Saturday, February 15, 2014

Indian Idiosyncrasies

"India asks US to withdraw diplomat; Move retaliates for treatment of deputy consul" by Katy Daigle |  Associated Press, January 11, 2014

NEW DELHI — India asked the United States on Friday to withdraw a diplomat from the US Embassy in New Delhi, the latest retaliation in a smoldering diplomatic dispute touched off by the arrest and strip search of an Indian diplomat in New York.

See: Indian Diplomat Sexually Abused by AmeriKan Security Services 


The case has caused a serious rift between the United States and India, where officials have described the treatment of Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, as barbaric.

Khobragade, a 39-year-old mother of two, is accused of exploiting her Indian-born housekeeper and nanny, allegedly having her work more than 100 hours a week for low pay and lying about it on a visa form. Khobragade has maintained her innocence.

She was treated that way for something foreign elite get away with all the time?

Friday’s demand by India’s Foreign Ministry came just hours after the two sides appeared to have struck a compromise of sorts.

Khobragade was indicted by a US federal grand jury in Manhattan, but also granted immunity that allowed her to leave the country. She was on a flight to India on Friday, and many believed that would be enough to give both countries a way to save face.

Given their strategic bilateral partnership and more than $100 billion in trade, any further escalation in the case would not be in the interest of either country, analysts said.

But on Friday evening, the Foreign Ministry said an unnamed American diplomat of the same rank as Khobragade was somehow involved in the case and should leave the country, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. Recalling a diplomat is a serious, and fairly unusual, move that sends a message to Washington that India’s government doesn’t accept the legitimacy of the court action in New York.

Calls to the US Embassy were not immediately returned.

Much of the outrage over the case in India stems from the circumstances of Khobragade’s arrest, which were seen as unnecessarily humiliating — something that resonates deeply in the country.

Khobragade was picked up Dec. 13 and then strip-searched while in custody, which the US Marshals say is common practice.

I can believe that about AmeriKan security services.

In India, the process was seen as a brutal affront to a middle-class, educated woman, and a violation of courtesies afforded to diplomats the world over. The case has also led to grumbling in India that the United States is not treating the country like a powerful nation on equal footing with Washington.

‘‘The case goes beyond the dignity of one diplomat,’’ said Sreeram Chaulia, an international affairs specialist at Jindal School of International Affairs in New Delhi. ‘‘India made its point, which is that you can’t take India for granted.’’

I don't think they do given the way Kerry was rushing to apologize.


Time for a change of leadership:

"US breaks ice with Indian politician" by Rama Lakshmi |  Washington Post, February 14, 2014

NEW DELHI — The US government’s envoy in India ended a nine-year diplomatic standoff Thursday by meeting with Narendra Modi, a controversial Hindu politician who could be India’s next prime minister if his party wins in the national election this year.

Washington had kept Modi at arm’s length, declining to give him a visa to visit the United States because of his alleged role in fanning religious riots in 2002. But Modi’s rising domestic popularity in the run-up to national elections appears to have forced a thaw his relations with the United States.

The hourlong meeting between Ambassador Nancy Powell and Modi, the business-friendly chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, made headlines in India. Many hailed it as a key stamp of approval for one of India’s most polarizing politicians.

The Times of India on Wednesday called it the end of the ‘‘9-year cold war.’’ A statement from the US Embassy said the meeting was part of Powell’s ‘‘outreach to senior leaders of India’s major political parties in advance of the upcoming national elections.’’


I see politics can get pretty rough over there

Might help wash down the lunch anyway.

Also see:

New Delhi’s chief minister leads rallies against police
Indian official ends sit-in against capital police
Delhi protest leader quits government
Indian protesters decry racism in New Delhi

India sure has a lot of protests in my agenda-pushing paper. I wonder if the diplomatic spat has something to do with it or was it the recent India-China defense pact. 

"Death of rape victim sparks outrage in India; National inquiry into handling of case sought" by Manik Banerjee |  Associated Press, January 05, 2014

CALCUTTA — The father of a teenage girl who was allegedly gang raped and later died after being set on fire in eastern India is demanding a national inquiry into the case, which has renewed public outrage over sexual violence in the country. 

Related: Indian Reporter Is a Rapist

I see nothing has changed, and I'm not really surprised anymore.

Hundreds of people protested Friday in the West Bengal city of Calcutta, accusing state authorities of failing to protect the family after the 16-year-old girl went to police in October to report she had been raped twice by the same gang.

The state’s urban development minister defended the police response, noting that six suspects had been arrested in the rapes and another two for allegedly setting the girl on fire.

The girl reported being gang raped and left in a field near her home in late October in the Madhyamgram suburb. The next day she was allegedly abducted by the same gang and raped again before being left unconscious by railway tracks, police said.

The girl’s father, a taxi driver, said last week that his daughter was set on fire on Dec. 23 after being threatened with violence if she did not withdraw her police complaint. She died from her injuries on Wednesday.

The father is demanding that national investigators take charge of the case. Neither the girl nor her father is being named by Indian media under laws guarding the identity of rape victims.


I'm starting to get burned up by this.

"Vacationing Danish woman reports rape in India" by Hari Kumar and Ellen Barry |  New York Times,  January 16, 2014

NEW DELHI — A 51-year-old Danish woman said she had been gang-raped at knifepoint by seven or eight men in central New Delhi after she approached them to ask for directions to her hotel, Delhi police reported Wednesday.

Late Wednesday night, the police announced the arrest of two men they described as vagabonds living at the capital’s railway station, and said the two had property stolen from the tourist, including a glasses case, an iPod, and earplugs.

The woman, who was staying at a hotel in an area popular with backpackers, told police that the men had taken her to a secluded spot near the railway station Tuesday and raped her repeatedly, said Rajan Bhagat, a spokesman for the Delhi police.

The woman arrived in Delhi on Monday from Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal, and was planning to leave India on Wednesday morning, said a manager at the hotel where she was staying.

The manager, who refused to give his name for fear of harming the hotel’s reputation, said she had returned to the hotel around 8:30 p.m. and asked the reception desk to call the police. After consultations with the police and staff members from the Danish Embassy that lasted until the early-morning hours, she caught her morning flight out of India, the employee said....

Bhagat said that the woman had refused to be medically examined, and that police were trying to gather evidence....


The report of the attack comes after a year of intense national discussions on the problem of sexual violence, set off by an attack on a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in New Delhi in December 2012. That victim, who was gang-raped and brutalized with a metal rod, and later died from her injuries.

That case garnered much attention, but the following cases regarding other women did not.

Amid widespread outrage over the attack, India’s Parliament stiffened penalties for sexual assault, and four of the woman’s attackers were sentenced to death by hanging.

That law did nothing to stop it.

Although the per capita rate of rapes reported to the police in India is below that of many developed nations, some experts believe that many sexual attacks go unreported, and that the actual number is far higher.

Tourism figures fell in the wake of the 2012 gang rape, with visits by women dropping 35 percent in the three months that followed it, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.

Attacks on tourists have been reported in the meantime. Last March, a group of men raped a 39-year-old Swiss tourist and attacked her husband as the couple camped during a bicycle trip in central India. Six men received life sentences in the crime.

This month, a 33-year-old Polish woman reported to the police that she had been drugged and raped by a taxi driver who offered to drive her to Delhi along with her 2-year-old daughter, local media reported.

And an 18-year-old German woman told the police that she had been assaulted in the sleeping compartment of a train headed for Chennai, formerly Madras.


No need to fear, they got some guys:

"Police in India look for 5 homeless men in rape of tourist" by Ashok Sharma |  Associated Press, January 17, 2014

NEW DELHI — Indian police said Thursday that they were closing in on five homeless men in the gang rape of a 51-year-old Danish tourist in New Delhi, a case that highlights the sexual violence in the country and threatens to tarnish its tourism industry.

And it is that $econd thing that is really important. Let the girl crawl away to a corner.

Three other suspects were picked up earlier and accused in the attack Tuesday, which lasted nearly three hours and occurred near Connaught Place, a shopping area in the heart of New Delhi, police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said.

‘‘We have identified the culprits. All of them are vagabonds,’’ a police official said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Violence against women in India has caused increasing alarm since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old Indian student in New Delhi in 2012. Several foreign tourists also have been targeted in sex attacks that have gotten global attention.

Not enough.

Tourism figures fell significantly in the three months after the 2012 gang rape, with visits by women falling 35 percent, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.


Didn't think things could get any worse, but.... 

"Woman gang-raped on order of Indian village council" by Gardiner Harris and Hari Kumar |  New York Times, January 24, 2014

NEW DELHI — A young woman in West Bengal was gang-raped this week on the order of a village council, to punish her for planning to marry a man from outside the village, according to Indian police.

Thirteen people have been arrested in the case, including the village chief who both ordered and participated in the rape, according to Suraja Pratap Yadav, a police officer in the Birbhum district of West Bengal in eastern India.

The episode began Monday when Khaliq Sheikh, the man from a different village, asked the young woman to marry him, and she accepted his proposal, police said. When Balai Mardi, the chief of the village, heard about it, he quickly sought to block the marriage.

According to local news media accounts, villagers went to the young woman’s house and detained Sheikh, and the next day, he and the young woman were taken to the village square, tied to separate trees and accused of breaking tribal rules.

Mardi ordered the couple to pay fines totaling 27,000 rupees (about $440), Yadav said in a telephone interview. Sheikh paid his portion and was allowed to leave, but when the young woman’s family refused to pay, Mardi ordered villagers “to enjoy her,” said a police officer who spoke on condition that he not be named.

She was then raped repeatedly in Mardi’s mud-and-thatch hut, according to local media reports.

Mardi told the young woman and her family that if they reported the rapes to police, the village elders would burn their house down, Yadav said. They went to the police anyway Wednesday, and within hours Mardi and 12 other suspects were arrested, he said.

The chief of police in the area, Sidh Nath Gupta, said the 13 suspects were charged with rape, wrongful confinement, verbal threats, and assault. The victim has been admitted to a local hospital, where she is in stable condition, Gupta said.

Sunil Soren, a tribal leader from a nearby village, insisted in a telephone interview that people in the area “respect our women a lot.” But he said Sheikh and the young woman were “in an objectionable situation,” and that such episodes “pollute the minds of youngsters.”

RelatedNew gender options for Facebook users

Also see: A meaningless occurrence trumpeted as important 

That's a form of pollution.

“In the excitement, some wrong things happened,” Soren said.

Village councils are common in rural India, particularly among populations that are considered tribal, among the poorest groups in the country. The councils often enforce strict codes of conduct, and in some cases are deeply involved in deciding who will marry whom. Councils are often worried that marriages to outsiders will dilute communal land claims, among other concerns.

Couples who defy the tribal marital codes are sometimes murdered. 

I suppose the girl got off light then.

Genetic researchers have found that India’s population has hundreds of distinct sub-groups, in part because village councils have been enforcing marital codes and limiting intermarriage for centuries.

Several widely publicized rape cases over the past year have sparked outrage over sexual violence and violence against women in India, and prompted changes in laws and greater awareness of the problem, although there is little evidence that rape or gang rape occurs more frequently in India than in other countries.

Then why the ganging up on India??

With just 7.5 percent of India’s population, West Bengal in 2012 accounted for nearly 13 percent of reported crimes against women. Whether that demonstrates a higher incidence of such crimes or a greater willingness on the part of local police to take such reports seriously is unknown.

Local politicians sometimes react angrily to the publicity given to rape cases, which they believe reflect badly on their administration. The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, lashed out at rape victims last year, saying in one case that a victim was lying, even though police found evidence supporting the victim’s account.

The gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus in December 2012 prompted protests across the country. In response, the government doubled the maximum prison term for rape to 20 years, created special courts to prosecute cases more quickly, and made voyeurism and acid attacks specific crimes under the law. Whether those changes have improved women’s safety in the country is unclear.

Does it look like it?


I know how to solve the problem:

"Judge blocks shutdown of Indian bars" by Rama Lakshmi |  The Washington Post News Service, January 01, 2014

That would be a good first step.

NEW DELHI — In an extraordinary move, the police in India’s financial capital of Mumbai sought to shut down the city’s pubs and restaurants early Wednesday in order to keep women safe from drunken New Year’s revelers.

The order reflected the change in attitudes in India about assaults on women since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old female just more than a year ago.

But the police mandate sparked outrage among partygoers and women who protested that it was the duty of security forces to protect citizens — not confine them.

That's a very interesting take on things, and not something you will find in AmeriKa.

On Tuesday, responding to a petition by clubs and hotels in the city, the Mumbai high court struck down the order to close by 1:30 a.m., and allowed them to continue their celebrations until 5 a.m.

‘‘This is like saying women will be safe only if everybody stays indoors; has anything changed at all in the last year?’’ asked Elaisha Asher, 23, a data analyst in Mumbai, after the court ruling.

Short answer: no

She said she still intended to stay out late with her friends. ‘‘The new year begins at midnight, that’s when the party begins and it will go on at least till 2 or 3 a.m.,’’ she said. ‘‘How are they making me more safe by asking me to stay at home? What is the police’s responsibility?’’

Police have come under enormous pressure from activists and the media to ensure women’s safety since the gang-rape in December 2012 brought unprecedented attention to the issue. A number of police officers, politicians, and community leaders have suggested that women should protect themselves by changing the way they dress and not going out after dark.

You can blame the victim in India.

Judge Gautam Patel dismissed the police justification for closing restaurants and pubs early during New Year’s celebrations.

‘‘It is traditionally a night that people spend with friends and family till morning,’’ he said in court. ‘‘There is no valid reason to clamp down on what little is left of the city’s night life.’’

I'm sure Bostonians would agree.


Maybe segregating the sexes is a better idea?

Also see:

Bus plunges into gorge in India, killing 30 people
India marks 3 years without polio

And the economy is in good shape, too! 

Things are looking up in India!