Citizens' Issues
The missing girls of Maharashtra & Gujarat
No one has been convicted in Gujarat under the prohibition of Child Marriage Act, although 659 cases are registered
 
There is a shortfall of 73 percent and 55 percent in inspections of sonography centres in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, two of India’s richest.
 
The child sex-ratio (number of girls under six years per 1,000 boys) in the states are among the lowest in India, especially in backward districts, such as Beed in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region (807) and Surat district (831) in Gujarat. The national average is 914.
 
Verdicts have been pronounced in 23 cases of 603 reported cases of child marriage in Maharashtra with 580 cases pending for 2013-14.
 
No one has been convicted in Gujarat under the prohibition of Child Marriage Act, although 659 cases are registered.
 
A wealth of laws and programmes instituted to protect girls are failing them in India’s two most economically-developed states, Maharashtra and Gujarat, according to recent reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
 
Both states are failing to implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC & PNT), which prohibits sex selection, before or after conception, and regulates diagnostic techniques to prevent misuse for sex determination used in female foeticide.
 
Strong laws that work on paper, fail on ground
 
On paper, the Act provides for robust implementation state-wide through a supervisory board and an advisory committee including an officer of or above the rank of joint director of Health and Family Welfare as chairperson; representatives from women’s organisations and an officer of the law department.
 
The chief medical officer or civil surgeon is designated the appropriate authority at the district level.
 
“The joint secretary, health and family welfare department, stated that the state (Gujarat) government had assured to increase (sic) rate of conviction by meticulous paper work, evidence gathering and proper submission, and strong pleading of PC & PNDT cases,” the report said.
 
Maharashtra registered 481 cases under the PC & PNDT Act as of March 2014.
 
While 181 offences were registered in Gujarat under the PC & PNDT Act as of March 2014, only 49 cases were prosecuted and only six offenders were convicted, the CAG report said. The punishments include imprisonment, cancellation of licences and fine.
 
In violation of Supreme Court directions to prosecute cases within six months, cases continued from one to 12 years.
 
The failure to implement the PC & PNDT Act is responsible for the falling child sex-ratio in these states, the report said.
 
Sex ratio improves in India, not in Maharashtra, Gujarat
 
Maharashtra’s overall sex ratio declined from 920 to 919 over a decade (2001 to 2011) although the all-India ratio improved from 933 to 943, according to census 2011.
 
For Gujarat, the overall sex ratio declined from 920 to 919 from 2001 to 2011. However, there was some improvement in the child sex-ratio from 883 to 890 between 2001 and 2011.
 
Another important finding of the report is that the child sex-ratio is lower in urban areas than in rural areas in both states.
 
The report explains that this could be due to the availability of sonography centres in urban areas.
 
“The availability of genetic clinics in urban areas and awareness of literate people about usage of sex determination techniques could also be attributed to declining child sex-ratio in urban areas,” the report said.
 
The child sex-ratio in urban India stood at 902 as against 919 in rural areas, the report said.
 
In Maharashtra, the child sex-ratio in urban regions stood at 899 and 890 in rural areas.
 
In Gujarat, the child sex-ratio in urban areas is 852 and 914 in rural areas.
 
Children forced into marriage under-reported by both states
 
Child marriages, meaning girls/boys aged 10 to 19 years getting married, are common across Maharashtra and Gujarat, the report said.  The audit found that both states were under-reporting child marriages.
 
There are almost 17 million children in India who were married between the ages of 10 and 19. Maharashtra ranks 5th with 1.5 million children married, while Gujarat is 7th with 0.9 million children married in the 10-19 age group.
 
Almost 73 percent of children married are girls in Maharashtra while it is 66 percent in Gujarat.
 
The report highlighted the high pendency of cases pertaining to child marriages in Maharashtra.
 
In 2014, 101 new cases were registered and verdicts were pronounced in 23 cases.
 
There were delays in nominating Child Marriage Prohibition Officers in rural areas while no officers were nominated in urban areas, the report said.
 
Though The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act came into force from June 2012, the government was yet to frame guidelines to assist girls during pre-trial and trial, the report said.
 
In Gujarat, out of 659 complaints of child marriages during 2009-14, court cases were filed in only 15; no one was convicted during this period.
 
Maharashtra, Gujarat: Money is not the issue
 
Gujarat contributes more than 7.5 percent to India’s GDP while Maharashtra contributes about 14 percent.
 
In 2013-14, Maharashtra’s per capita income (at current prices) was 45.6 percent above the Indian norm (Rs 117,091 annually), while Gujarat‘s was 33 percent above (Rs 106,831 annually at current prices). India’s average annual per capita income (at current prices) was Rs 80,388.
 
While Maharashtra grew at 8.7 percent in 2014-15, Gujarat grew at 8.8 percent in 2014-15.

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6 Tips for Protecting Your Communications From Prying Eyes
In an age of ubiquitous surveillance, there are still some things you can do to keep your communications private -- and not all of it is high-tech
 
This is the latest in a series we've done about how to protect your privacy. This post is based on a tip sheet that I prepared for a panel discussion about how journalists can communicate securely with sources at the 2015 Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference.
 
It's easy to feel hopeless about privacy these days.
 
In the post-Snowden era, we have learned that nearly every form of communication-from emails, phone calls, to text messages – can leave a digital trace that can and likely will be analyzed by commercial data-gatherers and governments.
 
Here are some ways to keep those communications private. While these tips were designed for journalists and confidential sources, they're just as useful for protecting any private communications, such as a conversation between family members, or a confidential business dealing.
 
Some tactics are more difficult than others, but the good news is that not all of them require technical skills. The key is to figure out your communication strategy. First, decide if you are trying to hide WHO you are talking to (metadata) or WHAT you are talking about (content), or BOTH.
 
In each case, there are both high-tech and low-tech ways to evade surveillance.
 
If you are trying to mask WHO you are talking to, consider three tactics that I call ACE — which stands for "Add Noise, Cloak or Evade."
 
Add noise means fuzzing the metadata by adding false connections or false content to the communications. 
 
A high-tech way to add noise online is to use Tor Web browser which bounces your Internet traffic around to a bunch of locations so that the website you arrive at doesn't know where you are coming from.
 
You could also add noise in a low-tech way. If, for instance, you are a journalist calling a source in the mayor's office, you could also call everyone in the office, too. That protects the source from being the only one with a record of a call with you. (However, you should talk for a short time and set up another means of communications to avoid creating a data trail of a long conversation).
 
Cloak means using alternate identities. 
 
Another way to mask who you are talking to is to set up new accounts – whether it is email, instant messaging or a cellphone – using alternate identities.
 
For these disposable online accounts, it's best to use Tor when setting up a disposable email (instructions here) or instant messaging account (instructions here for Windows and Mac) so that your location is not revealed during the setup and use of the account.
 
For disposable cellphones, also known as burner phones, the best practice is to buy them in cash in a location not close to your usual work and home (because your location is a very distinctive giveaway). Give one to your correspondent and set up a time in which you will each go to a location that is not on your usual route in order to make the call.
 
Evade means avoiding metadata collection. 
 
This usually means meeting in person, and turning off your phones (or, even better, leaving your phone at home) so there is not a record of your phones being in the same place. The challenge is to avoid using digital forms of communication to arrange the in-person meeting.
 
If you are trying to mask WHAT you are talking about, I suggest three strategies that I call HEM — which stands for "Hide, Encrypt or Mask." 
 
Hide means hiding the existence of the content, by placing it in a secret compartment either physically or digitally. 
 
Hiding content can be as low-tech as hiding a USB stick in your pocket (as long as you are not going through a border or airline inspection).
 
Or it can be as high-tech as creating a hidden volume of encrypted content on your computer (a program called TrueCrypt offers this feature) that is not detectable to a person inspecting your computer.
 
Encrypt means to make content unreadable to outsiders using cryptographic techniques. 
 
Encryption scrambles your messages in ways that are extremely difficult for even the most powerful computers to break.
 
In the post-Snowden era, new encryption services seem to be sprouting every month. To sort out the best services, we ranked many of them last year in a joint project with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
 
For encrypted communications to work, both parties must install the same software - whether it is the encrypted iPhone app Signal for text messages and voice, calls or the widely used GPG software for email encryption. (Instructions here for Mac and Windows users).
 
Mask means disguising the content as an innocuous other type of content. 
 
Known as steganography, this is the art of hiding a message in plain sight. For example, a teenager may post a song lyric to her Facebook page, which conveys a certain meaning to her friends, but is impenetrable to her parents.
 
For this to work, both parties must agree on the meaning of their messages in advance - whether it is using code words or physical symbols - such as the famous flower pot on the balcony that "Deep Throat" apparently moved when he wanted to signal a request for a meeting with journalist Bob Woodward.
 
Courtesy: ProPublica

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Sunanda murder case: Polygraph test conducted on six Tharoor aides
Delhi Police's Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the murder of Sunanda Pushkar, has conducted a polygraph or lie detector test on six people closely associated with her husband and former union minister Shashi Tharoor, Commissioner of Police B.S. Bassi said on Monday.
 
Police sources said the test was conducted on Tharoor's domestic help Narayan Singh, his driver Bajrangi and his friend Sanjay Dewan.
 
This was done after metropolitan magistrate Sunil Kumar Sharma, during in-camera proceedings on May 20, allowed police to conduct the polygraph test on the three people after their consent.
 
Three other people - S.K. Sharma, Vikas Ahlawat and Sunil Takru - have also undergone the lie detector test in connection with the case.
 
"Our investigation is continuing. During investigation, whatever needs to be done will be done. So far, we have already carried out polygraph test on six people. If there is any requirement, we will conduct further tests," Bassi told the media here.
 
"Till the time we conclude our investigation, whatever is required will be done. The reports of the tests have not come yet," he added.
 
The sources said the test was conducted in the presence of the suspects' lawyers.
 
Police had earlier questioned these six people.
 
During the polygraph test, over 100 questions related to some crucial facts, including injuries on Pushkar's body, were asked.
 
All the suspects were asked about Tharoor's relationship with Pushkar and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar.
 
"During the polygraph test, all the suspects also faced questions related to the IPL controversy, the couple's trip to Dubai, and the constant fights between them," a police officer said on condition of anonymity.
 
Officers privy to the investigation said all the suspects were also asked about the couple's fight a day prior to Sunanda's death.
 
The messages recovered from Sunanda Pushkar's mobile phone were also part of the questions, said the officer.
 
Pushkar, who married Tharoor in 2010, was found dead under mysterious circumstances inside a room at the Leela Palace Hotel in Delhi on January 17, 2014. Police registered a murder case on January 1, 2015.
 
Prior to her death, Pushkar was embroiled in a spat with Pakistani journalist Tarar, whom she accused of stalking her husband.

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