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Showing posts from May, 2015

Be wary of Mann ki Baat: Modi dumbs down issues comprehensively, deliberately

By Leo Saldanha*I heard Prime Minister Narendra Modi's “Mann ki Baat” address to the nation on May 31, 2015. About how this innovation has captured the attention of the nation and people world over, there is plenty that has been said on TV and also written about. The point of this piece is to ask what is Modi's project when he so shares his thoughts and feelings with the “people”.
Just plain listening to Modi's “Mann ki Baat” gives one the feeling that Modi is reaching out, explaining stuff, making people part of his decisions. But pay careful attention to his tone, the undertones particularly, and one notices a rather dark and patronising manner in which Modi renders his messages.
Take today's episode, for instance. Modi spoke of the heat wave; the Kisan Channel that is being launched; the One Rank One Pension promise to Jawans; about success and failures in examinations and how to deal with them; and also announced he would lead the nation in commemorating June 21st th…

Right-wing economist Bhandari unhappy with Modi govt's effort to "whittle down" left-of-centre academics

By Our Representative
Following feminist-turned-Narendra Modi protege Madhu Kishwar's sharp critique on the way Union human resources development minister Smriti Irani is handling education, well-known right-wing economist Laveesh Bhandari has taken a dig at the ruling BJP's "poor performance" in the sector. "The sector’s three overarching reform priorities—pedagogy, resourcing, and decision making—the government, thus far, has largely performed poorly on each measure", Bhandari has declared.

Will opinions put forth by right-wing groups alone be allowed on IIT-Madras campus?

Counterview Desk
Reproduced below is the abridged version of statement issued by the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC), which was barred from continuing its activities on the campus of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras:
We, the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC), an independent student body of IIT Madras (IITM) have been derecognised by the Dean of Students (DoS), on May 22, 2015, who stated that we have misused the privileges given by IITM.

Gujarat bureaucrat Aloria, "instrumental" in seeking inquiry against Ford Foundation, made state chief secretary

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government on Saturday appointed GR Aloria, a 1981 batch IAS bureaucrat, as new state secretary. The posting comes weeks after Gujarat home department under him wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, seeking inquiry into the American philanthropic organization Ford Foundation’s grants to NGOs run by human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, fighting tens of 2002 communal riots cases, even as highlighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s complicity.

To campaign against Adani coal project, Australian natives will meet bankers in New York, London, Zurich, Hong Kong

By Our Representative
Has the Adani Group finally managed to win an important battle against those who are opposed to the Australian dollars 16.5 billion coalmining project in Queensland province? If the latest statement by a spokesperson of the indigenous people, who have been opposing the coalmines on the land which they claim is theirs, is any indication, they seem to be fighting a losing battle.

Sanskrit imposition meant to spread Brahminical order: Decognized anti-Modi Ambedkar-Pariyar group hits back

By Our Representative
The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IITM) authorities’ decision to “derecognize” the Ambedkar Periyar Student Circle (APSC) following an inquiry into APSC’s “controversial” views by the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has led to a strong reaction from those running the APSC. In their reply, APSC office bearers have wondered whether expressing a different view from the one held by Modi government could be construed as an attempt to spread of hatred.

Modi's plea to farmers to retain a third of holding for farming: Shifting people from Bharat to India

By Mohan Guruswamy*
In his speech to a farmers' gathering in the capital the other day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised them to retain a third of their holding for farming, another third for fodder for the cattle and livestock, and the final third to grow timber. He seems to be oblivious of the reality.
The average size of a farm holding is 1.15 ha. Of which the PM wants the farmer to reserve about 0.36 ha for growing crops for sustenance and sale, 0.36 for fodder for livestock, and the rest for growing timber, which will take a quarter of a century to mature.
How will the family live and who will feed them?
These things apparently don’t figure in his imagery. He clearly is thinking of the Badal or Pawar kind of farmers who drive imported SUV's and have huge benami farmland holdings. Besides farming for such folk is just to ascribe income gotten by other means.
The data contained in the 2011 Agriculture Censs reveals a stark picture for Bharat. The PM will do well to see it a…

India's malnourished population rises from 189.9 to 194.6 million in 2011-15, blame it on "neo-liberal" model, FAO suggests

By Our Representative
A just released volume, “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015", by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), prepared in coordination with International Fund for Agricultural Development and World Food Programme, has revealed that over the last thee years there has been an absolute rise in undernourished persons in India over the last five years -- from 189.9 million to 194.6 million between 2011 and 2015. The report insists, economic growth alone cannot fight issues of malnutrition.

Indian silence on humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Burma: Human Rights Watch plea to regional govts to support UN effort

By Our Representative
Human Rights Watch (HRW), the influential US-based elite NGO which supports large number of civil society organizations across the world, has asked South Asian countries, including India, to "work with the United Nations and others" to bring about a "binding solution" to a major humanitarian crisis caused by Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma on dangerous boats to escape persecution. India shares 1,624-km-long border with Burma, but is silent on what is happening next door.

Fifty Gujarat NGOs "join hands" with Congress, AAP, Swaraj Samvad, decide to start "mega agitation" against Modi

By Our Representative
In a rare show of unity of opposition to the ruling BJP in Gujarat, around l 50 Gujarat-based non-government organizations (NGOs) shared stage in Ahmedabad with senior state Congress leader Bharatsinh Solanki, on one hand, and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhdev Patel, on the other, to decide on launching an anti-Narendra Modi protest movement in the state, starting on August 9 and ending on August 15.

Opposition to land acquisition bill very wide, extend time for representing to parliamentary panel: NAPM

By Our Representative
The National Alliance for People's Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of people's organizations across India, has asked SS Ahluwalia, chairperson, Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), for extending the deadline for receiving inputs on Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment Bill, 2015). The deadline for getting responses to the controversial bill ends on June 8.

Modi govt committed to Ram Temple, Article 370, uniform civil code, wait for two-thirds majority: Amit Shah

By Our Representative
The cat is finally out of the bag. Much to the chagrin of the Government of India's "liberal" supporters around the world who swear by its developmental agenda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-hand man, BJP chief Amit Shah, has made it clear that the ruling party has not left its "core agenda" -- including building Ram Temple at Ayodhya through a law in Parliament, and abrogation of Article 370, which would put an end to the special status to Jammu & Kashmir, and having a uniform civil code.

Username India, password Gujarat: Even choreographed auction of pinstripe suit "chose" Modi's home state

By RK Misra*
Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative but success is a science. If you have the conditions, you get the results.Thus goes an old saying. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi heading a BJP majority government loosely garbed in an almost redundant National Democratic Alliance (NDA) completes an year in office, it is time to delve deep and dissect dispassionately to foresee the future.

Over a year ago, the conditions were ideal. A decade of familiarity had already bred contempt. A thoroughly besmirched Congress-led UPA had to go. The young had little patience for the old. And in the vacuum came charging the knight in dazzling armour, riding astride a pedigreed horse called Gujarat. The results followed. Narendra Modi milked both ‘chai’ and ‘chant’ to bag the chair.
One year into power, the shining shield has given way to name-sporting suits but India’s dapper prime minister resolutely refuses to get of the high horse called Gujarat. All roads from Delhi can be traced b…

Ahmedabad has lowest percent of regular female workers: Insecure at workplace?

By Our Representative
Is Ahmedabad becoming increasingly conservative when it comes "allowing" womenfolk to work outside the household? It would seem so, if the latest data, released by the Government of India's top data collection centre, National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), is any indication. Apparently, the economic situation, riddled by lack of service protection and security to women, would have added to aggravating the situation for women workers in Ahmedabad.

Right to Education?: Rs 25,620 crore Central funds for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan remain unutilized in 2014-15

By Our Representative
The Parliamentary Standing Committee for the Ministry Human Resource Development in its recent report submitted to the Rajya Sabha has expressed serious concern over the "declining trend" in budgetary allocations by the Government of India for education over the last few years. The report finds that the cut for the year 2015-16 is particularly drastic, leading to the committee raising an alarm.

Gujarat govt withdraws permission to Swaraj Samvad meet, leader Yogendra Yadav calls Modi "authoritarian"

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has clamped down on Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) splinter group Swaraj Samvad by refusing to "allow" it to hold an activists' meet in Ahmedabad at Mehdi Nawaz Jung Hall, which was booked for the meet. The Gujarat police told Swaraj Samvad activists just an hour ahead of the meet that they could not be allowed inside the hall because its leader Yogendra Yadav, who had come for the purpose, was a "political person", and that there could be "political speeches in the hall."

French "ethnographic" inquiry calls Ahmedabad's Juhapura, a Muslim ghetto, model on which Modi built career

By Our Representative
A French "ethnographic inquiry" into Ahmedabad's Muslim ghetto Juhapura, where more than 2.5 lakh people live, has termed the area "a modality of the governance of Ahmedabad’s Muslim minority mobilised by the Modi government from 2002 to 2014".Saying that it is the same Modi who will be celebrating one year as Prime Minister on May 26, the "inquiry" comments, "During this year, the election of Narendra Modi has increased risks of threats on freedom and religious practices of non-Hindu minorities".

India's 80% senior executives believe corruption, bribery "happen widely in business", up from 70% last year

By Our Representative
In a new report, one of the world’s most reputed consultants, Ernst and Young (E&Y), have said that nearly 80 per cent of the senior business executives in India think bribery/ corrupt practices “happen widely in business in the country”. Compared to last year, this is up by 10 percentage points. In all, E&Y surveyed 3,800 senior management personnel across 38 countries. The report comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrating one year's "corruption-free" Government of India.

US study tells Indian policy makers: Larger families discourage households to send children to schools

Counterview Desk
A recent study of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Massachusetts, US, has said that the strong son-preference in India makes to have more children if the first born is a girl, but this adversely affects the children’s school education. Advocating strong need for family planning in order to have higher enrollment and fewer school dropouts, it adds, “Children from larger families are less likely to have ever been enrolled in school”, and this even more true of children belonging to “rural, poorer and low-caste families.”

Anti-Atrocities Act's provision is vague, overbroad, can be "ripe for abuse", change it: PEN International

By Our Representative
In a development which is likely to please those who have long argued against giving special treatment to dalits and adivasis, but may lead to some angry reactions among senior dalit activists, a top world body which has been involved in campaign for freedom of expression since 1921 has asked the Government of India to drop certain provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which have been willfully "abused".

Indian laws "criminalize" difference of opinion, should be in line with UN framework: PEN International

Counterview Desk
A top world organization advocating free speech, PEN International, in a comprehensive study of Indian laws has said that the legal system of the country makes it “surprisingly easy” to silence those who disagree. Insisting that several laws either require to be repealed or urgently reformed, it says, in India, “if you disagree with something that can be said to promote ‘enmity’, jeopardise ‘national integration’, ‘maliciously’ insult religion, or foster “enmity between groups’, it is not difficult to invoke censorship.”

Top British weekly Economist accuses Modi of behaving like Gujarat chief minister

By Our Representative
Top British weekly “The Economist” has said it again. In a commentary marking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s one-year in office, it has said that the alleged improvements in the economy is because of “serendipity” -- because of “oil prices.” Titled “Modi’s rule: India’s one-man band”, it adds, the country has a “golden opportunity to transform itself”. But the way Modi is moving suggests the country “risks missing” the opportunity.

Pepsi bottling plant may access water with police protection amidst allegations of groundwater shortage

By Our Representative
In an extraordinary development, reports from Tamil Nadu say that PepsiCo's bottling plant, situated in village Suriyur, has sought police protection for water being trucked in to a disputed plant located in a water-stressed area. In statement, India Resource Centre (IRC), a project of Global Resistance, has said, the plant is sure to “receive police protection”, considering the type of governance prevailing in the state.

India ranks 24th among 70 countries in Environmental Democracy Index

By Our Representative
A Washington-based global research organization has ranked India an average country in Environmental Democracy Index (EDI), which it has worked out on the basis national-level laws, regulations, extrapolating them with rights of transparency, participation, and justice. Ranking India 24th in the list of 70 countries it has selected for analysis, the World Resource Institute (WRI) has ranked India 28th in environmental transparency, 41st in environmental participation, and at almost the top – second – in environmental justice.

A Nirbhaya from Hyderabad: Why is there no protest? Because she is not from Delhi?

By Merlin Francis*This is our second Nirbhaya but from Hyderabad. But you wont hear about her. Because she is not from Delhi. Or maybe because protesting for her tragic death is not part of a bigger plan to overthrow a central government. But she died. She was 25 years old. Mother of a little boy. She died on May 19. After being raped by her live in partner and his friends for three months in confinement...
On the 13th her mum got a call from the boyfriend of the lady that she was throwing up blood and was asked to come down, when the mother reached the place the guy gave the mother Rs 500 and asked for the girl to be taken to the hospital and that he would follow, but the chap absconded..What later followed was a nightmare...
The girl told her mother that her phone was snatched away by her boy friend and he used to get his friends to rape her for 3 months, she was in a relationship with this chap from November 2014 and at the time of her death was 4 months pregnant....When she could no…

Hindus 25% more likely to defecate in open than Muslims, says US research study

By Rajiv Shah
A controversial study, carried out by a prominent US-based research organization, has said that “despite relative economic advantage, India’s majority Hindu population is 25 percentage points more likely to defecate in the open than the minority Muslim population.” The study quotes Manusmriti (Chapter 4 verse 151) to suggest why it may be more prevalent among Hindus, “Far from his dwelling let him remove urine and excreta”.

Draft National Tourism Policy: Placing central bureaucracy, corporates at core

By R Sreedhar*The new draft National Tourism Policy is really a mockery of the policy formulation process. For one, the government must be clear of what policy is and what are structures and process. While a policy needs to be a short statement of the of the intent of the government which follows up with the required legislative and procedural processes, the draft produced by the Ministry is clearly a consultant’s rambling on the basis of some wishful thinking and imagination, and reads like a badly drafted project report.
Poor understanding of the situation on the ground and the ways in which people and tourism are intertwined is as much an ingredient as is perhaps a vested interest to gain bureaucratic and corporate control.
The draft document made available for a limited window for response states that the vision is to “develop and position India as a ‘Must EXPERIENCE’ and ‘Must REVISIT’ destination for global travelers whilst encouraging Indians to explore their own country and rea…

Modi's Make in India campaign will help trigger greater migration from rural to urban areas: Arvind Panagariya

Counterview Desk
Well-known pro-Narendra Modi economist Arvind Panagariya, whom critics label a "neo-liberal", has said that Government of India's (GoI's) latest policy changes -- ranging from Make in India campaign, to land and labour "reforms" -- are meant to trigger migration of people from rural to urban areas in search of jobs. Quoting a representative study, he says, "Indian farmers and their children recognize the superior prospects that faster-growing industry and services can potentially offer."

Setback to grassroots justice: Govt of India "backtracks" on village-level courts

By Our Representative
A draft report, prepared by an Ahmedabad-based NGO, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has alleged that, in a major setback to an important social sector scheme in India, the momentum for setting up the Gram Nyayalayas -- village courts -- has been lost, and there is a clear sense of “lack of ownership” about the scheme across India’s governing institutions.

US-supported study regrets poor state of Indian scientific research vis-a-vis several developing countries

Counterview Desk
A US government-supported study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), released in its International weekly journal of science, "Nature"", has noted that, despite its massive gains, "India is not yet a major player in world science" and its "publications generate fewer citations on average than do those of other science-focused nations, including other emerging countries such as Brazil and China".

Media houses behaving like cheerleaders of Modi on foreign trip, but "ignore" major humanitarian crisis in Myanmar

By Our Representative
At a time when a large group of media house representatives is covering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to China, Mongolia and South Korea, an incisive analysis wonders why is there indifference towards a major humanitarian crisis taking shape across the border in Myanmar, with whom India shares 1,624-km-long border. This is happening despite the fact that the Rohingiya crisis in Myanmar has lately come under direct scanner of the United Nations, the analysis complains.

Attack on climate activists is Indian nationalist xenophobia, may "undermine" country's stance at Paris meet: ICN

By Our Representative
One of the world's prestigious climate change e-journal, "Inside Climate News" (ICN), has said that attacks on civil society groups that campaign for climate change will undermine "India's global standing, the stability of its democracy and its role in upcoming climate talks", which take place Paris this December. The e-journal is the third web-based news organization to win the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, which have gone to ProPublica and Huffington Post.

Gajarat govt admits failure to promote organic farming, regrets excessive use of chemicals, water and soil erosion

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government on Saturday announced an organic farming policy, becoming the ninth state to have done so in India. The states that have already put in operation respective organic farming policies are Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland. The policy document admits, the state government was forced to do it because of the failure to promote organic farming in Gujarat so far.

India's failed model?: Urban Gujarat is poor performer in solid waste management

By Rajiv Shah
Despite big talk about Gujarat being a model state of urban development, latest figures, made available at a workshop organized by Paryavaran Mitra, an Ahmedabad-based environmental NGO, has said that just about 14.67 per cent of the solid waste collected in the state’s eight municipal corporations and 159 municipalities, is processed. This puts Gujarat way behind the national average of 27.94 per cent of the solid waste being processed, with seven out of 20 selected states performing better.

Need to deepen fight against Modi government, seeking to do away with social existence in rural areas in one sweep

By Suneet Chopra*The hot debate over the land acquisition ordinances of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is not accidental or restricted only to the matter of access to a scarce resource. Land rights, and especially those that we achieved after our struggle for independence from colonial rule, are crucial to our social existence as citizens with equal rights under the Indian Constitution. The denial of any of these rights is an attack on our right as citizens of India.
It must never be forgotten that for over a thousand years we were able to keep a fifth of our population in the shackles of untouchability and semi animal conditions by simply denying dalits land rights in the village. A similar situation prevails in the case of women who may reproduce the family line but are denied the right to land in both the family they are born in and the one they may marry into.
Social marginalization like this may be traditional but it violates our rights as full citizens of a stat…

Modi government drops handicrafts, artisan SEZ in Kutch, Gujarat, says state developers "not interested"

By Our Representative
Handicrafts and artisans of Kutch are said to be a major identity of Gujarat's culture, both in the rest of India and abroad. Taking advantage of this, a state-sponsored proposal was floated in June 2007 to develop a Handicrafts and Artisans Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on 132 hectares (ha) land in village village Moti Chiral, near Bhachau town in Kutch district, Gujarat. Eight years after it was "formalized", the Narendra Modi government has dropped it like a hot potato.

India blocks listing of chrysotile asbestos in Rotterdam Convention: Hides behind smokescreen of bogus science

By Mohit Gupta*
India along with a handful of countries including Russia, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Cuba once again blocked the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in the Prior Informed Consent list (PIC) at a UN convention meeting currently underway in Geneva, using bogus science and advocating “controlled use”.

PM's China visit: Made in China hallmark of relations with northern neighbour

By Shaktisinh Gohil*Merchant of fake dreams, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken off on a paid vacation to China to avoid uncomfortable questions about his one year tenure as Prime Minister. Modi completes his one year tenure on May 16. All his fake promises of employment of 15 lakh youth in each department, strengthening of the rupee, no farmer will ever commit suicide, safety for women in public spaces and others have proved hollow during the year. To avoid accountability and facing the nation, Modi has gone off to China on an official trip.
This visit to China, now that he has undertaken it, should not be limited to sight-seeing, enjoying hospitality and a feel-good visit. India’s experience with China since 1962 has not been pleasant. Last year also when Chinese president Xi Jinping visited India, his visit was marked with an intrusion on our border by the Chinese.
Modi should also take up important issues with China. Last year Jinping promised $20 billion investment which is sti…

Heads I win, tails you lose. Modi doesn't believe in sharing power, he only commands

By RK Misra*Destiny is a tyrant’s authority for tomfoolery and a fool’s excuse for failure. More so in politics. Not all are born great; some have greatness thrust on them but then neither are those perceived as great, always wise. And when respected citizen-journalist Arun Shourie speaks, the toast of the times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi need take a reality check on his politics and pursuits rather than be guided by personal pique to engineer a contrived PR show counter.
Shourie, unlike the two other mercurial mavericks, Subramaniam Swamy and Ram Jethmalani, who stood by Modi in his worst hours of crisis (2002 communal riots etc. etc.), commands respect in both journalism and politics. A man of unimpeachable integrity, he has earned every bit of it through his exemplary conduct, and high quotient credibility. And when he speaks, people listen.
For most of those who have watched Modi and his politics over years and decades, he has now become very predictable in his unpredictability.…

India opposes international convention to list asbestos as hazardous substance, invites campaigners' ire

By Our Representative
Reports from Geneva say that India has opposed listing the chrysotile asbestos at a meeting called under the UN auspices to exclude hazardous substances in international trade. The International Ban Asbestos Association (IBAA), a top campaign body, has said that India is the company of such countries like Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Belarus, Sudan and Cuba, all of whom do not want "exclusion" of the hazardous material in world trade.
In a strongly worded criticism of the Indian stance, the French campaign body Association Nationale de Défense des Victimes de l'Amiante (ANDEVA) said, “India is the biggest importer of asbestos."

Degradation of juducial system: Criminals feel free to intimidate judiciary

Seventy-two prominent individuals, including activists, civil society representatives and scholars, have protested against the “degradation of Indian criminal justice system” as found reflected in the threat issued to retired judge Jyotsana Yagnik. Yagnik was instrumental in the conviction of BJP minister Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 30 others, finding them guilty of the 2002 massacre of 97 Muslims at Naroda Patiya in Ahmedabad.
The letter has been signed, among others, by Dilip Simeon, Dipak Dholakia, Manoranjan Mohanty, Javed Anand, Shamsul Islam, Harsh Mander, Darryl DMonte, Prof DN Jha, John Dayal, Prakash N Shah, Anand Patwardhan, Jyoti Punwani, Sagar Rabari, Xavier Dias, Teesta Setalvad, Ania Loomba, Subhash Gatade and others. It has been issued to the Gujarat government to the public. Text of the letter:

The undersigned civil society organizations and concerned citizens have taken serious note of a news report (IE May 11, 2015) about the intimidation of a …

Narmada dam oustees: Claims of complete resettlement by Centre, states "false", thousands still affected

By Our Representative
A National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored fact finding team consisting of two experts -- Raj Kachroo, a hydrologist, and Soumya Dutta, an energy and environment expert -- and Communist politicians has disputed the claims of the Government of India, as also Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh that resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) of Narmada dam oustees, is complete. "The actual ground realities are totally different", it has claimed.

Gujarat Dalits face social boycott at religious function in village adopted by head of state administration

By Our Representative
In incident which will embarrass Gujarat administration, the Dalits of a village "adopted" for development by its head, chief secretary D Jagatheesa Pandian, have faced social boycott during a function in the village temple. The village is just 25 kilometres from Gujarat's capital Gandhinagar, and, say local Dalits, despite their complaint to the district collector, a copy of which was sent to the chief secretary, the government has "not cared to look into the matter."

Lok Sabha nod to 'regressive' whistleblower bill: Complainant against Government functionary required to pass 32 tests

By Our Representative
The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the controversial Whistleblower Protection Amendment Bill, 2015, which, say critics, would require a whistleblower to go through as many as 32 different tests before a complaint is opened up for inquiry by the "competent authority" in government. Says top right to information (RTI) activist Venkatesh Nayak, the bill's "regressive proposals" would "effectively prevent most whistleblower complaints from even being inquired."

Top British weekly Economist warns Modi clampdown on NGOs will boomerang

By Our Representative
Influential British weekly The Economist has warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his efforts to cow down non-government organizations (NGOs) in India will in the long run rally his political opponents against him. Going by experience around the world, it insists, “As countries grow richer and aspirations rise, NGOs will grow only more influential in helping to promote social equity and civil rights. Those now advocating tighter scrutiny of activist outfits may come to regret it”.