce. There is inaction in China, Hong Kong SAR and India against foreign bribery and related money laundering. Singapore has taken only small steps. Recommendations Countries must do more to enforce against foreign bribery, including those that are signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, as well as other major global exporters. Key measures to improve enforcement include: 1. Ensure transparency of enforcement information. Countries should publish

up-todate statistics on all stages of foreign bribery enforcement as well as on mutual legal assistance (MLA) requests. They should also publish court judgements and extensive information on non-trial resolutions, as called for by the OECD WGB. Publicly available statistics are key to determining how the enforcement system is functioning, and case information is crucial for assessing effectiveness and fairness. The OECD WGB should update its 2009 Recommendation to include a recommendation on transparency of enforcement information, carry out a horizontal assessment of the issue across all parties and develop guidance for countries. 2. Expand the OECD WGB’s annual report and create a public database of enforcement information. The OECD WGB’s annual enforcement data should include updated year-on-year data on all stages of foreign bribery enforcement and cover new developments and challenges. Given its special access to statistical data and case information, the OECD WGB should also create a public database of foreign bribery enforcement information to assist law enforcement efforts across countries, victims’ claims, and investigative work by journalists and civil society activists. 3. Improve beneficial ownership transparency. To enhance prevention,

detection and investigation of foreign bribery, countries should establish public central registers containing beneficial ownership information on companies and trusts and introduce sanctions for individuals and companies that do not comply. The OECD WGB should update its 2009 Recommendation to include a recommendation on this subject and assess performance in country reviews. 4. Introduce victims’ compensation as standard practice. The OECD WGB should develop guidelines to assist exporting countries in granting compensation to victims in foreign bribery cases and countries should implement them. These should include timely notice to victims, recognition of a broad class of victims and wide range of harms, the possibility of claims by non-state victims and their representatives, and standards for the transparent and accountable return of assets. The OECD WGB should update its 2009 Recommendation accordingly and OECD WGB country reviews should evaluate country compensation arrangements. 5. Improve international cooperation. Major global exporters should improve their legal frameworks, invest the necessary resources and build the required expertise for international cooperation. They should respond to

MLA requests in a timely fashion and use joint investigation teams for crossborder investigations. They should also engage early with the affected countries. The OECD WGB should conduct a horizontal assessment of MLA performance and coordination of multijurisdictional cases and settlements, in collaboration with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other relevant bodies. 6. Improve and expand international structures for cooperation. The OECD WGB should facilitate discussions on expanding existing regional and international structures and bodies or creating new ones to improve international cooperation in enforcement. The International AntiCorruption Coordination Centre, Eurojust and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office all provide examples to build on. 7. Explore increased liability of parent companies for subsidiaries. The OECD WGB and individual countries should conduct an indepth review of established law and practice in this area. To help improve anticorruption compliance, they should consider introducing parent company responsibility for taking adequate measures to prevent foreign bribery and related money laundering in all subsidiaries and controlled entities. At a minimum,

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they should require that ownership chains are declared in foreign bribery cases. 8. Address weaknesses in laws and enforcement systems and call out noncompliance. Countries should address weaknesses hindering enforcement, including relating to money laundering, accounting offences and confiscation. They should discuss the results of OECD WGB reviews with national stakeholders and present plans to address shortcomings. The OECD WGB should continue to conduct follow-up, make public statements and carry out highlevel visits to countries that fail to enforce laws against foreign bribery and implement OECD WGB recommendations. It should coordinate with other anti-corruption review mechanisms, such as the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism and the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), as well as the Financial Action Task Force, to point out country inadequacies. It should also consider, as a last resort, a series of steps towards suspending members that persistently fail to pursue foreign bribery allegations over a period of years. 9. Establish high standards for non-trial resolutions. Countries should ensure that nontrial resolutions meet standards of transparency, accountability and due process, with clear guidelines and judicial review. Nontrial resolutions should provide effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and those who paid and received the bribes should be named in the published documents. The OECD WGB should include a new recommendation on non-trial resolutions in its revisions to the 2009. 10. Enlist wide support to promote foreign bribery enforcement in non-OECD Convention countries. The OECD WGB and member countries should raise enforcement issues with respect to non-OECD Convention countries at the UN, G20 and in other international forums. This should include issues on both the supply and demand side.

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INDIAN CONSULATE Indian Consulate Address: 344, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia P.O. Box No: 33247 Domain LPO Vic 3004 Consular Enquiries: +61-3-9682 5800 (9.30am-12.30noon only) General Enquiries (other than Consular): +61-3- 9682 7836 Fax No:+ 61-3- 9696 8251 Email: consular@cgimelb.org Web site: www.cgimelb.org Indian Consulate Consular services are handled by VFS Global Visa / Passport / PCC / IDLV / PIO / OCI services contact VFS +61 2 8223 9909. Address: Part 4 Suite, Level 12, 55 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Site : www.vfsglobal.com/india/australia/ Services handled by Indian Consulate Melbourne itself: OCI Misc. services, Registration of Birth, Birth Certificate, Renunciation of Indian Citizenship, Surrender of Indian Passport, New Passport Details on PIO, Transfer of Valid Visas, Marriage Certificate, Affidavit for Applying Child’s Passport in India, Documents Attestation.) Student Welfare Officer in the Indian Consulate Melbourne Consulate General of India, Melbourne Address: 344, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC – 3000 Phone: 03-96826203 Fax: 03-96968251 Email: cgo@cgimelb.org Website: www.cgimelb.orgExternal website that opens in a new window Contact person for Students welfare: Mr. Nirmal K. Chawdhary Designation: Deputy Consul General Mobile: 0430020828

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contd from previous page Sri Lanka Consulate Suite 536, No 1 Queens Road, Melbourne VIC 3004 Telephone: +61 3 9290 4200 Fax: +61 3 9867 4873 Email:mail@slcgmel.org Web: http://www.slcgmel.org

Email: cyonzon@nepalconsulate.net.au Level 7, 28-32 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, Ph: (03) 9650 8338 Email: info@nepalconsulate.net.au

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Bangladesh High Commission, Canberra 43, Culgoa Circuit, O’Malley, ACT-2606 Canberra, Australia, Ph: (61-2) 6290-0511, (61-2) 6290-0522, (61-2)6290-0533 (Auto hunting). Fax : (61-2) 6290-0544 E-Mail :hoc@bhcanberra.com

Consulate of Nepal, Melbourne

SBS1 – Daily NDTV News - 11:05 am - Monday to Saturday. (From New Delhi, India). Urdu news SBS1 - PTV News – 9.30 am - Every Sunday – (From Pakistan).

Heritage India 54-56 Foster Street, Dandenong, Vic 3175, Ph: (03) 9791 9227 Site: heritageindia.net.au

SOUTH ASIAN Garments Roshan’s Fashions 68-71 Foster Street, Dandenong, Vic 3175

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Travel House 284 Clayton Road, Clayton 3168 Ph: (03) 95435123, Mobile: 0425803071 mail@travelhouse.com.au

lAWYERS MLG Lawyers Ronny Randhawa 144 Sydney Road, Coburg Vic Ph 9386 0204 & 138 Walker Street, Dandenong Vic Ph: 9793 9917 Mobile : 0402 256 712 Vera Lawyers Kusum Vaghela Level 1, Suite 2, 373 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong Vic, Mobile: 0433 827 124


IPL 2020’s The Good, The Bad, The Ugly By Sreelata S. Yellamrazu


he Indian Premier League 2020 did not have to get off the ground to provide plenty of talking points. As the game gets underway on the field, here’s how some of the stories stacked up leading up to it. IPL: Not so Indian after all… The guidelines mandated by the coronavirus guidelines might have made it difficult for the franchisees to differentiate between the foreign players when they touched down in the UAE. But the IPL franchisees had no doubt in their mind that there would be no IPL without the foreign cricketers contingent. It was one of the reasons why the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was not preying only on external friction. The BCCI did not waste time with the protracted discussions between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Cricket Australia (CA) over the feasibility of hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup 2020. It began in earnest negotiating with other cricket boards in order to create a window for the postponed Indian Premier League season 13. Many questioned the seeming contradiction of having a sixteen team premier

tournament cancelled because of pandemic concerns but having an eight team tournament going ahead. But it came down to the pull power of currency. It is also why the franchisees went as far as compromising on taking the IPL out of the country, thereby, losing out on gate revenue and merchandizing. But they were unwilling to go ahead with the IPL 2020 without their foreign cricketers, often bought for exorbitant sums of money at the auctions. The BCCI had put forth the suggestion that the IPL could go ahead with only Indian cricketers. However, the franchisees were not in favour of renegotiating contracts. Furthermore, knowing the USP of the foreigners who make up a significant percentage of the brand IPL, not to mention a third of the playing eleven quota, it soon became apparent that the IPL was less Indian than the BCCI would have liked to have touted after all. Kumble’s Coach Conundrum Returns Extending the debate about Indianness further, if previous arguments had been about the nationality of captains and the number of foreigners in a playing eleven, this time it was an Indian coach who pushed it a notch further. Mahela Jayawardena, Brendon McCullum, Ricky Ponting, Anil Kumble, Andrew

MacDonald, Stephen Fleming, Trevor Bayliss, Simon Katich. What’s wrong with this picture? Just ask Kumble. The former Indian leg spinner was not unaware of the fact that he was the only Indian coach in the current line up of coaches for the season. Making the push for the need for more indigenous coaches, he stated as he expressed bafflement for the lack of belief in Indian coaches, “It’s clearly not a true reflection of resources. Bit of irony that in IPL, there is only one Indian head coach. Hopefully, in future we will see more Indians as head coaches.” The dearth of Indian coaches in the IPL over the years is unmistakable. Apart from few exceptions like Lalchand Rajput and Robin Singh, there are no familiar names. Furthermore, none have been able to establish themselves long term, which has to be the additional concern. Franchisees would rather go with former foreigner cricketers with next to no experience in the coaching position rather than employ homegrown coaches. It is hard to share Kumble’s optimism given how vehement the franchisees have been for the BCCI to amend the rule that states that there can only be four

RavindraJadeja of CSK plays a shot during match 34 of IPL 2020, at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah on Saturday. (BCCI/IPL/ANI Photo)

foreign cricketers in a playing eleven at any given time. Citing that even the allowance of one more foreign cricketer will make a difference, that push has thus far been met

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with resolutely closed doors. Asking them to now employ Indian coaches as an issue of compulsion might not win the franchisees over. CONTD. ON PG 34

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IPL 2020’s The Good, The Bad, The Ugly CONTD. FROM PG 33 Ashwin Makes Ponting a Mankad-covert Tension seemed to be flaring up well in advance before Ravichandran Ashwin joined his new team, the Delhi Capitals, on the ground. The DC coach, Ricky Ponting, laid down the law that he would not allow Ashwin’s last season’s antics become commonplace in the DC team. Ashwin’s mankading last year of England’s Jos Buttler while playing for the Kings XI Punjab not only upset the Rajasthan Royals’ batsman but also, made him public enemy no.1 in the eyes of the likes of Shane Warne, Ponting’s former compatriot. Ashwin was well within the law to exercise his right to dismiss the batsman at the nonstriker’s end when the latter was attempting to gain a few yards through the unscrupulous method of leaving his crease before the ball is bowled. It seemed a strange argument to be made that Ashwin’s act was deemed going against the spirit of the game while the batsman deliberately looking to cheat is being overshadowed repeatedly. The boisterous former Australian captain though met his match as the former Kings XI Punjab promised to make his case. And how! Ponting was later quoted as saying, “I think we’re both the same. He feels he did everything in the rules and laws of the game and he’s absolutely right.” While the Delhi Capitals coach claimed that the former KXIP captain made a compelling case, he asked for teams of batsman cheating to be penalized by way of runs to make a point. The matter seemingly settled continues to be a teasing talking point in the public, with Ponting saying he would not bowl Ashwin in the last over of a match with Ashwin calling the answer and questionnaire a matter of “market strategy”. As it turned out, Ashwin has dislocated his shoulder in the very first match for Delhi Capitals so the captain and coach might not be able to put the theory to test any time soon. Gavaskar: Seeing Double Sunil Gavaskar seemed out of character, virtually jumping out of his seat and demanding take back of words from a surprised BoriaMajumdar on India’s Independence Day. The bone of contention? Majumdar had stated while lending weight to Dhoni’s contributions that it was the former Indian captain whose success initiated greater effort in the direction of the Indian Premier League. Majumdar was not wrong

ViratKohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore plays a shot during the IPL cricket match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, in Dubai on Saturday. (BCCI/IPL/ANI Photo)

because the BCCI did look the other way when it came to Twenty20 and only changed their mind after witnessing India win the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007 and followed up quickly while squashing the rebel Indian Cricket League that took precedence in terms of set up and play-for-play rules. Gavaskar’s adamant stand that Majumdar take back his words sounded like obvious loyalty to the BCCI according to the cricket fans. Gavaskar appeared to confirm it later when he claimed that “jealousy” and that “only those who do not benefit from it (IPL), do not get anything from the IPL criticize it.” The second outburst had the desired effect as fans were more vocal to point out that Gavaskar had been reported to have asked for four times the commentator’s fee in the course of the IPL as the betting and fixing scandal blew up. There is little doubt that the IPL had provided a source of income for those on the periphery of the sport. But it was hard to see Gavaskar’s argument when days later the BCCI released its panel of commentators which included – Sunil and Rohan, the father and son pairing, in an unusual turn of events. Gavaskar’s argument of IPL’s indigenous argument failed to convince fans. Why not then wait and postpone the IPL and let it be played next year? Fans and organizers asked alike, the same indigenous folk facing a bleak year of no earnings as a result of the decision to go ahead with the tournament abroad. Why then this move to the UAE? No one was jumping from their chair to answer that question. Manjrekar’s Commentary Capers Continue If Gavaskar’s loyalty has been considered veering towards personally vested interests, Sanjay Manjrekar’s continuing acerbic comments suggest that the former Indian cricketer has decided to hold a take-noprisoners approach after being snubbed by the BCCI. Manjrekar had made repeated requests to the BCCI to be reinstated by the cricket

board on the commentator’s panel after falling foul with the board and certain Indian cricketers. Manjrekar might have had empathy from fellow commentator, Harsha Bhogle, who himself suffered the untold humiliation for being shunned briefly after it was speculated that the Indian cricketers did not like the criticism coming their way. But Manjrekar had done the unthinkable, turning on Bhogle during the course of India’s first day and night Test at the Eden Gardens by suggesting that by default, he would know more simply by way of having played the game internationally. While Manjrekar did speak about getting carried away in the heat of the moment, his comments about RavindraJadeja being a “bits and pieces” player – a term used for cricketers from England during the late 1990’s used for the sole purpose of turning around their limited overs fortunes were clearly not forgiven. Manjrekar had even pleaded to the BCCI that he would play by the rules. But with the public snub, the fifty-five year old continues to toy. While claiming that it was better he did not comment on why he was not picked for the commentary team for IPL 2020, Manjrekar was at it once again, claiming Indians were sensitive to criticism and also, that language barrier had come in the way of his being picked. No one had trouble reading between the lines as he baited his detractors and cricketers alike with his social media posts. One of them being: “On bias – first few years of IPL, was alleged of being biased towards CSK – CSK 2 titles in 4 years. Last few years alleged of being biased towards MI – MI 4 titles in 7 years. Biased only towards excellence guys!” Chennai’s Whistle Blows Ahead of Time All smoke and no fire? The Chennai Super Kings’ attempt to throw the dogs off their scent became a futile effort as attention shifted rather quickly from the stunning news of thirteen members of their squad turning positive for coronavirus upon landing in the UAE to the exit of one of their

Shreyas Gopal of Rajasthan Royals celebrates the wicket of Aaron Finch of Royal Challengers Bangalore during the IPL cricket match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, in Dubai.(Rajasthan Royals Twitter/ANI Photo)

high profile cricketers. Suresh Raina backed his bags and left the UAE shores in haste. Allegations flew about Raina throwing tantrums over hotel rooms and treatment. Before the fire could be doused, N. Srinivasan, the owner and former BCCI boss, stoked the fire further. Upon landing in India, a barrage of questions awaited Raina as the CSK team wasted no time in pulling him off the social media group. Furthermore, N. Srinivasan, the owner and former BCCI chief, appeared to have jumped the gun calling the cricketer as “acting like a prima donna” and that “sometimes success goes to your head.” “A father can scold his son,” was how Raina chose to react to the argument while shedding light on a personal family tragedy as the primary reason for his return home. While Raina has thereafter projected his interest in rejoining the team, N. Srinivasan was at it once more, calling his comments as being taken out of context and also, that Raina was a son to him but that he did not call the shots. Fans were quick to recall from memory the last time Srinivasan found himself in the midst of a storm. See the striking similarity to when he once claimed that GurunathMeiyyappan, his sonin-law and the former CSK team principal, was “merely a cricket enthusiast” with access to the team dressing room and caught in the betting racket that shook the foundations of the BCCI and eventually knocked Srinivasan off his perch at the BCCI. Harbhajan Singh added fuel to the fire, deciding to pull out of personal reasons, adding more spice to a story that was left only partially cooked. But the bigger question is: how has this affected Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s succession plans now that he has already announced his retirement from international cricket as of 15th August, 2020? Dhoni and the China Connection! Patriot Dhoni was riding the controversy wave when on the virtual eve of the IPL season 13, it was announced that the

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former Indian captain had signed with the Chinese mobile maker, Oppo. With the coronavirus pandemic, the incursions from the Chinese into Indian territory and increasing tensions across the LAC, the BCCI ran into hot waters right away in hosting the IPL. Their title sponsorship deal worth 2000 crore rupees with VIVO became unpalatable, with the anti-China wave riding high in public sentiment. The sponsorship was eventually suspended with few equitable takers. To have Dhoni confirm the deal then despite his honorary post with the Indian army came as a shock to his fans. While some expressed disbelief, others were far fetched in their view that Dhoni’s endorsement meant Chinese money was coming into the country. What the latter failed to realize is that Dhoni is merely a face – a rather expensive one undoubtedly - for the Chinese to continue to profit from selling their merchandize in the country. Controversies apart, once again it appears the story of the IPL 2020 might well be the case of the two most conspicuous Indian cricketers – ViratKohli and Dhoni. While Dhoni is teasing people with speculation over how long he plans to continue to play the IPL, Kohli is on the brink of a decision that might not necessarily be his. Having led the Royal Challengers Bangalore for eight years, Kohli is chasing unflattering history of not having been able to take the RCB in the direction of the trophy. An uncharacteristic blip for the prolific, ambitious and successful Indian captain, Kohli might be testing the patience of his franchisees, even as gauntlet for his possible competitors at the Indian captaincy are once again being thrown from Rohit Sharma to K.L. Rahul. The IPL 2020 might be missing the noise, the chaos and the bruhaha that typically follows this summer gypsy carnival. But it might just clarify a few pointers by the time it ends. Source- thecirizen.in, 21 September, 2020.

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