By Dr. Dinesh

The road to Wandoor is undulating, full of greenery and a pleasant drive. At times, the terrain gets hilly as you encounter windy roads like those in a hill station. The greenery is a visual treat for the weary eyes of city dweller. On either side of the road you will see the trapped water of the tsunami of 2004. While going through to Wandoor due to my inquisitiveness I paid a visit to the Buddhist Mission Centre at Mayemeo at a hillock. The temple was in a dilapidated condition over the last few decades though now some Buddhist followers though in minority came forward seeing the pathetic condition and renovated the temple at Maymeo. A “floating decoration” which had come adrift probably from Burma/Thailand after two and half months was found in Morris Deara beach and Karmatang beach in Mayabunder, Middle Andaman and had been painstakingly brought to Port Blair by some devotees in a  truck and installed at an appropriate place which had an Buddha idol in it. This floating decoration is called Loi Krathong which is a long established and immensely popular tradition in Thailand, and thousands of people celebrate the festival every year. The name Loi Krathong can be translated to mean “floating decoration” which originates from the custom of making an attractive decoration that is then floated on a river, lake or even the sea. The decoration is traditionally made using a slice of trunk which is then decorated with leaves, flowers and candles. The festival takes place every year on the evening of the full moon which typically falls in November. It is believed the origins of Loi Krathong stem from Buddhism and that the festival provided the opportunity to pay respectful thanks to the Goddess of water. Many Thai people believe the Krathongs carry away their bad luck, which in turn helps to bring them good fortune. The festival has also become associated with love, and it is a common scene it seems to see couples floating their krathongs while making a wish for their future life together. I could only imagine how truly magical is to observe krathongs, with their candles sparkling, as they gently drift along the Andaman sea beneath the full moon. The Burmese Buddhist Mission, at Maymeo, celebrated the traditional Buddhist New Year. The celebration started in the Maymeo here on 16th April with the bathing of the Buddha idol with scented water, Buddha chants reverberates in the hall. Mrs. Masan w/o Late Aung Mynt aged 73 yrs is an entrepreneur & one of the most respected lady of Burmese community who had travelled all the way from Rangat just to offer prayers, a day before she had offered free food to the large gathering of around 400 devotees at the Buddhist temple at Mayabunder, which had been looked by her and maintained by her since many years. The Buddha Puja, which started in morning, was followed by offering food to devotees. The initial ritual was followed by water festival. Many followers of Buddhism participated in the celebration. Buddhists were seen splashing scented water over each other’s shoulder.

There is acute fund crunch in the Buddhist committee of Maymeo still with the help of some Buddhist followers they are planning to make a meditation hall and other amenities which will self generate some revenue for the renovation and maintenance of the temple. Since it is situated about 5 kms from the Wandoor which is a famous tourist spot they are hopeful this meditation hall will be an immense help for the tourists and local people to. Buddhist mediation techniques have become increasingly popular in the world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up for a variety of reasons. Core meditation techniques as path toward enlightenment and Nirvana, Buddhist meditation encompasses a variety of meditation techniques that aim to develop mindfulness, concentration, supra mundane powers, tranquillity and insight.

Baha'is around the world are celebrating the Festival of Ridvan, which marks the anniversary of Baha'u'llah's declaration in 1863 that He was a new messenger of God.

Ridvan is a twelve-day festival in the Baha’i Faith, commemorating the commencement of Baha’u’llah’s Prophethood. It begins at sunset on April 20 and continues until sunset, May 2. First, Ninth, and Twelfth days designated as Holy Days on which work and school should be suspended. This event, which took place thirty-one days after Naw-Ruz, in April 1863, signalized the commencement of the period during which Baha’u’llah declared His Mission to His companions.

"Ridvan" means paradise, and is named for the Garden of Ridvan outside Baghdad, where Baha’u’llah stayed for twelve days after the Ottoman Empire exiled Him from the city and before commencing His journey to Constantinople.

Ridvan is the most holy Baha’i festival, and is also referred to as the "Most Great Festival" and the "King of Festivals". In a Tablet, Baha’u’llah refers to His Declaration as "the Day of supreme felicity" and He describes the Garden of Ridvan as "the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of His Name, the All-Merciful".

The Bab’s Writings introduced the concept of "He whom God shall make manifest", a Messianic Figure whose coming, according to Baha’is, was announced in the Scriptures of all of the world’s great religions.

 (Compiled by T. Jaya Raju)

Domestic Violence Act

By Bhuneshwari Devi

Crime against women come in many forms, the worst being the crime by the family members of the victim woman. National Crime Records Bureau reveal that a crime against a woman is committed every three minutes, which includes cases of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the victim that occurs every nine minutes. As a matter of fact, around 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. This all occurs despite the fact that women in India are legally protected from domestic abuse under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

Domestic violence is not a unique phenomenal in our country. It is wide spread and can also be seen in most developed countries. Women of all races and caste are affected and infected with domestic violence. It really doesn’t matter if they are highly educated or illiterate this is one such thing where discrimination of any form doesn’t take place.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) was passed in 2005, but implementation of the Act itself took almost three years. The Act is very wide the scope of domestic violence is explain and accepted in many manners and forms which were earlier unheard of. The Act is very progressive in its own way but it took its own time to be accepted.

Though the act as such offered nothing new. All the component of Domestic Violence Act, can be found in other legislations like Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Hindu Succession Act and other legislations. But bringing all such provisions for the protection of women from domestic violence and also for redefining remedies to the victims of domestic violence in one legislation gives the Domestic Violence Act its special place.

The Domestic Violence Act defines violence as an abuse in any form including physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic by a man living in the family in any relationship to the woman. Physical violence is the most visible form of abuse and it refers to slapping, pushing, kicking, biting, hitting, throwing objects, strangling, beating, threatening with any form of weapon, or using a weapon. Economic violence involves making or attempting to make the woman financially dependent on the abuser that may include preventing or forbidding an intimate partner from working or gaining and education, controlling the financial resources, and withholding access to economic resources.

Sexual Violence refers to the violation of an individual’s bodily integrity, including coercing sexual contact, rape, and prostitution, as well as any unwelcome sexual behaviour, including treating someone in a sexually demeaning manner or any other conduct of a sexual nature, whether physical, verbal, or non-verbal. Sexual abuse also includes behaviour which limits reproductive rights, such as preventing use of contractive methods and forcing abortion. Psychological abuse is often characterized as intimidation, threats of harm, and isolation, while emotional abuse involves undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth.

The Domestic Violence Act aims at protecting the women from domestic violence in any of these forms and also aims at providing remedies. On an application either by the aggrieved woman or by any representative of the aggrieved woman, the Magistrate can issue various orders for protection of women from domestic violence including protection order, residence order, custody order, compensation order, monetary relief and prohibition orders against the offender.

Despite of its wide nature, it is observed that the largely domestic violence is used for obtaining maintenance but it offer much more. It depends how a victim uses the law, more importantly how much she knows about the law.

The purpose of any Act is not to increase the number of offences and cases but on the contrary, to decrease it. Time will tell how much Domestic Violence Act will serve its purpose for which this legislation was enacted.

The author is a Human Rights Activist and also the President of Wooden House Society an Island based NGO which works on legal awareness, legal aid and on women empowerment.

Environment Impact Assessment

Adv. Bhuneshwari Devi

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an important management tool for ensuring optimal use of natural resources for sustainable development. A beginning in this direction was made in our country with the impact assessment of river valley projects in 1978-79 and the scope has subsequently been enhanced to cover other developmental sectors such as industries, thermal power projects, mining schemes etc. To facilitate collection of environmental data and preparation of management plans, guidelines have been evolved and circulated to the concerned Central and State Government Departments. EIA has now been made mandatory under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.

The procedure of environment impact assessment is wide and rigid. But unfortunately these procedure are not followed properly in its strict sense. The aim of an EIA is to ensure that potential impacts are identified and addressed at an early stage in the projects planning and design. To achieve this aim, the assessment finding are communicated to all the relevant groups who will make decisions about the proposed projects, the project developers and their investors as well as regulators, planners and the politicians. Having read the conclusions of an environmental impact assessment, project planners and engineers can shape the project so that its benefits can be achieved and sustained without causing adverse impacts on environment. In recent years, major projects have encountered serious difficulties because insufficient account has been taken of their relationship with the surrounding environment. Some projects have been found to be unsustainable because of resource depletion. Others have been abandoned because of public opposition, financially encumbered by unforeseen costs, held liable for damages to natural resources and even been the cause of disastrous accidents. Given this experience, it is very risky to undertake finance, or approve a major project without first taking in to account its environmental consequences and then siting and designing the project so as to minimize adverse impacts.The MOEF is the agency for environmental clearance. If necessary, it may consult a committee of experts with a composition specified in schedule III of notification. Ideally EIA should provide information to decision makers at early stage of the project planning cycle. It should be initiated as early as possible before the commencement of projects. If the projects secureapproval, EIA should include a provision to cover the audit of the project. The amount allocated and spent for preparation of EIA by the project proponents are usually abysmally low compared to the overall project costs (often less than 1% of overall projects).

The author is a Human Rights Activist and also the President of Wooden House Society an Island based NGO which works on legal awareness, legal aid and on women empowerment.

Constitution of India and Human Rights

Adv Bhuneshwari Devi

The moment we use the term “human Rights” the first thing which comes to our mind is rights to equality. Human rights are moral principles that set out certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in national and international law.They are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone). Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 is considered as the backbone of Human Rights. Internationally, human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups. If we look at the Indian scenario our constitution can be taken as the protector of Human Rights.

One of the most important rights guaranteed under Indian Constitution is the Right to Life and personal Liberty. Article 21 of Constitution of India says: Protection of life and personal liberty – No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. I personally like this article as a lawyer and I am sure this will be personal favourite of other Human Rights lawyers and activist too for the reason that this article is complete and definition of this article can be interpreted very wide and positive. In a number of cases, Supreme Court of India has widened the scope of this article to include right to legal aid, speedy and fair trial, privacy, consulting lawyer, to have compensation under public law, human dignity, and right against use of handcuffs and chains, rights against custodial violence, against delayed execution, against solitary confinement, etc.

Human rights violations usually relates to violations of right to life and personal liberty at all levels. It covers issues likeprotection against police brutality, protection against illegal confinement,violence from armed forces, end of violence of any kind- including domestic violence, discrimination of any form and so on- the list is endless. In today’s scenario and age though we considered our self very modern but our action speaks otherwise. Till today caste-based violence exit and domestic violence and violence against female gender is on rise. Human Rights requires to be respected not only from the side of government but also from individual end.

 

The author is a Human Rights Activist and also the President of Wooden House Society an Island based NGO which works on legal awareness, legal aid and on women empowerment.