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Release Dr Binayak Sen, says IAWS

The Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) has appealed for the release of Dr Binayak Sen, a human rights activist and a pediatrician, who has been in jail for the past nine months. In its resolution the IAWS has also demanded the repeal of Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.

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Nepal: Respect child rights, say UN agencies

Amidst confirmed reports of children’s involvement in violent activities in Nepal, the UNICEF and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights have issued stern warning to all political parties. They say that the country must take steps to keep its children away from harm and respect child rights.

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Afghanistan’s livestock sector shaken due to freezing cold

More than 300,000 animals in Afghanistan have become prey to cold temperatures, severely devastating the livelihood of local farmers. Such extreme weather conditions are causing unprecedented miseries in the country, where more than 900 people have died due to cold this winter.

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Nepali gays to contest polls

At least five Nepali gays will contest elections for the Constituent Assembly, scheduled to be held this April, to take up the issue of discrimination against their community. In a nation that treats homosexuality as illegal and immoral, this is an attempt to fight exclusion.

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Nepal: Mounting ethnic tension may lead to humanitarian crisis

Fears are being expressed that Nepal can face a serious humanitarian crisis. Ethnic Madhesis – who suffer from extreme poverty, unemployment and lack of citizenship – are on an indefinite strike since February 12 demanding a separate region for themselves. Essential services remain disrupted and the situation can only worsen from here.

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No more SEZs in Goa

Struggles against Special Economic Zones are labeled as ‘anti-development’ by middle class India. Yet Goa’s recent anti-SEZ campaign was led by educated professionals, activists, the church and media, forcing the state government to backtrack. The SEZ is an independent foreign territory with no local or government control, say Goa’s champion campaigners.

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Insure poor against extreme weather events, say experts

Insurance can help the poorest to cope with the consequences of global warming, say development experts. Paying small premiums than raising money after disasters is a better way to minimise damage. Insurance managers however say the frequency of droughts and floods can weaken such claims.

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Child survival calls for target-specific policies

With nearly 10 million children dying every year around the world, how does it matter even if GDP growth shoots up? Research reveals that the issue is not about inadequacy of resources among developing countries, but lack of effective policies that can translate economic growth into development outcomes for the poor.

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Coke blamed for depleting water resources

The Energy and Resources Institute in its recent report has criticised Coca-Cola in India. The findings say that the company is responsible for contributing to further depletion of community water resources in already water scarce regions. It says at least one of the bottling plants should be either closed or relocated.

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Greenpeace demands ‘producer responsibility’ from electronics companies

India generates around 300,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, which is likely to grow more than five fold by 2012. In a recent ranking guide, environmental body Greenpeace has called upon Indian electronics companies to adopt green practices to deal with the e-waste menace so as to come at par with global brands.

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Museum in remembrance of Gujarat violence

Six years after the genocidal violence against Muslims in Gujarat in western India, victim survivors want to set up a ‘Gulberg Museum of resistance’ that will preserve memories, documents and films on the state-sponsored carnage. On February 28, 2002, the Gulberg Society in the heart of Ahmedabad city witnessed the massacre of 70 persons.

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Too poor to demand basic rights from government

Villagers in Indias north-eastern state of Tripura lack basic civic amenities like water, hospital, school, etc. and yet are content with their voter identity cards issued by the government. Poverty inhibits them from demanding even their basic rights.

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Bangladesh: Safe sex and stronger policy for AIDS prevention

Insufficient statistics and lack of a sound HIV/AIDS prevention policy are undermining Bangladesh’s efforts to protect people against its risks. It is necessary to break the barriers of social stigmas attached to the disease and promote condom use beyond family planning purposes, say health experts.

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Little protection against rains for cyclone victims in Bangladesh

Even after three months of Cyclone Sidr hitting Bangladesh, some 1.3 million affected people are living under plastic sheeting, tarpaulins and other basic shelters exposing them to the approaching monsoon rains. Oxfam says that it is vital that the government and the international community urgently devise a better plan.

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Pakistan poll verdict: ‘Musharraf should quit’

Election results in Pakistan may have thrown up a hung parliament but the verdict is unequivocal, when it comes to expressing the will of the people in ousting President Musharraf. It remains to be seen how far the democratic process from here goes.

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Mass deportation to add to woes of Afghanistan

Afghanistan government has urged Iran not to deport its illegal migrants, as it does not have the capacity to absorb them. More than two million Afghans live in Iran, of which less than half have the status of valid refugees.

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India does poorly to keep its children alive, says report

According to a new Wealth and Survival Index, India is one of the worst performers in cutting child mortality, given its national wealth. The new report by Save the Children UK says even the poorest of countries can attain child survival if they pursue the right policies.

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‘Widowhood means denial of basic human rights’

Being a widow in a socially backward and less developed country is hard. Subjected to ostracism, exploitation and harassment, they are forced to live in poverty and deprivation. President of UK-based Loomba Trust, Cherie Blair says that the UN needs to increase its focus on emancipation of widows.

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First ever welfare board for transgenders

In a step taken to protect rights of sexual minorities, the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India has announced the establishment of a welfare board for transgenders. The move followed a public hearing by NGOs on the plight of the community and recommendations by a citizens’ jury.

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Election day in Pakistan

Even three hours after polls opened, voter turnout in Pakistan was not very encouraging. Although, President Pervez Musharraf has urged people to come out of the confrontationist approach and get into a conciliatory mood, many refrained from venturing out for fear of attacks.

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