Press Releases Archive
The Wednesday session of the Indian Democracy at Work Conference 2021 on Rule of Law saw a distinguished panel deliberate on Women’s Safety. Mrs. Deepa Mani, Executive Director and Professor, Indian School of Business was the chair for the session. Elsa Marie D’Silva is the Founder of Red Dot Foundation (India) and President of Red Dot Foundation Global (USA),Mahesh Bhagwat IPS, ADGP, Commissioner of Police, Rachakonda Commissionerate and Shri. Jayaprakash Narayana, Retd. IAS and founder of Foundation for Democratic Reforms participated.
The interesting deliberative session was opened by Mrs. Deepa Mani by welcoming the panelists and explaining the importance of the topic ‘women’s safety’ in the present times. The Initiatives taken up by police, government, and community by creating safe spaces are short to medium term solutions, and she wanted to see long term solutions. She also requested the panelists to share their views and experiences. Ms. Elsa Marie explained that individual situational awareness, knowing the rights, community participation, technology like CC TV cameras and where we can use them and building trust within the community are very important to provide safety. Early age education, gender sensitivity and knowledge of laws are very important in achieving women’s safety. She also expressed displeasure that it takes lot of time to get justice and that government should do more to provide women’s safety. Also the amount allocated to Nirbhaya funds was also not completely utilized. Women want some action be taken so that harassment and crimes can be stopped. Education on digital literacy and digital rights to women is also very important in achieving security to women.
Mr. Mahesh Bhagwat explained some of the measures taken by the Telangana Government for making it safe for women. Counselling and fining eve-teasers and initiatives like SHE TEAMS are going a long way in addressing this important problem. Now more women in distress are approaching due to trust in police and fining and counselling has significantly reduced repeated offenders. Initiatives like Sangamitra-community members training of crime against women also provide for some more avenues for women to seek assistance. He also added that technology CC TV Cameras and Phone Apps is a game changer for crime prevention and detection and its judicious usage is very important. Similarly, fast tract courts where cases are disposed quickly will help providing safety for women. However, it is long way to go and that a culture of respect for women is lacking and should be inculcated. Additionally, Misuse of social media and cyber harassment against women is being special attention.
Shri Jayaprakash Narayan said local courts coterminous with local police station should be created to try minor offences by summary procedures. Speedy justice with stiff penalties can become a strong deterrent. We should create a culture of safety and address minor crimes against women before they escalate into major crimes. If we do not give confidence, concerns for safety may become another way of enslaving women. India has the lowest participation of women in work force at 21%; and we are the only country in which women’s share is declining. It is therefore absolutely vital that we ensure that public spaces are safe for women. The fundamental thing is that a culture of respect for women will only solve this issue on long term and this should be inculcated in the family and the education system at an early age.
The Tuesday session of the Indian Democracy at Work Conference 2021 on Rule of Law saw a distinguished panel deliberate on Fake News: Threat to Democracy. Shri. AbhinandanSekhri, Co-founder of News Laundry moderated the session,Mr. Carlos Hernández- Echevarría, Head of Public Policy and Institutional Development, MALDITA, Spain and Shri. Jayaprakash Narayana, Retd. IAS and founder of Foundation for Democratic Reforms participated.
The interesting deliberative session was opened by Mr. Abhinandan Sekhri who said that spreading false information in order to further the agenda of vested interests is on the rise and can pose threat to democracy. He cited the recent behavior of former President Donald Trump as a danger to democracy. The Covid-19 pandemic also showed numerous situations where false information was perpetuated on the web. Tremendous amount of damage can be done when false information is spread which can spread divisions and polarization in a society. The discussion was what can be done about this.
Mr. Carlos Hernandez answered that false information can be only countered with truths and fact-checking. A lot of people now realizing the damage done by fake news, are looking into ways of fact-checking and presenting as a counter to fake news.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said it is difficult to completely control the weaponization of fake news but said certain measures can be adopted to have some control in the beginning and later as more avenues are available more measures can be adopted. In democracies some amount of licence with truth is inevitable. Society and more responsible media can counter lies with facts. But there are three types of lies and fake news that need effective regulation. 1. Lies that spread hatred and violence. 2. Verifiable lies that can cause imminent danger to society and mankind. eg: Denial of Covid pandemic; spread of misinformation discovering vaccination; lies about global warming making responsible action difficult. 3. Trump-like lies that undermine Constitutional order and democracy. In respect of these three lies and fake news all civilizations should come together and evolve effective mechanisms to curb fake news. He suggested, the influential figures or people that have certain number of followers can be observed closely to check the truthfulness of their communication. The context is also right to promulgate some regulation, especially, after the COVID-19 pandemic and the circulation of fake news and the political drama in America. He also said as this fake news originates in one country and affects people in other countries, some kind of transnational regulations are required.
Mr. Sekhri suggested that European Union can quickly move on this issue and start trans-national regulations to fight fake news. Numerous questions were asked by participants as to how to control the menace of fake news and false information. Does spreading fake news become part of freedom of speech? Definitely not, a fact is a fact, one can have interpretations and perceptions of a event. But facts and truth should be presented in the society.