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India’s political class failed millions: Kailash Satyarthi

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New Delhi | Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has said India’s political class has once again “failed” millions of children, who are bought and sold at a “price lesser than cattle”, by not discussing the anti-trafficking bill in the Rajya Sabha this time.

Noting that children are not yet a political priority and this “painful” thing has been proven once again, Satyarthi said all political parties should come together to ensure that Parliament should have at least one dedicated day to discuss issues and challenges related to child safety, education and well-being.

He expressed displeasure over the anti-trafficking bill not being debated upon in the Rajya Sabha, according to a statement issued by his NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

Satyarthi made the comments at the 25th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture on ‘safe childhood, safe India’, the statement said.

“India’s political class has once again failed millions of girls and boys who are bought and sold at a price lesser than cattle. These victims of trafficking were anxiously hoping for the passage of the anti-trafficking bill in the Rajya Sabha this time around, but their hopes were dashed,” he said.

“Mere sloganeering and rhetoric will never deliver justice and transform the society. From what everybody saw over the last few days, Parliament – the Temple of Democracy – is being used for reaping political and electoral gains and it seems that our elected representatives are not concerned about far bigger issues that are ruining innocent childhoods,” Satyarthi said.

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was listed in the Rajya Sabha this Winter Session, but not debated or passed.

The Lok Sabha had already passed the bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament in July last year.

The bill provides for designated courts for fast-tracking trials and timely repatriation of foreign victims – within a period of one year from taking into cognizance, which is a highly commendable move as there are many cases of trafficking from across the neighbouring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.

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Ensure justice to two Hindu girls: Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan

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New Delhi | External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday asked Pakistan to ensure immediate release of the two Hindu girls who were allegedly kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam in Sindh province last week.

“Justice demands that both these girls should be restored to their family immediately,” she tweeted.

Reena and Raveena, hailing from village Hafiz Salman near the town of Daharki in Sindh, were allegedly kidnapped and forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam on March 20, before being married to Muslim men.

“Forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan: The age of the girls is not disputed. Raveena is only 13 and Reena is 15 years old,” Swaraj said.

“Even the Prime Minister on Naya Pakistan will not believe that girls of this tender age can voluntarily decide about their conversion to another religion and marriage,” she said.


A Pakistani high court on Tuesday ordered official protection for the two girls due to concern about their safety as authorities widened a probe to ascertain if the teenage sisters were abducted, forcibly converted and married.

On Sunday, Swaraj tweeted that she asked the Indian envoy in Islamabad to send a report on the incident.

Hours later, India issued a note verbale to Pakistan on the issue, sharing its concerns over the incident and called for suitable remedial action to protect and promote safety, security and welfare of people from the minority communities.

Subsequently, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an investigation into the incident.

The Islamabad High Court issued the order on Tuesday after the petition was filed by the girls and their husbands to seek protection from adverse action.

On March 20, the girls’ family lodged a First Information Report against their alleged forced conversion to Islam.

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Implementation of Cong’s minimum income scheme may not be an easy task: Experts

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New Delhi | Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s minimum income scheme, aiming to lift five crore families or 25 crore people out of poverty, reflects a commitment to social security, but financing it may be an uphill task, said several leading economists and social scientists.

Gandhi on Monday, announced that under ‘Nyay’ — an acronym for Nyuntam Aay Yojana, Rs 72,000 will be given to the poorest families every year if his party returns to power while calling it a final assault on poverty.

Nyay would require run up an annual bill of Rs 3.60 lakh crore, or around 1.7 per cent of GDP, which, for 2019-20, is pegged at 210 lakh crore. The Congress is yet to spell out how resources will be generated to implement the scheme amid concerns that its implementation may not be fiscally prudent.

“NYAY reflects a welcome commitment to social security. The soundness of this proposal, however, depends on how it is to be financed and how the poorest 20 per cent are to be identified. Hopefully, the proposal will improve even as the commitment remains,” Development Economist Jean Dreze told PTI.

Under the scheme, any family having a monthly income less than Rs 12,000 would receive Rs 6,000 monthly.

Syeda Hameed, former member of Planning Commission gave a thumbs up to the scheme though she admitted that it could result in a “fiscal burden” on the exchequer.

“It can change the face of India. It will be a fiscal burden, but there is enough ill gotten money with billionaires which can be put to use by a leader who is honest and who cares,” she said.

Abhijit Sen, a retired JNU professor who was also a member of the erstwhile Planning Commission said, “It is going to cost a lot of money. And it is going to be an implementation issue.”

Right to food activist Harsh Mander said he welcomed the scheme because it brought the real issues of the poor at the centre of the political discourse and also recognised the inequality prevailing in the country.

“India’s tax to GDP ratio is among the lowest in the world. We are just not taxing the super rich. Our subsidies to the rich and middle class is at least three times as much as we give to the poor, so we need to reorganise our subsidies to include the poor.

“If we have a fully functioning employment guarantee programme, both for urban and rural areas, and if we have an effective pension programme for poor and person with disabilities, then those who still fall through the cracks would be covered by this program,” he said.

Economist Sen suggested that while implementing the scheme, the obvious thing that the Congress can do is to link it to something such as NREGA.

“You don’t identify; people come to work. So, if you can increase the number of days on which the people are eligible to work, that would serve the purpose as far for those who can work.

“For the old and the disabled you just transfer cash transfer. To transfer cash to the working age population, which is a large population, you will need to know their incomes and all that. That is a very difficult thing to do,” he said. PTI DSP ASG MPB

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Happy that women will benefit under NYAY scheme: Priyanka Gandhi

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New Delhi | Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday said she’s happy that women will receive Rs 72,000 per year directly into their bank accounts under the minimum income guarantee scheme announced by party chief Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced that Rs 72,000 per year will be given as minimum income to poor families, benefiting around 25 crore people, if his party is voted to power in Lok Sabha polls, and asserted it will be the final assault on poverty.

“So happy that under the NYAY scheme, women will be the ones who receive the annual amount of Rs. 72,000 directly into their accounts. ‘Empower a woman, empower a family’,” Priyanka Gandhi wrote on Twitter.

She said 20 per cent or 5 crore families belonging to the poorest category with monthly income less than Rs 12,000 will benefit under the scheme.

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