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Approved Record Number Of Visas For Indian Students Despite Pandemic: US

NEW DELHI, Aug 23: The US has approved the highest number of student visas applications from India this year despite the Covid pandemic.

"Through these efforts, more than 55,000 students and exchange visitors are boarding planes to study in the United States, and more students are being approved every day. The U.S. Mission looks forward to another great student season as it facilitates study for spring semester students over the coming few months," the US Mission said in a statement.

Ambassador Atul Keshap, Chargé d'Affaires at the US Embassy in New Delhi stated: "Studying in the United States is a unique and often life-changing experience for Indian students, granting fresh, global perspectives and frequently leading to invaluable career opportunities. Indian students also enrich US society, achieve high levels of academic success, and deepen the bonds of friendship between our countries. The many hard-working women and men of the US Mission to India are proud to facilitate their travel and study."

The Mission said the pandemic had created logistic challenges for the consular teams. "Embassies and Consulates typically begin interviewing fall semester students for a given year in May, but the second wave of COVID-19 forced the Mission to delay the commencement of its student visa season by two months. In July, as soon as conditions allowed for the resumption of visa services without endangering applicants' health and safety, consular teams worked not only to match, but surpass, their pre-COVID workload," it said.

The Mission said the embassy and consulates functioned for extra hours for visa appointments and made every effort to ensure timely arrival for courses for as many students as possible. "Ultimately, these efforts paid off, as more students than ever before received visas to study in the United States," it said.

AICC appoints Rajesh Griglani as Coordinator for Goa Assembly elections

PANAJI, Aug 18: The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has appointed Rajesh Griglani as the AICC coordinator for membership facilitation and door-to-door campaign for the upcoming assembly elections in Goa.

The AICC desk in-charge for Goa, Dinesh Gundu Rao, has written to the president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee Girish Chodankar about the same.

The posting of Griglani is a part of the state assembly election-related appointments by the Congress party.

Griglani hails from Vadodara, Gujarat.

Last week, the AICC had appointed former Union finance minister P Chidambaram as its senior election observer for Goa. Chidambaram will also oversee the party’s election strategy for Goa, and steer deliberations over any probable alliance.

While welcoming his appointment, GPCC President Girish Chodankar said "Griglani has experience in Digital Membership enrolments and had successfully worked on house-to-house campaign during 2017 assembly elections. We are confident his appointment will help us resolve all technical issues of membership and boost house to house campaign.”

CLP leader Digambar Kamat said his guidance will boost GPCC election campaign.

The leader of the opposition, Digambar Kamat said that the guidance of Griglani will boost the election campaign of Congress in Goa.

Pak Tiktoker girl stripped, clothes torn apart by hundreds of men

ISLAMABAD, Aug 18: A horrifying video from Pakistan has emerged online in which hordes of men are seen groping, mauling and tearing off the clothes of a woman, who is famed for her videos on TikTok.

Several such horrific videos of the woman being "brutally attacked" in Lahore even as the country celebrated its Independence Day on August 14 have surfaced online and for a while, the incident was among top hashtags on Twitter #minarPakistan and #400 men were among the hashtags being used by outraged netizens who expressed their shock and disgust at the violence against the woman.

The woman has filed a complaint with police in which she alleged that a mob of around 400 people attacked her and her friends while she was filming a video near Minar-e-Pakistan on August 14, according to local media reports.

"I was stripped and my clothes were torn apart," she said alleging that the mob picked her up and started tossing her in the air, the Express Tribune quoted.

The woman also alleged that she kept crying for help but to no avail and no one came to her rescue.

Disturbing video clips widely circulated in social media show hundreds of men thrashing the woman, tearing her clothes and hurling it into the air.

She also alleged that her gold ornaments were "forcibly taken" by unidentified people in the crowd, while the mobile phone and cash were also "snatched".

Maria Amir wrote in Dawn that there can be no more obvious metaphor for how depraved our society really is. It is hard to imagine a more powerful symbolic representation of how we have twisted the very meaning of 'independence' and 'freedom' to cater solely to one gender at the expense of another. There really is no other way to say it, we are in the midst of gender apartheid.

The incident took place at the Greater Iqbal Park area in Lahore according to the First Information Report (FIR) registered at the Lorry Adda police station in the city.

The annual report of the State of Human Rights in Pakistan released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) for the year 2020 amply describes the plight of women in the country.

The HRCP report has once again painted a concerning picture of the women's rights situation in the country. The HRCP has highlighted forms of violence against women, which include sexual assault and domestic violence prevalent across the country.

IFUNA VP Harcharan Singh Ranauta Honors Pritam Singh

By Deepak Arora

CHANDIGARH, Aug 1: Leader of Opposition in the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly and former Congress President Pritam Singh has been honored with the prestigious ‘Indian Federation of United Nations Award’ for helping people by staying among the public during the Corona period.

Pritam Singh was honored with this honor at a function held here on Saturday.

The Indian Federation of United Nations (IFUNA) organization honors people who have made outstanding contributions to social service every year.

Star cricketer Harbhajan Singh was honored with this award by the organization last year.

After being honored with the award, Pritam Singh expressed his gratitude to the organization and said that he dedicates this honor to every single worker of Uttarakhand Congress.

He said that the real deserving of this honor is those Congress workers who helped the needy people day and night without caring for their lives during the Corona epidemic.

Pritam said that while the Uttarakhand government failed to help the people during the Corona epidemic, Congress workers reached from the cities of the state to the far-flung villages and extended all possible help to the people.

He said that this honor given by the organization today is a tribute to the dedication and service of the Congress workers.

During the ceremony, the Indian Federation of United Nations (IFUNA) organization greatly appreciated Pritam Singh. In the letter of honor given by the organization, it was said that Pritam Singh made an excellent and exemplary contribution to social welfare during the Corona epidemic.

It further added, ‘Pritam Singh is an epitome of selflessness through his constant efforts for the betterment of every citizen of Uttarakhand. They engaged in extraordinary humanitarian efforts during the past 18 months of the pandemic. He made a commendable contribution in the distribution of food, clean water, clothes, medicines, masks, and sanitizers to the citizens of the state.

Human Trafficking- a highly profitable criminal industry

By Silky Grewal

NEW DELHI, Aug 1: Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery wherein the traffickers by targeting the vulnerability of the poor people through means of force, fraud, deception, etc. make profits by catering to the ever increasing demand for cheap labour and commercial sex.

It is a profitable criminal industry which involves the exploitation of one person for the profit of another, and in which the profits earned by the perpetrators are always much higher, than the investment made by them with the risk of being proceeded against by the law enforcement agencies being minimal.

Presently, trafficking of human beings is a low risk, high gain criminal activity. This is so due to the clandestine nature of trafficking and a weak and imperfect legal regime to deal with it.

It is difficult to estimate the actual level of trafficking prevalent in our country as only a small fraction of it’s incidents are detected. Equally difficult is to arrive at the number of victims of trafficking, and the profits made by the traffickers.

The Global Estimates of Modern Slavery (2017) report published by International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated the presence of 24.9 million people in forced labour and sexual exploitation in the year 2016. This includes the presence of 16 million people in forced labour exploitation and 4.8 million people in sexual exploitation.

The most disturbing fact is that out of these 4.8 million people in sexual exploitation, 3.8 million adults are in forced sexual exploitation and there are 1.0 million children in commercial sexual exploitation. These figures are mere estimates, and the real number of victims could be much higher. Exploitation of these victims leads to generation of huge profits for the traffickers.

According to ILO report of 2014, human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers. The majority of the earnings are from commercial sexual exploitation ($99 billion), construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities ($34 billion), etc. It is noteworthy to mention that the victims trafficked for sex or sexual exploitation earn 66% of the total global profits from trafficking of human beings.

According to a study conducted by the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe in 2010, sexual exploitation may yield a return on investment ranging from 100% to 1,000%, while an enslaved labourer generates more than 50% profit even in less profitable markets.

From the above, it is evident that human trafficking is a profitable business for the traffickers.

In order to prevent the detection of the illegal money generated through the crime of trafficking i.e. the proceeds of crime and to convert the same into legal or white money, traffickers carry out money laundering using several methods.

Many a time to launder the black money into white they invest in businesses or activities wherein it is possible to deflate the expenditure and inflate the profit. Some of these businesses are hotels, casinos, bars, film and entertainment industry, etc. Using these businesses they merge their legally earned profits with those made from illegal activities.

This benefits the trafficker in two ways. Firstly, the proceeds of crime accrued from trafficking are shown/declared as profits earned in legitimate manner. Secondly, the traffickers use these legitimate businesses as a cover for many of their illegal and exploitative activities, such as sexual exploitation at massage parlours, hotels and spas.

According to the United States of America, Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report (June 2006), there are some businesses that are simply established to launder money and not necessarily to make profits.

As of now trafficking has not been recognised as an organised crime in our country. Only the various offences related to human trafficking have been criminalised. This has not proved to
be a sufficient deterrent for the traffickers. Even if an offender is arrested and convicted, he or his accomplices keep on enjoying the illegal gains made from trafficking and continue their criminal activities.

Thus, to effectively combat trafficking, it is extremely important to hit the financial flows arising from human trafficking. Therefore, it is important to attach/confiscate all kinds of proceeds of trafficking, whether movable or immovable in order to break the entire chain of human trafficking.

Nobel Peace Laureate Shri Kailash Satyarthi launched the Bharat Yatra in 2017 that set in motion, the world’s largest youth-led mobilisation for children to end child trafficking in India. The Yatra led to over one million people signing pledges in support of the cause and around eight hundred thousand people joined the 12,000 km long march across India.

The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 which has been placed in the public domain by the Union Government for comments and suggestions, is a remarkable step taken by the Government of India (GOI) to prevent and combat human trafficking and various other offences connected to it.

The Bill addresses the issue of illegal financial gains made by the traffickers and targets those businesses, which under a legal cover carry out criminal activities involving exploitation of human beings including minor girls.

The proposed Bill criminalizes all acts of owning, acquiring or possessing any property whether in India or outside India generated from commission of any of the offences under the Act. This provision will undoubtedly break the organised chain of trafficking.

In a case of trafficking of human beings, it is very common that the offender absconds or is untraceable. In such cases, it is hard to impose a fine on him, which could be used to compensate the victims. In order to address this issue, as also to effectively combat trafficking, the Bill provides for the attachment and forfeiture of all the proceeds of human trafficking.

Further, such forfeited proceeds of human trafficking shall be used for the realisation of the fine imposed by the court and to be used for the rehabilitation of the victim to meet his medical expenses and other needs.

The Bill to combat trafficking, if it becomes law, is likely to be a game changer as far as combating trafficking in our country is concerned. Passage of the Bill through both the Houses of the Parliament will pave the way to fight and prevent the crime of human trafficking in a comprehensive and effective manner. The Bill deserves the whole hearted support and backing of all our parliamentarians.

@ Silky Grewal is a practising advocate in Delhi. In the past she has worked with Government of India, Ministry of Women and Child Development as a Senior Consultant in the drafting of Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.



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