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Kolkata college student pushes for transgender-friendly toilets



Tridhara toilets

Kolkata, Aug 12: With the discussion and execution of ideas around all-gender restrooms gathering steam across the world, a college student from West Bengal has taken it forward with the installation of innovative toilet signages for the transgender community here.

As many as four toilets next to Masterda Surya Sen Metro Station in south Kolkata now display ‘Tridhara’ stickers along with the symbol (interlocked male and female forms) for the community.

The idea was conceptualised by 21-year-old Sobhan Mukherjee.

“I was writing about the community and attended various programmes. I realised they felt discriminated when it came to pay-and-use toilets. When I proposed the concept of signages to the local councillor Anita Kar Majumdar, she readily agreed. It requires minimum investment… for printing the stickers. All it takes is social responsibility,” Mukherjee told IANS.

Mukherjee said the move falls in line with the Ministry of Sanitation’s guidelines stating that members of the third-gender community be allowed to use public toilets of their choice (men or women).

“Instead of creating separate washrooms, we decided to divide the existing spaces as male, female and ‘Tridhara’ toilets and put stickers on them,” the postgraduate student in geography said.

Transgender activist Ranjita Sinha has lauded the move.

“It is praiseworthy since he is a student. Often we are unable to push through and start something new but he has done it,” Sinha told IANS.

Mukherjee has now spoken to councillors in other wards to get the ball rolling in different locations of the city.

Last year, California in the US became the first state to adopt an all-gender restroom access law. This year Stanford University also increased the number of all-gender restrooms on campus. Panjab University in India will have a separate toilet for transgender people.



Supreme Court admits Armymen plea against dilution of AFSPA , to hear on Aug 20



Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Aug 14 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday admitted Army men plea against the dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that gives immunity to military personnel from prosecution for their actions in disturbed and insurgency-hit areas.

Indian Army soldiers claimed that exposing them to CBI and police prosecution for exigencies during operational encounters against insurgents will endanger “national security.”
The Supreme Court will hear the petition on August 20 .

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear the matter after advocate Aishwarya Bhati sought an early hearing of a plea moved by a group of serving Army officers.

Lawyer Aishwarya Bhati said, “A petition has been filed on behalf of 355 serving Army officials regarding protection in Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA) areas where soldiers are operating in anti-insurgency, militancy and &proxy war situations.”

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Election of RS Deputy Chairman on Aug 9



New Delhi, Aug 6 :Vice-president Venkaiah Naidu announced that election of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha will take place on August 9, a day before the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament ends.
As per the sources ,JD(U) MP Harivansh will be the candidate of NDA for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman while the opposition has decided to take a collective decision on the election.

“The members can give their notice of motion till August 8, by 12 noon,” he said.

PJ Kurien of the Congress retired from the position on July 2, necessitating the election that is decided by a simple majority. The election is seen as a key test for the Congress as it looks to retain the position.

While the Congress has indicated that it is ready to back a non-Congress candidate from the Opposition, the Left parties are agreeable to a candidate from the Trinamool Congress, which is said to be keen to have its MP as the joint candidate. The YSRCP, with two seats, has decided to vote against the BJP candidate.

“Opposition parties will collectively decide whenever the situation demands…the process has to begin. We are for filling up the vacancy as early as possible…we don’t know what is the thinking of the government,” senior CPI leader D Raja said.

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Government constitutionally bound to reveal defence contracts: Congress attacks Modi on Rafale deal secrecy



AK Antony on Rafale

New Delhi, July 23 : Congress leader and former Defence Minister A.K. Anthony pin-pointedly attacked Narendra Modi government for not disclosing the details of Rafale deal and said under the Constitution, government has to reveal in detail the defence contracts as they are scrutinised at various levels.

Congress convened a special press briefing to expose PM Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday in which  Antony said, “Sitharaman has misleaded the country in revealing the pricing of Rafale aircraft.Rafale was selected after considering many companies in December 2012. Prices were settled. During our time a tender for 126 Rafale aircrafts were issued.”

The press briefing  was attended by Senior spokespersons Anand Sharma  and Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Surjewala tweeted, “the PM and Defense Minister mislead the Nation to cover their lies on Rafale deal .”

Admitting and disclosing the fact that he had revealed prices of defence contracts in the Parliament in the past, Antony said, “I have revealed in Parliament prices of many defence contracts because under the constitution government cannot deny revealing the prices as they are scrutinised at various levels.”

Antony outrightly denied the allegations made by Sitharaman that  India-France agreement to buy the fighter jets was signed in 2008 by the then-defence minister AK Antony and it had the confidentiality clause which was an agreement of secrecy. Protection of classified information.

“When there is no secret deal that prevents revealing the prices, how can they keep it a secret?, Anthony remarked.

“According to UPA’s deal, among 126 aircrafts, only 18 were to be manufactured in France. Rest were to be manufactured by PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.There is no transfer of technology in this new deal, so it doesn’t substantiate the rise in price of aircrafts,”Anthony while terming Modi as Bhagidaar and said “Modi intentionally and knowingly cancelled the contarct given to HAL  and gave it to Reliance”.

“HAL would have benefited with employment and experience with this deal. Many technicians and engineers lost the opportunity of employment.Normally offset market must have experience in manufacturing fighter aircrafts. The company to which this deal was given had experience neither in fighter aircrafts nor regular aircrafts,” Antony said while slamming Modi government.

During the debate of no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha on Friday , Congress President Rahul Gandhi attacked the Modi government and the defence minister on the Rafale deal and alleged that she had spoken “untruth” when she claimed that the Indian government could not reveal details of the deal due to a confidentiality clause in the agreement with France.

The defence minister said the India-France agreement to buy the fighter jets was signed in 2008 by the then-defence minister AK Antony and it had the confidentiality clause,”It was an agreement of secrecy. Protection of classified information.

“In the interviews, the French President had said that commercial details of the Rafale deal cannot be revealed,” she said.

 Sitharaman said: “You have these commercial agreements and obviously you have competitors and we cannot reveal the details”.

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