Tag Archives | India

Indian Police Still Using Truth Serum

Critics say the results are more truth-y than truthful. The Guardian writes:

It is the sort of scene that belongs in a film noir, not a 21st-century democracy: an uncooperative suspect being injected with a dose of “truth serum” in an attempt to elicit a confession. But some detectives in India still swear by so-called narcoanalysis despite India’s highest court ruling that it was not only unreliable but also “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

The technique is back in the news after officers from India’s Central Bureau of Investigation asked a judge for permission to administer sodium pentothal to a high-profile Indian politician and his financial adviser embroiled in a corruption case.

There are no official figures for the number of suspects who have been subjected to narcoanalysis, but VH Patel, deputy director at the Directorate of Forensic Sciences in Gujarat, western India, [said] he had personally conducted narcoanalysis in nearly 100 cases.

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Animal Poachers In India Can Be Shot on Sight

PoachingReports Talia Ralph on Global Post:

Animal poachers in India can now be shot on sight, after lawmakers in the western state of Maharashtra passed legislation Wednesday to defend tigers, elephants, and other wildlife from attacks, the Times of India reported.

The state’s forest guards should not be “booked for human rights violations when they have taken action against poachers,” Maharashtra’s Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

There have been no cases of tiger poachers being shot or killed in Maharashtra, but guards have been charged in the past for shooting illegal loggers or fishermen, the state’s chief wildlife warden S.W.H. Naqvi told the AP.

The state also announced plans to put more rangers and jeeps on patrol in the forest, and will offer secret payments to those who tip off officials about poachers and animal smugglers, according to the AP.

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Raj Konai’s Hand: The First Biometric Identity?

e43f4780a2fc991162bdbf3b2661bdfee1faac7fFrom an exhibition by Raqs Media Collective at London's Frith Street Gallery, which puts forth that modern biometric identification was invented by a British colonial official in 1858:
Untold Intimacy of Digits is an facsimile of the handprint of a Bengal Peasant, Raj Konai. The handprint was taken under the orders of William Herschel – scientist, statistician and at the time a revenue official with the Bengal government. It is one of the earliest impressions of the human body taken by a person in power with the explicit purpose of using the trace to identify and verify a human subject. It was taken in lieu of a signature, to affix the identity of Konai to a document. It was felt, at the time, that subaltern subjects were way too slippery when it came to the presentation of their identities to the authorities.
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The Robot Psychics Of India

robot1What happens when the unfathomable/intangible and the logical/mechanical intersect? Robots designed to tap into the spirit world — meet the priests/shamans of the twenty-first century. Via Discover Magazine:

These bots wait in perpetual readiness to dispense their pre-programmed wisdom, and for only 5 rupees or so, the robot’s handler will allow you to plug a pair of headphones into its metallic underpants and listen as it tells your fortune. One of our favorite designs is the mod/retro combination of a smattering of LED lights and an analog clock, for those mortals bogged down in the worldly concerns of time.

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The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement.

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Girl ‘Sacrificed To Ensure Better Harvest’

4327639917_77c7526b4cThe Times of India reports on a horrifying Wicker Man-esque murder in central India:

Two men have been arrested in for allegedly killing a 7-year-old girl and cutting out her liver in a ritual sacrifice to ensure a better harvest, police said Monday.

Lalita Tati disappeared in October and her dismembered remains were found a week later, Rajendra Narayan Das, a senior police officer, told The Associated Press. Tati was walking home after watching television at a neighbor’s house when she was kidnapped.

Police arrested two men, both poor farmers, last week and they told police they killed the girl to appease their gods and get a better harvest, Das said. The men were described as “tribals,” a term referring to the region’s indigenous people, most of whom remain mired in poverty and illiteracy.

Human sacrifices are rare but get prominent attention every few years. A deep belief in traditional healers, or witch doctors, is common in mostly tribal Chhattisgarh.

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Man Has Raised His Arm Continuously For 38 Years

mahantamarbhartiji190911_630Is his now-gnarled arm a beacon of peace? A symbol of rejection of earthly pleasures? A crystal-clear example of the insanity of religion? In pondering Amar Mahant’s arm, everyone will see what they want to see — like a Cheeto said to resemble both Jesus and Elvis. Via the West Australian:

In 1970 Amar Mahant [of New Delhi] left his job, family and friends to dedicate himself to his religious beliefs. In 1973, the clerk raised his hand in honour of Hindu deity Shiva – and he hasn’t put it down since. It’s now been 38 years.

Amar’s followers claim his sacrifice is a beacon of peace, while others say he has given up the use of a limb in order to separate himself from the pleasures of mortal life.

Amar’s sacrifice has turned his arm into a useless stump of flesh and bone, with a gnarled hand and unclipped fingernails hanging from the end.

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Gibson Guitars Vs. the U.S. Government

GibsonVia Brooklyn Vegan and Gibson.com:
The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department's interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India. On August 24, 2011, around 8:45 a.m. CDT, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson's facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants. Gibson has fully cooperated with the execution of the search warrants.
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India’s Illegal ‘Human Safari Park’

Andaman Islands

Andaman Islands. Photo: _e.t (CC)

Via Wanderlust:

The Andaman Trunk Road was ordered to be closed by India’s Supreme Court in 2002 but it still remains open and poses a high threat to the indigenous community who have a population of just 365.

‘Survival’, an organisation which campaigns for tribal people’s rights worldwide, has called for travellers to boycott the road which runs through the Andaman Islands, a destination growing in popularity among tourists.

Rules to protect the Jarawa reserve and its community are routinely broken and thousands of tourists — both Indian and international — travel along the road each month, making the reserve in effect, a human safari park.

The hunter-gatherer Jarawa, have only had friendly contact with outsiders since 1998 so there is a high risk of tourists passing on diseases to the community who have little immunity.

In 1999 and 2006, the Jarawa suffered an outbreak of measles, which historically has decimated many indigenous communities worldwide following outside contact.

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Indian Company Produces Flat-Pack, $700 Houses

TataReports Agence France-Presse via Raw Story:
The Indian company that launched the world's cheapest car has unveiled its latest product for the fast-growing nation: a flat-pack house that costs just $700 and can be built in a week. The Tata group, maker of the $2,500 Nano car, said that the 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) home comes from a pre-fabricated kit that includes doors, windows and a roof. "We have already prepared two-three different designs based on discussions with users and are gathering more feedback," Sumitesh Das, the head of the project at Tata, told reporters in Hyderabad. "Hopefully, in the next six-eight months we should be able to roll it out in the market nationally." The basic model of a so-called "Nano" house will cost 32,000 rupees ($720) and will use coconut fibre or jute for wall cladding and interiors. It has a life expectancy of 20 years.
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