Monthly Archives: August 2011

Athletic, Muslim, Fashionable

Athletic, Muslim, Fashionable – a Tale of the Sports Hijab

 Olympic hopeful, 17-year-old Zeinab Hammoud

Olympic hopeful, 17-year-old Zeinab Hammoud

Female Muslim athletes who observe a strict Islamic dress code sometimes face the question of whether they will be allowed to participate in major competitions — with their heads and most of their bodies covered.  Now, one Iranian-Canadian woman is marketing a product to change that.  It complies with the requirements of many major sports, and it’s fashionable, safe and comfortable — while still meeting Islamic requirements.

An Olympic hopeful faces a small obstacle

Seventeen-year-old Zeinab Hammoud has a brown belt in Taekwondo, and dreams of one day making it to the Olympics.  But unlike her sister, Rana, Zeinab chooses to wear the Islamic headscarf, or hijab.  

This became a problem four years ago. The team’s hard work, passion and hopes were dashed when the Taekwondo Federation of Quebec expelled them from a tournament in 2007. The reason: their hijabs were considered unsafe. “I was really disappointed because I trained really hard for that tournament. When I found out we were expelled I lost all my motivation to continue,” Hammoud said.

Civil rights supporters and sports enthusiasts around the world were enraged. Elham Seyed Javad was one of them. “In my opinion every individual, no matter their religion, should have the same rights as anyone else in society,” he stated. “I mean, sports was made to re-unite people.”

Athletic fashion

Javad was an industrial design student at the time, so she decided to take on the problem as one of her school projects. “At the time, in 2008, when I decided to take on this project, the international federation of Taekwondo didn’t allow its athletes to wear anything under the helmet. So my professor didn’t think there was a point of pursuing it.  But my point was, the rule is there because nothing has been invented that is appropriate,” she explained.

Javad spent countless hours with the Hammoud sisters’ taekwondo team and with pattern maker Latifa Boukenda, to make the best product possible. “This was a very exciting project for me. I’ve worked in fashion for many years but this was special because it was beyond fashion,” she said. “It had a more human and social aspect to it. helping young women blossom and follow their athletic dreams.”

Ultimately, they hit upon a design that worked, and a fabric that was stretchy, breathable, and dried quickly.  Called a “ResportOn,” the garment was an immediate hit.

Even Zeinab’s sister Rana, who chooses not to wear the hijab, was impressed. “I just tried the Resport hijab and the hair was inside so it doesn’t come out and it’s very comfortable so you can play without trying to put your hair inside all the time,” she noted.

Rules reconsidered, changed

Javad’s invention came at an opportune time.  A year later, in response to pressure from the taekwondo community, the World Taekwondo Federation changed its rules to allow for head-coverings.

The Montreal Muslim Taekwondo team was able to compete again.

“I was in the stands and got teary-eyed because since the very beginning my goal was to be able to see the girls on the mats again. When it happened it was like someone gave me the world,” Javad stated.

Javad thought she was just helping Zeinab and her teammates.  But when an investor approached her about marketing the product, things changed dramatically.  In January, her sports hijab became available to athletes all over the world.  She has been busy ever since. “My days start at 2am when my phone goes off with an email from an athlete from the other side of the world. I turn it on and read the email, get happy and go back to sleep,” she said.

While there are other sports hijabs on the market, Javad believes hers has some advantages.  Those include a built-in t-shirt that keeps it from pulling loose, and an opening at the back that allows easy access for wearers to adjust their hair.

സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍

സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍

റമദാന്‍ മാസത്തില്‍ പ്രത്യേകമായി ശ്രദ്ധപതിപ്പിക്കേണ്ട ഒരു സകാത്ത്‌ ഇസ്‌ലാം നിശ്ചയിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്‌. അതാണ്‌ വ്രതസമാപന സകാത്ത്‌ അഥവാ സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍.
“മുസ്‌ലിംകളിലെ അടിമകള്‍, സ്വതന്ത്രര്‍, പുരുഷന്മാര്‍, സ്‌ത്രീകള്‍, ചെറിയവര്‍, വലിയവര്‍ (എന്നീ വേര്‍തിരിവുകളില്ലാതെ) എല്ലാവരുടെ പേരിലും ഓരോ സ്വാഅ്‌ കാരക്കയോ ബാര്‍ലിയോ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ സകാത്ത്‌ നല്‍കല്‍ ബാധ്യതയായി അല്ലാഹുവിന്റെ ദൂതര്‍(സ) നിര്‍ബന്ധമായി നിശ്ചയിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു. പെരുന്നാള്‍ നമസ്‌കാരത്തിന്‌ ആളുകള്‍ പുറപ്പെടുന്നതിനു മുമ്പായി അത്‌ നല്‍കണമെന്നും അദ്ദേഹം കല്‌പിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു.” (ബുഖാരി, മുസ്‌ലിം)
റമദാന്‍ അവസാനിക്കുന്നതോടെയാണ്‌ ഈ സകാത്ത്‌ നിര്‍ബന്ധമായിത്തീരുന്നത്‌. ഈദുല്‍ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ (ശവ്വാല്‍ ഒന്ന്‌) നമസ്‌കാരത്തിന്‌ പുറപ്പെടുന്നതോടെ അതിന്റെ സമയം അവസാനിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നു. ഹ്രസ്വമായ സമയപരിധിക്കുള്ളില്‍ അത്‌ പൂര്‍ണമായി നിര്‍വഹിക്കപ്പെടാന്‍ പ്രയാസമാണെങ്കില്‍ വ്രതസമാപനത്തിന്‌ രണ്ടോ മൂന്നോ ദിവസം മുമ്പായി അത്‌ കൊടുക്കുകയും ചെയ്യാം. ഇബ്‌നു ഉമര്‍(റ) പറയുന്നു: “അവര്‍ (സ്വഹാബികള്‍) ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ സകാത്ത്‌ പെരുന്നാളിന്റെ ഒന്നോ രണ്ടോ ദിവസം മുമ്പ്‌ നല്‍കാറുണ്ടായിരുന്നു.” (ബുഖാരി)
സമ്പത്ത്‌ എന്ന അല്ലാഹുവിന്റെ അനുഗ്രഹം ലഭിച്ചവര്‍ക്ക്‌ മാത്രം നിര്‍ബന്ധമാണ്‌ സാധാരണ സകാത്ത്‌. അതിന്‌ നിശ്ചിത പരിധിയും കൃത്യമായ തോതും കണക്കുമെല്ലാം നിശ്ചയിക്കപ്പെട്ടിരിക്കുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍ സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ സമ്പത്തിന്റെ മാനദണ്ഡമനുസരിച്ചല്ല നല്‍കേണ്ടത്‌. കണക്കനുസരിച്ച്‌ തന്റെ സമ്പത്തിന്റെ സകാത്ത്‌ കൊടുത്തുതീര്‍ത്തവരും കണക്കനുസരിച്ച്‌ സകാത്ത്‌ കൊടുക്കാന്‍ മാത്രം സമ്പത്തില്ലാത്തവരും സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ കൊടുക്കേണ്ടതുണ്ട്‌. നിത്യവൃത്തിക്ക്‌ വകയില്ലാത്തവര്‍ മാത്രമേ ഇതിന്റെ നിര്‍ബന്ധ കല്‌പനയില്‍ നിന്ന്‌ ഒഴിവാക്കപ്പെടുകയുള്ളൂ.
മനുഷ്യസഹജമായ താല്‌പര്യം അംഗീകരിച്ചുകൊണ്ട്‌ അല്ലാഹു നിശ്ചയിച്ച ആഘോഷം എന്ന നിലയില്‍ പെരുന്നാളിന്റെ ആഹ്ലാദം പങ്കിടുവാന്‍ നിത്യവൃത്തിക്ക്‌ കഷ്‌ടപ്പെടുന്നവര്‍ക്കുപോലും സാധിക്കണമെന്നതാണ്‌ സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ കൊണ്ട്‌ ലക്ഷ്യമാക്കുന്നത്‌. ജീവിതത്തില്‍ സൂക്ഷ്‌മത കൈവരിക്കാനും വന്നുപോയ പാളിച്ചകള്‍ക്ക്‌ പരിഹാരവും പ്രായശ്ചിത്തവുമായിക്കൊണ്ടുമാണ്‌ സത്യവിശ്വാസി വ്രതമനുഷ്‌ഠിക്കുന്നത്‌. നോമ്പുകാരന്‌ വീണ്ടും വിമലീകരണത്തിനുള്ള അവസരം കൂടിയാണ്‌ സകാതുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍. “അനാവശ്യമായ വാക്കും പ്രവൃത്തിയും മൂലം നോമ്പുകാരന്‌ വന്നുപോയ പിഴവുകളില്‍ നിന്ന്‌ അവനെ ശുദ്ധീകരിക്കാനും പാവങ്ങള്‍ക്ക്‌ ആഹാരത്തിനുമായി റസൂല്‍(സ) സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ നിര്‍ബന്ധമാക്കിയിരിക്കുന്നു.” (അബൂദാവൂദ്‌, ഇബ്‌നുമാജ)
കാരക്കയും ബാര്‍ലിയും മാത്രമല്ല നാട്ടിലെ പ്രധാന ആഹാര സാധനങ്ങളാണ്‌ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ സകാത്തായി നല്‍കേണ്ടത്‌ എന്നാണ്‌ സ്വഹാബിമാരുടെ പ്രവര്‍ത്തനങ്ങളില്‍ നിന്ന്‌ മനസ്സിലാകുന്നത്‌. അബൂസഈദില്‍ ഖുദ്‌രി(റ) പറയുന്നു: “ഒരു സ്വാഅ്‌ ഗോതമ്പ്‌, അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ ഒരു സ്വാഅ്‌ ബാര്‍ലി, അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ ഒരു സ്വാഅ്‌ പാല്‍ക്കട്ടി, അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ ഒരു സ്വാഅ്‌ മുന്തിരി എന്നിങ്ങനെയായിരുന്നു ഞങ്ങള്‍ സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ കൊടുത്തുവന്നിരുന്നത്‌.” (ബുഖാരി)
സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ അരി കൊടുക്കണമെന്ന്‌ വിശുദ്ധ ഖുര്‍ആനിലോ ഹദീസിലോ പറഞ്ഞിട്ടില്ലെങ്കിലും നമ്മുടെ നാട്ടില്‍ അരിയാണ്‌ സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ നല്‍കേണ്ടതെന്ന കാര്യത്തില്‍ മുസ്‌ലിം സമൂഹത്തില്‍ രണ്ടഭിപ്രായമില്ല. അത്‌ മേല്‍പറഞ്ഞ ഹദീസുകളുടെ അടിസ്ഥാനത്തിലാണ്‌.

എങ്കിലും സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍ സമൂഹത്തിനുപകരിക്കുംവിധം സംഘടിതമായി നിര്‍വഹിക്കാന്‍ എല്ലാ മുസ്‌ലിംകളും ഇനിയും തയ്യാറായിട്ടില്ലെന്നത്‌ ഖേദകരമാണ്‌.
സകാത്ത്‌ കൊടുക്കുന്ന വ്യക്തി തനിക്കും തന്റെ കീഴിലുള്ള കുടുംബത്തിനും വേണ്ടി അത്‌ നിര്‍വഹിക്കണം. ശവ്വാല്‍ ഒന്നിന്‌ കാലത്ത്‌ പിറന്ന കുഞ്ഞുള്‍പ്പെടെ ഒരാള്‍ക്ക്‌ ഒരു സ്വാഅ്‌ എന്ന തോതില്‍ ധാന്യം അയാള്‍ സകാത്ത്‌ സമിതിയെ ഏല്‌പിക്കണം. സ്വാഅ്‌ എന്നത്‌ നബി(സ)യുടെ കാലത്തെ അളവാണ്‌. മെട്രിക്‌ തൂക്കമനുസരിച്ച്‌ രണ്ടുകിലോഗ്രാമും ഏതാനും ഗ്രാമും ആണത്‌. ആയതിനാല്‍ ആളൊന്നിന്‌ രണ്ട്‌ കിലോഗ്രാം വീതം അരിയാണ്‌ നല്‍കേണ്ടത്‌. ശേഖരിച്ച സകാത്ത്‌ റമദാനിന്റെ അവസാനത്തെ ദിവസങ്ങളില്‍ തന്നെ അര്‍ഹതപ്പെട്ടവര്‍ക്ക്‌ എത്തിച്ചുകൊടുക്കുക എന്നത്‌ സകാത്ത്‌ സമിതിയുടെ ബധ്യതയാണ്‌. ഒരുതരത്തില്‍ സമുദായത്തിന്റെ നിര്‍ബന്ധിതമായ ഒരു റിലീഫ്‌ കൂടിയാണ്‌ സകാത്തുല്‍ ഫിത്വ്‌ര്‍.

Say No to Jan Lok Pal

Jan Lok Pal is no solution
June 22, 2011   12:00:00 AM

Tackling
corruption requires economic reforms and a popular re-engagement with
electoral politics. We should shun the politics of hunger strikes.

The
idea of a ‘Jan Lok Pal’ is flawed and profoundly misunderstands the
causes and solutions of corruption in India. It seeks to create another
chunk of Government, more processes and rules, to solve a problem that,
in part, exists because of too many chunks of Government, too many
processes and rules.

If the ‘Jan Lok Pal’ presides over the same
system that has corrupted civil servants, politicians, anti-corruption
watchdogs, judges, media, civil society groups and ordinary citizens,
why should we expect that the ombudsman will be incorruptible? Because
the person is handpicked by unelected, unaccountable ‘civil society’
members? Those who propose that Nobel Laureates (of Indian origin, not
even of Indian citizenship) and Ramon Magsaysay Award winners should be
among those who pick the Great Ombudsman of India — who is both
policeman and judge — insult the hundreds of millions of ordinary Indian
voters who regularly exercise their right to franchise. For they are
demanding that the Scandinavian grandees in the Nobel Committee and the
Filipino members of the Magsaysay foundation should have an indirect
role in selecting an all-powerful Indian official.

The argument
that people should be involved in drafting legislation is fine, even if
it misses the point that the Government is not a foreign entity but a
representative of the people. It is entirely another thing to demand
that the legislation drafted by an self-appointed, unaccountable and
unrepresentative set of people be passed at the threat of blackmail. If
we must have representatives of the people involved in law-making, we
are better off if they are the elected ones, however flawed, as opposed
to self-appointed ones, whatever prizes the latter might have won.

The
‘Jan Lok Pal’ will become another logjammed, politicised and ultimately
corrupt institution, for the passionate masses who demand new
institutions have a poor record of protecting the existing institutions.
Where were the holders of candles, wearers of Gandhi topis and
hunger-strikers when the offices of the Chief Election Commissioner, the
Central Vigilance Commissioner and even the President of the Republic
were handed out to persons with dubious credentials? If you didn’t come
out to protest the perversion of these institutions, why are you somehow
more likely to turn up to protest when a dubious person is sought to be
made the ‘Jan Lok Pal’?

But this is us. Given this reality, the
solution for corruption and malgovernance should be one that does not
rely on the notoriously apathetic middle classes to come out on the
streets. The solution is to take away the powers of discretion, the
powers of rent-seeking from the Government and restore it back to the
people. This is the idea of economic freedom. Societies with greater
economic freedom have lower corruption. I have long argued that we are
in this mess because we have been denied Reforms 2.0.

How can we
have Reforms 2.0 if “those politicians” are unwilling to implement them?
The answer is simple: By voting. Economic reforms are not on anyone’s
political agenda because those who are most likely to benefit from them
do not vote, and do not vote strategically. At this point, it is usual
to hear loud protests about how voting does not work, most often by
those who do not vote. This flies in the face of empirical evidence —
when hundreds of millions of people turn up to vote. If it were not
working for them, why would they be voting? They might not be demanding
Reforms 2.0, but something else, and are getting what they want. Instead
of ephemeral displays of outrage — what happened to those post-26/11
candle-light vigils?— it is engagement in the electoral process that is
necessary. There are some innovative ideas — like that of voters
associations — that can be attempted.

There are no better words than those of BR Ambedkar on the place of satyagraha
in India after the Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950:
“…we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we
must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha.
When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving
economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification
for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open,
there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These
methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are
abandoned, the better for us.” Ambedkar was speaking in the Constituent
Assembly.

In my view civil disobedience in general and hunger
strikes in particular must be used in the most exceptional circumstances
where constitutional methods are unavailable or denied, and only till
the time constitutional methods remain unavailable or denied.

Some
contend that the system isn’t working, or has been so perverted by the
incumbent Government that it is necessary to resort to public agitation.
This is a dubious argument. Constitutional democracy is an enlightened
way to make policy by reconciling — to the extent possible — the diverse
interests, opinions and levels of political empowerments of a diverse
population. Any other way amounts to coercion in one form or the other.

If
we are to allow that hunger strikes and street protests do better than
constitutional methods, then how would you decide issues where there are
sharp differences? If two Gandhians go on hunger strike asking for
polar opposites, do we settle the issue by seeing who gives up first?
What if competing groups escalate the agitation to violence against each
other? Should we condone civil war?

The working of those
constitutional mechanisms can and must be improved. By us. The
anti-defection law must go. India does not have a comprehensive law
governing political parties. It needs one. Police reforms have been
stalled for decades. There is a substantial reform agenda that must be
pursued. By us.

However, the inability to implement these
reforms is no excuse for resorting to civil disobedience or, as it
happens in other countries, calling in a dictatorship of the
proletariat, the military or the priesthood.

The ‘Jan Lok Pal
Bill’ is not a solution to the problem of corruption. It risks making
matters worse. Hunger strikes are not the right means to promote a
policy agenda in a constitutional democracy like ours. The promoters and
supporters of ‘Jan Lok Pal’ and the public agitation to achieve it are
profoundly misguided. Their popularity stems from having struck a vein
of middle class outrage against the UPA Government’s misdeeds. That does
not mean that the solutions they offer are right.

I oppose ‘Jan Lok Pal’ and the politics of hunger-strikes as much as I oppose corruption and misgovernance.

Jan Lok Pal: unconstitutional, unnecessary

 

The battle against corruption must be fought by strengthening existing instruments

 

The debate on how to eradicate corruption, kick-started by Anna
Hazare’s indefinite fast, has now moved into its second phase. This
involves the drafting of a bill that will provide a foolproof mechanism
to bring the corrupt to book. Here is an examination of the structural
flaws inherent in the Jan Lok Pal Bill

The bill, also known as The Anti Corruption, Grievance Redressal and
Whistleblower Protection Act, 2010 (which will be referred to as the Jan
Lok Pal Bill) is about the most overwhelming piece of legislation since
Independence.

 

Why the big fuss, you may ask. Don’t we have any laws against
corruption in India? Well, of course, we do. Taking of illegal
gratification by public servants was made a criminal offence way back in
1860 by the repository of all that’s evil—the Indian Penal Code, in
Sections 161-165A.

 

The Prevention of Corruption Act was first enacted in 1947. In fact,
when the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (the parent
statute of the Central Bureau of Investigation) was enacted, it was
primarily to investigate allegations of corruption against central
government employees.

 

A “new and improved” Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA) was enacted
in 1987, complete with special courts and tougher punishments, and with
it, the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code stood repealed.

Photo: V Singh

The new Prevention of Corruption Act is not without controversy, and
the Supreme Court usually has to consider who a “public servant” is
every other month. However, the main issue with the PoCA is that while
it targets employees of nationalised banks, lower level policemen and
similar other members of the government food chain, the higher-ups just
never manage to face the heat, and even if they do, it takes years for
cases to see the light of day.

 

And all we really want is to see the corrupt thieves in jail, or at
least, not in any position of power. Why is it so difficult to just
throw out corrupt unmentionables? For that, we need to go back to the
hallowed Constitution of India. Article 311 is the party pooper, which
requires that a civil servant can only be dismissed by an authority
equal or superior to that which appointed it. That at least is at the
stage of dismissal. Even for prosecution, the PoCA requires previous
sanction, according to Section 19.

 

Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, follows suit for
offences committed “in the discharge of official duty”. Obviously, the
public perception is that government officials will always refuse to
accord sanction to protect their minions, perhaps rightly so.

 

Keeping this in mind, the government proposed the Lok Pal Bill, 2010,
as a mechanism for inquiry into allegations of corruption against
public functionaries. As a response, several public-spirited citizens
countered with their own draft Jan Lok Pal Bill. The latter is so much
broader in scope compared to the government’s draft that it is not even
fair to compare the two. The activist’s Jan Lokpal Bill, version 2.1
doesn’t just stop at inquiry. It goes the whole hog.

 

It says that the Lok Pal shall consist of one chairperson along with
10 members. These persons should not, at the time of appointment, be
holding any “office of profit” or be a member of parliament or the
legislature of any state. It also bars persons who have even been
charged (not convicted!) under the IPC or PoCA or penalised under the
Central Civil Services Conduct rules.

 

Out of these 10 members, four must have some “legal background”,
bringing in former judges and lawyers. A maximum of two of these members
can come from a civil services background. Looks like a healthy mix. So
far, so good.

 

Then there is this requirement: “The members and Chairperson should
have unimpeachable integrity and should have demonstrated their resolve
to fight corruption in the past.”

 

This is jarring for two reasons: one, it looks like the bill is
leaving a lot of scope for canvassing for these posts, and two, isn’t
impartiality a much more important consideration? The objective of the
Lok Pal ought to be to conduct an honest and fair inquiry. Anyone who
has demonstrated their resolve to fight corruption in the past might end
up being a trigger-happy vigilante in judicial robes (and police
uniform—but we’ll get to that later), especially when empowered in such a
manner.

 

The cream of the crop, including the chairperson of the National
Human Rights Commission (oh, the irony!) are involved in the selection
process. In fact, a previous version (1.9, apparently) proposed former
Magsaysay award winners and Nobel laureates “of Indian origin” to be
members of this selection committee. The good news is that they have
been shoved aside to accommodate “retired army personnel who are five
star generals”. It is unclear if they asked the 92-year-old Marshal of
the Air Force, Arjan Singh, before adding this post to the list,
considering he’s the only living five star general we have.

 

Any person can propose the name of a deserving candidate to be
appointed to the Lok Pal, and after initial sifting by the selection
committee, the person recommending a candidate has to provide material
to support his nomination. Thereafter, the names will be put up on the
Internet to solicit public feedback, and the committee can also use “any
means” to collect more information about the background and past
achievements of the shortlisted candidates. Lok Pal members are
appointed by the President of India.

 

So despite all of this, if a member is found being
less-than-unimpeachable, the Supreme Court of India—yes, the highly
overburdened final court of appeal and protector of the Constitution—in a
bench of five judges, no less (normally known as a “constitutional
bench”), will have to conduct the inquiry.

 

However absurd an allegation, the Act specifically bars the Supreme
Court from dismissing the petition at the threshold stage. The Supreme
Court can order a report of “investigation” by a Special Investigation
Team and can bench the allegedly errant member while such inquiry is
being conducted. If someone makes a false complaint, they can be
punished with fine and imprisonment.

 

There is, however, no appeal for a member who may have been wrongly
dismissed. Neither is there is any discretion left with either the Prime
Minister or the President of India to withhold the person’s removal.
So, the President can refuse to sign bills passed by both houses of
Parliament, refuse to sign orders of impeachment of Supreme Court
judges, commute a sentence of death which could have been upheld by four
different courts (including two benches of the Supreme Court in appeal
and review), but she must remove a member of the Lok Pal on the
recommendation of the Supreme Court.

 

Moving on. What does this wonderfully constituted Committee get to do, anyway?

According to the Bill, the Lok Pal shall be responsible for receiving
complaints for offences under the PoCA, or for “misconduct” which
includes “vigilance angle” which in turn includes the very carefully
worded “Gross or willful negligence; recklessness in decision
making; blatant violations of systems and procedures; exercise of
discretion in excess where no ostensible/public interest is evident;
failure to keep the controlling authority/superiors informed in time”.

Presently, complaints for offences under the PoCA go to the
anti-corruption wings of either the CBI or the local police. The police
investigate, and present their findings to a government authority for
sanction. The government authority is supposed to independently apply
their mind and accord sanction if a case has been made out. The case is
then tried before a special court. The procedure for complaints under
the PoCA now is that the Lok Pal will order an inquiry or investigation,
and only when the Lok Pal is satisfied that a case is made out, will it
direct that prosecution be launched. The procedure for obtaining
sanction prior to prosecution is eliminated, once the Lok Pal orders
investigation it is deemed that sanction is accorded.

 

The branch of the CBI that deals with investigation and prosecution
of offences alleged to have been committed under the PoCA, will now be
the “Lok Pal Investigation Wing” and be under the direction and control
of the Lok Pal.

 

To start with, it crosses the line when it comes to the separation of
powers. Each wing of Government—the Legislature, Executive and
Judiciary—keeps checks and balances on the other, and so they must
remain separate, because that’s the only way to ensure that there is no
abuse of power. Here, the Lok Pal, which is a judicial body, for all
practical purposes, will have control of the part of the Executive that
conducts investigations on its behalf. To add to more confusion, the
chairperson, members of Lok Pal and the officers in investigation wing
of Lok Pal are to be deemed to be “police officers” as defined under the
Code of Criminal Procedure, for the purpose of carrying out
investigation.

 

When a complaint comes before the Lok Pal Committee, they can either
initiate investigation straight away, or conduct a preliminary inquiry.
Interestingly, the Lok Pal can also direct any other person to
make this preliminary inquiry as it deems fit for ascertaining whether
there exists a reasonable ground for conducting the investigation.

 

An aside here—the whole wording of this bill can get kind of
confusing, because, for example, in criminal law, “Inquiry” is usually
meant for a stage prior to the filing of an FIR, and Investigation
denotes that an FIR has been filed. In this Bill, the Lok Pal can, after
investigation, order that Prosecution be launched, which means an FIR,
after which investigation has to be carried out. Again.

 

While the complainant is mandated to be kept in the loop regarding
the inquiry into his complaint at all times, the same is not true for
the public servant. In fact, it isn’t very clear when the public servant
is allowed to make his representation, which is slightly disturbing
considering the possibilities at the end of this inquiry/investigation,
which we’ll get to in a bit.

 

Calling for the say of the public servant at the stage of inquiry is
entirely at the discretion of the Lok Pal. At the stage of
investigation, thankfully, the Lok Pal “shall afford to such public
servant and the complainant an opportunity to offer comments and be
heard”. What is the scope of offering comments, though? Does the public
servant have the right to legal counsel? It is also very disturbing that
there is no provision which prevents the bench of the Lok Pal that
conducts the preliminary inquiry from being the one that conducts the
investigation, which is a necessary safeguard from a “judge, jury,
executioner” situation.

 

After completion of due investigation, the Lok Pal has several
options, including (besides dismissing the complaint) initiating
prosecution against public servants as well as abetting private parties,
imposing of penalities under the conduct rules, order cancellation or
modification of a licence or lease or permission or contract or
agreement, or even blacklisting the concerned firm or company or
contractor or any other entity involved in that act of corruption.

 

Pretty harsh punishments, probably what these people who are guilty
of corruption-related offences deserve—but wait—this is all prior to
having been found guilty by a court of law. Since the
inquiry/investigation/what-have-you is in the nature of a civil Inquiry,
the standard of proof is very different than of a prosecution under
criminal law. Take the example of people who are found guilty in
departmental inquiries who often get acquitted by courts in PoCA
offences. In criminal law, the standard of proof is beyond reasonable
doubt. If this standard of proof is not adhered to, and at this stage
which is prior to any independent investigation authority even looking
into the matter (the Lok Pal Investigation Wing not really fitting in
with the concept of “independent”) the ability to blacklist corporations
is absolutely absurd. Another point to ponder—if the Lok Pal decides to
“initiate prosecution”, who is the investigating authority then? Is it
the Lok Pal Investigation Wing again? God forbid!

 

That’s not all—even at the stage of inquiry (that is before even
concluding their inquiry and referring this case for initiation of
prosecution) the Lok Pal can move for interim measures to restrain him
or his orders from causing further harm. However, even at the stage of
investigation, the Lok Pal can ask for a tabulation and freezing of
immovable and movable assets of the public servant. It is not even
necessary to show that these assets are disproportionate or reasonably
suspected to have been derived from funds which are the subject of
inquiry.

 

The Lok Pal Bill moves further into uncharted territory with the
possible prosecution of the “bribe giver”. For years, the position of
law as to whether a person could be prosecuted for giving a bribe was
unclear. Under PoCA, a statement made by a person in any proceeding
against a public servant that he offered or agreed to offer any illegal
gratification would not make him liable to face prosecution as an
abettor. The purpose behind this was simple—to encourage reporting of
offences and ensure convictions. It looks like a person who had to give a
bribe may not get this cushion of protection before the Lok Pal.

 

More absurdity—the act also takes the liberty of amending the
Prevention of Corruption Act. Sections 7 – 15 of the Act which have
minimum punishments of six months to a year and maximum punishments of
5-7 years are now amended to two years minimum imprisonment and a
maximum punishment of life imprisonment. If the accused is an officer of
the rank of joint secretary or above or a minister, a member or
chairperson of the Lok Pal, the minimum imprisonment is ten years. A
fine of five times the “loss caused to the public” will be recovered in
case the beneficiary is a “business entity”, and if the assets of the
company be not enough to recover the amount, it will have to be
recovered from the personal assets of the directors.

 

Theoretically, this is fine if you have an independent judiciary,
again, the hallmark of a democracy. Already, there are special courts
constituted to handle matters under the PoCA (the Bombay Sessions Court
has four such Courts). The appointment and superintendence of these
judges, who are at the level of district judges, should be by the
governor of the state in consultation with the High Court exercising
jurisdiction in relation to such state, since that’s what the
Constitution of India says.

 

The Lok Pal Bill pays no heed to such niceties, and instead the
Government (they probably meant “Governor”) has to take advice from the
Lok Pal on the selection procedure of these judges, which one hopes is
not that these judges have shown a zeal for rooting out corruption in
the past.

 

Never mind, at least there is a provision for appeal. Or is there?
Along with the ignorance of the Doctrine of Separation of Powers, the
other big problem with the Lok Pal Bill and which demonises it
completely is the utter disregard for the right to appeal. It is not
clear, whether a bench of the Lok Pal is to be considered on par with a
magistrate (since it conducts inquiry), a court of sessions, a High
Court (though it is to be treated so for the purpose of the Contempt of
Courts Act), a tribunal or a quasi-judicial body (like the Human Rights
Commission).

 

Regardless of what it fancies itself to be, by the lack of provision
for appeal, it is unconstitutional. Granted, the Lok Pal itself doesn’t
convict anyone, but that doesn’t mean that there should be no right to
appeal. The right to at least one appeal against an order, which affects
someone adversely, is inherent in the Constitution. There is no
specific clause regarding appeals in the Jan Lok Pal Bill, and that is
unconstitutional, to say the least.

 

The only mention of an Appeal is in Section 28A regarding disposal of
“Properties deemed to have been obtained through corrupt means” where
appeals against the orders of the Lok Pal shall lie in High Court of
appropriate jurisdiction, which shall decide the matter within two
months of filing of the appeal.”

 

Gautam Patel, a lawyer, points out, that according to Section 27 (2),
there appears to be a further ousting of the power of the judiciary by
barring any proceedings or decision of the Lok Pal from being
challenged, reviewed, quashed or called in question in any court of
ordinary civil jurisdiction. While in my opinion that doesn’t preclude
the interference of the High Court in its extraordinary writ
jurisdiction, thus allowing for judicial review, the section is
extremely high handed.

 

The bill is also contradictory and confusing when it comes to
inquiries and investigations against various public officials. The big
ticket is of course the judiciary. Special provisions exist only as
regards judges of a High Court or Supreme Court. All complaints
concerning these persons will be subject to a preliminary screening for
prima facie evidence—interestingly, judges will only be considered for
offences under the PoCA and not for “other” offences and misconduct.

 

Registration of a case will only be done with the approval of a full
bench of the Lok Pal, a majority of the members being from a legal
background. Even after registration, such cases shall be investigated by
a special team headed by an officer not below the rank of a
superintendent of police. This is all well and good, because this makes
absolutely no difference to the Judge who is protected by the rigorous
impeachment method.

 

The proposed Jan Lok Pal Bill is a knee-jerk reaction to the present
scenario. No doubt, corruption is draining our exchequer as well as our
sense of morality and faith in the system. Like most knee-jerk
reactions, it is not well thought out, and by taking over the
independence of courts and the investigating authorities, leaving no
scheme of appeal, and the ambiguous treatment of the right to be heard,
the bill is absolutely unconstitutional and should not be implemented at
any cost—fast-unto-death or not. The possible implications of its
enactment far outweigh the obviously good intentions that it was drafted
with.

 

It is always easy to criticise and walk away without any suggestions.
So let me throw in my ideas. Say you remove the unconstitutional and
absurd bits from the Jan Lok Pal Bill, what do you have? A legislation
that prides itself on transparency in its constitution and functioning
and easy accessibility by the public, all of which can and should be
strengthened in existing mechanisms. The provisions regarding protection
to whistleblowers should extend to all endangered witnesses in general,
and should find place in a separate legislation or appropriate
amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code.

 

The purpose of the Lok Pal Bill should be a transparent means of
pre-trial evaluation of material against public servants, and providing a
more public alternative to the closed door sanctioning process under
the PoCA and the Code of Criminal Procedure. Like it or not, the process
of sanction is a necessary evil especially when dealing with publicly
elected officials. It cannot be the tool of a witch-hunt, and it must
respect the boundaries of due process and constitutionality.

 

When you already have courts and police personnel devoted exclusively
to unearthing offences under the PoCA, an act which actually places the
burden of proof on the accused, why not expend resources in trying to
strengthen these?

 

By bringing in the spirit of the Jan Lok Pal Bill and improving
citizen access to complaint mechanisms, ensuring witness protection,
along with a transparent and public process of according sanction for
prosecution, there will be a great improvement in the effectiveness of
the PoCA, which itself would be a huge deterrent.

 

A relook at the PoCA and its scope, particularly the inclusion of the
private sector, would also not be out of place. Enacting the Jan Lok
Pal Bill in its present form, the appointment of the officials and the
sure-shot constitutional challenges it will face will be a waste of
time, energies and effort. Let’s get to work with what we have.

 

Why an ombudsman won’t help India

Henry Louis Mencken—the 19th century American essayist and
satirist—once said “For every problem there is a solution which is
simple, clean and wrong”. The proposed Lokpal (Ombudsman) Bill, in both
the government and non-government versions, is one such solution to the
problem of corruption. India is high on corruption because it is low on
business freedom. This relationship holds true across the world,
including the Nordic nations from whom the concept of Ombudsman has been
borrowed. The solution lies in changing the nature, and not necessarily
the size, of the Indian state.

Photo: Deepankar Raj

The Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal’s annual Index of
Economic Freedom ranks countries based on ten benchmarks, including
business freedom, trade freedom and property rights. Business freedom is
“a quantitative measure of the ability to start, operate, and close a
business that represents the overall burden of regulation as well as the
efficiency of government in the regulatory process”. There is a strong
correlation between business freedom and Transparency International’s
corruption perceptions index—a measure of the “degree to which public
sector corruption is perceived to exist”. Seven of the world’s ten least
corrupt countries rank amongst top ten in business freedom: New
Zealand, Singapore, Denmark, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The
ten most corrupt countries have an average business freedom rank of 154,
while the ten least corrupt have an average rank of 12. India has a
business freedom rank of 167, below Burkina Faso, Mozambique,
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Egypt. The correlation
coefficient—a measure of the strength of linear relationship between two
variables—between business freedom and perceived corruption for the
year 2010 is a high 0.68.

The story gets even more fascinating. The relationship between size
of government and corruption is weaker than and opposite to that of the
relation between business freedom and corruption. If we rank countries
starting with the nation with the lowest ratio of government spending to
GDP, the ten most corrupt countries have an average government size
rank of 52, the ten least corrupt have a rank of 129. The correlation
coefficient between size of government spending and corruption is a
negative 0.32. We have a bit of a paradox here. When government
intervention takes the form of lowering the freedom to start and run
businesses we have more corruption, but when government intervention
takes the form of taxation and redistribution we don’t see an increase
in corruption. Why so?

The public choice school of economics tells us that politicians and
bureaucrats are self-interested agents who are likely to exploit profit
making opportunities. Low business freedom corresponds to extensive
government intervention in the form of licenses, permits and quotas
(LPQ). Profit-maximising politicians use LPQ levers to extract rents
from businesses. Entrepreneurs too are profit-maximising agents, but
they operate under the perennial gale of market forces. These forces
play the tune to which entrepreneurs dance to satisfy consumers. It is
for this reason that Adam Smith held that “it is not from the
benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our
dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest.” Thus while
market forces channel the self-interest of private entrepreneurs to
promote social good, making the pie grow larger, the undisciplined
self-interest of politicians extracts a piece of the sweet pie while
hindering its growth. High government taxation and redistribution does
not necessarily create LPQ levers for extraction of rent, and this is
why we do not see a positive relation between size of government and
corruption internationally.

Empirical evidence and economics theory tell us that an ombudsman is
unlikely to solve the problem of corruption in India. In the Nordic
countries all the ombudsman does is fine-tune a well-functioning system.
According to the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsmen Report a total of
6,112 complaint cases were concluded during the period 1 July 2007 to 30
June 2008, of these only one ended with “prosecution and disciplinary
proceeding.” Imagine the number of people such an institution would have
to prosecute in India. A good analogy is that of the anti-trust
commissions in the United States and the European Union who look into
acts of abuse of market power by monopoly firms to promote healthy
competition. The institution is meant to work in a largely free-market
economy. In the same way that a competition commission fine tunes a
market economy an ombudsman too may fine tune a mostly uncorrupt system
but it cannot create one. An ombudsman cannot fix a broken system like
India.

Jakon Svensson writes in a 2005 Journal of Economic Literature
article: “Strikingly, many [of the most corrupt countries] are governed,
or have recently been governed, by socialist governments.” Technically,
India too is socialist. But socialism comes in various flavours; the
command and control philosophy and welfare state philosophy mean very
different things as far corruption goes. Well-designed welfare schemes
in which government plays the role of a financier rather than producer
can go a long way in cutting down on corruption. India needs innovation
in governance; and for lessons on governance, bureaucrats in New Delhi
need not trouble themselves with a flight to Oslo—Patna will do. The
Nitish Kumar government handed out money to parents to buy bicycles for
girl children, rather than use government employees or contractors to
produce and distribute them. This cut out a whole group of parasites.

Publius Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56-117), a senator and historian of the
Roman Empire, in the Annals says “The more corrupt the republic, the
more numerous the laws.” There is no genetic or cultural reason to
presume Indians are less ethical than Norwegians. The difference lies in
legal rules that govern economic activity, and that is what needs to
change.

Top 12 reasons Why Anna Hazare is wrong and Lok Pal a bad idea

FAQ: Why Anna Hazare is wrong and Lok Pal a bad idea

08.14.2011 · Posted in Public Policy

Don’t fall for the miracle cure that is being offered. Corruption must be fought differently and it’s not easy.

1. Is Lok Pal is necessary to fight corruption?

No, not only is it unnecessary, it will make the problem worse.
Corruption in India arises because of too much government, too many
rules, too much complexity and too much ambiguity. Adding one more,
huge, powerful layer to an already complex system will make the system
even more complicated. Complexity creates the incentives for
corruption–both on the part of the bribe giver and the bribe taker.


1A. Is the government’s version of the Lok Pal bill better?

No. We don’t need a Lok Pal at all. Making existing constitutional
institutions—like CAG, CVC, CBI and the Election Commission—more
independent will serve the purpose equally well. If we have been unable
to prevent the politicisation and undermining of these instutitions why
would we be able to prevent the Lok Pal from being politicised and
undermined? If we can prevent Lok Pal from being politicised and
undermined, why can’t we restore the independence and credibility of
CAG, CVC, CBI and the Election Commission?

2. What’s the alternative to Lok Pal then?

The alternative is to proceed with second-generation reforms, or Reforms 2.0.
Contrary to conventional wisdom reforms have reduced corruption, albeit
by moving it to higher up the government. In 1989 an ordinary person
would have to pay a bribe to get a telephone connection. By 2005, there
was no need to pay a bribe at all and anyone could get a phone in
minutes. Yes, 2010 saw the 2G scam in telecoms, but that was because the
UPA government reversed the reform process.

In fact, data show that perceptions of corruption are lower in some sectors of the economy, usually those that have been liberalised.

If you are interested in exploring real alternatives, you can start
by reading Atanu Dey’s slim, easily readable and inexpensive new book, “Transforming India”.

3. Doesn’t Hong Kong have an Ombudsman and doesn’t it enjoy low corruption?

This is a specious argument. There is little evidence to prove that
Hong Kong has low corruption because it has an Ombudsman. On the
contrary, there is empirical evidence from across the world suggesting that countries with high economic freedom are perceived to suffer from less corruption.

Hong Kong is one of the freest economies of the world,
and therefore, incentives for government officials to be corrupt are
relatively low. The Ombudsman is useful to address the residual
corruption in economic sectors and in sectors like law enforcement that
do not have discretionary powers over economic sectors.

4. How can we have economic reforms if the corrupt politicians don’t allow it?

We have not really demanded them at all, actually. If we did, they are
bound to register in the national political agenda. We should persuade
politicians that their political future is linked to implementing
economic reforms.

5. Easy to say, but how can we do this?

By voting. The constituencies that stand to benefit from economic
reforms—the middle class—needs to vote in larger numbers. In the absence
of the middle class vote base, politicians appease the poor by giving
handouts and entitlements, and cater to the super rich by allowing the
crony sector to exploit the half-reformed economy. It’s not easy, and we
have to be innovative. See for instance, Atanu Dey’s interesting idea
to form middle-class vote banks to induce good governance.

Whatever may be the claims made by the people promoting Lok Pal,
there is no miracle solution. They are peddling miracle weight-loss
pills. Sadly, such pills usually don’t work and can cause severe damage
to your health. If you are cautioned not to take those pills, you can’t
ask “which other miracle weight-loss pill do you recommend”? The answer
is in diet and exercise, which is hard work.

6. In the meantime, what’s wrong with Jan Lok Pal?

This question has already been answered above, but it’s usual
to encounter it again at this stage. The problem with Jan Lok Pal is
that it’ll make the problem worse. Does anyone seriously think we can
hire tens of thousands of absolutely honest officials who will
constitute the Lok Pal? Who will keep watch on them? Maybe we need a
Super Lok Pal, and then a Hyper Lok Pal to watch over the Super Lok Pal
and so on…This isn’t sarcasm, this is the logical extension of the Lok
Pal argument.

7. Don’t we have the right to protest peacefully? Why do you say that a fast-until-death lacks legitimacy?

Of course we have the right to protest peacefully. But it’s not about
whether we have the right or not. It’s about are we using that right
wisely. (You have the freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean it’s a
good idea to blast Eminem using a loudspeaker at 2am in a residential
district.)

As Ambedkar said while introducing the Constitution in November 1949,
once the Constitution came into force, we should avoid all
non-constitutional methods like protests and satyagraha, for they are the grammar of anarchy.
If two persons go on fasts until death for two opposing reasons, we
cannot decide the issue by allowing one person to die first.

Fast until death is political blackmail. It is a form of theatre
engaged in to coerce the government into doing something that the
agitators want. Whatever may be the cause, a single person cannot be
allowed to dictate laws to the whole nation.

8. Doesn’t Anna Hazare have the right to fast until death?

Anna Hazare has the right to protest peacefully. However to the extent
that his actions amount to an attempt to commit suicide, they are
illegal. The government can legitimately prevent him from killing
himself whatsoever the reason he might have to attempt suicide.

9. You are an armchair intellectual. Shouldn’t we trust activists more?

Pilots don’t design aircraft. Practicing doctors don’t discover new
drugs and treatments. These jobs are usually done by armchair
intellectuals. So being an armchair intellectual is not a
disqualification.

You shouldn’t trust intellectuals or activists because of what they
are. You should examine their arguments and make your own judgement.
Most of the people supporting Lok Pal have not examined what the
proposal is, have not tried to consider opposing arguments and blindly
accept it as a solution because some famous people said so.

11. Aren’t those who oppose Anna Hazare’s agitation supporting the corrupt politicians?

No. It takes an enormous amount of arrogance to claim that Anna Hazare
and his supporters have the exclusive hold on the right way to fight
corruption.

In the real world, it is foolish to expect 100% clean and non-corrupt
politicians. The real world challenge is to achieve good governance
with imperfect constitutions, imperfect institutions, imperfect leaders
and imperfect citizens. This requires us to realise that individuals
respond to incentives. If we remove incentives for taking or giving
bribes, then corruption will be lowered. We can reduce incentives for
corruption by following through with the reforms that started in 1991
but have stalled since 2004.

It is entirely possible to oppose the UPA government’s politics and
policies, while recognising that it is the legitimately constituted
government of the country. Individuals and parties might suffer from a
legitimacy deficit because of flagrant corruption, but the Government of
India as an institution remains the legitimate authority to make policy
decisions for the whole nation.

12. Why is fasting illegitimate when Mahatma Gandhi used it in our struggle for independence from the British?

There is a huge difference in context between 26th January 1950 when the
Constitution of India came into force and the time before it.

Mahatma Gandhi used civil disobedience against laws imposed on India
by the British government. Indians had no say in how the laws were made
and how they were implemented. Indians could not repeal laws we didn’t
want. Civil disobedience was justified in this context.

Gandhi also used it to coerce Indian nationalist leaders too,
including Ambedkar and the Indian National Congress, into accepting his
views. Whatever might be the wisdom of Gandhi’s intentions, this was
undemocratic and created a culture of ‘high command’ that lives on to
this day. Fasting was not justified in this context. This part of Gandhi
receives little attention in the dominant narrative of Indian history.

With the formation of the Republic of India on 26 January 1950,
things changed profoundly. All Indians have a say in how laws are made
and how they are implemented. We can amend or repeal laws that we do not
like. There is, of course, a method to do this, which must be followed.
These are the constitutional methods that Ambedkar referred to in his
grammar of anarchy speech. When constitutional methods are available,
there is no case for non-constitutional methods like satyagraha or
hunger strikes.

There is thus no equivalence between Gandhi’s satyagraha against the
British ruling us and Mr Hazare’s hunger strikes against we ruling
ourselves.

London riots

August 8,2011

London riots

Two nights of
rioting in London’s Tottenham neighborhood erupted following protests
over the shooting death by police of a local man, Mark Duggan. Police
were arresting him when the shooting occurred. Over 170 people were
arrested over the two nights of rioting, and fires gutted several
stores, buildings, and cars. The disorder spread to other neighborhoods
as well, with shops being looted in the chaos. Collected here are
images from the rioting and the aftermath. — Lane Turner (26 photos total)

Fire
fighters and riot police survey the area as fire rages through a
building in Tottenham, north London on Aug. 7, 2011. A demonstration
against the death of a local man turned violent and cars and shops were
set ablaze. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP)

A rioter throws a burning wooden plank at police in Tottenham Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

Mounted police officers chase rioters on the streets in Tottenham Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

Riot police officers face off with protesters in Tottenham Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

A masked protester hurls an object toward riot police officers in Tottenham Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

A policeman in riot gear stands guard in Tottenham Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

A
double decker bus burns as riot police try to contain a large group of
people on a main road in Tottenham on August 6, 2011. (Leon
Neal/AFP/Getty Images) #

Police
officers detain a man in Enfield, north London August 7, 2011. Police
said they were called to Enfield, a few miles north of Tottenham, where
youths had smashed two shop windows and damaged a police car. (Stefan
Wermuth/Reuters) #

Fire rages through a building in Tottenham on Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

Riot police officers escort an injured man after arresting him in Tottenham on Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

A protester faces off with riot police officers on the streets in Tottenham on Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

Police officers make their way on the streets in Tottenham on Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) #

Buildings burn on Tottenham High Road in London during protests on August 6, 2011. (Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images) #

Protestors face off against riot police lines on Tottenham High Road on August 6, 2011 in London. (Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images) #

Police officers detain a man in Tottenham on August 7, 2011. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters) #

Police officers in riot gear walk past a burning building in Tottenham on August 7, 2011. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters) #

A
shop and police car burn as riot police try to contain a large group of
people on a main road in Tottenham on August 6, 2011. (Leon
Neal/AFP/Getty Images) #

A
woman walks through the debris with two children as riot police try to
contain a large group of people on a main road in Tottenham on August 6
2011. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images) #

A policeman walks past a damaged jewelery shop in Enfield, north London on August 7, 2011. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters) #

A
police officer patrols as firemen continue to dowse buildings set
alight during riots in Tottenham on August 7, 2011. (Luke
MacGregor/Reuters) #

Police cordon off an area on August 7, 2011 during unrest in Enfield. (Karel Prinsloo/AP) #

Animals are taken from a pet store after riots on Tottenham High Road on August 7, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #

Aaron
Biber, 89, assesses the damage to his hairdressing salon after riots on
Tottenham High Road on August 7, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #

Burnt out cars lie in the road after riots on Tottenham High Road on August 7, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #

A man stands next to a burnt out van after riots on Tottenham High Road on August 7, 2011 . (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #

Residents watch as a building burns after riots on Tottenham High Road on August 7, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

London riots: in ashes, a firm that survived two world wars

It survived the Depression, two world wars and the deepest recession in a
century.

Firefighters battle a large fire that broke out in shops and residential properties in Croydon

Image 1 of 3

Firefighters battle the fire that broke out at House of Reeves furniture store in Croydon

But House of Reeves, a 144-year-old furniture store in the heart of Croydon,
could do little in the face of 100 or so yobs hell-bent on tearing up this
particular corner of south London.

The shop, a local landmark of such repute that it gave its name to the road on
which it now stands, was razed as youths rampaged through the town’s
streets, smashing doors and windows.

In one of the most searing images of the
London riots
, flames tore through the store on Reeves’ Corner on
Monday night, with smoke being seen for miles around. By morning, all that
was left was a charred shell and onlookers were kept well back for fear that
the shattered building could collapse.

It was a crushing blow for a company that was founded in 1867 and has remained
in the Reeves family for five generations. Trevor Reeves, 56, the founder’s
great-great grandson, said: “If we were a computer shop, they would have
just broken in, taken the stock and left. But you can’t very well carry a
three-piece suite through the centre of Croydon can you? It was obvious that
the only thing left for them to do was to set fire to the place.

“It is completely devastating; heartbreaking. The family has been through a
lot; the world wars and the Depression in the 1930s were obviously tough and
the last few years have been particularly difficult, but we have always kept
going.

London riots: Telegraph readers’ photos of the rioting and looted areas of the city

This amazing picture of a car exploding on Mare Street in Hackney was taken by Telegraph reader Miks Uzans, who writes: 'There were around 30 well-equipped rioters. The police didn't even come close to this; instead they were blocking the road 200m away.'  If you have any photographs relating to the riots or the clean-up, please email them to mypic@telegraph.co.uk, supplying a little info on where and how the pictures were taken.

Telegraph readers have been sending us their pictures of the rioting and
looted areas of London. If you have photos related to the recent unrest,
email them to mypic@telegraph.co.uk,
supplying a little info on where and how the pictures were taken, and we’ll
include the best in this picture gallery.

This amazing picture of a car exploding on Mare Street in Hackney was taken
by Telegraph reader Miks Uzans, who writes: “There were around 30
well-equipped rioters. The police didn’t even come close to this; instead
they were blocking the road 200m away.”


Tata Aria 4×2

Tata Aria 4×2 in Lavasa

The Tata Aria 4×2 extends the range to new segments and redefines several benchmarks with its design and technologies.

Photography: Clint Thomas, Yahoo! India News

Photography: Clint Thomas, Yahoo! India News

The Aria’s stylish design is inlaid with the
DNA of an SUV, manifested in its stance, power, driveability and safety.


The Aria’s styling is a blend of bold
proportions, uncluttered lines and uncompromising aesthetics.


Its 2.2 litre Direct Injection Common Rail
(DICOR) engine, with variable turbine technology and 32-bit ECU delivers 140 PS
power and 320 Nm torque.

The Aria is equipped with disc brakes on all
four wheels resulting in superior braking effectiveness and better control. The
Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Breakforce Distribution (EBD)
aids steerability and control in emergency braking situations and on slippery
surfaces. 

The Aria’s stylish design is inlaid with the
DNA of an SUV, manifested in its stance, power, driveability and safety.

undefined

undefined

The Tata Aria 4×2 is being launched in three
trim levels – the Aria Prestige at the top end, the Aria Pleasure and the Aria
Pure.


The 2-DIN music system and Bluetooth, along with
steering mounted phone and music controls, helps switch between music and
conversation at the touch of a button.


The
twin chrome exhaust tailpipes adds a sporty appearance to the rear,
however, if you look closer, the exhaust pipes can be seen inside the
chrome rings. Bad!

The suspension is designed to achieve an
optimal balance between ride comfort and control and stability, both on normal
roads and in offroading. Its low-roll characteristics and higher soaking
capacity further ensure a sedan-like ride quality and SUV-like offroading
capability.


Wraparound dual barreled headlamps complement
the signature Tata grille. Chrome detailing on the sides accentuates its premium
class.


The Aria’s frame is constructed with advanced
hydroformed members. Hydroforming enhances their rigidity while reducing weight.


All
seats, except the driver’s, can be flat-folded, giving you lots of luggage
space – even space to stuff in a Tata Nano.


Roof utility bins, a glove-box chiller and
conveniently placed cup holders helps keep every thing you want within easy
reach.


There are seven roof utility bins
on the Tata Aria, a feature that no other auto maker could ever think
of. Moreover, there are cup holders for every passenger in the car.

The Tata Aria 4×2 is being launched in three
trim levels – the Aria Prestige at the top end, the Aria Pleasure and the Aria
Pure.


The interiors reflect the same richness and
elegance in design, layout, and visual appeal.


Premium leather upholstery enhances richly
textured trims in single or dual tone themes.


There is no need to look back even to park – a
Reverse Guide System helps you with exactitude. The Driver Information System
continuously indicates essential drive data, the Automatic Climate Control,
through roof-mounted AC vents, keeps the cabin temperature ambient.

Want to reduce your belly fat?

Want to reduce your belly fat? Eat apples, green peas and beans
Tue, Jun 28, 2011 2:22 PM IST

Washington, June 28 (ANI): Are you tired of having belly fat? Now, eat two small apples, one cup of green peas and one-half cup of pinto beans and exercise vigorously for 30 minutes, two to four times a week.

cording to the researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, vegetables, fruit and beans contain more soluble fiber and will help reduce visceral fat, or belly fat, around the midsection.

They found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. In addition, increased moderate activity resulted in a 7.4 percent decrease in the rate of visceral fat accumulation over the same time period.

“We know that a higher rate of visceral fat is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease,” said Kristen Hairston, assistant professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and lead researcher on the study.

“Our study found that making a few simple changes can have a big health impact,” he added.

The researchers examined whether lifestyle factors, such as diet and frequency of exercise, were associated with a five-year change in abdominal fat of African Americans and Hispanic Americans.

At the beginning of the study, which involved 1,114 people, the participants were given a physical exam, an extensive questionnaire on lifestyle issues, and a CT scan. Five years later, the exact same process was repeated.

The researchers found that increased soluble fiber intake was associated with a decreased rate of accumulated visceral fat, but not subcutaneous fat.

“There is mounting evidence that eating more soluble fiber and increasing exercise reduces visceral or belly fat, although we still don’t know how it works,” said Hairston.

The results are published in the June 16 online issue of the journal Obesity. (ANI)

%d bloggers like this: