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What does the public need most – raising statues or the development?

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In the MC meeting, councillors fight over raising the statue and naming the Chowks after their party’s idols instead of considering the actually relevant issues for the wards.

summerhill-chowk

India politicians as well as the representatives of the political parties at every level, focus more on the advertisement and petty acts of naming the popular places after their idols. For example, in the recent meeting of the MC Shimla, the councillors delicately fought for the development of their wards. On a serious note, Disha Thakur, the councilor of the Summerhil ward, made the MCShimla accept her proposal of naming the Summerhill Chowk after the Shaheed Bhagat Sing, which, with an equal dedication, was opposed by the BJP councillors. Finally, after some heated arguments, it was decided that the Summerhill Chowk will be named after the Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the statue of the same will be raised, while Boileaugang will receive the statue of the Swami Vivekanand. Although, the Boileaugang needs street lights badly, but the statue would compensate for that.

broken-bench

What a great benefit to the public of 0these wards. Let the roads remain in pathetic conditions, benches wrecked, and the roadside drainage system waiting for a maintenance, as these issues have been doing for the past many years. The MC meetings must focus on building statues and fight over naming the Chowks. The petty issues of the public relevance and development of the area can wait. So what if the 2 KM road, leading from Boiluganj to Summerhill, has become one of the most terrible roads in Shimla? The statue is the first preference and it must not wait. After all, the public needs them
badly.

We mean no disrespect for the freedom fighters, the great philosophers and the saints who contributed towards the nation, but we must say, the same meeting should have focused on improving the condition of the ward, maintain the roads and many other issues, which are actually relevant for the development of their ward.

HW had submitted a complaint regarding the poor condition of the road that leads to Summerhill from Boileaugang on 18/04/2012. However, no one bothered to consider it.

Old Complaints:

1) Wretched condition of the road leading to the temple of education, HPU Summerhill.

2) Missing railing paves the way for a car accident

3) Negligence of electricity board (Boileaugang to Shiv mandir)

A few images depicting the condition of the Summerhill ward.

car-accident-shimla-summerhill

summer-hill-shiv-mandir-road

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Opinion

HP Budget 2021-22: Key Sector Allocation in Seven Charts

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HP Budget 2021-22 simplified charts

By – Utkarsh Berwal and Vijay Kumar, both Research Scholars at the Centre for Studies in Economics and Planning, Central University of Gujarat

Chief Minister, Mr. Jai Ram Thakur, presented the Budget of Himachal Pradesh for the financial year 2021-22 on March 6, 2021. He referred to the problems created due to the COVID-19 pandemic and potential of the state to overcome it. The focus was on boosting the Service and Tourism sector and in that respect here is the breakdown of the 50,192 Crore budget in seven charts concerning key sectors.

General Services

The allocation of  the budget to the general services for the coming financial year is Rs. 18146.99 lacs, i.e., less than what was proposed last year. The general services include fiscal services, police, stationery & printing, public works, and other administrative services. Among all the departments, highest allocation of budget is provided for public works (Rs. 9274.99 lacs) and least is provided for fiscal services (Rs. 0.00 lacs). Further, capital outlay on police, stationary & printing, and other administrative services are Rs. 7230, Rs. 42, Rs. 1600 (in lacs) respectively.

General Services

 Social Services

The government proposes to spend Rs. 159052 lacs in 2021-22. As per revised estimates, the government spent Rs. 191176.63 lacs in 2020-21. Though 2021-22 budget allocation is higher compared to the actual spending (Rs. 122386.1 lacs) for the year 2019-20 but still it is less than what was proposed in the 2020-21 budget. The social services include: education, sports, art & culture; health and family welfare; water supply, sanitation, housing, and urban development; information and broadcasting; welfare of SC, ST, and OBC; social welfare and nutrition; others. Among all the departments, highest allocation is provided for water supply, sanitation, housing and urban development (Rs. 112667.01 lacs) and least is provided for information and broadcasting (Rs. 61 lacs).

HP budget 2021 for Social Welfare

Education, Sports, Art and Culture

It has been around a year since schools and colleges are closed because of COVID-19. The education sector has been shifted towards exploring the online space and due to this many individuals have lost their jobs and educational opportunities. However, instead of increasing the planned expenditure, government reduced the spending in the present year budget plan. The allocation of budget for the education, sports, arts and culture is only Rs. 28400 lacs which is even less than previous year revised estimates (Rs. 34708.37 lacs).

HP Budget 2021 for education

 Health and Family Welfare

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a serious strain on the Indian health sector and thus, it was expected by everyone in the state that the allocation for the healthcare sector would rise tremendously. However, allocated spending for healthcare was least in comparison with past budgets. The actual spending for the year 2019-20 was Rs. 22842.74 lacs while the revised estimates of the budget in 2020-21 was Rs. 32857.54 lacs. But for this year, the total amount allocated is Rs. 16304 lacs only. It was totally a surprising step taken by the government considering the present status of the health sector in the province.

HP Budget 2021 for health

Economic Services

In the previous year, budget estimates (Rs. 308780.96 lacs) and revised estimates (Rs. 320494.09 lacs) were less than the 2019-20 actuals (Rs. 340281.45). But this year there is a big jump in the budget estimates for economic services. The allocation of budget to economic services this year (2021-22) is Rs. 429934.15 lacs. The economic services include agriculture & allied services, rural development, irrigation & flood control, energy, industry & minerals, transport, and general economic services. Among all the departments, highest allocation of budget is provided for transport (Rs. 306785 lacs) and least is provided for rural development (Rs. 489 lacs).

HP Budget 2021 for economic services

 Agriculture and Allied Services

As the farmers are opposing the new agricultural law introduced by the centre, it was predicted that the allocation would rise considerably for the agriculture sector. And in that respect a huge difference has been witnessed in the budget allocation for the current year in comparison to the previous years. The government’s plan to spend Rs. 16810.64 on agriculture is a huge rise from the proposed sum of Rs. 11397.25 lacs for the financial year 2020-21. The agriculture & allied services include crop husbandry, soil & water conservation, animal husbandry, fisheries, forest & wildlife, food storage & warehousing, and co-operation. Among all the sectors, highest allocation of budget is provided for crop husbandry (Rs. 7338.05 lacs) and least is provided for co-operation (Rs. 17 lacs).

HP Budget 2021 for agriculture

Tourism

It was predicted by economic pundits that the allocation would rise for the tourism sector as this sector is the backbone of Himachal’s economy, but such an enormous increase in the budgetary allocation was quite surprising. Tourism industry of the hill state has been badly affected by the COVID-19 and to overcome this, the government has allocated Rs. 5376.01 lacs for the year 2021-22. The allocation for the specified sector is nine times more than the previous year allocation.

HP Budget 2021 for tourism

Overall, the budget amount is Rs 1061 crore more than the last budget. Also, the debt liability of the state is at an all-time high at 60,500 crores and it remains to be seen whether the gamble taken on some key sectors will pay off in these unprecedented times where a new coronavirus wave is very well on the cards. Especially concerning the increase of the allocation to the tourism sector and allotment of a very low amount for the health and education sector. Rest, only time will tell whether this was the correct move by the government.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

 
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Opinion

Financial Abuse: The Dominant Yet Invisible Side of Domestic Abuse

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financial abuse

By – Megha Manju Promodu an independent scholar and researcher based in Kerala. She previously worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, New Delhi and handled content creation for various marketing companies.

2020 was the year of the global pandemic. It was also the year that saw massive attacks on women, the rape cases alone as always topping the charts. But rape doesn’t even account to 10% of the crimes conducted against women. So, what really takes the cake in terms of crimes against women? The answer is domestic abuse! Along with it comes violence, emotional abuse, marital rape and even the lesser known but more sinister and widespread financial abuse.

So, what is financial abuse anyway?             

Never heard of it? Me neither until a year back, when in a fit of anger, a person I know threatened to withhold money from his wife for buying something not of his liking. He did not mean it seriously, but this certainly made me think of all the homes where this is an everyday reality. Researching on it made me realize more often than not we are all victims of financial abuse in some way without really realizing it. Financial abuse in simple terms can be understood as controlling a person’s ability to earn, utilise and preserve money through manipulation, coercion or brute force. Often the victim has no or little control over their own money or any money for that matter. Financial abuse can affect both partners in varying degrees but a large number of victims of financial abuse turn out to be women, at least in the Indian scenario.

Why is it more dangerous?

Financial abuse often comes as a forerunner to domestic abuse and the dangerous aspect is that it cannot be traced easily. By the time the victim realizes what is happening it is already too late leaving them shattered in debts, financial losses and years of earnings lost with no retribution. Often it starts as a helping hand in managing finances, to sharing and managing finances together, to slowly the victim losing control over their finances, and ultimately all financial decisions are taken by the abuser with no consent of the other. It may take years for a relationship to deteriorate in this manner. The gradual loss of control along with no awareness of something like financial abuse makes it harder for a woman to realize the abuse. It is even harder in a country like India where women are not even expected to work but rather appreciated if they sit at home looking after the kids and in-laws.

In India marriage is rather a system of ownership than companionship, the transfer of ownership of the woman to the husband from the father and ultimately to the son from the husband when the time comes. We have misogynist texts like the Manusmrithi to blame for the sources of these absurd ideas and quotes like “Pitah Rakshathi Koumare, Pati Rakshathi Youvanne, Puthro Rakshathi Vardaykye, Na sthree swathanthram arhati” (Father protects in teenage, the husband protects in youth and the son protects in old age, hence woman does not deserve freedom) internalize that it’s okay to abuse and even physically assault her.

Awareness concerning financial abuse?

This idea that the man owns the woman after she becomes the wife is internalised not simply by men but also by women. Which restricts women from recognising domestic abuse, marital rape and financial abuse as problems that need fixing.

With financial insecurity woman can feel helpless and have no safe place to go. Without a stable income daily expenses become a burden and even forces the victims to go back to their abusers. Households which are relatively free of physical abuse still undergoes some sort of financial abuse as part of the power dynamics. The manipulation and emotional abuse taking place makes sure that the victim has no means of escape or survival without the abuser. It is here that we see the sinister nature of financial abuse, it threatens the victim from ever even thinking of existing outside the relationship. Along with the emotional abuse that can be in belittling the victim, attacking her mental capabilities at earning wages and even resort to name calling. Financial abuse is normalised to such a degree that victims often go their entire life without realizing that they are in an abusive relationship.

How to recognize it?

There are multiple ways financial abuse plays out. To understand this one must realize that marriage is not really about being a non-existent presence who has no desires or emotions and exists simply for serving the other person but rather it’s about a mutually respected companionship. I am here referring simply to a typical patriarchal Indian household, but one must be cautious that the opposite might also be happening with many men going through financial abuse. One way to recognize this is by figuring out if money plays a major role in the arguments that ensue. Arguments in relationships are natural and to some degree even considered healthy but if more than 70% of the arguments stem from money matters then it is time for a conversation.

Some signs you might be in an abusive financial relationship:

  1. All your bank accounts, passwords and sources of income are not in your control or are being monitored by your spouse.
  2. You have no real sources of income and hence get told off as useless despite the physical work you do around the house.
  3. Your interests and likes are being constantly ignored while there is no problem spending money for the spouse’s needs.
  4. You are given the bare minimum to survive or told that “we can’t afford that” even for simple needs or necessities but money flows for anything else.
  5. Almost all the important decisions regarding money are taken by your spouse leaving you confused or at a loss to what is really happening with money in the house.
  6. Each penny given to you needs to be accountable and you even need to show bills.
  7. You are forced to leave your job, either by force or by manipulation, often using kids as an excuse.
  8. Your job is belittled either by your spouse or in-laws to the point that you end up leaving it.
  9. You feel you have no means of survival even if you want to leave your spouse as you have no idea regarding money management.
  10. You are asked to sign bank papers and other important documents without really being explained what it is.

What can you do about it?

So, if you have ever threatened your spouse by saying you will withheld from giving them money at the first sign of any resistance from them. Or if you are on the other side of the spectrum, and you are the one who pacifies every fight with a costly gift or a lavish dinner then you might need to do some thinking. Things might not need to be this extreme but if you are resorting to using money as a weapon in marriage or in any relations then there might be some inherent problems that need fixing.

Firstly, threatening to withhold money might have the opposite effect of what you intend. The partner may be silenced for now but the resentment within them towards you will only grow. They might not trust you in future as they know that you see them in monetary terms only.

Secondly, your brattish behaviour comes from the idea that you are the bread winner of the house and has the complete authority to “own” the other.   However, “ownership” was not a term agreed by both of you while signing up for the marriage. Rather the marriage or relationship was based on equal partnership and trust.

Thirdly, as a partner if your only way of reaching your spouse is by manipulating them through money then you are not much of a partner. A responsible partner should be able to have an open communication. If being in control was your only intention, then you should have just hired a maid and pay her the cash that she deserved. A wife is not a low maintenance slave/maid/nurse etc all rolled into one. She does not exist to please you. She is a person of her own who has her own desires, emotions, feelings and dreams.

Remember, good relationships are not made over a day, it takes effort and strong conviction. There should be quality time spend, earnest conversations and many divided chores to build a relationship with a strong foundation of trust and companionship. It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it.

Lastly, though financial abuse can be a horrifying experience for the victim along with the emotional abuse and domestic violence that accompanies it. It still can be tackled and the single most effective way to cope with this is to be economically independent and learn money management. It might be hard but not impossible and acknowledgement is the first step towards it.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

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Opinion

HER EXISTENTIAL ANGST

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crime against women in india -Her existential angst

 “ We have been bearing the torture of losing our daughter. Despite all our efforts, repeated assurances and Court orders, we have not got any justice.”

Just another voice among those thousands of voices demanding justice for their daughters who had been raped. And just like that this voice would also fade away in times to come, while some voices would not even get the chance to surface. Yet, a question like ‘Was she being careful enough?’ is thrown at her, holding her accountable as if she brought this upon herself. Society would then have the audacity to not spare her with their further shallow remarks on what sort of clothes she was wearing, or at what time of the day was she out, or was she of ‘easy virtue’, or her age being the factor since her ‘youngness’ might have been all over the place or was she venturing out with her relatives as it’s safer like that.

These assumed ‘causes’ or rather myths set at the hands of society need a stern blow. Each time her dress is shredded into fragments and used as a weapon against her is normalising the gruesome sexual assault. How is it that restoration of modesty in Her dress code would guarantee its inverse proportionality to your perverse mindset?

She is vulnerable outside at every moment, 24×7, so the time of the day at which she is out does not make any difference. Rape is reported every 15 minutes according to the crime data released by the NCRB from 2018. A total of 32,033 cases of rapes were lodged in 2019. India recorded an average of 87 rape cases daily in 2019 and overall 4,05,861 cases of crime against women, a rise of over 7 % from 2018. This distinctly indicates that she is susceptible to rape every second of every minute of her entire life.

Categorizing her as one with ‘easy virtue’ is done by the society at the drop of a hat. Fine, she will face the consequences of partying late in clubs, drinking, having relationships but dare not use this as a vindication of rape. Barring her from following the lifestyle that she wants for herself since it’s her life, alone would not curb crimes against her. So stop moral policing the victim.

Moreover, her age and ‘youngness’ does not constitute her of getting raped as its not just young women who become victims of such heinous crime. NCRB data shows, in 2015, 10,854 cases of rape under Section 376 of the IPC & Section 4 and 6 of Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act were registered. In light of this data, I ask of you, what sort of ‘youngness ‘ did a newborn child of merely two months have offered or a grandmother as elderly as 86 years old?

She is aware of the fear of the unknown, but what about the fear of the known? As stated by NRCB in 2017, the accused were known to the victims in 93.1% cases, as many as 16,591 rape cases were against the family – friends, a certain cousin, uncles, employers, neighbours, friends, online friends, live-in partners, separated husbands of the victims or for the matter of fact their very own fathers, brothers and grandfathers. She suffers torment as a consequence of trust that she had in them – an acquaintance rape.

As if all of this wasn’t enough already, some very well ‘ educated ‘ men like Markandey Katju, although reiterating that he “ condemns the Hathras Gangrape” and calls for “ harshest punishment of the culprits”, however in all his capacity still stoops down to justify rape. In his long post, he chose to put all the blame on women and how they are bound to bear the brunt of crimes against them since “ sex is a natural urge in men”, he further adds that because India is a heavily populated & a conservative society so having sex is acceptable “ only through marriage” and as it is our country is facing massive unemployment due to economic crisis, therefore, men are deprived of sex, the result of which is an increase in rapes.

 Now I Am unable to comprehend the logic that Mr Katju intends to state. Do women not experience any sexual urges or people like him and society at large consider that aspect ‘ unnatural ‘ for us? Or do men alone have claimed the patent for the same ? And as far as unemployment and economic crisis are concerned, why are women made to be the punching bags for the lack of governance? What exactly wrong did Manisha Valmiki and another Dalit girl in Balrampur do to deserve such sinister men? Manisha, a Dalit girl was raped by four Thakur men in Hathras. Her neck and spinal cord were damaged and her tongue was sliced. Even several days after this beyond the dreadful incident, BJP MLA Rajvir Diler says “ no rape occurred”, the hospital kept her in the general ward for six days while she was groaning and suffering in immense pain, the police cremated rather burnt her body without her family’s consent. Just days after she passed away fighting for her life, yet another Dalit girl in Balrampur was raped by two men. Both her back and legs were broken, lethal injection was given to shut her mouth and post all this horror she was murdered.

Both these cases are about Caste as much as it is about Gender. It is not debatable, even then MLA Rajvir Diler says “ There is no caste system in the village, everything is fine” ( SAB CHANGA SI – familiar enough ?). He is the same MP who accepted casteism and sat on the floor during his MLA days stating “ I Am the son of a Valmiki. I cannot break away from tradition. Let the world change, I won’t.”

The sheer privilege you must have to tell me not to make this about caste when discrimination predominantly based on gender and caste is practised daily in this country. Everything comes down to the “social conditioning” that one is brought up with. The problem mainly lies when we consider mere literacy as the sole criteria for educating Men. By doing this we only make them irresponsible in numerous ways. Rather have your boys learn about patriarchy, its toxicities, the boundaries that they are to remain in,* gender equality and respect, than plainly focusing on them being employed to support their families. And by the way, don’t “not all men” me for this because there are an inordinate amount of men who do inhumane and degrading things to women and would still have the guts to blatantly tell us that women somehow have it easy.

The aforementioned brutal rape of Dalit girls is a reflection of how mean and cruel we as a society have become. In fact, several days prior to when this atrocious crime took place, one of the powerful Bollywood actress who is celebrated across the nation for her outstanding performances, Kangana Ranaut posts an apathetic tweet, “ Caste system has been rejected by modern Indians, in small towns everyone knows it’s not acceptable anymore by law and order its nothing more than a sadistic pleasure for few, only our constitution is holding onto it in terms of Reservations.”

If you fail to see the caste angle in such crimes, you are being willfully ignorant. The only time we think caste is dead when it doesn’t affect us directly in any way. Therefore imparting “moral education” in all social aspects is our responsibility as a society because caging women in a set of constraints would not awaken the sense of morality in Your men and not acknowledging the caste system would not stop hate crimes against them. So, it’s about time for “moral reckoning.”

  1. Now the question arises; what is our government doing about it?
  2. It can build sky-high temples for all it cares.
  3. Exonerate the 32 accused in Babri Masjid’s demolition.
  4. Form an SIT amid nationwide outrage.
  5. Unleash police impunity by detaining at least 100 protestors from India Gate who were protesting against Hathras Gangrape.
  6. Can’t call out UP Police who burnt victim’s body in the middle of the night while having her family locked inside their houses, she wasn’t even given dignity in death.
  7. Rashtriya Savarna Parishad comes out in support of the Thakur rapists

BJP MLA Surendra Singh shares his bigoted ‘theory’ stating that girls need to be taught ‘sanskaar’(culture and values) as then only rape could be prevented since ‘shasan’ (governance ) and ‘talwar’ (sword) can’t stop anything.

Nonetheless, we see hoardings of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” everywhere. It never served the purpose, Dr. Priyanka Reddy, a 26- year old veterinary doctor from Shamshabad in Hyderabad was gang-raped and found dead with her body partially burnt under Chatanpally bridge. She was well educated, independent, and empowered woman, yet she could not be saved from getting raped. The police resorted to impulsive justice and unlawfully killed the culprits. Did this impulsive treatment of justice deter the four Thakur rapists from committing the same crime? This is not justice, it’s a ploy to shut down our demands for accountability from the police, judiciary and the government. Is the death penalty by hanging the solution to India’s rape crisis? Where it takes years and years of courtroom sessions as we all saw in the Nirbhaya Rape case. All of this is just a band-aid on a deep wound.

We need actual Judiciary reforms starting with having a better representation of women in higher Indian Judiciary. Till date we have no woman Chief Justice despite three women judges currently sitting in the Supreme Court, there seems to be no possibility as of now that we will have the first woman Chief Justice in the near future. There are already five male judges lined up to succeed in the present CJI until 2025.

In spite of their proficiency, hard work and struggle women lawyers are not recognised except for very few second-generation lawyers. According to the Supreme Court’s list of senior advocates, only 4% are women i.e 16 against 400 men. Even though Maharashtra has the highest no. of women lawyers, yet accounts for only 3.8% of senior women advocates in Bombay High Court.

 Many pragmatic studies show that having even one woman on a 3- judge panel affects the entire panel’s decision-making in gender discrimination cases. When I previously mentioned Markandey Katju as a ‘ very well educated man’ by that I meant a man of high calibre, who was a former Supreme Court Judge, nevertheless made a long cold remark lacking in depth of intellect. No wonder justice is delayed or almost denied to the rape victims.

The entire structure of dispensation of justice needs revamping, otherwise, the victim shall no longer be the woman alone, but humanity at large. While you all tell us to wait as bringing in reforms in Judiciary, in men, in the social structure as a whole is a perennial endeavour and will take time, just assure us with your answer; how much more and for how long do we women Endure?

Image Credit: Pexels@Loanne Adela Low

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

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