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Showing posts from 2015

Odisha saffron outfit "blocks" Christmas celebrations in Kandhamal district, known for communal tensions

By Our Representative
Notorious for communal violence, Kandhamal district of Odisha once again saw tension following saffron outfits’ alleged threat to Christians not to celebrate Christmas. Ajaya Kumar Singh, a well-known social activist working in the area, reports that roads to several villages were “blocked” by felling trees and putting huge rocks so that the police force could not reach the place where they were “rampaging.”

Top Gujarat-based woman rights activist regrets it's "common" for Indian women leaders to face sexual abuse

By Our Representative
Foremost woman Dalit rights activist from Gujarat, Manjula Pradeep, executive director of Navsarjan Trust, referring to a gruesome incident of sexual abuse in a Facebook post on October 30, 2015 on her timeline, has said that “it is high time" one raised the point of concern as it is not only happening or happen to one person, but many women across India who are in leadership position.”

Muslims rally in Ahmedabad to protest "interference" in Muslim Personal Law, Congress leaders attend meet

By Mohammed Kaleem Siddiqui
For the first time after 2002, Muslims of Gujarat showed their numbers in Ahmedabad on the occasion of 17th national convention of All India Milli Council. The last time Muslims gathered on such mass scale was when the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board held convention in Ahmedabad in 1992 just ahead of the Babri Masjid demolition.

Impact of "improvement" in economic complexity under UPA: By 2024 India to be fastest growing economy

By Our Representative
Basing on analysis of decade-long economic growth data and policies between 2004 and 2014 – which Manmohan Singh was India’s Prime Minister – the Centre for International Development (CID) at Harvard University has predicted that India has the “potential to be the fastest growing economy over the coming decade.”

Sohrabuddin fake enounter: "Extreme pressure" led to withdrawal of case against BJP chief Amit Shah

By Our Representative
Well-known human rights lawyer Mihir Desai has alleged "extreme pressure" on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has taken finally a U-turn against its own charge sheet in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. He says, this appears to be a clear case of “caged parrot syndrome”, even as indicating it simultaneously suggests an effort to bury the case itself.

Levels of radiation from Uranium Corporation of India operations are 60 times "safe levels" set in US

By Our Representative
As India seeks to go nuclear signing one pact after another with other countries, a US-based non-profit organization, Centre for Public Integrity (CPI), has come down heavily on the state-owned Uranium Corporation of India Ltd’s (UCIL’s) operations in Jadugoda, Jharkhand, for failing to protect “nuclear workers, village residents, and children living near mines and factories” from “persistent exposure to unsafe radiation.”

World Bank decides action on "sweeping failures" in rehabilitating people affected by projects funded by it

By Our Representative
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a powerful group of cross-border journalists, has appreciated that, after years of delay, the World Bank has initiated “action to address sweeping failures in its oversight of development projects that force people from their land or harm their livelihoods.”

Image of Gujaratis as tolerant damaged after 2002 riots, may "affect" ethnic entrepreneurial tradition

By Our Representative
Top British journal “The Economist” has wondered whether Gujaratis, qualified as the world’s “best businesspeople”, would continue to enjoy the same reputation in the future, especially when their image of “religious and ethnic tolerance on which so much of their commercial ethos was built” stands damaged.

Black money: Govt of India refuses info about action on whistleblower's expose of unaccounted money in HSBC

By Our Representative
Yet another instance has come to light suggesting the Government of India isn’t keen on sharing information on black money. The Ministry of Finance has lately refused to part with official information on action taken following former Geneva-based HSBC Bank employee and whistleblower Herve Falciani’s leaked information on account holders who had stashed away black money in the bank.

Examine RTI's exemption categories before releasing human rights violation report: Gujarat's top Info Commissioner

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat’s chief information commissioner Balwant Singh, in a ruling, which is unlikely to be taken kindly by RTI activists, has said that senior IAS official Sanjay Prasad’s two-year-old report on the death of three Dalit youths in police firing of September 2012, may be public, as it relates to a “human rights violation”, but under certain condition.

How Modi government in Gujarat used to give primacy to politics of vendetta over corruption

By RK Misra*
Vendetta politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, and applying the wrong remedy, or so goes an oft repeated saying.
Cold Delhi was sizzled on December 15 as the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) sought to ‘marinate’ the Delhi Chief Minister’s Office in a controversial raid that saw temperatures soaring in Parliament and fingers pointed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for resorting to such a practice.

How Modi government in Gujarat used to give primacy to politics of vendetta over corruption

By RK Misra*
Vendetta politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, and applying the wrong remedy, or so goes an oft repeated saying.
Cold Delhi was sizzled on December 15 as the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) sought to ‘marinate’ the Delhi Chief Minister’s Office in a controversial raid that saw temperatures soaring in Parliament and fingers pointed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for resorting to such a practice.
After Himachal Pradesh, this is the second Chief Minister or his office to be targeted by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in it’s less than two year long tenure.
Interestingly, just around the time that the CBI was pursuing the raid on the Delhi chief minister’s office, far away in Gujarat’s capital of Gandhinagar, a court was issuing a bailable warrant against minister Purshottam Solanki in an alleged Rs 400 crore fisheries scam during the time when he was a minister in the government headed by chief minister Narendra Modi. In fa…

"Rampant" land acquisition in Karnataka for building nuclear weapons capacity, alleges top US non-profit body

By Our Representative
A “secret” acquisition of of nearly 4,290 acres of land adjacent to Varavu Kaval and Khudapura villages in the district of Chitradurga, Karnataka, which place seven months after India’s Parliament ratified the US-Indian nuclear cooperation by Parliament May 2009, has gone internationally controversial six years after the process began.

With two more silicosis deaths, toll reaches 20: Gujarat govt in “no hurry” to prevent disease, implement NHRC plea

By Jagdish Patel*
With the death of two more agate workers due to silicosis, Rafik Husen Malek (43) and Naresh M Rathod (42), the toll because of the deadly occupational disease in Gujarat has reached 20 this year. Both were residents of Shakarpur, Khambhat taluka of Central Gujarat. Last year, 25 deaths took place as a result of silicosis.

US chemical giant DuPont, which merged with Dow, must take responsibility for Bhopal gas tragedy: Amnesty

By Our Representative
The decision of Dow Chemicals, which took over $130 billion all-stock merger with US chemical giant DuPont last week, with the combined company to be named DowDuPont, has made top international NGO Amnesty to declare this doesn't absolve if of Bhopal gas tragedy in which 22,000 people died in 1984.

India's constitutional conundrum? State, legislative, judicial bodies' RTI rules "not in consonance" with Central rules

By Our Representative
Facts have come to light suggesting that several state governments, and other authorities, including state legislatures and high courts, are taking advantage of lack of constitutional clarity on the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, in order to come up with RTI rules which “undermine” the Act’s “letter and spirit”.

Gujarat PUCL's "secular" chief approvingly quotes RSS boss Mohan Bhagwat on new education policy

Counterview Desk
In a surprise move, a senior official of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has quoted RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to justify his arguments in on working out a new education policy, for which Union human resources minister Smriti Irani had sought comments by December 15.

Lack of hygiene, "doubtful" quality of medicines behind 66 Madhya Pradesh patients losing eyesight

By Our Representative
A civil society investigation has blamed organizers of the eye surgery camp of criminal negligence, leading to the gruesome incident leading last month to the loss of eyesight of 66 patients belonging to Barwani and Dhar districts of Madhya Pradesh. The investigation team consisted of Rakesh Chandore, Dhara, Amulya Nidhi, and SR Azad of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan; and Medha Patkar, Devisingh Tomar, Bhagirath Dhangar, and Rahul Yadav of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

What lay behind Gujarat's top officials' recent "meeting" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi

By RK Misra*
Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, for this time it tolls nearer home. The resurgence of the Congress in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bastion of Gujarat during recent local body polls is cause for enough concern for him. This became evident when, a few days back, chief secretary GR Aloria, DGP PC Thakur and chief principal secretary of the chief minister KK Kailasnathan called on him in New Delhi.

What lay behind Gujarat's top officials' recent "meeting" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi

By RK Misra*
Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, for this time it tolls nearer home. The resurgence of the Congress in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bastion of Gujarat during recent local body polls is cause for enough concern for him. This became evident when, a few days back, chief secretary GR Aloria, DGP PC Thakur and chief principal secretary of the chief minister KK Kailasnathan called on him in New Delhi.
Though it was billed as a meeting to discuss the forthcoming conference of the country’s top cops to be held in Kutch, these preliminaries were dispensed with within minutes and then followed an almost hour long closed door meeting between Modi and Kailasnathan in which the poll outcome was discussed. Kailasnathan is a trusted former bureaucrat of Modi who headed the CMO during his tenure and has been retained as his eyes and ears in Gandhinagar on the same post even during Anandiben’s tenure.
Delhi, Bihar and now Gujarat. Billed as the semi-final encounter before the next State…

Do you have girl friend? When will you get married?: Gujarat police to Hardik Patel during investigation

By Our Representative
The Gujarat police is learnt to be asking strange questions to young pro-quota Patidar leader Hardik Patel, currently in Surat’s Lajpore jail of Gujarat on charges of sedition. Details of the questions asked during the police interrogation suggest, among the questions he was asked included whether he had a girl friend, and when would he get married.

India's financial literacy worse than Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, BRICS nations: Top rating agency S&P

By Our Representative
A new survey released by well-known rating agency Standard & Poor (S&P) has found that just 24 per cent of the adult Indians are financially literate, which is worse than not just the “competing” BRICS economies but two of its important neighbours Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s 26 per cent and Sri Lanka’s 35 per cent adults are financially literate, it says. Bangladesh's financial literacy rate is 19 per cent.

Non-disclosure of RTI information on bank frauds "detrimental" to public interest: Supreme Court to RBI

By Our Representative
In what is being described as a “landmark judgment” in the history of the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, the Supreme Court of India has rejected the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plea not to disclose information to the general public about the action it takes on banks against their alleged irregularities.

Foreign funding rules to "affect" Indian NGOs working on human rights, policy, governance, electoral reforms

By Rajiv Shah
India’s civil society organizations have strongly objected to the new Foreign Contribution Regulation (FRC) Rules notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which require the NGOs to give an "affirmation" that they are not used the foreign contribution for activities that are likely to “prejudicially affect” the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the security, strategic, scientific and economic interests of the state and the public interest.

Delhi people's organizations' meet protests proposed changes in India's forest and environmental laws

By Our Representative
A broad spectrum of civil society and people’s organizations under the Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) has demanded from the Government of India to work for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 in its letter and spirit, even as ensuring that collective rights of tribal communities are upheld.

Govt of India denies information on gangster Chhota Rajan's passport under RTI, says it's a "personal" matter

By Our Representative
The Union ministry of external affairs (MEA) has rejected the release, under the right to information (RTI) Act, to records relating to the issue of the fake passport of top underworld don Chhota Rajan, whose capture in Indonesia last month was sought to be projected as a major breakthrough by the Government of India.

India suffers loss of 28.6 percent in Human Development Index due to socio-economic inequalities: UN report

By Our Representative
The latest Human Development Report 2015 suggests that though India’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2014 is 0.609 on a scale of 1000, below the average of 0.630 for countries in the medium human development group,  above the average of 0.607 for countries in South Asia, its international ranking of 130th of 188 countries would have been much better if the country had fought socio-economic inequalities.

Paragraphs "planted" in NIA report to prove Ishrat Jahaan was LET mole involved in 2004 plot to assassinate Modi

By Pratik Sinha*
David Headley, the Pakistani American who scouted targets for the 26/11 terror attack by the Lashar-e-Toiba (LET), has been news for turning into an approver. He has also been news regarding the Ishrat Jahaan case, with a section of the media highlighting, on the basis of information provided by powerful sections in New Delhi, how Headley had said that Ishrat was an LET mole.

Top global report praises UPA govt effort in 2005-14 to reduce hunger, after bringing in major policy changes

Counterview Desk
Even as ranking India 80th in Global Hunger Index (GHI) among 104 developing countries, a new study, carried out by a group of research organizations led by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) says that the country’s has been able to successfully fight against child undernutrition in India after 2005.

Gujarat may take 287 years to clear lower court backlog, "tops" with 34 pending cases per 1000 people: Data site

By Our Representative
 A top data analysis website has revealed that, as of October 2015, Gujarat has the highest number of cases per 1000 people pending in its lower courts. While the all-India average of pending cases is 18 per 1000 people, Gujarat can have the distinction of having almost double as many pending cases – 34 per 1000.

Judgment on disqualifying panchayat candidates to "disenfanchise" 50% Haryana women, is "anti-UN convention"

By Our Representative
The Supreme Court judgment of December 10, which upholds amendment to Haryana's Panchayati Raj law seeking to disqualify those contesting panchayat polls for not possessing minimum educational qualifications, non-payment of electricity bills or dues to cooperative banks, and not having a toilet in their homes is being widely interpreted as anti-women, anti-Dalit, and against international laws, to which India is a signatory.

Gujarat passport office "adds" to woes of abandoned children, doesn't know birth certificate isn't mandatory

By Our Representative
Does the passport office in Gujarat, widely proclaimed as a “model” state, not know that orphan/abandoned children are exempted from the mandatory requirement of submission of a birth certificate along with passport application form? It would seem so if what happened on Friday is any indication.

Gujarat govt's new "worry": How would India realize solar energy target? It woefully lacks quality manpower

By Our Representative
A new “worry” appears to have gripped Gujarat government: Claiming to be No 1 in solar power, it is not sure how the Government of India would fulfill the solar power dream, revising the target upwards from 20 GW to 100 GW, especially when the rooftop segment, forming 40 per cent of the target, woefully lacks necessary manpower.

Land acquisition for Dholera smart city stayed: Setback to Gujarat government, farmers relieved

By Our Representative
In an important "relief" to the farmers of living in the 900 sq km Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR), touted by the Gujarat government as a Greenfield smart city about 100 kilometres south of Ahmedabad, the Gujarat High Court has order to maintain status quo on land acquisition for going ahead with the project.

Paris talks? India to double coal production by 2019, as affected communities’ rights put on back foot: Report

Counterview Desk
An international advocacy group report, prepared even as the Paris talks on climate change are on, has accused India that Government of India and India’s coal companies operating in the private sector of causing “major, countervailing detrimental effects on communities which had previously sustained themselves with farming, fishing, hunting and other activities.”

Corporate houses "officially" donated Rs 410 crore to BJP, Rs 128 crore to Congress in 2014-15: NGO report

By Our Representative
In an interesting revelation, a new report by two well-known NGOs, the National Election Watch (NEW) and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), suggests a powerful hold of corporates over the two main political parties, BJP and Congress, in India.

BJP's "rural defeat" in Gujarat local polls: Reason lay in people's direct experience of local administration

By Jatin Sheth*
Bihar still represents rural India as urbanization is much less. There, the BJP lost elections. Similarly, in rural Gujarat, BJP lost heavily in district and taluka (block) panchayat. The following could be the reason: The government allocates large budget spending for rural area. Most of the population falls under beneficiary category. So, almost all people have direct interactions with local government and their officers.

India's "welcome" proposal to impose sin tax on aerated drinks is part of to fight growing sugar consumption

By Amit Srivastava*
A proposal to tax sugar sweetened beverages like tobacco in India has been welcomed by public health advocates. The proposal to increase sin taxes on aerated drinks is part of the recommendations made by India’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian on the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill in the parliament of India.

Top Indian civil rights group warns: Will approach court if Rajya Sabha amends whistleblowers Act

By Our Representative Top advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), based in Delhi, has warned that if the Rajya Sabha passes the Whistle Blowers Protection (WBP) Amendment Bill, it “may have to" move courts, along with other civil society organizations, “to challenge the constitutionality of the Bill vis-a-vis basic human right to accountable governance and the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.”

Without oil price fall, India's GDP growth would be 6%, not 7.5%, argue World Bank, JP Morgan economists

By Our Representative
A recent World Bank analysis, even while predicting that India’s growth rate would be around 7.5 per cent by the end of the present financial year ending March 2016, believes that it is largely “oil-fueled.” Carried out by Frederico Gil Sander, senior economist, World Bank, it says, “The drastic decline in global crude oil prices since June 2014 clearly played an important role”.

India's fight against intolerance "shaping" amidst increasing infiltration of rightwing groups among communities

By Our Representative
The national convention of 200 prominent citizens, held at the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi, has reached the conclusion the current “fight” against intolerance, begun by litterateurs and artistes who have returned their awards in protest, can succeed only when local-level communities begin asserting their rights.

Congress can't "win" 2017 Gujarat assembly polls if it doesn't improve in urban areas, suggests Madhusudan Mistry

By Our Representative
Senior Congress leader from Gujarat Madhusudan Mistry, known for taking independent political stances which may not necessarily to be the liking of a section of the party leaders, has strongly insisted the onus is on the Congress leadership to “change” its present electoral/mobilisation strategy, especially in urban areas, if it wants to “win the assembly election due in 2017.”

As Sri Lanka Cabinet clears RTI Bill, civil society consultation reveals information commission has "no teeth"

By Our Representative
Following the footsteps of India, the Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved a Draft Right to Information (RTI) Bill for tabling in Parliament. While welcoming the development, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in its preliminary analysis has said that the proposed RTI Commission in the Bill is virtually toothless with no power to impose any sanctions on anybody for non‐compliance.

Andhra N-plant will "destroy" agriculture, livelihood of locals: Ex-bureaucrat writes to Indian, Japanese PM

By Our Representative
Former energy secretary, Government of India, EAS Sarma has strongly opposed the setting up of 6,000 MWe nuclear plant near the village where he currently lives, Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, saying he is “intensely concerned” about the safety of the people there in the event of an “unfortunate accident” taking place, similar to the one that struck the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear complex in March 2011.

Expert panel "busts" Govt of India startup dream: Majority lower strata youth prefer "secure" employment

By Our Representative
At a time when the Government of India is keen to promote startup enterprises, a spot survey in a Niti Aayog report has found that just about 17 per cent of the urban youth, belonging to the lower strata, are interested self-employment or entrepreneurship, and majority would prefer, instead, permanent, preferably government job.

Rural Gujarat's public healthcare services witness 7.9 per cent decline, one of the highest in India: Niti Aayog experts

By Rajiv Shah
In fresh evidence, Gujarat’s public healthcare has taken a beating over the last10 years, with rural areas witnessing one of the sharpest 7.9 per cent fall in the provision of government health services in India, Only two states witnessed a higher fall than Gujarat in rural public healthcare services -- Karnataka (13.2 per cent) and Maharashtra (9.5).

Those occupying top positions in India resort to verbal exercise "unmindful" of insecurity gripping public psyche

By RK Misra*
Tolerance may be troubling but arrogance annihilates.
The storm over the statements by the star Khans – Shahrukh then Aamir – fanned through televised debates and the abusive anonymity of the social media is troubling. What did they say that should make people yell bloody murder?

Those occupying top positions in India resort to verbal exercise "unmindful" of insecurity gripping public psyche

By RK Misra*
Tolerance may be troubling but arrogance annihilates.
The storm over the statements by the star Khans – Shahrukh then Aamir – fanned through televised debates and the abusive anonymity of the social media is troubling. What did they say that should make people yell bloody murder?
Are they being hounded because they are public figures and Muslims at that? Does a star wife have no right to voice her insecurity? What does the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) have to say?
It states that every 20 minutes a woman is being raped in India. Nearly one in three rape victims is under the age of 18 and one in ten under 14. Since 2010 crimes against women has increased by 7.1 per cent.
That Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Pune – in that order – are among the top unsafe cities in India. And the most horrifying part is that 94 per cent of the offenders was known to the victim and her families. So where does that leave us?
Statistics may trouble but insecurity grips the mind only when those ador…

"Nothing wrong" if someone in Dwarka temple asks caste of devotee; raising such issues only creates "flutter"

By Our Representative
In what may be interpreted by a section of Dalit activists as a controversial statement, Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani (independent), who happens to be vice-chairman of the Dwarkadheesh temple trust in Dwarka, has said that there is “nothing humiliating” if a teerth panda (senior priest) asks for the caste of “a devotee to find out his/her gotra (family root).”

Proposed Indo-Japanese deal during Abe's visit has "dangerous implications" for global nuclear disarmament

By Our Representative
The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India’s national network of over 200 grassroots groups, mass movements and advocacy organisations, has said that India has become “a playground for multinational vendors like Areva, GE, Westinghouse, Atomsroyexport, Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi.”