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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

Reliance think-tank advises Modi govt: Involve private sector in defence manufacturing in big way

By Our Representative
Close on heels of the Government of India’s controversial decision to raise the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in defence sector to 49 per cent, the powerful Reliance Industries Ltd’s New Delhi-based think-tank has asked the Modi establishment to make “a critical doctrinal shift in the country’s approach to national security”: transform the Indian defence sector by “encouraging the large-scale entry of the private sector into the defence research and development and industrial sectors.” And for this, it indicates, there is an urgent need to increase the country’s defence budget, which is allegedly very low.
The top think-tank, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), in its latest report titled “Rebalance and Reform”, authored by well-known policy experts C Raja Mohan, Manoj Joshi, Ashok Malik and Samir Saran, reminds the Modi government that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in consultation with the Ministry of Defence has already taken the first step in identifying “areas for private sector involvement in production of defence hardware such as radars, armoured combat vehicles, warships, electronic warfare and aircraft.”
Pointing out that right now the “private sector involvement has been restricted to small-value defence contracts and supply of low-tech equipment”, the think-tank suggests that the Modi government should not restrict to 49 per cent FDI in defence. “The government should encourage greater FDI in the defence sector and ensure that India’s defence production becomes commercially viable, with the country becoming a net exporter and entering global supply chains for defence weapons and systems”, it insists.
The think-tank further says, “The government should establish a Defence Research, Technology and Industry Commission comprising of top defence bureaucrats and private sector leaders to encourage public-private partnership across the spectrum in the area of defence.” It adds, “In particular, public-private partnerships for research on transformative and emergent technologies should be encouraged.”
An illustration from the report 
And for this, it favours India is in a unique position to cement its place as a global player in the defence sector. Pointing out that “India must have a strong and decisive leadership at the helm of the Ministry of Defence”, the think-tank wants the government to revive what Jawaharlal Nehru had abolished long time back in order to keep supremacy of democratic establishment over a centralized defence establishment.
It says, “The government should appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to assume charge of the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters. The CDS would head the tri-service institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman & Nicobar Command. He would be in charge of coordination and prioritisation involved in writing the armed forces Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) and the five year plans”.
It further says, “He would lead the shift of the country’s armed forces to the concept of theatre commands and take charge of any out-of-area contingencies. The CDS would be the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and hence be the principal military adviser to the government”.
All this is important, the think-tank believes, because India is “today is confronted by a host of new security challenges”. While “some of these challenges lie in new domains, such as space and cyberspace”, others follow as a result of “new dynamics … within the domain of traditional security challenges, such as terror outfits operating in the country or the spreading Left-Wing Extremism (LWE).”
Declaring that “the Indian security apparatus is not adequately equipped to deal with these challenges effectively”, the report states, “The process of modernising and equipping of the armed forces and police has not progressed at the desired level.” It believes, “Ineffective management has led to the Air Force numbers declining significantly, the Navy suffering from a shortage of ships and submarines and obsolete weaponry for the Army. “ It would also strengthen India’s “position among the global powers”.
If all this happens, the think-tank indicates, “the government would be able to “fast track the delayed ongoing projects and acquisition plans of the three Services, such as the LCA Tejas, the Scorpene submarine, the IAC II aircraft carrier, the nuclear powered attack submarines; the modernisation requirements of the army such as battlefield management systems, night-fighting capabilities, enhanced firepower; and the deeper integration of technology in modern warfare.”
Only then would it be possible to fight LWE, which “continues to be the country’s biggest internal security challenge”, the think-tank says, reminding the government, “Nearly one-third of the country’s territories are affected by LWE, causing huge loss to the economy and compromising its service delivery machinery.”
It adds, “Security efforts need further reinforcement in terms of better coordination among states and the Centre and improved intelligence and policing. Developing a comprehensive surrender package is also the need of hour to neutralise threats from LWE.”

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India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

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Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.