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Pink bollworm pest attack: why are farmers of Punjab, Haryana bitter with Bt cotton

By Bharat Dogra*  During the last two decades the experiences of over 7 million cotton growing farmers in India, the world’s highest producer of cotton, has changed drastically as a diversity of cotton varieties have been replaced to the extent of perhaps over 90 per cent by genetically engineered Bt cotton varieties like Bollgard I and Bollgard II. This change was widely promoted by very influential and resourceful private companies as varieties which will be less susceptible to pests, particularly the pink bollworm (PBW), reduce pesticide use and increase yields, a win-win situation of increasing earnings and reducing costs. However, the actual experience of farmers has been very different from this. This is a good time to look at the real situation as the debate over genetically engineered or genetically modified (GM) crops has again intensified recently and in this debate the question of Bt cotton often crops up as this was the first GM crop introduced in India.
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Nullify environmental release, uproot GM mustard plants: 111 doctors urge Modi

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 111 medical professionals , most of them senior doctors, has expressed concern with regard to human health implications of the genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (HT) mustard that got approved by Government of India, with indications that it has already been planted in at least six locations. Floated by Dr Rupal M Dalal, a Mumbai-based pediatrician, the letter, even as “welcoming” Modi’s “unprecedented push” towards non-chemical farming in the country for the benefit of environment, nature, consumers and farmers, it said, “HT GM mustard will push the country in the opposite direction.” “A herbicide tolerant crop will put an end to diversity-based cropping, which is important not just for soil health but human health and expose consumers and farmers to a toxic herbicide with serious long term health implications”, it added. The letter seeks the Prime Minister’s urgent intervention to not only withdraw th

Remove 'illegal' one child norm for maternity benefit: top economists write to Sitharaman

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Finance Minister, 51 senior economists have made strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India is undermining social security pensions and maternity entitlements, pointing towards how both the benefits have been “ignored”. Writing ahead of the Union budget, they urge the senior minister to increase the old age pension from Rs 200 to Rs 500, and widow pension from Rs 300 to Rs 500. At the same time, they insist, there is a need to not only increase maternity benefit but also remove the "illegal" one child norm for obtaining the entitlement. Text: This is a follow-up to our letters of 20 December 2017 and 21 December 2018 (addressed to your predecessor, Shri Arun Jaitley), where we tried to flag two priorities for the next Union Budget: an increase in social security pensions, and adequate provision for maternity benefits. Since both proposals were ignored, we are writing again, well in advance of the

Bangladeshi dacoits loot villagers' cattle, yet BSF 'doesn't guard' Ichamati river border

Counterview Desk  Bringing to light the case of one Basudeb Adhikari, who earns livelihood by cattle rearing and working as agricultural labour, a senior human rights activist has pointed towards how in the middle of a September night, Bangladeshi miscreants illegally trespassed into his house, situated near Indo-Bangladesh borders, broke the lock in the gate of the cowshed and stole his cow. Stating that such incidents are not uncommon, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), Hooghly, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said, the village where this person lives, Pipli, is next to the river Ichamati, which is the international border between two countries. There is no fencing in this area, he said, regretting, here, at the International Border Pillar (IBP) Border Security Force personnel are never posted. This leads to the villagers experiencing severe harassment from hooligans from Bangladesh. Often Bangladeshi mi

Riding on Sylhet-Silchar festival, Assam seeks 'better, lasting' ties with Bangladesh

By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan*  A three-day 'Sylhet-Silchar festival' which took place in the town of Silchar in the northeastern Indian state of Assam has opened new doors of relations between Bangladesh and India. The festival began on the afternoon of December 2 at the police playground in Silchar town and ended on the afternoon of December 4. Six ministers, twelve MPs, educationists, and industrialists of Bangladesh went Silchar under the leadership of Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen. A new horizon of friendship was created at this festival. Sylhet and the entire nation have improved relations because to this festival. India and Bangladesh will consequently both gain. The Assam government was a major participant in the event. Friends of Bangladesh worked together. The programme was organized in the context of the historical relationship between Sylhet and the Barak Valley of South Assam. The Assam government hopes to create opportunities for business, cultural and historical

In dilapidated condition, 36% Odisha schools 'lack' teachers, drinking water, toilets

By Our Representative  A fact-finding study on the status of the compliance of Right to Education (RTE) in schools in Nuapada district of Odisha has revealed that majority of elementary schools don’t comply with basic norms set by the Right to Education Act 2009 and calls for a robust intervention to ensure its effective implementation. According to the data of the school and mass education department, Odisha government, Nuapada district reported the highest number (896) school dropouts. This prompted the NGO Atmashakti Trust to do a fact finding study was conducted by with 68 elementary schools in the Nuapada and Komna blocks of the district to understand how far RTE is being implemented, whether its monitoring in the district and block level is done properly, and whether children, parents and members of school management committees know about the learning recovery programme. The study found that 36 (52.94%) schools do not have required teachers, and 46 (67.64%) of them do not have

Enemies of elephants: Odisha real estate agents, ivory smugglers, mining contractors

By Sudhansu R Das  Over centuries the elephant in Odisha has been closely associated with its economy, culture and politics. The state was known for its mighty elephant army which repelled enemy attacks until the end of the 16th century AD. The kings of Odisha were known as Gajapati for their skill and ability to use elephants in the battlefield. Some historians said Odisha had 18,000 war elephants. In the olden time, Odisha had exported fine ivory work to foreign countries. The ancient temple walls have the carvings of an elephant army and the scene of elephants boarded on traditional boita (ship) for transportation. Today the elephants in Odisha are at the receiving end; they are being hunted, poisoned and poached for their tusks. They are branded as trespassers, destroyers of crops and human life; the media paints the situation as human-animal conflict and the debate to show concern for the elephant’s protection has become a meaningless endeavor. The state needs a development vision

Demand for fair judicial enquiry into 'fake encounter killing' of two Odisha tribals

Counterview Desk  The civil rights group Forum Against Corporatization And Militarization (FACAM), sharply criticising the “killing” of two tribal villagers in forests of Koraput district of Odisha, calling it “yet another fake encounter”, has said said that It is important to understand that it is part of the politics of killing people by branding them as ‘Maoist’. In a statement, FACAM said, Despite judicial commission reports finding such encounters fake, “no action has been taken on the security personnel responsible for the massacre of people and brutal violation of human rights.” “Instead”, it added, “The pro-people forces and individuals standing with the kith and kin of the massacred people in their struggle for justice are targeted.” Text: On November 10, 2022, police claimed to have killed two Maoists in Ramgiri Forest Area of Boipariguda block of Koraput district in Odisha. According to the police, a combing operation was launched by Special Operations Group in the said regi

'Unprecedented rise' of attacks on students of Delhi university by ABVP condemned

Counterview Desk  A statement, sent as an email alert by "concerned teachers and students of Delhi University", referring to a protest organised against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad's (ABVP's), has alleged “brutal” attack on students and teachers demanding the release of civil rights leader Prof GN Saibaba and others from “unjust incarceration.” “We are seeing an unprecedented rise of attacks on the students of our university by the fascist ABVP goons. Almost every week we see our fellow students and activists getting attacked physically by the lackeys of this current Brahmanical Hindutva fascist regime”, the statement claimed. Text : A joint protest was organised by the students and teachers of Delhi University on 2nd of December against the brutal attack by ABVP goons. On 1st of December, activists of Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch (bsCEM), Lawyers Against Atrocities (LAA) and many other organisations as a part of Campaign Against State Repression (CASR),

Corporate-political party nexus? Rise and rise of Gautam Adani under Modi regime

By Sandeep Pandey*  In last five years Rs 10,09,510 crore taken as loans by various companies from banks in India have been declared as Non Performing Assets, an euphemism for writing them off. Out of this State Bank of India alone wrote off Rs 2,04,486 crore. Only about 13% of the total written off amount was recovered. Identity of the defaulting borrowers, most of whom are influential corporates, is not revealed. Compare this to the loans taken by farmers. The names of defaulting farmers is displayed on walls in tehsil offices to shame them and some unlucky ones also land up in lock-ups there. On the contrary, a few corporate defaulters have fled the country and quite curiously the authorities didn’t seize their passports like they do with some dissenting intellectuals or activists booked under mostly false cases. Now consider the donations received by political parties in the form of electoral bonds. The identity of the donor need not be revealed even to the Election Commission or i