19June2019

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

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BJP Mourns Demise

Port Blair, Feb 14: The State President BJP A&N Islands, Shri. Vishal Jolly and Party workers has deeply mourned the sudden demise of Aswani Kumar, Age 30 years, R/O Dollygunj, S/O Smti. Krishna Veni, Senior BJP leader and Ex -ward member Dollygunj Panchayat who breathed his last on 13/02/2019 at 10 pm at GB Pant Hospital. We pray to the Almighty to give eternal peace to the departed soul and courage to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss.

  • Written by Denis Giles
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STIGMA, FEAR OF ISOLATION TRIGGER SUICIDES

By Gajanan Khergamker

Hindi film actress Jiah Khan’s death brings to fore the scourge of suicide which is the second highest cause of death in the nation. Mumbai is among top five Indian cities with the most suicides. Among the more recent suicides, it was Bollywood actress Jiah Khan’s which brought to fore, the rate at which suicides have been on the rise in India.

India had been, time and again, been leading the list of countries with rapidly increasing suicide related deaths.

When we talk about the suicide rate in the nation, Mumbai doesn’t lag too far behind. It has, more often than not, been rated among the top five cities in India with a large number of suicide cases. Failed relationships, bad marriages, examination related stress, peer pressure, family discord and work-related stress are few of the major suicide triggers in India. Sadly, even the police are not immune to this trend, Earlier this year; an RTI application filed revealed that a total of 168 policemen committed suicide in the past 10 years in Mumbai alone.

With suicides increasing alarmingly, it will become the leading cause of death in the country. According to a study recently published in the British Medical Journal a couple of months back, it is the leading cause of death among women in India.  The study which covers data recorded 1990 to 2010 suggests there has been a 126 per cent rise in suicide among Indian women during this period. Today, suicide is the second-leading reason of death in India.

Last year, a study pointed out that suicide is the leading cause of death in youngsters between the ages of 15 years – 29 years. Of the 1,14,800 males who committed suicide in India in 2010, 40 per cent were aged 15 to 29, while 56 per cent of the 72,100 women were in the same age bracket.

The study suggested the suicide rate is much higher in rural parts of India and nearly 10 times as high in the more wealthy southern states as compared to its poor counterpart in the north. A study published by Lancet last year, pointed out that out of (half million) five lakh people that reportedly die because of suicide every year all over the world, 20 per cent are Indians.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the annual global suicide rate is about 16 per 10,000 people, or almost 10 lakh people every year. This includes about 2,00,000 in China, 1,90,000 in India and around 1,40,000 in high-income countries; representing an increase of almost 45 per cent increase in the last 45 years. When compared, USA had around 37,790 cases of suicide reported in 2010 i.e. a rate of 12.2 per 10,000. India, according to the report, had a suicide rate that is near 16.

The suicide rate in the country has only gone up over the years. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, the number of suicides in cities has gone up from 13,071 in 2008 to 18,280 in 2011. It was 13,675 in 2010. The steep increase in 2011 as compared to 2010 is due to the emergence of 18 new mega cities (53 mega cities as per Population Census 2011).

It was 13.3 per lakh in 2007 which decreased to 12.1 in 2008. Thereafter a rising trend was observed - 12.5 in 2009 and 12.7 in 2010, although it decreased to 11.3 in 2011. Just the four metro cities, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai, together have contributed to almost 36.7 per cent of the total suicides reported from 53 mega cities.

State wise, it’s the South that rules the roost when it comes to suicide related deaths. Together, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka contribute 22 per cent of the country’s population recorded 42 per cent of suicide deaths in men and 40 per cent of suicide deaths in 2010. Maharashtra and West Bengal combined, accounted for 15 per cent of suicide deaths in the same year. Individually, Delhi recorded the lowest number of cases of suicide, Andhra Pradesh recorded 28,000 deaths in individuals of 15 years and above, Tamil Nadu reported 24,000 and Maharashtra recorded 19,000 deaths in 2010.

A total of 1,35,585 suicides were reported in India in 2011, more than the number of lives lost to HIV (1,16,000) in the same year. And, these are just the figures that have been reported as suicide. A large number of suicide deaths go unreported because of the stigma attached to it. There has been a change in the trend in India though. Although suicide rate of among city men were not so high, in the recent years that seems to have changed.

Apparently it is the notion that men are supposed to be strong and should not show emotional distress that held them back from asking for help. But, over the past few years, more men are breaking the trend and asking for help. Many helpline numbers that are dedicated for suicidal people have reported an increase in number of male callers.

With suicide rate increasing in India every year, ways to tackle this problem are being debated. A study conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, states that only 24 per cent of people with mental disorders and 28 per cent with post-traumatic stress disorders get treatment. The report suggested that it is the stigma attached to the word ‘mental’ that stops people from talking about their mental and emotional problems subsequently preventing them from seeking proper medical help. Depression is not something that is noted as a serious problem in India and most of the time it goes unnoticed. 

Even though attempt to commit suicide is a criminal offence in India it hardly seems to be serving as a deterrence for people taking such a step. Awareness about depression; recognizing its signs and symptoms are musts to tackle to bring down suicide rates.

The stigma attached with ‘mental problems’ needs to be eradicated. Recently, an advertisement about depression being a common disease was released in national interest to open minds on it. Many feel pesticides and other poisonous substances shouldn’t be easily available to the public since consuming poison has been reported as the leading cause of deaths in India.

(Readers keen on seeking help on drafting RTI applications may write in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Gajanan Khergamker on 022-22841593 for any assistance on RTI or to have their findings / issue featured on this page)

  • Written by Denis Giles
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‘Copyright’ Issues And Curbs On Freedom Yet Hazy

By Gajanan Khergamker

With the State arbitrarily banning sites, even interpreting ‘to its own convenience’, a court’s John Doe orders and the police swift with  action on FB comments only underline the fact that true e-freedom is yet out of reach.

India’s Information Technology Act has been in the news of late and for all the wrong reasons. It all started with unceremonious blockage of various file-sharing websites like torrent, daily motion, piratebay etc., due to a John Doe order passed by Madras High Court.

The Madras HC ordered the blocking of various sites because of a suit filed by a Copyrights Labs for preventing privacy of a Tamil film ‘3’. For a while, the limelight was on the two Thane-based girls, following one posting a comment on Facebook questioning the purpose of bandh in Maharashtra after the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and the other ‘liking’ the comment.

The banning of various websites in last May had caused an uproar among various groups supporting internet freedom. The ban that most Internet Service Providers like Airtel, Vodafone India, Relaince, MTNL, Aircel, BSNL, Hathway Cable and Datacom endorsed lasted for around a month.

Users urged to file RTI pleas on issue

It was this month-long ban that invoked Hactivist Anonymous Operation India to urge people to file RTI applications to fight internet censorship. The group asked Indian citizens to file RTI application to seek information regarding the correspondence of public servants with Google, Facebook or other websites on content censorship.

The Hactivist Anonymous Operation India had reportedly mentioned the data collated from the reply to the RTI applications filed will be used in a ‘more powerful way.’

Reportedly, an RTI application filed by Software Freedom Law Centre, Delhi revealed that agents of copyright owners mis-interpreted the courts’ order to their own convenience and demanded around 38 ISPs to block as many as 272 websites.

With the IT act barely a decade old, there seems to be a lot of glitches that still needs to be looked into. Around the same time, Communication Minister KapilSibal came down heavily on websites like Facebook, Yahoo, Google and YouTube and asked them to filter ‘inflammatory’ and ‘defamatory’ content from their websites. This reaction was evoked after some morphed images of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

KapilSibal promised ‘stern action’ against the websites that failed to act. At that time, the government circulated rules which made it necessary for internet intermediaries like Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube to exercise due diligence to block material deemed, “threatening, abusive, harassing, blasphemous, objectionable, defamatory or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever.”

FB comment hurts public sentiments

So, when a Thane-based girl posted a comment questioning the necessity of the bandh for Bal Thackeray’s funeral and another friend who like the comment, was arrested by the police for ‘hurting religious sentiments’ KapilSibal said that he was ‘saddened’ by the news of the girls’ arrest and that the IT act was being ‘misused’ to ‘throttle dissent.’

And, now a month after the comment was posted on FB by the girl, the charge-sheet filed had been dropped and the police will be submitting a closure report before the court.

IT ACT SET FOR AN AMENDMENT OF SORTS

After all this drama, KapilSibal decided to modify the 66A act and the outcome is this -  now a report can be filed under the IT Act only after the approval of either Commissioner of Police or the Inspector General. This modification will ensure that there is some application of mind before any action is taken. While the communication minister’s defended the section saying similar laws are present in the US and the UK, experts do not agree with his views.

The IT laws in UK and US are mandated by the definite parliamentary acts; In India, it is far from it. And, as pointed out by experts, the new modification contradicts with section 78 and 80 that states that “a police officer of the rank of inspector can not only register a complaint but can also search a public premises without a warrant.”

Whatever the law, people should maintain some amount of discretion on social networking sites and on internet in general, so as to not invoke violence or harsh reaction from the masses that leads to the State’s loss.

Situation PROBABLY worse in the west

And, when compared to West, there have been instances where people have been fired from their jobs over posts on social networking sites.

Just last month, a sports anchor suspended from an entertainment news channel eNews for his post of twitter. Reportedly, the sports reporter had tweeted “Linkin Park is so bad**s people are dying to see ‘em.” He posted this after a fan was killed and 19 others were injured during an accident that occurred at the Linkin Park’s concert in South Africa.

This is not the first time that a post on social networking site had cost a person his job. This month, a civil servant was sacked from his job after allegedly posting ‘injurious’ comment about Governor Isa Yuguda on Facebook.

Reportedly, a year back, six workers fired by a Sheriff of a US town were charged with having, “hindered the harmony and efficiency of the office.” This was an outcome of “liking the Facebook page of the man who was running against the current sheriff for the office of sheriff.”

In 2009, it was reported that a Washington State Patrol Cadet was forced to resign from his job after he posted less-than-professional-type comments; images of him drinking, as it did not present a good image for the state patrol.

Around the same time, figures revealed that over 150 police officers had been hit with disciplinary action in the west, over posting inappropriate comment and pictures on Facebook.

And not just civil servants, in October, a Canadian man was fired from his job after he posted ‘sick’ comments on a memorial page of a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide because of internet bullies.

Another man was arrested in UK was arrested after a reportedly a Facebook page was set up to laud suspected police double killer Dale Cregan as a ‘legend.’

So, even in the West, discretion is supposed to be maintained on social networking sites and people posting objectionable comments and pictures are punished, which will soon be the case in India as well.

(Readers keen on seeking help on drafting RTI applications may write in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Gajanan Khergamker on 022-22841593 for any assistance on RTI or to have their findings / issue featured here)

  • Written by Denis Giles
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