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Showing posts from August, 2015

Gujarat internet ban: Government sits pretty, says there are "no representations" against the decision

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government appears to sit pretty, and is happy, that there is virtually “no protest” against its ban on mobile internet, continuing across the state since August 26, when violence broke out following the five-lakh-strong Patel rally for reservation in Ahmedabad. A senior Sachivalaya official told Counterview that there has been “no representation” against the ban, despite isolated voices regarding e-business having been “adversely affected”, hence “why worry?”

US' 125 academics protest Modi vist to Silicon Valley, say Digital India "ignores" concerns on personal information

By Our Representative
As many as 125 academics from across the Unites States, associated with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), have come down heavily on what they call “uncritical fanfare being generated over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley to promote Digital India on September 27, 2015.”

"Non-political" Kanyakumari to Srinagar yatra to "explore" reasons behind Gujarat's 2002 riots at Ahmedabad, Godhra

By Our Representative
Walk of Hope, a well-publicized 7,500-km-long padayatra undertaken with the claimed aim of ushering in an era of “peace and harmony”, will soon be reaching Godhra, the epicentre of the communal riots which broke out across Gujarat on February 27, 2002, via Ahmedabad. One of the aims at Godhra, as in Ahmedabad, said spiritual leader, Mumtaz Ali, popularly Sri M, would be to find out the “real truth” behind  communal carnage.

Modi Cabinet awarded two Gujarat sub-castes OBC status amidst "violent" turn to Patels' reservation stir

By Our Representative
In an interesting turn, the Cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has "cleared" four sub-castes to be included in the Government of India's list of other backward classes (OBCs). The move, said to be largely symbolic, comes amidst the powerful Patel agitation, which rocked Gujarat, for reservation within the OBC framework. Two of the sub-castes given the OBC category are from Gujarat, while the other two are from Uttarakhand.

Painful Patel punch: Gujarat is once again subject of major pilot project on social engineering, deliberate and planned

By RK Misra*
Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it scum floats to the top. But those who do so must bear the burden of the stink. Both stirred and shaken, Gujarat is going through turmoil-filled days as its affluent and numerically strong Patidar (Patel) community mounts a fierce assault for other backward class (OBC) reservation that is straining the fabric of inter-community harmony to its tensile limits.

Painful Patel punch: Gujarat is once again subject of major pilot project on social engineering, deliberate and planned

By RK Misra*
Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it scum floats to the top. But those who do so must bear the burden of the stink. Both stirred and shaken, Gujarat is going through turmoil-filled days as its affluent and numerically strong Patidar (Patel) community mounts a fierce assault for other backward class (OBC) reservation that is straining the fabric of inter-community harmony to its tensile limits.
Fearful of a Patidar led-Anandiben Patel government caving in to their demands, a counter-movement against it is building up as well. Two days ahead of the Patels’ biggest-ever show of community strength on August 25, the OBCs mobilized members from the 146 communities in its fold for a dharna near the Sabarmati ashram in Ahmedabad on August 23.
The scheduled castes SCs and scheduled tribes (STs) symbolically joined it and the tone and tenor were distinctly repudiatory of the Patels. “Any move by the government or any community to snatch our rights will first ensure this govern…

Narmada project is symptomatic of "obnoxious" political culture, Yogendra Yadav tells anti-dam rally

By Our Representative
In a move that may invite strong reactions in Gujarat, well-known academic Yogendra Yadav, who leads the nascent political outfit, Swaraj Abhiyan, has declared that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) “is symptomatic of the obnoxious political culture of the country”. Yadav was addressing an anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) rally in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh.

Reveal concession agreement under public-private property project under GoI, rules Central RTI watchdog

By Our Representative
In an important move, the central information commissioner (CIC), the right to information (RTI) watchdog on the Government of India (GoI) and its agencies, has ordered, in a ruling, that concession agreement for a public-private partnership (PPP) project should be disclosed after “severing those portions relating to commercial confidentiality”.

Bonded labour rehabilitation in Nepal: Livelihood, land reform options "ignored" in new draft constitution

By Our Representative
A well-represented Dalit advocacy delegation from Nepal, visiting India to take stock of the type of laws made in the country and how they are being implemented to “safeguard” Dalit rights, has alleged that the new draft Nepalese constitution has “failed” to take a serious view abolition of the dreaded haliya system of bonded labour, prevailing in large parts of the country.

Amartya Sen: Public outcry after he quit Nalanda Univ has "worked", but will govt non-interference last?

By Our Representative
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who was “pressured” to resign from the chancellorship of the Nalanda University, has said that national and international hue and cry over the Modi government’s effort to interfere in the work of the prestigious international university has finally worked and that it has helped its “revival”, though wondering how long will non-interference last.

Gujarat OBCs warn BJP govt: Don't heed Patidar demand for reservation, lest you will be thrown out of power

By Hitesh Chavda
If things move the way they are moving, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Gujarat is heading for a major confrontation between upper caste reservationists and other backward castes (OBCs). This seemed clear enough from the well-represented OBC rally in Ahmedabad on Sunday, which warned the Patidars, wanting an OBC status, that their demand would not be taken “lightly”.

Pro-Modi international expert advises government to "engage" Pakistan in conventional war, especially in PoK

By Our Representative
A top pro-Narendra Modi international politics expert, Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, has advised the Government of India to consider adopting "military options to respond to Pakistan's transgressions", instead of limiting its options to "calling off
talks each time Pakistan engages" India in terrorist activities.

Modi's "special" Rs 1.25 lakh package for Bihar is part of ongoing projects, has no separate budgetary provision

By Our Representative
Facts have come to light suggesting that there are no separate provisions in the Central budget in the “special mega package” for Rs 1.25 lakh announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “development” of Bihar, and the funds that he has said he “allocated” are actually mainly on-going infrastructure projects, which will take 10 years to complete.

Indian ministries collected caste census data in highly cavalier manner: Top demographer Amitabh Kundu

By Our Representative
Foremost economist Prof Amitabh Kundu has come down heavily on the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) saying that the information on income that has been collected in the SECC has been done “in a very cavalier manner.” A demographer and an authority on urbanization, migration patterns and labour market, Prof Kundu has especially taken exception to collecting income data of the highest earning member of the family.

Australian aborigins challenge Adanis' fresh bid to revive controversial coal-mining project

By Our Representative
Even the powerful Gujarat-based Adani Group is all set to seek fresh mining lease to enable it to go ahead with its controversial $20 billion coal mining project in Australia's Queensland province, the view has gone strong that the a final recommendation on whether to allow it is “not expected” until the end of the year.

Gujarat Forensic Lab doesn't have hashing algorithm to "detect" morphed images: Sanjeev Bhatt sex video takes new turn

By Munir Ahmed
Facts have come to light with strong suggestions that the Gujarat Forensic Science Laboratory is “ill-equipped” to authenticate the sex-video, cited by the state government to issue show-cause notice on suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt on the charge of moral turpitude.
The state home department had issued a show cause notice on Bhatt, seeking an explanation within 10 days for allegedly having a “relationship with a woman other than his wife”.
A 1988 batch IPS officer, Bhatt had filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court, claiming that he had attended a meeting on February 27, 2002 at Narendra Modi’s residence in Gandhinagar, where he claimed the then chief minister told his officers to “allow Hindus to vent their anger”.

Immediately drop charges against TV networks, India’s democracy deserves no less: NYT to Modi

By Our Representative
In yet another scathing editorial, the influential American daily 'New York Times' (August 17) has again accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of severely undermining freedom of expression. The top daily says, "Since his election in May 2014, Modi has trumpeted India’s open society and vibrant democracy when he speaks to foreign heads of state and business leaders. But, at home, his government is seeking to restrict freedom of expression."

Delhi told: Modi detractors in Gujarat BJP close to ex-CM Keshubhai Patel behind Patidar reservation stir

By Our Representative
A well-informed official source close to the establishment has conveyed to the Government of India, particularly the Prime Minister’s Office and the intelligence-gathering network working for it, that Narendra Modi’s former detractors in Gujarat BJP are behind the current Patidar (or Patel) caste stir for reservation that has engulfed the state.

Non-resident Patidars of UK, USA, Canada emerging as biggest supporters of Patel reservation movement

By RK Misra*
The front is on fire and the back is burning. Quite literally.
Up in front, the country’s current Parliament session has gone up in smoke-logjam over GST, Land Bill and all. Down under, in the Prime Minister’s backyard, Gujaraj, a Patel ignited prairie fire – akin to the Gujjar reservation stir in Rajasthan – rages unhindered, threatening to engulf the government of his protégé, Anandiben Patel.

Non-resident Patidars of UK, USA, Canada emerging as biggest supporters of Patel reservation movement

By RK Misra*
The front is on fire and the back is burning. Quite literally.
Up in front, the country’s current Parliament session has gone up in smoke-logjam over GST, Land Bill and all. Down under, in the Prime Minister’s backyard, Gujaraj, a Patel ignited prairie fire – akin to the Gujjar reservation stir in Rajasthan – rages unhindered, threatening to engulf the government of his protégé, Anandiben Patel.
If in Delhi, the PMO’s erroneous political assessment has united a disparate opposition and forced the BJP onto the road after a dud monsoon session, in Gujarat, brimming streets overflowing with agitated humans threaten to rip apart the caste constituency assiduously cultivated by the BJP to trounce the Congress over decades. The fallout may prove more detrimental to Narendra Modi than the Delhi election results.
What goes round invariably comes round. Many a Parliament session floundered as the BJP-led NDA opposition played the bully and ballplayer rolled in one, during Manmohan Sin…

Time lost during 16th Lok Sabha lower than most previous sessions since 1991: Data

By Our Representative
Amidst major hue and cry around “time lost” during the recently-ended Parliament session, with accusations flying high that the tax-payers’ money is being “wasted”, data of Lok Sabha sittings suggest that the last session when the BJP was in opposition saw the highest per cent of time lost since 1991.

Toilet construction: Modi government fails to achieve target, "indulges" in data manipulation

By Our Representative
Is Prime Minister Narendrda Modi's Swacch Bharat campaign, launched on August 15, 2015, beginning to flounder? A recent analysis of the official figures of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation says, the target for household toilets was set at 98 million more toilets by 2019, which would require constructing 46 toilets per minute. However, in 2014-15, just 11 toilets were constructed per minute.

Amartya Sen: Gujarat model pulling down Modi govt, neglect of health, education began under Nehru

By Our Representative
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has said that it is not just the BJP-led government which is neglecting health and education. In a blog-interview with Oxford University Press (OUP), the top economist believes, the neglect was the hallmark of earlier governments, too, only "with Modi, it has got worse, because the government has further cuts" in the two sectors.

40 Alternative Nobel Prize recipents seek UN intervention to stop Narmada dam work, plead for urgent review

By Our Representative
In a major boost to the Narmada Bachao Andolan’s (NBA’s) ongoing campaign against the Gujarat government and the Centre to raise the Sardar Sarovar dam’s height by 17 metres, 40 prominent recipients of the Stockholm-based Right to Livelihood Award have sought United Nations (UN) intervention for urgent review of the mega project. The award is also known as “Alternative Nobel Prize”.

Cheap Made in India T-shirts sold in US, Europe "contributing" to water pollution crisis in India, warns "Newsweek"

Counterview Desk
In a scathing critique, top US journal “Newsweek” has warned American and European consumers that if they were wearing T-shirts with the 'Made in India' tag – bought from Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart or other malls – they should know they might have “contributed” heavily in a “water pollution crisis that has destroyed almost 30,000 family-owned farms” in India.
Competing with their counterparts in Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, China and Bangladesh to sell T-shirts that cost as low as $5, Indian T-shirts are made mainly from the Netaji Apparel Park, situated in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupur, known as India’s ‘Knit City’, whose “rivers are often red or purple with runoff from nearby factories”, it said.

Anti-Narmada dam footmarch ends, satyagrahis begin indefinite protest against impending submergence

By Our Representative
Medha Patkar-led six-day padyatra along Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh has ended after activists led by her moved from village to village, through lush green fields and thickly populated bastis meeting thousads of Sardar Sarovar Dam-affected oustees, apprising them of the dangers of submergence because of taking the dam from 121.92 metres to full reservoir level of 139 metres.Called Jeevan Aadhikar Yatra, on reaching Badwani's Raj Ghat they began indefinite satyagraha with the participation of farmers, landless workers, fisher people, others both in the submergence affected villages and resettlement sites of Badwani and Dhar districts.

High on pronouncements and publicity, the Centre is lagging on most other parameters

RK Misra* 
Politicians in power allure by denying and entice by delaying. Dangling bones ensure jumping ‘dogs’ and protean promises make for leaping ‘frogs’. And thereafter you have yoga for the masses, as if they haven't had enough.
Walk the talk has been a popular TV show hosted by a top print media editor, but talking while walking leads to breathlessness.

Gujarat's 16% urban, 80% rural households use firewood for cooking, much higher than all-India average

By Our Representative
A new Government of India report has revealed that, despite huge claims of rise in livelihood standards over the last one decade, the use of firewood and chips as the chief source of cooking is higher in Gujarat compared to most of India. In Gujarat, 79.7 per cent of rural and 15.9 per cent of urban households use firewood and chips as against the all-India average of 67.3 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

Gujarat N-power plant: Green Tribunal seeks explanation from environmental ministry for coastal clearance

By Our Representative
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a notice to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited for granting coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance for intake and outfall facility for the proposed 6000 MW on Saurashtra coast of Gujarat.

Coal from Australia can't end India's energy poverty, costs are too high, says top ex-bureaucrat

By Our Representative
India's former energy secretary EAS Sarma has strongly put forward the case against coal mining, considered by powerful coal-fired power company owners of India as the panacea to end “India's energy poverty”. In an article in the wake of the Australian Federal Court calling environmental nod to the Adani Group's coalmining project in the country as “invalid”, he says, social and economic costs of sending power to all the nooks and cornder of India are “huge” and far “outweigh” the perceived benefits of coal.

Footmarch against Narmada dam height begins, warns of "fraudulent" submergence calculation

By Our Representative
The Narmada yatra to protest the ongoing construction of the Narmada dam, which is being raised 121.92 metres to 138.64 metres, began at Khalghat in Madhya Pradesh on August 6 under the leadership of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar. Being carried out along the Narmada river, and targeting villages that come on way, padyatra participants warned villagers that the construction, when completed, will mean “watery grave” to them.

Compulsory voting: Gujarat activists at PUCL meet "undecided" on legal option against 'curb' of free expression

By Our Representative
Even as news came in that a Rs 100 fine would be imposed on defaulting voters who fail to turn up on the polling booth, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has strongly protesting against the Gujarat government move to go ahead with compulsory voting, calling it a violation of the “rights of liberty and freedom of expression”. But, it did to make public  what concrete legal steps it proposes against it.

As tribals are being forcibly evicted, Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh becomes heaven for diamond contractors

By Ashok Shrimali*
In a move to browbeat tribal villagers of Panna Tiger Reserve Forest, and evict them from in their land, the Madhya Pradesh government has taken the unprecedented step of disconnecting electricity of one of the key villages, Umravan. While the pretext is said to conservation, available facts suggest that diamond mining in the reserve forest area is the main reason.

Adanis suffer yet another "setback": Commonwealth Bank "withdraws" support to Australian project

By Our Representative
An Australian daily has reported that the "Commonwealth Bank's role as adviser to Australia's biggest coal project, Adani Mining's proposed Carmichael Mine in Queensland, Australia, has ended." Saying that this has dealt a heavy blow to the top corporate house, known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 'Sydney Morning Herald' has said that this has dealt "a heavy blow" to its prospects, adding, "Fairfax Media has confirmed" the development.

"Setback" to Adani Group's Australian coalmining project, as federal court calls government approval "invalid"

By Our Representative In what is being interpreted as a major embarrassment to the powerful Adani Group, known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Mackay Conservation Group has won the case against India’s giant corporate house’s Carmichael coal mining project in Galilee Basin in the Federal Court of Australia.

Suspension of MPs from Lok Sabha is replication of Modi's undemocratic mindset during his rule in Gujarat

By Shaktisinh Gohil*
What happened in Parliament yesterday was unprecedented event in the history of India – it was an effort to tarnish the country’s Parliamentary tradition. The ruling party has the primary responsibility to see to it that Parliament functions normally by holding constructive dialogue with the opposition.
In the past, when the Bharatiya Janata Party was in the opposition, for days together Parliament would not be allowed to function normally, yet the speaker would never suspend anyone. Yesterday’s order by the speaker to suspend 25 members of Parliament from the Lok Sabha took the entire country by surprise.
What happened in the Lok Sabha actually reflects the mindset of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his chief ministership in Gujarat, when he sought to establish a similar unparliamentary practice. In the Lok Sabha, Modi only replicated a Gujarat model which he had propped up through undemocratic ways.
Between 2002 and 2013, as chief minister of Gujarat, there wa…

Under Indian security garb whistleblower to be restricted from complaining on wrongdoing in military deals

By Our Representative
By seeking to go in for its amendment, is the Government of India ignoring the main principle underlying the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, passed by the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011, and pushed through the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the extended session of Parliament, February 21, 2014 – to provide a “safe alternative” to silence to a person who has knowledge of or is witness to an offence or wrong doing in a public authority?

Order blocking porn sites a Modi "ruse" to create a government controlled web filter in India?, wonders NYT

By Our Representative
In a stinging article, the “New York Times” (NYT) has accused the Government of India (GoI) of “blocking” India’s 857 porn sites “without warning or explanation”, in defiance of a Supreme Court “decision.” Quoting Nikhil Pahwa, editor and publisher of MediaNama, which monitors digital policy, NYT says, this has sent fears that the GoI is “using pornography as ‘a ruse’ to create a government-controlled web filter for India.”

Following Gujarat "model"?: MPs' maiden suspension "preceded" two dozen similar incidents in Gujarat under Modi

By Our Representative
While the suspension of 25 members of Parliament (MPs) for creating “ruckus” in the Lok Sabha may have created a flutter in Delhi among political observers, those who are in Gujarat are not surprised. In fact, the event is being described as nothing but Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to follow the so-called Gujarat model.

India's energy consumption "unlikely to take off" by 2030: Reliance thinktank analysis

By Our Representative
A high-profile analysis, released by Reliance thinktank Observation Research Foundation (ORF), says that even if Indian economy achieves 8% growth rate, it is unlikely to achieve per person energy consumption levels that represent "decent quality of life" for several years now. It adds, the talk of "India’s energy take-off" may prove to be an ’optical illusion’, which has been caused by "China’s slow-down."