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"Bailing out" Modi, US religious freedom panel attacks his right-hand Amit Shah's call for national anti-conversion law

By Our Representative
Even as giving the impression that it has spared Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the influential US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in its just released annual report has attacked his right-hand, BJP chief Amit Shah, along with other "high-ranking members of the ruling BJP" , for declaring the need for a "nationwide anti-conversion law".

Govts of India, Gujarat top recipients of Ford Foundation grants; its top brass include Infosys' Narayana Murthy

By Our Representative
A reputed Indian news site has reported that the Gujarat government has been one of the important recipients of the Ford Foundation grants, currently put on scanner by the Government of India for its “suspicious” activities. One of the most important recipients of the Ford Foundation grants has been the Gujarat Ecological Educational and Research (GEER) Foundation, which received $122,000 in 2002 to “expand” its joint forest management programme.

Top Gandhi baiter Arundhati Roy 'supports' Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj concept

By Our Representative
Is prominent social activist Arundhati Roy following the footsteps of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati and its late founder Kanshi Ram, at least in theory if not in practice? In an interesting move, top Indian English writer and one who recently converted into a Gandhi baiter, Roy has given her support to efforts to propagate the term "Bahujan" for bringing together oppressed communities in order to overcome a "caste-ridden society."

Attacking Modi support to crony capitalism and neo-liberalism, AAP splinter Swaraj Samvad not to ally with Communists

By Our Representative
Even several weeks after it "broke away" from the parent organization, the splinter group of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has tentatively called itself Swaraj Samvad, is still at the exploratory stage about the political directions it should take in futre. Swaraj Samvad's national convener Prof Anand Kumar, in Ahmedabad to explore "possibilities" of political support, has told newspersons that the organization cannot find any established political organizations or individuals with whom it could find a common ground in the country.

Australian greens accuse Adani Group of making "false promises" of economic benefits from coalmining project

By Our Representative
In a development which may go a long way adversely the powerful industrial group of Adanis’, currently involved in a legal tangle in a land court in Australia’s Queensland province for obtaining permission to go ahead with one of the world’s biggest coalmining projects, the British daily Guardian has reported the “Indian conglomerate” has admitted it will not be able to “generate” 10,000 jobs it had previously promised.
“Australia’s largest coalmine would deliver only a fraction of the jobs and state government payments promised by the company, Queensland’s land court has heard”, daily says.

Most smartphone users in India feel mobile broadband services are "too expensive"

By Our Representative
A recent report by Ericsson ConsumerLab, “The changing mobile broadband landscape, India 2015” has said that affordability poses a “major barrier to mobile broadband adoption, particularly in a market as diverse as India, where hugely varied socioeconomic factors affect price sensitivity.” The report notes that as many as 88 percent of Indian smartphone owners, who do not use mobile broadband, feel it is “too expensive”.

Just 8.2% projects stalled due to land acquisition, 4.2% for environmental reasons: Union finance ministry

By Our Representative
A Union finance ministry reply to a right to information (RTI) plea has revealed that, as of February 2015, as many as  804 projects were stalled due to variety of reasons, but just about eight per cent of the projects (66) were stalled because of land acquisition problems. Based on the reply, Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative says, this suggests, "the argument that the slowdown in the economy is due to land acquisition projects is a myth."

Gujarat construction workers' "welfare"? Rs 909 crore lying 'idle' since 2006, just nine of 600 paid death compensation

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has admitted that the state has so far failed to make any progress towards providing basic welfare facilities to an estimated 20 lakh construction workers, despite the fact that the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996, which was activated in the state in 2006. Addressing a well-attended workshop on construction workers, a senior state official admitted, “huge cess fund” has been collected by the state government for the welfare of the construction workers, but all of it has remained unused.

Condition of slums deteriorate in Gujarat, Ahmedabad; become more vulnerable

By Rajiv Shah
In a major admission, a recent report submitted to the Government of India has admitted the Gujarat's slums have become heavily "vulnerable" in 2011 than what they were a decade ago, in 2001, when Narendra Modi took over reins of power as state chief minister.

BJP's poll exigencies behind sharp dip in Narmada's hydropower generation

By Our Representative
Senior environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has said that India’s “biggest dip” in hydropower generation has taken place in the Narmada dam’s 1,450 MW capacity, witnessing a reduction of 50.31% in 2014-15 compared to 2013-14. This was followed by a 35.9% reduction in power generation upstream dams on Narmada river situation in Madhya Pradesh, with a capacity of 1,520 MW, channeled through Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation (NHDC).

Heavy-handed regulation, slow-moving reforms characterize Modi's one year in office: Vodafone chief

By Our Representative
Prominent British daily "Financial Times" (February 26) has criticized Prime Minsister Narendra Modi for "heavy-handed regulation and slow-moving political reforms" as the main hurdles for India’s "battered" telecom sector's efforts to move towards developing next-generation broadband services. The daily quotes the outgoing chief executive of Vodafone, India's second biggest telecom operator, to warn that India may risk missing "a huge opportunity”.

Politics and prejudice: BJP, Congress converged with hysterical attacks on AAP

By Kamal Mitra Chenoy*The suicide (I won't call it a stunt gone wrong), of Gajendra has been a matter of wild speculation. Apoorvanand's article in The Indian Express, 25 April, has made some valid points about this tragedy. But his assertion "that all that he wanted to do was to create a spectacle which would force the crowd or leaders or police to converge under the tree...and pleaded with him to climb down."
This the author surmised was so because, "He wanted...to be helped to be able to return home, from where he was forced out." Yet his family owns some 90 bighas of land, so he was a rich peasant with his crop not badly damaged, and his family was convinced that he couldn't have committed suicide.
But the other assertions are equally speculative. For example, the description of the AAP leaders on the stage. The claim that AAP leaders virtually ignored Gajendra because "The AAP leaders were upset with this protest...They suffer from a strange se…

Explore heavy militarization of Kashmir as reason behind Sept 2014 flood: Srinagar-based civil society coalition group

Counterview Desk
In its just-released study, Srinagar-based Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), claiming to be an “amalgam” non-funded, non-profit, campaign, research and advocacy organizations, has strongly disputing the view that the unprecedented floods in South Kashmir valley in September 2014 were caused by 'cloud burst', or 'flash floods’.

India worse than Pakistan, Bangladesh, China in world happiness index: Columbia Univ-sponsored study

Counterview Desk
A new report has said that India has slipped in World Happiness Index (WHI) ranking from 115 in 2005-07 to 117 in 2012-14, and is behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. Called World Happiness Report 2015 and edited, among others, by Jeffrey Sachs, along with John F. Helliwel and Richard Layard, for the Earth Institute of the Columbia University, it has said that, on a scale of 10, India has scored 4.565 in 2012-14, which is 0.587 down compared to the score it achieved in 2005-07.

Gujarat fishermen "sue" World Bank Group in US Federal Court for loss of livelihood, adverse impact on health

By Our Representative
Gujarat's fishing communities and farmers of Mundra, "represented" through Earth Rights International (ERI), have filed a suit against the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-lending arm of the World Bank Group, in federal court in Washington, DC, alleging that the IFC has caused the "loss" of their livelihoods, "destroyed" their lands and water, and "created threats" to their health.

Biometric aadhaar is linked to land acquisition, land titling: Inform Supreme Court about violation of its orders

By Gopal Krishna*
The questionable 12-digit biometric unique identity (UID)/aadhaar number cannot be made mandatory for any government service, according to the Supreme Court orders of September 23, 2013, November 26, 2013, March 24, 2014 and March 16, 2015. Yet, so far opposition parties have failed to note that biometric aadhaar number is linked to legislations on land acquisition and land titling.
It is abundantly clear that the biometric aadhaar number case has become the litmus test to demonstrate whether rule of law still exists in India or biometric surveillance companies have subverted Indian legal and political system for good. In the current situation, it is the moral and political duty of the genuine opposition parties to ensure that aadhaar is abandoned.
It is noteworthy that Section 10 and 36 of the land titling bill is linked to aadhaar. It has been disclosed in writing by the government that new land acquisition law was meant to create a "perfect land market",…

Seven Adivasis, including three women, brutally attacked in South Gujarat: Protests planned on Foundation Day, May 1

By Our Representative
In a gruesome incident, seven Adivasis, including three women, of Manekpur village of Bardoli taluka of South Gujarat were brutally attacked on Tuesday. All of them are members of the Adavasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (AKSM), which has been fast expanding its wings among the Adivasis of South Gujarat districts.

It's our turn to lead! Reflections by a Jesuit on the Earth Day, April 22

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*It is Earth Day once again, and on this 45th anniversary when the focus of every citizen is on what are we doing to Mother Earth, the theme that is suggested is “it’s our turn to lead”. The publicity material speaks about “the most exciting year in environmental history. The year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands. The year in which world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty. The year in which citizens and organisations divest from fossil fuels and put their money into renewable energy solutions.
These are tough issues but we know what’s at stake is the future of our planet and the survival of life on earth. On Earth Day we need you to take a stand so that together, we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead. So our world leaders can follow by example.”
So it’s our turn to lead! India is a classic example of how sustainable development is thrown to the winds: the ‘corporatisation’ of the country; the anti-sm…

Gujarat grassroots leaders "amend" negative perception towards Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan

By Our Representative
In an unusual development, some of the most well known Gujarat's grassroots leaders, many of whom were till now known for their inimical hatred towards the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and its leader Medha Patkar, is beginning to change its perception. So far characterizing NBA and Parkar as "anti-Gujarat" because of their opposition to the construction of the Narmada dam, these activists have now given enough indication to suggest that, as times have change, so should the perceptions.

Sharp shooter and fast scooter: How flow of rhetoric catapulted Modi to power

By RK Misra*
If a library is a thought in cold storage, a politician is a pragmatist selling pipedreams for a meal ticket. Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is nearing an year in national harness has had a charmed existence cashing in on a negatively projected past while proclaiming his own governance as the harbinger of a bright future. "achche din aane wale hai”- good times are round the corner. Modi will complete a year on May 26 this year but people still wait for the professed deliverance, their patience wearing thin.
Meanwhile, the word splurge continues. Like before. Four thousand six hundred and ten days in the chief ministerial chair in Gujarat, we were fed dollops of it. The past provides a perfect mirror to the future so let's take a look.
With great fanfare and at great expense- the then chief minister Modi announced the revival of the mythical Saraswati river at Siddhpur in North Gujarat on September 8, 2005 through diversion of the Narmada waters. The Saraswati-Narm…

Govt of India report ranks Gujarat No 23 among 25 states in national slum improvement index

By Our Representative
A high-level committee appointed by the Government of India has ranked Gujarat 23rd among 25 states in bringing about improvement in slums. In a report handed over by the committee to the Union housing and poverty alleviation ministry last week, the 16-person committee, which was headed by well-known academic Prof Amitabh Kundu, the report said that Uttarakhand ranked No 1 and Assam last in slum improvement index.

Top AAP rebel calls Kejriwal Stalin, his, Bhushans' expulsion Stalinist purge

"
By Our Representative
Top Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rebel Yogendra Yadav, a psephologist whom many consider as one of the best political scientists of India, has sought to compare Delhi chief minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. He has gone on to compare the way in his he and his two colleagues -- father and son duo Shanti and Prashant Bhushan -- were expelled from the party's top political executive committee with "Stalinist purge".

Modi's Rafale deal in France "reminds" one of how tinpot dictators would carry fat chequebooks during trips abroad

By Our Representative
One of the top-most Indian diplomats, who has worked as ambassador in several countries, has taken strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rafale deal in France, saying, this reminds one of how the French would get around “authoritarian rulers” and “tin-pot dictators” – like Muammar Gaddafi – who would carry fat chequebooks in their pockets while travelling abroad.

Law criminalizing cow slaughter, possession of beef "violates" state's mandate not to enforce religious practices on people

By Our Representative
Thirty senior citizens have challenged the Maharashtra government’s recent decision to ban cow slaughter and possession of beef as a non-bailable offence, saying the whole purpose of the ban is to “implement” a certain version of Hindu belief, which may not be acceptable to all. Filing a petition in the Bombay High Court, they say, the ban is “in violation of the basic structure of the Constitution of India which mandates the state not to make law towards enforcement of a particular religious practice.”

Muslims earn "peanuts" from meat business, even as India is on way to become world's largest exporter: Study

Counterview Desk
A well-known online publication, published from Malegaon, Maharashtra, has claimed in a recent study that Muslims earn "peanuts from animal slaughter in India", and the main gainers in the meat business are Hindu businessmen. Carried out by a team which works for ummid.com, the study says that India is already "on track to become world's largest bovine meat exporter", and the general perception the Muslims have gained from the trade is false.

Narmada dam oustees withdraw agitation after Maharashtra govt agrees not to shift them to Gujarat for rehabilitation

By Our Representative
The Narmada dam's tribal oustees of Maharashtra have withdrawn their four-day agitation after the state government agreed to look into their demand of identifying land for their resettlement within the state. Led by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), the oustees' main contention was, as against the need for about 2,500 hectares (ha) of land for about 1,200 oustees, the Maharashtra government had set aside just 202 ha in the state, which is “grossly inadequate”.

Anti-dam Adivasi, Dalit protesters again fired upon in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh, casualties reported

By Our Representative
In less than four days of open firing at peaceful protesters in Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh on April 14, Ambedkar Jayanti, the again police opened fire in the morning on Adivasis and Dalits protesting against the Kanhar dam. Those fired at included large number of women in Kanhar valley, Amwar, Sonbhadra district, said National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), an apex body of tens of rights bodies in India.

Gujarat slipped in fight against child marriage during Narendra Modi's chief ministership: Census data

By Our Representative
The new 2011 Census of India data on child marriage has opened yet another chapter about the failure of the Gujarat government’s save the girl child campaign during the chief ministership of Narendra Modi (2001-14). The data reveal that, compared to other states, Gujarat has one of the lowest percentage of women of all ages who may been forced to tie their nuptial knot before 8, yet, in 2011, at the time of Census data collection, it had one of the highest proportion of married females below 18.

RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad*
Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle.
When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities.
Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so!
A similar…

International journalists' body: World Bank has "failed" to keep promise to alleviate plight of project affected people

By Our Representative
In fresh report, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), claiming to be the world’s "best" cross-border investigative team, has singled out a coal-fired ultra modern mega power plant at Mundra, Gujarat, as one of the spots in the world where the top bankers have allegedly failed to keep up to their declared aim of alleviating the plight of the people affected by the projects it has funded over the last one decade.

Paucity of land for Narmada dam oustees in Maharashtra: Adivasis agitate at Nashik

By Our Representative
The Narmada dam oustees' eight-hour long dialogue on April 16 with the Maharashtra government officials at Nashik around their rehabilitation has failed bear any fruit, with 400 adivasis deciding to continue their mass agitation at the Divisional Commissioner's office on Nasik Road. A Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) statement said, the dialogue was necessitated because of "serious problems" arising out of the continuing construction to raise the Narmada dam's height by 17 meters.

2002 Gujarat 'massacre': Canadian Court issues summons for Prime Minister Modi; attorney general blocks it

By Our Representative
A Canadian Court reportedly issued summons to visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi under Section 269.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code following a law suit filed under the aegis of the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which has offices in New York and Toronto which charged Modi for “torture and genocide in connection with the horrific anti-Muslim pogroms of 2002 in Gujarat”.

Civil society groups tell Gujarat governor: New anti-terror law will mean undeclared emergency in the state

By Our Representative
The Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD) and People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Gujarat, in representation to Gujarat governor OP Kohli have asked him reject the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and organized Crimes (GCTOC), passed by the Gujarat state assembly on March 31, saying, if this bill turned into an Act, it will be a “mockery of democracy” and would among to “undeclared emergency like situation” in Gujarat.

An insider's view of rebel AAP meet Swaraj Samwad led by Prashant Bhushan

By Aurobindo Ghose*
On April 14, 2015 was Ambedkar Jayanti, when three social activists from Delhi - Dwijendra Nath Kalia, Tarun Kanti Bose and me - attended the Swaraj Samwad (a Dialogue on Present and Future Alternative Politics ) held at Gurgaon, Haryana from11:45 am to 6:45 pm. The participants to this Dialogue consisted of about 3,000-3,500 Aam Admi Party (AAP) volunteers, mostly (2,000-2,500) drawn from all parts of the country, outside Delhi, organised and invited by 49 named leaders of the AAP and spear-headed by four members of the National Executive Council who were forcibly ejected from its meeting on March 28, 2015 and later expelled, namely Prof Ajit Jha, DrYogendra Yadav, Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Prof Anand Kumar.
Throughout the day, there were speeches, messages, discussions, voting on key issues, interspersed by songs (by Neeraj Kumar), poems (including those by Mahipal Sharma) , video shows, lunch and tea..A video-recorded message of the erstwhile AAP internal Lokp…

Gujarat's solar slowdown: Top state adviser blames inertia on "problem of plenty"

By Our Representative
A senior adviser working with a state-run institute has sharply criticized Gujarat government's official inertia in putting up more solar plants after 800 MW were commissioned for three years starting with 2009. Pointing out that subsequently to this "not much has happened", the senior expert regrets, "There have been no further allocations, and the state solar policy expired in 2014. No new policy has yet been officially announced."

Sabrang Trust, CJP do not see themselves above law; expect others to do so as well

Sabrang Trust, headed by well-known human rights activist, Teesta Setalvad, issued the following statement following a visit by an inspection team of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, to inspect its and Centre for Justice and Peace's accounts and records in an embezzlement case:
Following the letter from the Gujarat Government to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, a team of four senior officers from the Monitoring Unit of the Foreign Contribution Regulation (FCRA) department, New Delhi visited the registered offices of Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) for an inspection of the accounts and records of both the trusts.
The inspection team was led by a Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and he was accompanied by three Assistant Directors from the FCRA department’s Monitoring Unit.
Executive functionaries of CJP and Sabrang Trust, Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, extended full co-operation to the inspection team w…

If anti-terror bill is signed by Gujarat governor, it will be mockery of democracy

Memorandum by Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD) and People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) to OP Kohli, Governor of Gujarat on the need to reject the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and organized Crimes Bill:We the citizens would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Govt. of Gujarat passed a Bill Gujarat Control of Terrorism and organized Crimes (GCTOC) on March 31, 2015 in the House of the Gujarat Assembly amidst opposition.
This Bill GCTOC is synthesis of GUJCOC and Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act/TADA and Prevention of Terrorism Act/POTA and is modelled on the MCOCA/Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act; it has also been in force in Delhi since 2002. The bill is in not in consonance with the policy on terror laws as mentioned in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Introducing the bill for the fourth time in 12 years, with a new name, Gujarat minister of state for home Rajnikant Patel said it "is aimed at combating terrorism and organised…

AAP imbroglio: Rules for the attempted reconciliation were not fully followed

By Kamal Mitra Chenoy
On April 14, feared split in AAP became a matter of time. This is a tragedy. It is true that the new alliance (largely of old AAP members) will not develop into a new party for some time. But the discourse in the "official" and "dissenting group" worried all AAP supporters. Yes, there were differences. But couldn't these have been settled by AAP activists who had worked together for years. Unfortunately, the rules for the attempted reconciliation were not fully followed. For instance, even before the National Council meeting on March 28, sizeable sections of the media were saying that AAP was "leaking like a sinking ship."
Some colleagues were clearly unaware that media leaks are double sided. But this trial worsened the atmosphere, and sabotaged the attempts at compromise. It did seem that a coming together was possible, but the necessary trust, what Prashant Bhushan termed "the trust deficit" was a problem. But if both …

New York Times protests Modi government crackdown on Greenpeace as attempt to "silence citizens"

By Our Representative
The New York Times (NYT), one of the most influential American dailies, in a sharply-worded editorial, has taken strong exception of the Government of India's latest crackdown on Greenpeace, one of the world's most powerful environmental NGOs. Pointing out that the Narendra Modi government isn't the first to "conjure the threat of the meddling foreign hand", the NYT has noted, "His government has taken this to an alarming new level."

Narmada oustees gain fishing rights in reservoir after 30 years' struggle

By Our Representative
In an important gain, thousands of Maharashtra-based Adivasis affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam of Gujarat have been able to obtain right to reservoir fishing, for which they were demanding for the last over three decades. According to information from the Narmada valley, this would help several hundred Adivasis of Satpudas alone.

Anti-dam protesters, demonstrating against land acquisition ordinance, attacked in Sonbhadra, UP

By Our Representative
Even as news came in about police firing on “peaceful protest” of Adivasis and Dalits on Tuesday Morning, morning, followed by “brutal” lathi charge, at Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) characterized this as “brazen”, especially as it came on the day of the Ambedkar Jayanti. NAPM is the apex body of tens of people’s organizations operating across India, and is led by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar. Several people were injured in the melee.

Introduce disincentives for "irresponsible" corporates: Pro-Modi babu on CSR

By Rajiv Shah
Top Gujarat government ex-bureaucrat known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maheswar Sahu, wants the state officialdom to tighten the state’s noose over corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of industrial houses. In a recently released book, “Small but Meaningful: CSR in Practice”, Sahu, who retired as additional chief secretary, industries, in 2014, has said the state must introduce “economic disincentives for irresponsible corporate behaviour”, even as encouraging “socially responsible business practices.”

"Repeal" Gujarat anti-terror bill, it's "incompatible" with human rights norms

By Our Representative
Top human rights body, Amnesty International, has asked the President of India to reject the new anti-terror bill, passed in the Gujarat state assembly last month-end. Calling it "draconian", Amnesty said, it "falls far short of international human rights standards." It also demanded, "Similar laws already in force in other states and nationally must be immediately repealed."

Anti-caste campaign launched as Gujarat rural schools "display" caste, sub-caste of children on notice boards

By Our Representative
In a stark revelation, several rural schools in Gujarat have begun to display their notice boards with castes and sub-castes represented in the schools. Alleging this is how the rural schools in Gujarat are splurging public money, well-known Dalit rights activist, Martin Macwan has told Counterview, "I have seen this in several schools. It is a new trend. This should be reversed."

Involve national rural jobs guarantee scheme for encouraging millet production

Reproduced below is a letter by Paryavaran Mitra’s Mahesh Pandya to Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, Government of India, suggesting for advancement of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNRGS) by encouraging millet production: Paryavaran Mitra, an Ahmedabad-based NGO, as the environ-legal unit of Janvikas, was initiated in 1997 on environmental issues that have an impact on the human rights of people, especially marginalized communities.
Towards this, Paryavaran Mitra’s approach has been to monitor implementation of environmental law meant for industries and take up issues of human rights and injustice caused by industrial and government development projects, policy advocacy and creating awareness and building capacities of local organizations and community-based leaders.
We have actively listened to the Prime Minister’s debate and views about NREGS in Parliament especially on March 3, 2015 in Lower House of Parliament. As per government record and as illust…

Gujarat's 41 per cent maternal deaths occur below the age of 25: Report

By Our Representative
A recent report prepared by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, involving several NGOs working on health issues in Gujarat, and high-profile CommonHealth, has found that 41 per cent of the maternal deaths in Gujarat occur in very young women, below the age of 25 years. Basing its analysis of 46 maternal deaths, it said, seven of them took place when the mother was between 16 and 20 years, and 12 deaths were of women between 20 and 25 years.

Gujarat NGO workshop doubts govt claims on reduced maternal mortality rate

By Our Representative
A recent workshop held under the aegis of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Gujarat, at Vadodadra has doubted the Gujarat government’s loud claim that the state has registered 23.75 per cent decline in maternal mortality rate (MMR) between 2004-06 and 2010-12, from 160 per 100,000 to 122 per 100,000.

GUJCOTOC: Another draconian law from Gujarat in the name of fighting terrorism

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*On March 31, 2015, the Gujarat Legislative Assembly passed another draconian law, the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GUJCOTOC) Bill 2015. This bill has yet to be sent to the Governor of Gujarat for his assent. It will then have to be sent to the Rashtrapati Bhavan for approval by the President of India because of the contentious provisions in it; very interestingly, three earlier versions of this draconian bill in 2004, 2008 and 2009 were rejected by the President of India.
There are several provisions in the bill which are draconian in nature and will surely enhance tyranny by the police and the abuse of law in order to settle political scores or to quell dissent and human rights, these include:
i. the empowerment of an investigating agency to continue for 180 days its investigation – as against the maximum period of 90 days laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC); during this period the accused will be in judicial custody
ii. the co…

Modi govt move to suspend Greenpeace's foreign funds, freeze accounts described "curb" on free speech

By Our Representative
Greenpeace India has described the latest curbs on by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, on its sources of funding as "violation of the right to freedom of expression." On April 9, the MHA ordered, through a post on its website, that Greenpeace India’s bank accounts had been frozen, and its ability to receive funding from abroad had been suspended.

RK's Plainspeak. Model Disrobed, CAG Flicks Fig Leaf

By RK Misra*
Time discovers truth. In India, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) does this job. No wonder the Gujarat model,assiduously used by erstwhile chief minister Narendra Modi to catapult himself to the prime ministerial calling, lies in tatters after the CAG placed it’s report for the period ending March 31, 2014 on the table of the Gujarat Assembly on March 31, 2015.
The report provides a classic example of how marketing savvy politicians-in- power use all the elements of brand building – good advertising, repeat messaging, catchlines and chest thumping-to go places. The CAG has taken the government apart for financial indiscipline and poor spending. ” The fiscal deficit increased from Rs 15,513 crores in 2009-10 to Rs 18,422 crores in 20013-14. It also pointed out the non-submission of utilization certificates of Rs 7420.40 crores bringing out the lack of monitoring by the respective departments. Modi ruled Gujarat from 2001 to mid-2014 before taking over as Prime Minist…

Tata Mundra financier ADB's compliance body finds "major lapses" while identifying adverse impact on environment

By Our Representative
The Compliance Review Panel of Asian Development Bank (ADB) has come down heavily upon top international banks ADB for committing "major violations" in financing the 4000 MW Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd (Tata Mundra), in Gujarat. This is the second major financial institution for making harsh criticism of its lending to Tata Mundra.