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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.”

Gujarat a growth engine? 2014-15 data show state GSDP will grow lower than most Indian states

By Rajiv Shah
Latest budget papers, just released by the Gujarat government in the state assembly, have revealed that, much against the claims of “double digit rate of growth”, Gujarat's gross state domestic product (GSDP) at constant prices (calculated by deducting inflation) rose by 8.76 per cent in the year financial year 2013-14, and is unlikely cross the 7 per cent mark in 2014-15. At current prices (without deducting inflation), they suggest, state's growth rate is one of the poorest in India, putting a question mark of Gujarat being India's growth engine.
What should particularly make the industry-friendly policy makers worried is, this was the third consecutive year that Gujarat's growth rate was in the single digit – the Socio-Economic Review, one of the budget papers, says that in 2011-12 the GSDP grew by 6.1 per cent, and in 2012-13 it grew by 6.7 per cent. Interesting though it may seem, this is against the Government of India's estimate of GSDP rate of 7.66 per cent for 2011-12 and 7.96 per cent for 2012-13, respectively.
What should be a matter of further concern for the state policy makers, who only recently held one of the biggest industrial shows ever in India, Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors' Summit (January 11-12, 2015) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi blessing it, is that advanced estimates (AE) of the Gujarat government suggest, in the current financial year, 2014-15, Gujarat's growth rate is likely to be again in the single digit, and worse than the previous year.
This is clear from the Gujarat government's fiscal responsibility statement, which shows that the state's growth rate at current prices (without deducting inflation) would be 12.1 per cent, as against 16.3 per cent in 2012-13, 10 per cent in 2011-12, and 14.8 per cent in 2011-12. Experts have calculated that, if one deduces the rate of inflation in order to arrive at a constant rate GSDP growth rate, Gujarat's real growth rate would be around 7 per cent.
Interestingly, not only do budget papers give no reason for the recent slow rate in the growth rate in Gujarat. On the contrary, without any explanation,  the state's fiscal responsibility statement loudly claims, basing all its figures on current prices (without deducting inflation), that the “the state has emerged as the Growth Engine of India and its pace of economic growth continues to be higher than the national average.”
The document goes on to say, “The state economy at current prices has recorded an annualized growth rate of 15.49% for the last eleven years (2004-05 to 2014-15), one of the highest in the country demonstrating the sustained trajectory.” However, even at current prices, the state document does not provide any inter-state comparison to suggest whether this is true.
A comparison of the current price growth rate for 2014-15, as found reflected in state budget documents (12.1 per cent) with the data of growth rate provided by the latest Government of India's 14th Finance Commission document suggest that Gujarat has performed worse than all major Indian states, except two -- Assam and Jammu & Kashmir.
State-wise figures – Andhra Pradesh (13.67 per cent), Bihar (17.22 per cent), Chhattisgarh (14.24 per cent), Haryana (16.16 per cent), Jharkhand (13.09 per cent), Karnataka (12.78 per cent), Kerala (12.81 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (14.67 per cent), Maharashtra (12.70 per cent), Odisha (14.92 per cent), Punjab (12.93 per cent), Rajasthan (15.86 per cent), Tamil Nadu (13.73 per cent), Telangana (15.38 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (13.07 per cent), Uttarakhand (17.01 per cent), and West Bengal (13.06 per cent).
The growth rate of states which perform worse than Gujarat in 2014-15, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir, is 12.02 per cent and 11.38 per cent, respectively. Even then, the Gujarat government's fiscal responsibility statement proudly claims, “With a reasonable growth rate and consistent interest rates in the national economy, the Advanced Estimates for FY 2014-15 indicates that the State is poised to register a growth rate of 12.1% over the last year.”
The 14th Finance Commission documents puts Gujarat's growth rate at 13.63 per cent -- and, if one takes this figure as correct, even then as many as 11 states perform better in 2014-15.

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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

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

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.