Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Elizabeth II and fur coat

Some people have criticized Elizabeth II for wearing a fur coat on Christmas Day which she had worn many times before, first time publicly in 1961 when she visited India. They are fanatics and intolerant. They have no respect for rights of other peoples.
Andrew Tyler of Animal Aid Charity said “The Queen should not be wearing fur – it’s as simple as that. This is 2013 and no right-thinking person would wear fur. Fur is now unfashionable amongst right-minded people. People know how cruel it is to get fur. It’s cruel and uncivilised. ” It is not illegal to wear fur in UK and the queen has every right to wear fur. It is her choice. Andrew Tyler’s intolerance reminds Taliban. It is not for Andrew Tyler to decide what is fashionable and what is unfashionable, who is right-minded and who is wrong-minded. Besides, one has a right to wear what is unfashionable.
PETA is known for throwing colour on fur coats. Victims of such vandalism should have reported the crimes to police and had the criminals put behind bars. They did not do that. This year PETA launched a campaign to give homeless people unwanted fur coats. A spokesperson of PETA said “We donate any coats that we don’t cover in fake blood for a demonstration to homeless people who can’t afford to buy their own coats – after all, the homeless people are the only people who have any excuse for wearing fur.
How can Queen Elizabeth – who had to be taught why people loved Diana, a non-hunting, fur-free vegetarian – not yet have learned what’s right and wrong and abandoned fur, the product of immense suffering.
Animals are routinely strangled, electrocuted and skinned alive for their pelts. Fur farming was banned in 2000 because it’s a cruel industry that no longer represents British values. We truly hope that the Queen gets with these more enlightened times and chooses to wear something more humane in the future.”
PETA don’t preach. People don’t need an excuse to wear fur. They have a right to wear fur. PETA members should stop throwing colour on fur coats. That behaviour is uncivilised and a crime. If wearing a fur coat is wrong nobody should wear it. If PETA members are so concerned about homeless people they should contribute money to homeless people to buy proper clothes. Taking away fur coats from people who own them with the threat of throwing fake blood if they keep them, and donating fur coats to homeless people is robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Victims of PETA attacks unite. Report the crimes to police. Sue PETA for damages. Wear fur coats and hold demonstrations in front of PETA offices.
It is good to love animals but wrong to carry it to absurd lengths. PETA members should apologise to their victims and pay compensation.

Devyani Khobragade case

The arrest and subsequent treatment Devyani Khobragade, deputy consul general in New York, has strained India-USA relationship. She was arrested for visa fraud. She had hired a maid but had not paid salary as per American law. She was handcuffed, put in a cell with drug addicts and other criminals. She was released on a bond of $250,000. She could face 15 years in prison. The news of her strip search created furore.
Hand cuffing is standard procedure in USA. Dominic Straus-Kahn was handcuffed when arrested. It is immaterial that the accused is a woman and mother of two children. There is equality before law. Once an American woman and mother of two children was handcuffed for crashing her car at a barricade near a ground where George Bush was addressing a gathering.
New York District Attorney Preet Bharara, prosecutor in Devyani Khobragade case, is of Indian origin and from Punjab. Devyani Khobragade case was the third case in three years involving an official of deputy consulate general in New York.
US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said standard procedures were followed and Devyani Khobragade was handed over to US Marshals. India was notified in September. Vienna Convention was fully followed. For consular staff diplomatic immunity is for consular duties and not for crimes.
Meira Kumar, Sushilkumar Shinde, Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, and Shivshankar Menon refused to meet the American Congressional delegation. Sushilkumar Shinde said he was busy in Parliament. Salman Khurshid met them. He said what happened to Devyani Khobragade was unacceptable. USA had refused visa to Narendra Modi. Now he was in a position to refuse to meet Americans. Shivshankar Menon said the treatment was barbaric and despicable. Kamal Nath demanded unconditional apology from USA.
Devyani Khobragade’s father Uttam Khobragade met Sushilkumar Shinde. Uttam Khobragade was collector of Bombay when Sushilkumar Shinde was chief minister of Maharashtra. Uttam Khobragade said he should have arrested American deputy consul general when he was in a pub beyond permitted time.
Yashwant Sinha and Rajeev Dogra said gay US diplomats should be arrested. What Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal have to say to that? Yashwant Sinha also said we must stop treating American visitors as viceroys. May be the delegation did not want to meet him
Indian government’s reaction was strong. It lodged protest. US diplomats were told to surrender identity cards. Delhi police removed barricades outside American embassy. Parking lots were opened. India claimed it was not a security issue but a traffic issue. The barricades should not have been there in the first place. India reviewed privileges to American diplomats, asked details of salaries of Indians in American Consulates, revoked passes to airports, and followed with such other measures. Omar Abdullah tweeted he was for reciprocity but removing barricades went too far.
The reaction came after New York’s federal court on 16/12/2013 under Alien Tort Claims and Torture Victim Protection Act of 1992 directed Sonia Gandhi to reply by 2/1/2014 to charges of shielding, protecting and rewarding the perpetrators of 1984 anti-Sikh riots filed in a complaint by Sikhs for Justice. The arrest was on 12/12/2013.
Someone said Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi treated diplomats better. Americans are worse than dictators.
This is election time. Congress did badly in recently held state elections. Lok Sabha elections are due in April-May 2014. Congress leadership is accused of being weak. The government should not be seen as weak in dealing with the humiliation of an Indian diplomat. That will become an election issue.
Relationship between countries has to be based on reciprocity. India’s reaction is out of proportion. Refusing to meet Congressional delegation was wrong. Americans are unhappy about that. It seems Indian government’s reaction has more to do with protecting Sonia Gandhi than about treatment to Devyani Khobragade.
On The Social Network of NDTV 24X7, Kashish Gupta raised the issue of minimum wage to maid. Ananya Bhattacharjee said the poor woman who was an Indian citizen and worked as maid for Devyani Khobragade is forgotten by the government and media. Indian government has kept domestic workers out of labour laws. Indian government violates law on minimum wages in India.
Once a member of National Council for Women had written an article in The Indian Express about her experience of trying to get justice for a maid who had worked in Indian embassy in Paris. The member had gone to Jharkhand to inquire about the exploitation of maid. She found the maid was right about her complaints. Many activists hoped the member will get justice for the maid. After the member came to Delhi there was pressure on her to hush up the case. She succumbed to pressure and betrayed the trust of maid and activists. When activists called her on telephone she did not take up the calls.
Some people said Manmohan Singh should have talked to Barack Obama on phone. One person said Barack Obama did not want to meet Manmohan Singh when he was in USA recently and he met because Indians insisted.
Embassy staff members are covered under Vienna Convention 1961. Consulate staff members are covered under Vienna Convention 1963.
There are human rights groups in USA fighting against human trafficking. Some Indians support them. They view visa fraud as a cause of human trafficking. For many Americans human trafficking is modern slavery.
Someone is said India had not succeeded in getting tiny Togo to release Sunil James. How can it sustain pressure on USA?

Shazia Ilmi versus Sonia Gandhi

There is talk of Kumar Vishwas contesting against Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha elections. AAP wants to put strong candidates against leaders of other parties. BJP, BSP, and SP are unlikely to risk their top leaders against Sonia Gandhi. AAP can field Shazia Ilmi versus Sonia Gandhi. That will be an interesting contest.

Shazia Ilmi is a familiar face on TV. She needs no introduction. She lost Delhi election by 324 or 326 votes. She said she lost by 324 votes. One report said she lost by 326 votes. If she is in the fray it will not be cakewalk for Sonia Gandhi. During UP elections in 2012 Congress candidates had done badly in Amethi and Rae Bareli, seven of ten candidates lost, despite propaganda by Priyanka Gandhi. Till then there was a clamour that Priyanka Gandhi should take a leading role in Congress. The defeat put paid to that.

Similarly AAP can have candidates against leaders of BJP, BSP, SP, JD(U), TMC and so on. Preeti Sharma Menon can contest against Sushma Swaraj in Vidisha. Rahul Mehra can contest against Lal Krishna Advani. If Lal Krishna Advani does not contest, Rahul Mehra can contest against Narendra Modi. Mayank Gandhi can contest against Sharad Pawar. Yogendra Yadav can contest against Mulayam Singh Yadav.

No opponent will take AAP candidates likely. AAP has scared the living daylights of other political parties. Arvind Kejriwal defeated Sheila Dikshit.

Arvind Kejriwal talked of First Front. I do not see such a possibility. It is difficult to find a party that has high ideals of AAP. Even Jayaprakash Narayan of Lok Satta talked of compromise and forming government. It is important for AAP to contest all 543 seats.

Indira Gandhi had lost to Raj Narayan in 1977. Shazia Ilmi defeating Sonia Gandhi is a possibility.

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