The New Indian Express – Amarinder Singh to hold rally in Parkash Singh Badal’s home turf Lambi

The chief minister will hold a rally in Badal’s assembly constituency Lambi in the last week of September after zila parishad elections in the state, the spokesperson said.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 16 September 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will hold a rally in Lambi, the home turf of Parkash Singh Badal, to challenge his predecessor’s “misleading” claims on sensitive cases of sacrilege, a spokesperson said Sunday.

The chief minister will hold a rally in Badal’s assembly constituency Lambi in the last week of September after zila parishad elections in the state, the spokesperson said.

He said Amarinder Singh had taken serious note of Badal’s “continued and wilful attempts to create communal unrest in the state through his deceitful statements on the report of Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh Commission on the widespread incidents of sacrilege that had taken place during the SAD-BJP rule”.

“Badal has a habit of raising communal passions by spreading a web of lies and misusing religion every time around the elections,” the spokesperson quoted Amarinder Singh as having said.

The chief minister has “vowed to expose” the Akali leader’s “real face” to the people of Punjab, he said.

Notably, addressing party’s ‘Pol Khol’ rally in Faridkot on Sunday, Badal said he and his son Sukhbir were “ready to sacrifice” their lives for defending the cause of peace and communal harmony in the state.

Badal had alleged at the rally that the “Congress was in collusion with the forces that had already put Punjab through a period of turmoil, violence and bloodshed”.

“The former chief minister has been trying to spread a disinformation campaign on the issue of Bargarhi and other sacrilege cases (in 2015), as well as the incidents of police firing on innocent and peaceful protestors in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura, since the commission had come out with its report,” Amarinder Singh said.

Badal, who has been under fire ever since the report was tabled in the state Assembly, was clearly “desperate to divert public attention from his own role” in these cases, the chief minister said, lambasting his predecessor for “exploiting the religious sentiments of the people to protect his interests”.

“Badal has always misused religion to further his political ambitions and agenda,” Amarinder Singh alleged, pointing to the incidents of communal strife that had rocked the state ahead of every election, including the 2017 Assembly polls.

“Fortunately, however, the people of Punjab had seen through his attempts to destabilise the state and had voted him and his party decisively out of power,” he added.

“With the parliamentary elections now around the corner, Badal is once again trying to whip up communal passions in a desperate bid to retrieve the lost political ground for his Shiromani Akali Dal,” Amarinder Singh alleged further.

The chief minister made it clear that he would not allow Badal “to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the state at any cost,” and would expose his “mal-intentions” through the proposed rally.

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Numbers of demonstrators kept increasing

Young and old

Mostly male, with a good few females in the mix

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The Guardian – Impact Hub: ‘You were raised to be embarrassed to be from Birmingham’

Nosheen Iqbal

Birmingham – West Midlands – UK, 16 September 2018. Immy Kaur, a proud Brummie Sikh, had no idea of the impact of the brain drain on her home city, until she came back to it.

She had left in 2004 to go to university in Cardiff before moving to London to work in international development. Kaur came home soon after, then only one of a handful from her school year still living in the city.

“At that time, you were raised to believe Birmingham was a bit shit and you were embarrassed to be from there,” she says, “but I wanted to explore what it would look like to build something in my own city.”

And so she got stuck in. It’s difficult to overestimate Kaur’s energy and ambition: Impact Hub, which she co-founded, is part futurist think-space and part community centre.

The idea was to create a place where entrepreneurs, artists, urban designers, scientists and activists would work together to make Birmingham a more equal and happier place to live.

The reality is testament to the power of that civic spirit: #radicalchildcare and creative resistance, for instance, are actively improving the lives of locals, one by redesigning the support system for working families, the other by giving citizens a voice.

“We brought together people from a wide range of backgrounds who care about social justice,” says Kaur, “and we have been experimenting. It was never about co-working, we’re not a corporate space, this is about the town hall for the 21st century.”

Perhaps the most impressive element of Impact’s Mission Birmingham is DemoDev, the plan for “more inclusive, democratic and citizen-centred housing across the city” that has seen Impact Hub’s members physically designing and building new homes. Kaur is casually, brilliantly, unfazed.

“We are now in conversation about building really high-quality, large-scale citizen housing developments, working with WikiHouse on 3,000 homes’ worth of land owned by the council,” she explains.

If the idea of open-source house-building where homes for everyone can literally be built by everyone seems mind-boggling to most, Kaur takes it in her stride.

“Why can’t everyone have beautiful things? Things that they can be proud of? We have really high-quality design and our building is open to everyone and really well looked after.”

Kaur won’t accept a culture of low aspiration. “There are loads of things like [Impact Hub] in London but we want to make sure it’s not just for those who can afford it.”

The Hindu – Reality different in ‘leprosy-free’ India, says Supreme Court

‘Cases underestimated, patients deprived of basic amenities’

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi – India, 15 September 14. India “underestimated” leprosy and diverted funds meant to eliminate the curable disease for 18 long years, the Supreme Court said on Friday.

In its 22-page judgment, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra pointed out that though the country was declared leprosy-free on December 31, 2005, the reality is “entirely different”.

The Supreme Court referred to progress reports of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) to show that only 543 districts of the total 642 districts in the country had achieved the World Health Organisation-required prevalence rate of less than one case of leprosy for 10,000 persons.

Suffering continues

“The underestimation of cases of leprosy and the declaration of elimination of leprosy has resulted in the integration of leprosy in general health services thereby leading to diversion of funds which would have otherwise been dedicated to eliminating leprosy,” Chief Justice Misra, who authored the verdict, wrote.

Meanwhile, patients and their families continue to suffer from leprosy and its stigma. They are even denied their fundamental right to food. They are not issued BPL (Below Poverty Line) cards to claim the benefit of various welfare schemes such as the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

They are deprived of housing, basic civic amenities, adequate sanitary facilities and rehabilitation programmes.

“At present, majority of the populace afflicted with leprosy live as a marginalised section in society, deprived of even basic human rights. This manifestly results in violation of the fundamental right to equality and right to live with dignity,” Chief Justice Misra observed for the Bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

Calls for transparency

Issuing a slew of guidelines, the court directed the government to be transparent about leprosy and conduct periodic national surveys to gauge its detection rate. It should publish reports of the National Sample Survey on Leprosy conducted in 2010-2011.

Both the Centre and States should embark on “regular and sustainable massive awareness campaigns” to educate the public about the Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) freely available at health centres to completely cure leprosy and dispel fear associated with the disease.

The activities of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) must be given wide publicity.

The court banned the use of “frightening” images of leprosy patients, instead it called for the use of “positive” photographs of those cured of leprosy in the campaigns.

“Awareness campaigns should inform that a person affected with leprosy can lead a normal married life, can have children, can take part in social events and go to work or school as normal. Acceptability of leprosy patients in society would go a long way in reducing the stigma attached to the disease,” Chief Justice Misra observed.

Free education

The Centre and States should ensure that leprosy patients, especially women, do not face any discrimination or isolation at both government and private hospitals. The government should also ensure that private and public schools do not discriminate against children hailing from leprosy-affected families. They should be given free education.

Leprosy-affected persons should be given BPL cards. which would enable them to secure their right to food and be brought under the aegis of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the Supreme Court ordered.