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Tamil Nadu politics: AIADMK symbol two-leaves frozen by Election Commission

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The treacherous work by Sasikala and allies against the AIADMK, Jayalalithaa and O Paneerselvam has taken the party founded by MGR at a crossroads as the party is losing its meaning.

The party is split and now the party symbol has been frozen. “Both groups shall also be allotted such different symbols as they may choose from list of free symbols for current bypoll in RK Nagar”, the EC added.

In what seems to be an apparent victory for O Panneerselvam’s faction, the Election Commission has frozen the name and symbol of AIADMK. “Neither of the two groups shall be permitted to use the symbol ‘Two Leaves’ of AIADMK,” the Election Commission stated. It also added, “Both groups shall also be allotted such different symbols as they may choose from list of free symbols for current bypoll in RK Nagar. Both groups are allowed a further and final opportunity of adducing documents and affidavits latest by 17th April, 2017. Neither of the two groups (O Panneerselvam and V.K. Sasikala) shall be permitted to use AIADMK name.”

In fact the former CM Panneerselvam who was sacked by Sasikala gang should become victorious in the RK Nagar constituency. The OPS camp has said that it has not yet received an official confirmation. The high-stakes hearing on the claims of rival AIADMK factions over the party’s election symbol commenced on Wednesday.

During the first half of the hearing, the OPS camp questioned VK Sasikala’s elevation to the party top post, besides seeking to freeze the party symbol, before the poll panel. On the other hand the Sasikala camp claimed it had majority support of party delegates, MLAs and MPs, and the claims of Panneerselvam camp were inconsequential

Top legal eagles have been hired by both the sides to put forth their views before the Election Commission. Two former law ministers and a former Additional Solicitor General — M Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid and Mohan Parasaran are representing the Sasikala camp. The O Panneerselvam side is being represented by senior Supreme Court advocates CS Vaidyanathan, S Krishnakumar and B Srinivasan.

Essentially as a sign of symbolism to deny the ruling AIADMK faction any upper hand in its claim to be real AIADMK, the Election Commission has frozen the AIADMK party symbol two-leaves. The party symbol having been frozen officially frozen, Jail inmate Sasikala’s strenuous efforts to control the party have received a setback.

As the process of RK Nagar by-poll in Tamil Nadu has set in, the election has frozen the AIADMK party symbol two-leaves, making chances of the party in the poll more challenging.

Even as the ruling AIADMK faction continued to claim that there is no split in the party only a difference of opinion has taken place and the party is one and EC must give the party symbol to the ruling faction without ay second thought.

The decision of EC to freeze the AIADMK party symbol might make Sasikala and CM Pannerselvam happy, for, Sasikala might think she has insulted her “thick friend” and former CM Jayalalithaa for not letting her become acting CM or Deputy general secretary during her life time, while CM Palanisamy would be a happy man for enjoying CM post as luck smiled to him, even if for a few months.

On the other hand, OS Panneerselvam and his supporters in the assembly and parliament, among the party members, would be very sad because they were appointed by Jayalalithaa herself by keeping Sasikala and co at a distance

O Panneerselvam and supporters are the affected party, punished by Sasikala undemocratically. They had expected the EC would give them the party symbol but that has not happened.

Against all expectations by the party workers, Sasikala and Palanisamy have not taken any steps to approach the Jayalalithaa’s CM appointee OSP for patch up work.

Meanwhile both factions claim to be real AIADMK and both could approach the court for justice. .

Madusudanan, the AIADMK candidate of the OPS faction was an MLA of the constituency and vacated it to enable Jayalalithaa to contest and she won it.

However, DMK has all the chances to win the RK Nagar mainly due to the split in AIADMK. .

Both factions would like get more votes than the other and Sasikala candidate might even lose deposit and become the 4th or 5th in poll result. .

It is quite likely that both factions would make efforts to reunite and get back the symbol but party without credible leaders is likely to fail.

Palanisamy still has a chance to let AIADMK continue to rule the state for many years by making a small sacrifice by vacating the CM seat in favor of O Panneerselvam or his nominee. The government has to drop Sasikala, the root cause of all troubles for the party, government and state.

With her series of arrogant actions, Sasikala has already squandered the sympathy wave of Jayalalithaa who died under mysterious circumstances

Sasikala and her relatives in the party do not to let O Panneerselvam to become the CM again even if that would cost the Palanisamy government- after all, Sasikala is not ruling the state. Palanisamy and some of his associates would like to patch up with Panneerselvam but they fear punitive measures of Sasikala, Dinkaran and family and co. He does not want to lose his CM post that came to him by chance as life time goal. He wants to enjoy ht e privileges of being CM.

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Africa Today

‘Complex’ emergency unfolding in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado

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A group of people, having fled violence in several districts of Cabo Delgado, arrive in the provincial capital, Pebma. IOM/Matteo Theubet

UN agencies voiced deep concern on Wednesday over the worsening humanitarian crisis in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, where attacks by armed groups have forced more than 565,000 to flee their homes. 

According to the agencies, growing insecurity and poor infrastructure are making it increasingly difficulty to reach families “completely reliant” on humanitarian assistance, amid fears that imminent rains and threat of cyclones could further compound the challenges. 

“Coupled with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis has become even more complex”, regional heads of UN agencies in east and southern Africa said in a joint statement

“The crisis is a complex security, human rights, humanitarian and development emergency, underscoring the imperative of continuing to provide life-saving assistance while collectively supporting Government-led long-term resilience building”, the statement added. 

Crisis worsening 

In December, the UN officials visited Mozambique to assess the needs of the displaced populations as well as of the host communities.  

They heard extremely moving accounts from displaced men, women and children in the city of Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado, and in the districts of Ancuabe and Chiúre – people whose lives have been upended by conflict and insecurity. 

While acknowledging that much has been done to help victims of the crisis, the UN officials stressed that with displacement increasing daily, the lack of adequate food, water, sanitation, shelter, health, protection and education, was exacerbating an already dire situation, which could be further complicated by on-going torrential rains.  

Urgent support needed 

The UN agencies also raised concerns over the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which is keeping most schools closed. 

There is an urgent need to expand protection, healthcare, food and nutrition programmes, vaccination efforts and psychosocial counselling, and to aid displaced farming and fishing families to re-establish sustainable livelihoods, they added. 

They also urged support for adequate resettlement of uprooted families straining the already limited resources of impoverished host communities, and Government efforts to effectively register and assist the displaced. 

The senior officials are urging the Government of Mozambique and the international community “to step up efforts to end all forms of violence in the country, including gender-based violence and child marriage, and to invest more in women and girls as agents of progress and change,” the statement said.

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Human Rights

Over 1.9 billion people in Asia-Pacific unable to afford a healthy diet

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A child is tested for malnutrition at a UNICEF-supported health clinic in Bangladesh. According a UN report, malnutrition among young children and infants remains a pervasive problem in South Asia. UNICEF/Siegfried Modola

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and surging food prices are keeping almost two billion people in Asia and the Pacific from healthy diets, United Nations agencies said on Wednesday.

According to the 2020 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition, the region’s poor have been worst affected, forced to choose cheaper and less nutritious foods. The report is jointly produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“The outbreak of COVID-19 and a lack of decent work opportunities in many parts of the region, alongside significant uncertainty of food systems and markets, has led to a worsening of inequality, as poorer families with dwindling incomes further alter their diets to choose cheaper, less nutritious foods,” the agencies said

“Due to higher prices for fruits, vegetables and dairy products, it has become nearly impossible for poor people in Asia and the Pacific to achieve healthy diets, the affordability of which is critical to ensure food security and nutrition for all – and for mothers and children in particular.” 

As a result, progress is also slowing on improving nutrition, a key target for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As of 2019, over 350 million people in the region are estimated to have been undernourished, with an about 74.5 million children under five stunted (too short for their age) and 31.5 million suffering from wasting (too thin for height). 

‘Impact most severe in first 1,000 days’ 

The UN agencies went on to note that while nutrition is vitally important throughout a person’s life, the impact of a poor diet is most severe in the first 1,000 days, from pregnancy to when a child reaches the age of two. 
“Young children, especially when they start eating their ‘first foods’ at six months, have high nutritional requirements to grow well and every bite counts,” they said. 

The agencies called for an integrated systems approach – bringing together food, water and sanitation, health, social protection and education systems – to address underlying factors and achieve healthy diets for all mothers and children. 

‘Changing face of malnutrition’ 

They also highlighted the “changing face” of malnutrition, with highly processed and inexpensive foods, readily available throughout Asia and the Pacific. Often packed with sugar and unhealthy fats, such food items lack the vitamins and minerals required for growth and development and also increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

The report urged governments to invest more in nutrition and food safety to promote healthy diets, as well as regulate sales and marketing of food for consumers, especially children. It also highlighted the need for action within the private sector, given the sector’s important role in the food system and its value chains for achieving healthy diets. 

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Energy News

Priorities for improving diversity and inclusion in the energy sector

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Prominent energy figures from around the world took part in a virtual dialogue last month on ways to accelerate progress on diversity and inclusion in energy. The event was co-hosted by Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director; Ambassador Madeleine Chenette, the Permanent Representative of Canada to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and the Clean Energy, Education and Empowerment International Initiative (C3E International).

The C3E International Initiative, under the IEA Technology Collaboration Programme and the Clean Energy Ministerial, aims to enable greater gender diversity in clean energy professions, recognising that transitions to a clean energy future will need to harness all possible talent to succeed.

Participants from across the energy sector took part in the event on 2 December 2020 to share perspectives and insights on what really matters in the industry. Dr Birol emphasised that diversity and inclusion were priorities for his modernisation agenda for the IEA because “decision-making benefits from the strength of diverse perspectives.” He noted that the share of women in leadership positions at the IEA had grown from 16% in 2015 to 38% today. Dr Birol said he was “delighted that the virtual dialogue represented voices from across the IEA family, reflecting the ‘all fuels and all technologies’ approach of the Agency.”

Highlighting that women’s participation and representation in the energy sector is far below those in other comparable sectors, Ambassador Chenette set out the moral, political and strategic imperatives for accelerating progress. She emphasised that both high-level and personal leadership are critical for overcoming slow progress, and thanked Dr Birol for his leadership in emphasising the need to make economic recoveries from the Covid-19 crisis sustainable.

Empowering women in clean energy transitions is one way to help achieve sustainable recoveries, Ambassador Chenette said, calling for greater efforts to embrace the principle of “what gets meseaured, gets done.” She noted that “it is crucial that we all recognise the economic, environmental and social benefits that gender equality delivers.”

Elbia Gannoum, CEO of ABEEólica, the Brazilian wind energy association, said that “across the energy sector in Brazil, there is an urgency building – companies are searching for solutions on how to make the shift” to harness the benefits of diversity and inclusion. Due to the growing demand for resources and tools, Ms Gannoum announced the creation of the Energia da Transformação platform, which plans to boost inclusion and diversity through the Brazilian energy sector based on collaboration, knowledge sharing and raising awareness.

A data-driven approach is essential for accelerating progress across industry. Laura McGee, founder and CEO of Diversio, a Canada-based company that provides an intelligence platform to measure, track and improve diversity and inclusion, said that the “energy sector is in the middle of the pack compared to some sectors, and could achieve rapid progress by learning from other industries.” Data-driven diagnostics are critical for avoiding missteps and allocating resources to targeted pain points, she added.

Lyu Fang, a senior engineer at the Electrical Engineering Institute at the China Academy of Sciences, shared her personal journey from the start of her career in remote solar PV stations in China to eventually holding leadership positions in the country’s huge renewables industry. Today, Ms Fang is Secretary General for the PV Committee of the China Green Supply Chain Alliance and C3E International China Global Ambassador. She highlighted that China’s climate ambitions offer many growth opportunities in clean energy through “rising sun industries.” She said these should be harnessed to accelerate women’s participation and representation in energy.

Strengthening gender diversity in the energy industry requires unrelenting long-term efforts to boost inclusion. Joel Couse, Special Advisor to the IEA, highlighted that the energy industry faces challenges in finding and retaining talented staff in a competitive global market, including to seize the opportunities of clean energy transitions. On the supply side, boosting the number of women entering STEM programmes remains a priority for achieving gender-balanced recruitment. However, getting women into energy careers is not enough, he said, adding that the industry needs to be actively supporting women to progress past the experience hump before caring responsibilities limit their opportunities for certain types of operational jobs. A key challenge is shifting mind-sets and addressing harmful stereotypes about job roles and advancement opportunities that unnecessarily hold women and men back across the talent pipeline, Mr Couse said. Setting quantitative objectives and dates helps focus efforts to make progress.

Leading energy figures call for action

Mechthild Wörsdörfer, IEA Director of Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks who leads the Agency’s Gender Diversity Task Force, concluded the virtual dialogue, thanking the participants for driving change and reiterating that the IEA Gender Initiative is focussed on bringing data-driven solutions to the table.

In 2020, the IEA Gender Initiative started work on delivering the mandate set by Ministers from IEA Member Countries on equal opportunities in the energy sector. The Agency began by collecting better disaggregated data on gender and energy.

Strengthening collaboration is key, with the IEA and OECD working together to collect data on women in employment, entrepreneurship and decision‑making roles in the energy sector, and developing indicators on the gender of inventors of energy technologies, which will be published in 2021.

The initiative has determined that there is a lack of good and comparable data on gender trends in the energy sector, and also a strong need to improve methodologies, which is why the IEA accepted the role of Coordinator for C3E International’s knowledge and data collection work stream.

The IEA will also conduct a survey of members of the IEA Energy Business Council to develop a baseline on existing corporate practices. The findings and analysis from the survey will be shared in the coming months.

The Agency is also exploring how to integrate gender diversity into its regular analytical work, such as the World Energy Outlook, the measuring of energy efficiency, and through the Clean Energy Transitions Programme, which supports key partner countries in developing and implementing policies. This includes planning a policy package on implementing energy efficiency measures in India, which will impact a predominantly female workforce. The IEA is also prioritising new work on people-centred clean energy transitions, which will also include analysis on gender dimensions.

To share these learnings and insights, and to develop a mutual understanding of the evidence base and what works, the IEA will keep bringing together government, industry and civil society stakeholders to review data and analysis, and to identify priority actions.

Looking ahead, with the help of partners and governments within the IEA family and C3E International, the IEA Gender Initiative can help to mainstream diversity and inclusion in energy policy-making. The IEA Gender Initiative aims to develop a stronger understanding of gender balances throughout the energy sector and to shape the priorities for policy action in future decision-making. The initiative will deliver its first progress report in 2021.

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