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A10 June 8, 2012 INDIA-WEST

Syed Tajs Congress Bid Boosted by Incumbents Exit

India-West Staff Reporter

Bihar-born Dr. Syed Taj, a Democratic Party candidate for Congress in Michigans 11th District (I-W, Dec. 16, 2011), received a boost at the beginning of this month when incumbent U.S. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, RLivonia, Mich., rocked by a scandal over fraudulent and otherwise invalid signatures in support of his re-election campaign, announced he has quit his short-lived plan to run as a write-in candidate in the Aug. 7 Republican primary. McCotter, who has served in the House for 10 years, said in statement, One cant clean up a mess multitasking.

Dr. Syed Taj.

Taj, who will this year complete his four-year term on the Canton Township Board of Trustees, retired in March as chief of medicine at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, Mich. He is one of two announced

Democratic Party candidates. The other is William Roberts of Redford Township. Kerry Bentivolio of Milford Township, an English teacher and Tea Party candidate, remains the only Republican on the primary

ballot. Former state Senator Loren Bennett of Canton has announced he will wage a write-in campaign, according to press reports. Since the filing deadline has passed, any other candidates in the race would have to run write-in campaigns. McCotter one year ago had announced a long-shot bid for the Republican presidential nomination, but quickly dropped out. He was highly favored to win reelection in a newly drawn district in Wayne and Oakland counties that has an edge in Republican registration. When McCotter recently returned from a congressional trip to Taiwan, he was told that the Michigan state Secretary of States

Office had found problems with the signatures needed for his reelection campaign. It was determined that the vast majority of the 1,830 signatures were duplicated, some with dates changed. McCotter said he would finish his official duties until the end of his term and help state Attorney General Bill Schuette identify the person or persons who concocted the fraudulent petitions that have cost me so dearly. Taj in an interview with IndiaWest last year said that he was disgusted by the gridlock in Washington, D.C. Politicians seem altogether too caught up in the game of politics. I think it is about time for us to focus on policy, the Indian American candidate said.

AID Activist Highlights Exploitation of Gujarat Salt Miners

India-West Staff Reporter

Nomadic tribals, who annually travel to the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat to mine salt, are being exploited by traders who profit handsomely from their hard labor, claimed an activist at the Association for Indias Development annual conference held May 26-27 in Burlingame, Calif. Pankti Jog, the keynote speaker on the first day of the conference, movingly detailed the plight of

Activist Pankti Jog, who has worked to establish rights for Gujarats salt miners, was the keynote speaker at the Association for Indias Development three-day conference. (Aravind Prasad photo)

the Agariya community, who has mined salt in the harsh, desert region for at least 600 years. The workers are paid as little as 22 paise per kilo for salt which is then sold on the market for more than Rs. 15 per kilo, according to Jog. This is huge exploitation, declared Jog in an interview with India-West after her keynote speech. This is bonded labor going on for generations, she said, explaining that the workers take out loans for salt pans, food and

crude shelter, indebting themselves and their children to the traders who sell their salt. About three-quarters of the salt India consumes is harvested there, largely by hand, without machinery or chemicals. Children do much of the panning work, noted Jog. More than 43,000 Agariyas temporarily migrate to the Little Rann of Kutch every September to May, after the monsoon is over. There is no permanent housing;
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