Fasting & Political Blackmail (Regulation) Bill, 2011

The following is the civil society’s draft of the Fasting & Political Blackmail (Regulation) Bill, 2011 (also known as Jan Fast Pal or #FastingBill2011). This Bill has been compiled using inputs from members of the civil society including @Acorn, @Pragmatic_D, @Calamur, @Filter_C, @SudhaKanago, @Smitaprakash, @mango_indian, @sjagadish and @spinoza9642 The full list of participants and their deliberations is available from these archives. You may also download the Bill in PDF format.

 

FASTING & POLITICAL BLACKMAIL (REGULATION) BILL, 2011

An Act to create an effective framework for regulating the lawful practice of fasts, hunger strikes and other forms of political blackmail through the establishment of a Fasting Regulatory Authority, that shall also be known as Jan Fast Pal.

  1. Short title and commencement:
    1. This Act may be called the Fasting & Political Blackmail (Regulation) Act, 2011, or the Jan Fast Pal Act.
    2. It shall come into force on the one hundred and twentieth day of its enactment.
    3. Fasting for the purposes of voluntary or peer-pressured religious observances shall be exempt from the provisions of this Act.
    4. The Union President, the Union Prime Minister and the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council shall be exempt from the provisions of this Act.
  2. Equality
    1. All Fasters shall be treated equally, regardless of race, religion, standing and credit rating.
  3. Definitions:
    1. A Fast means any act of voluntary non-consumption of any solid or semi-solid food, or beverages exceeding 20 kilo calories per 330 ml in a three-hour period; and, conducted in the presence of mainstream media.
  4. Prohibitions
    1. No person under the minimum age for the consumption of alcoholic beverages obtaining in any State in Union shall be permitted to fast. People below the permitted minimum age, may, however, carry wax-fuelled simple combustion based illuminating devices after sunset or 7pm, whichever is earlier.
    2. A successful Fast unto Death will only be permitted three times during the lifetime of an individual.
    3. No person by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or by reason of deception shall be considered to have fasted.
    4. Fasters may not fast within 100m from any licensed restaurant, cafe or drinking house.
    5. Fasting is not permitted in government premises, property & rolling stock of Indian Raiways, airports & aircraft.
    6. No one may fast within 100m of the Line of Control, Line of Actual Control and international border
    7. No person under permanent service to any State or Union government department, including police and armed services are permitted to fast unless authorised by the respective State or Union government.
  5. Arrangements
    1. Each district will earmark separate areas, preferably in the form of perfect geometric shapes in order to assist succinct media description of the same.
    2. Fasting areas shall offer public amenities and comply with prevailing safety regulations. At least three parking spaces, no less than 200cm X 300 cm shall be made available for mobile broadcasting vehicles, of which at least one will be reserved for national, state and regional language media. Where Fasting is conducted by minorities, parking space reservations shall not apply.
    3. Women fasters must be provided with enclosed spaces upon request.
  6. Fasting Regulatory Authority
    1. A Fasting Regulatory Authority, also known as Jan Fast Pal, shall be established to administer this Act.
    2. The National Fasting Authority shall comprise of eleven individuals in good standing, preferably with previous fasting experience. They shall have a term of 5 years.
    3. To avoid conflict of interest, the Jan Fast Pal and its officials shall not be permitted to Fast as long as they are in office.
    4. The chairperson of the National Fasting Authority shall be selected by a committee that includes at least one television chef with not less than 52 half-hour-equivalent episodes, one five-star Michelin chef of Indian-origin, Nobel prize winner of Indian-origin and a Magsaysay award winner of Indian-origin. In the event of unavailability of such individuals, eminent persons from civil society shall appoint eminent persons from civil society.
    5. Government will appoint such persons as it thinks fit, having the prescribed qualifications, to be Inspectors of Fasts.
  7. Conditions for the conduct of Fasts
    1. Applications to Fast must clearly identify the Fasters and Fastees, and must be submitted in triplicate 48 hours in advance.
    2. Fasters must, at the time of application, specify the reasons of their Fast & conditions of termination thereof.
    3. A citizen will be permitted to fast for only one cause at a time.
    4. Fasters cannot fast on behalf of others. Commutative, additive and distributive laws shall not be applicable. Fasters who cause others to fast by financial or other inducements shall be fined up to Rs 5000 and one year of rigorous imprisonment.
    5. Fasters must specify consumption of liquids, including calorific value and purity levels.
    6. An officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police or above can force feed the faster after giving due warning in writing.
    7. No fast shall be deemed to have started or been broken unless certified by the National Fasting Authority.
    8. Fasters must obtain a certificate from a registered medical practitioner certifying that they were full when the fast started.
    9. Fasters must record their weight, blood sugar count and blood pressure every 3 hours and file it with the sub-registrar.
    10. Fasters cannot claim rations or entitlements under the food security act for the entire duration of their fast.
    11. Income from fasts by way donations, extortion and misappropriation shall attract Income Tax at the prevailing rates. Fasters cannot claim tax exemptions or dearness allowance for the duration of the fast
    12. No commercial advertisements of any kind are permitted within 50m from the location of the fast.
    13. Withdrawing from a Fast before fasting, also known as pulling a fast one, shall be permitted. It shall be counted as a Fast for the purposes of Section 4(2) of this Act.
  8. Dispute resolution
    1. Where two or more individuals or groups of Fasters go on a Fast until Death over a zero-sum dispute, the Government shall serve notice to all Fasters on the need to resolve the dispute using judicial or electoral means.
    2. In the event that two or more individuals or groups of Fasters continue their Fasting despite being served a notice under Section 8(1) above, the Fasting Regulatory Authority’s Inspector of Fasts shall allow the Fasts to proceed. The individual or group of Fasters that Fasts longer shall be deemed to have prevailed.
    3. Individuals or groups of Fasters who do not prevail in such circumstances may not Fast on for the same reason for a period of three calendar years. This is without prejudice to other individuals or groups Fasting for the same purpose, or the same individuals or groups seeking recourse to judicial or electoral methods.
  9. Power to make regulations
    1. The Union Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carry out the provisions of this Act.
    2. This Act shall be applicable to territorial and extra-territorial States, and Union Territories of India, and in the case of Jammu & Kashmir, after ratification by the State Assembly.
    3. No suit, prosecution or other proceeding shall lie against the Government for anything done in good faith, in pursuance of its duties under this Act.
    4. The Union government shall make every attempt, especially at the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, and the Non-aligned Movement, to sponsor a UN Resolution on Fasting, that shall universalise the principles enshrined in this Act.

Note: Under an amendment introduced by some other friendly members of civil society, the word the term “Jan Vrat Pal” appearing in the first draft of this bill was replaced with “Jan Fast Pal” to avoid misunderstanding.

Sunday Levity: Paid views

The Sicilian women who offered this blogger $150m to oppose Anna Hazare

An excerpt of my short article in OPEN magazine on the wages of making unpopular points:

If the political establishment didn’t know how to respond to Anna Hazare, the mindless thousands who supported him—largely from in front of their television and computer screens— were clueless how to handle criticism of their ephemeral hero.

Now, one of the ordinary joys of non-partisanship is being called a ‘Congress hack’ or a ‘Hindutva-type’ from time to time. It gets even better when you manage being both at the same time on the same issue. Political debate in India is about labels attacking other labels, personalities attacking other personalities and parties attacking other parties. Watch a news debate on mute, and you still won’t miss anything.

But Hazare’s hazaars were extraordinary. Righteous outrage, sanctimony, the free period between two cricket tournaments and the predilection for online rudeness came together and pummelled anyone who dared point out that maybe the boon that Hazare was asking for was really more of a curse. [Read the rest at OPEN]

From the archive: August 2005 – The Best Brickbats

Weekday Squib: The Mudcrab’s Birthday Party

A bedtime story

Teji & Nida were excited. They couldn’t wait to go to Muddy Prasad’s birthday party that evening. Finally it was 5 ‘o’ clock and it was time to go.

There were two huge mudcrabs standing outside Muddy Prasad’s house. “But you can’t go in there with those clothes”, they said. “You’ll have to change first.”

Teji & Nida were surprised. After all, they were wearing the beautiful new clothes Mommy had bought specially for the birthday party. But they didn’t want to be inappropriately dressed, and seeing that the two huge mudcrabs wouldn’t let them in unless the little girls agreed to change, Teji & Nida decided to go along with it.

“First, you must step under this shower. It’s okay, keep your clothes on,” they said. The water was dirty, black and smelt of rotten cabbages, and completely drenched the two little girls.

“Next, you must roll in the dirty mud,” they said. And Teji & Nida rolled and rolled in the dirty mud until they were completely covered with the stuff. It was on their hair, it was on their clothes, it was inside their socks and shoes, and it covered their face. Teji couldn’t make out what exactly it smelt like, but it was awful in any case. Continue reading Weekday Squib: The Mudcrab’s Birthday Party

Sunday Levity: Tell me Khomeini wasn’t a Sikh

Did the Ayatollah qualify for a PIO card?

From Hooman Majd’s excellent The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran:

Some secular Persian intellectuals … reserve a special hatred for Ayatollah Khomeini, not just because he founded the Islamic Republic, but because to them he wasn’t even Persian. Since his paternal grandfather was an India who immigrated to Iran (to the town of Khomein) in the early nineteenth century, some Iranians feel that his “tainted” blood means that a true Persian was not at the helm of the revolution, the most momentous event in their country’s modern history, good or bad. And soon after that revolution, when the time came to change the symbol of Iran on its flag from the lion and sun (which the revolutionaries incorrectly associated with the Shahs), Khomeini himself chose a symbol among those submitted by artists—a stylized “Allah”—which is opponents, at least the more race-conscious ones, continue to insist bears a remarkable similarity to the symbol of the Sikhs.

Some of Khomeini’s enemies see it as proof of a foreign hand in the revolution, perhaps British because of their influence in India, or, worse, a secret conspiracy by an Indian religion to destroy Persia, and today, when Iranian exiles and even some inside Iran want to disparage him, they sometimes refer to him as Hindi (which happened to be his grandfather’s surname but is also Persian for “Indian”). One such Iranian in Tehran, when he found out where I was staying, insisted that I take a short walk in my neighborhood past the Sikh center of Tehran, a large white compound with a garden surrounded, naturally, by high walls. “Look at the logo on the gates of the walls, and then tell me that Khomeini wasn’t a Sikh,” he said. I found that there was indeed a Sikh center, right in my neighborhood, and the emblem on the gates I have to admit, does give one pause while viewing it in the Islamic Republic, where its own emblem is ubiquitous. But after a few moments reflecting on the coincidence of its uncanny similarity to the “Allah” of Iran, I moved on, reflecting instead on my compatriots’ love of and insatiable appetite for conspiracy theories. [Hooman Majd/The Ayatollah Begs to Differ pp168-169]

Khalsa and Iran
The Khalsa and the Islamic Republic

Related Links: With thousand testicles—the Vedic-Avestan divergence; and the ensuing discussion.

Sunday Levity: Now they are infiltrating into our advertisements!

“Get me an air chief marshal, any air chief marshal”

This happened. Yes, it really did. (linkthanks Sidin Vadukut)

The photograph of former Pakistan Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed in uniform appeared along with those of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a full-page newspaper advertisement given by Ministry of Women and Child Development to mark the National Girl Child Day.[The Hindu]

If that were not bad enough:

The advertisement also showed sports icons Kapil Dev and Virender Sehwag and sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan along with the former PAF chief with the heading, “Where would you be if your mother was not allowed to be born?”

It gets even worse. Sandeep Unnithan’s “casual search of the web revealed that the Director of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) which released the advertisement seemed to have lifted the high resolution photograph official portrait of the former Pakistan air chief from a Chinese website.”

Sunday Levity: Babes, do your patriotic duty

What attracts women?

INI’s resident military affairs expert (no, no pun intended) sends in an article with the following bit highlighted:

Young women who don’t join the army have another important role to play. They may opt to marry army officers and encourage their female friends to follow suit. If pretty young women in large numbers come forward to marry army officers, the stock of army officers in social circles goes up. This in turn provides indirect motivation to other young men to join the corps of officers and serve the nation. [Chitranjan Sawant/Merinews]

Now, Mr Sawant—like the Ukrainian army recruitment department—is not entirely wrong: if army officers get all the babes, then more young men will want to be army officers. But it is wrong to presume that getting women to marry army officers—out of a sense of patriotic duty—will lengthen the list of applicants to military academies.

That’s because of the OMIPP, the Oldest Mistake In Public Policy, which mistakes correlation for causation. In this case, attractive young women of marriageable age might be attracted to young men from a certain industry for the same reason as other young men want to get into that industry. Maybe because that industry pays well, offers a relatively better quality of life, a higher social status or all of the above.

So whether you are recruiting for the army or for the public sanitation department, you are better off making the job profile more attractive. The babes will follow.

Related post: If you don’t think such a grave issue as shortage of army officers ought to be treated with such levity, you can read what we think is the real solution to the problem.

Sunday Levity: But Foster, Gurkhas aren’t Pakistanis

Why Uncle Sam needs Pakistan (“Because of the Gurkhas” edition)

“Ignorance about India”, Narendra Singh Sarila writes, “was the reason why the Americans came to rely on British advice on questions concerning the subcontinent after its independence.” He quotes an anecdote to illustrate this:

In those days, the Americans’ understanding of India was extremely limited. To take an extreme example, John Foster Dulles, President Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of state, had to be disabused by Walter Lippmann during a conversation on SEATO as late as in 1955, that Gurkha troops were not Pakistanis.

‘Look Walter’, Dulles said, ‘I’ve got to get some real fighting men in the south of Asia. The only Asians who can really fight are the Pakistanis. That’s why we need them in the Alliance. We could never get along without the Gurkhas.’ ‘But Foster’, Lippmann replied, ‘the Gurkhas aren’t Pakistanis, they’re Indians’. (Actually, Gurkhas are of Nepalese origin.) ‘Well’, responded Dulles, ‘they may not be Pakistanis but they’re Moslems.’ ‘No I’m afraid they’re not Moslems either; they’re Hindus’, Lippmann pointed out. [Dennis Kux, Disenchanted Allies pp72, quoted by Narendra Singh Sarila, The Shadow of the Great Game pp216]

Sunday Levity: Ten reasons why Bappi Lahiri is better than a thermonuclear bomb

A National Humour Rights Commission Report

At the sidelines of a G-20 summit, two bhais, one Hindi, one Chini, meet at an abandoned temple.

Mere Paas Bappi Hai
Mere Paas Bappi Hai

Chinibhai: “Look, we both rose from the same per-capita GDP rate. But see where you are now, and where I am now. Today I have tall buildings, Olympic stadiums, trade surpluses, Sovereign Wealth Funds, ICBMs and thermonuclear bombs. What do you have?”

Hindibhai: “Mere paas Bappi hai

Contrary to popular belief, the Indian interlocutor was not making a emotional argument. He was engaged in strategic signaling—sounding a subtle warning that even if the thermonuclear design didn’t deliver the expected bang, we have Bappi on our side. A keen scholar of Indian history and culture, the Indian diplomat was drawing attention to the ancient Reality Show in which the Kauravas might well have had the biggest army, but the Pandavas had The Charioteer. We all know how that war ended.

You don’t have to be a Bappitva fundamentalist to understand why Bappi Lahiri is better than a thermonuclear bomb. At the broadest strategic level, this is because while a nuclear weapon is merely an instrument of hard power, Bappida is that and more. For ten important reasons:

First, because a thermonuclear bomb has to be developed indigenously it is very hard and expensive to build one. On the other hand, not only do we already have Bappida, but he himself has never been moved by indigenousness, swadeshi and other forms of irrelevant parochialism. He’ll take whatever, from wherever and make it rock.

Second, even if you design a thermonuclear bomb, it is very difficult and very costly to test it. Bappida doesn’t suffer from similar constraints. He’ll just go ahead and test his designs—if you think it is successful, you’ll get on your feet and dance. If you don’t, then it cost you Rs 25 (in 1985 rupees) or less to figure out that you are on the sad side of the generation gap. No one will demand a ban on his tests.

Third, how easy do you think it is to increase the yield of a thermonuclear bomb? The correct answer is “not at all”. But to improve Bappida’s yield you just need to turn the knob (of the 1985 amplifier) clockwise, slowly. (Those who have done this will know that it will set-off explosions in the adjacent room, flat or town. In some localities in Tamil Nadu, it will even cause mass migrations radiating away from the said amplifier.)

Fourth, you can’t put dark glasses on a thermonuclear bomb.

Fifth, a thermonuclear bomb is useless as a store of wealth. But Bappida is India’s secret Sovereign Wealth Fund. All that gold jewelry can defend the rupee, the Indian government and the Indian film industry.

Sixth, the bomb doesn’t have a son called Bappa.

Seventh, nobody in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Hollywood or South Bombay knows, or gives a damn about, India’s thermonuclear bomb. But they are passionate about Jimmy.

Eighth, try getting a thermonuclear bomb to sue Dr Dre for plagiarism. It can’t, and even if it did, no California jury will side with an ugly beast that doesn’t sport dark glasses indoors and wear heavy gold jewelry.

Ninth, a hydrogen bomb can’t judge a reality show.

And finally, the thermonuclear bomb can never—not in a million years—sing “Yaad aa raha hai, tera pyaar”. See for yourself:

Actually, astute as they are, the Chinibhais have known all this for some time. But they couldn’t do much about it. Not that they didn’t try—surely, you don’t think that it is a mere coincidence that that Dear Leader chap wears dark glasses—but not every charioteer is The Charioteer. Till that time, India is safe.

Weekday Squib: Jimmy Jimmy in Tajikistan

What would India’s soft power be without Bappi?

In its June 2009 edition, the Proceedings of the Centre for Soft Power Studies reported how Jimmy Zingchak holds sway over the people of Kazakhstan. Today it brings to your attention the wonderful Tajik Jimmy—whose career mirrors that of the Jimmy incarnation. Baimurat Allaberiyev, who herded sheep for a salary of one lamb per month is now rocking Russia.