Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2015

Despite 16 point "jump" in India's competitiveness, it is very difficult to start business in India: WEF

By Our Representative
Even as pointing out that, after five years of decline, India has “jumped” 16 ranks to 55th place in global competitive index, the World Economic Forum in its new report has said the situation on the macroeconomic front “remains worrisome.” While pointing out that India is the third biggest market in the world, up for grabs for global investors, the report finds the situation particularly bad on the social front, especially health and education.

India slips in internet ranking, is worst performer among competing BRICS nations: UNESCO broadband report

By Rajiv Shah
Even when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was meeting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as part of his effort to gather international support for his high-profile Digital India campaign, a new report, sponsored jointly by UNESCO and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and released by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, has found that India has slipped in global ranking for the use of internet, both broadband and internet in general.

Amnesty pleads for ending solitary confinement of Mumbai terror suspect, govt says "no", cites security reasons

By Our Representative
In a statement which is likely to turn controversial in India, one of the world’s top-most human rights organizations, Amnesty International, has pitched for ending the solitary confinement of Zabiuddin Ansari, suspected of planning and coordinating the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. His health is said to be deteriorating after he decided to be on a wet hunger strike on August 5, which continues till date.

FB's #DigitalIndia "compromised" net neutrality; "predetermined" questions posed to Modi at FB HQ

By Our Representative
Independent IT buffs have come down heavily on what they claim to be Facebook's effort to compromise net neutrality by asking its IIndian clients to change their FB picture to support the #DigitalIndia campaign following FB founder Mark Zuckerberg's decision to do it after he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at FB headquarters in the US.

Local US politicians avoid Modi, do not attend Indian community reception, as 3,000 protest at San Jose

By Our Representative
Facts trickling in from San Jose, California, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a massive 18,000-strong Indian community reception on September 27, suggest that local politicians avoided going to the high-profile event, though invited. Around 3,000 anti-Modi protesters gathered outside the SAP Center, where Modi addressed the Indian diaspora.

Victory for anti-Narmada dam forces, as Supreme Court dismisses Madhya Pradesh govt plea on outees' land rights

By Our Representative
In a major victory for the country’s powerful anti-Narmada dam organization led by Medha Patkar, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), the Supreme Court has dismissed the application of the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government denying the right of land to thousands of adult sons of the dam’s oustees.

Sexual abuse of tribal girls in South Gujarat; "involvement" of well-organized mafia of politicians, cops, officials

By Nachiketa Desai*
A month ago, a tribal girl in Vyara, the district town of Tapi in South Gujarat, was molested by her employer, and a video of the act was circulated widely on social media. The person who captured the video was another tribal girl in the employ of the accused, who runs a non-government organization (NGO), which receives grants from the state government for running Mahila Sashaktikaran (women’s empowerment) programmes.

Modi "removed" name of author Mahadev Desai, "changed" title of Bhagwad Gita presented to Obama

By Our Representative
Just one day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's second meeting with President Barack Obama in US, Mahatma Gandhi's secretary Mahadevbhai Desai's grandson has made a serious allegation against Modi – that the Bhagwad Gita's version Modi presented to Obama during his previous visit was actually authored by his grandfather. Yet, Modi not only changed the title, he even removed Mahadev Desai's name.
Mahadev Desai's grandson Nachiketa Desai is one of the senior-most journalists of Gujarat who is currently working as consulting editor (political) with the United News of India, and has been associated with Swaraj Abhiyan, the breakaway group of Aam Aadmi Party.

Medha Patkar, others detained in Allahabad, as farmers' opposition to land acquisition for power plants spreads

By Our Representative
The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday morning swooped on several activists, trade union and left leaders, including senior activist Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), after it refused permission to take out a farmers' protest rally off Allahabad in protest against the allged refusal of the UP government to provide a viable compensatory package to those being displaced because of the power plants being constructed to meet the state's power needs.

India's annual export losses may reach $50 bln if economy not opened up to world trade: US govt policy adviser

By Rajiv Shah
A senior policy expert attached with US government has sharply criticized the Government of India for not doing enough in opening up its economy to the world. Pointing out that “India’s international competitiveness is lagging badly”, the expert says, “The shares of both manufactured and services exports in the economy have stagnated for over three years”, and “the responsiveness of Indian imports to global growth has declined sharply.”

Modi's India No 1 in world in ensuring foreign investors take profits back home, amass wealth: US survey

By Our Representative
In a clear effort to provide boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a top US journal has called India as the most important investment destination in the world. The latest rating provided by the high-profile Foreign Policy magazine, which is owned by the FP Group, a division of Graham Holdings Company, formerly the Washington Post Company, has “the big story in the Baseline Profitability Index (BPI) this year is India. coming out on top.”

Modi "signs" national flag, social media attacks him for "violating code"; officials take it away to check code

By Our Representative
Social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, is ripe with sharply-worded comments on Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the allegation that he has “insulted” the national flag by signing on it. According to reports from New York, the signed flag was to be handed over by celebrity chef Vikas Khanna to President Barack Obama, whom plans to meet Modi after the latter’s visit to Silicon Valley. Khanna is said to be a four-time Michelin-starred chef. He reportedly cooked a feast on Thursday evening, which included sandalwood saffron sherbet, paneer ravioli, saffron sheermal and mango-ginger soup. Many of the dishes were from his coffee table book on festival cuisine in India, which, too, he was to present Obama.

India slips in economic freedom index to 114th position, below China and Nepal: Top western institutes

By Our Representative
The latest Economic Freedom Index report, prepared by three of the west's well-known neo-liberal institute, has ranked India at 114th position in the world, below China, which has been ranked No 111th. Titled “Economic Freedom of the World: 2015 Annual Report”, the top report, ironically, has found that India ranked pretty high in economic freedom before liberalization was introduced in 1991, but following some improvement, it again began slipping.

Mission Netaji ignores foreign policy issues at stake in declassifying files, criticizes Modi office for being casual

By Our Representative
An online petition, floated by Mission Netaji, one of the most prolific organizations campaigning for declassifying secret documents related with Subhas Chandra Bose, even as criticizing the Government of India for being “most casual” in taking any steps towards releasing the files, has refused to touch the crucial issue: What are the foreign relations with other countries that would be harmed in case these are declassified.

Adani coalmining project: Australian govt may reissue permission, plans infrastructure at "taxpayers' expense"

By Our Representative
Is the powerful Adani Group on way to finally get clearance from the Australian government for its controversial coal mining project? It would seem so, if sources in the top environmental watchdog are any indication. A Greenpeace spokesperson has been quoted as saying, “We are expecting the Federal Government to make an announcement next week or so regarding re-issuing approval for the mine.”

Testing waters? Government withdrawal of order to snoop on social media is but a temporary, pyrrhic victory

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The oft-quoted saying “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” has been attributed to several people across the ages; who used these words first is irrelevant. The truth of the matter is that in India, the world’s largest democracy, these immortal words not only carry great weight today but also hold a direction for all Indians.

Online campaign seeking support to anti-Modi protest at San Jose picks up, as PM leaves for Ireland, US

By Our Representative
The US-based Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) has begun an online campaign to gather support for its proposed protest in the "safe permitted free speech areas" next to the SAP Center in San Jose, California where the Indian community has planned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's public reception on September 27.

No tribal representation in order forming committees for eco-sensitive zone in South Gujarat, 30,000 protest

By Our Representative
In a major development, the Government of India’s proposed notification, calling for declaring the seven kiloemtre area around South Gujarat’s one of the most well-preserved Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary as eco-sensitive has zone, has ignored participation of local tribal representatives in the proposed master plan to “develop” the region.

"Forcible" tribal eviction: Central India village draws international attention following NGO representation

By Our Representative
A small village of about 200 in Central India, a majority of whose residents is dependent on mining as the main source of livelihood, is all set to become a major focal point, nationally and internationally. Reason: Allegations of refusal of the Madhya Pradesh government to protect them from forcible eviction from their land.

South Gujarat tribal rebellion spreads, villagers protest move to declare Soolpaneshwar sactuary eco-sensitive

By Ashok Shrimali*
A fresh tribal rebellion is brewing in South Gujarat. As many as 6,000 adivasis of 121 villages in and around Soolpaneshwar wildlife sanctuary, situated just next to the controversial Narmada dam, have gone on warpath. They are protesting against the Government of India’s decision to declare the entire sanctuary and the area next to it – about seven kilometers radius surrounding it – as “eco-sensitive zone.”

Gujarat again suspends mobile internet, SMS following detention of protesting Patidar leader Harik Patel

By Our Representative
In a second clampdown in less than a month’s time on the use of internet in Gujarat, the Gujarat government has banned the use of mobile internet and SMS services in Ahmedabad and Surat cities starting at 11.00 am. An order signed by Ahmedabad police commissioner Shivanand Jha said, the services will not be available till September 20 midnight. Landline broadband, however, has been allowed to function normally.

Division in US Patidar ranks? A section of Patels declare they will "support" Modi visit in September-end

By Our Representative
In a fresh development, a section of the Patidar community living in the USA has declared its “wholehearted welcome” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his upcoming visit to the USA. Suggesting that the community is now intensely divided, the development comes less than 48 hours after a top community leader, Alpesh Patel, sought police permission for a rally against Modi near UN headquarters on September 25.

Online petition wants top Modi project Dholera SIR to be cancelled, says it will harm environment

By Our Representative
Well-known farmers' leader Sagar Rabari of Jameen Adhikar Andolan has stepped up his campaign against the high profile special investment region (SIR) being planned for Dholera by acquiring 50 per cent land from the farmers of 22 villages.

India slips in Global Innovation Index to 81st position from 76th in a year, worst among BRICS nations

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the Cornell University, US, has rated India at 81st position in Global Innovation Index (GII) 2015, suggesting, despite a regime change in the country, things have failed to improve. The report says, “Over the last four years India has witnessed a reduction in its overall GII ranking, which dropped from 62nd place in 2011 to 76th in 2014.”

Wakeup call for Congress: Despite rising worries, Modi popularity invades party base, says US thinktank

By Our Representative
In what could be a wakeup call for the Congress, a survey by an American thinktank, Pew International, which created a flutter in 2013 by declaring huge support for Narendra Modi, declared Prime Ministerial candidate for the BJP, has in fact found support for Modi going up, despite “rising worries” among Indians about crime, jobs, prices and corruption. Titled “The Modi Bounce”, even Modi critics cannot take the Pew survey lightly, despite its small sample size – 2,452 respondents. The survey was conducted from April 6 to May 19, 2015. The earlier survey, conducted in 2014, (click HERE) ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, had said that two-thirds of Indians supported Modi-led BJP.

Maharashtra, Haryana may have banned beef, but are among biggest supplier of cattle to Bangla abattoirs

By RK Misra*
He that sleeps feels not the tooth-ache. An India in somnolent slumber after voting for development in 2014 may wake up to find itself saddled with an archaic agenda riding astride a society in strife. For starters, take meat. As if on cue, state after BJP-ruled state has suddenly woken up to the overarching religious need for keeping meat and fish shops as well as abattoirs closed on Hindu and Jain festival days.

Maharashtra, Haryana may have banned beef, but are among biggest supplier of cattle to Bangla abattoirs

By RK Misra*
He that sleeps feels not the tooth-ache. An India in somnolent slumber after voting for development in 2014 may wake up to find itself saddled with an archaic agenda riding astride a society in strife. For starters, take meat. As if on cue, state after BJP-ruled state has suddenly woken up to the overarching religious need for keeping meat and fish shops as well as abattoirs closed on Hindu and Jain festival days.
Maharashtra took the lead followed by Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir. A similar ban had been placed in Karnataka when the BJP held power. No prizes for guessing where this inspiration/diktat comes from. Obviously, Nagpur.
The Narendra Modi-led BJP government is apparently frittering away a rock solid mandate for forward looking national governance befitting a robust, youthful country on archaic, delusional visions of ancient grandeur.
The Fadnavis government in Maharashtra soon found itself done in when their High Court intervened to …

US-based anti-Modi alliance declares it will hold protest against PM during community reception at San Jose

By Our Representative
Flutter in the Indian American community in the US around Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to the the US, especially Silicon Valley on September 27, 2015, has intensified, following the Alliance for Justice And Accountability (AJA) – a broad coalition of progressive organizations – declaring that it will hold a campaign to hold Modi “accountable” for past and present attacks on the freedoms and human rights of Indian communities.

Can't identify attacks on RTI activists, mediapersons, whistleblowers as human rights violations: Govt of India

By Our Representative
The director-general (DG) of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Government of India, has declared that the bureau cannot revise the new template for capturing the number of murders of right to information (RTI) users, social activists, whistleblowers and mediapersons separately, in addition to the instances of grievous hurts, separately, so that these could be counted as human rights violations.

Gujarat No 1?: Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu question World Bank ranking, say report is based on "old data"

By Our Representative
The recent World Bank-prepared Government of India-sponsored report placing Gujarat as No 1 state in ease of doing business has rankled several states, considered highly industrial, such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Reacting sharply, while the Maharashtra government has said it would ask the Centre to recommend to World Bank to "reassess" the ranking (No 8), the Tamil Nadu government has said the report's analysis ranking the state No 12 is "purely a perception-based" and not on "factuals and efficiencies".

Gujarat No 1 in ease of doing business? Thank environmental compliance: Centre-sponsored World Bank report

By Our Representative
A Government of India report, supported by World Bank, consultants KPMG, and two top industry bodies, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), has placed Gujarat No 1 for “ease of doing business”, but point out, this has been possible because of cent per cent compliance to environmental laws, an area in which it is most suspected by environmentalists.

PM's 15 point programme: Gujarat govt refuses to implement minority schemes despite policy nod, funds

By Rajiv Shah
Latest information, gathered by Gujarat-based non-government organization (NGO) Janvikas, indicates that even a decade after the Gujarat government declared it favoured implementing the controversial 15 point programmes of the Prime Minister for “ameliorating” the plight of minorities, things remain struck where they were in 2006. Official sources say, the matter has been under “active consideration” ever since, and there is no indication when it will be implemented.

Open court verdict in Narmada valley: How can submergence decrease when dam height increases?

By Our Representative
In a major fillip to the Narmada Bachao Andolan's (NBA's) campaign against the Gujarat government going ahead with raising the height of the Narmada dam from 122 to 139 metres, a high-profile people's tribunal consisting of four retired justices of various high courts have called upon the Supreme Court and the Government of India to “urgently review” the status of displacement, submergence and rehabilitation of the Narmada dam oustees before allowing the dam construction to continue.

Journos "insulted", told to leave RSS-sponsored women's wing meet at disputed site on child development

By Nachiketa Desai*
Journalists and press photographers from Ahmedabad were invited to attend the inaugural session of a two-day all-India workshop of the women volunteers and office-bearers of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at a Hindu temple-cum-educational institution complex at Pirana village, some 25 km away from the city.

Congress belies apprehensions, asks Gujarat governor not to sign "pro-corporate" land acquisition Bill

By Our Representative
One day after Gujarat's upcoming farmers' organization, Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG), accused the Congress of adopting a lackadaisical attitude towards new land laws being brought by the state BJP rulers for favouring industrialists, the state Congress leadership has asked the the Gujarat Governor not to sign the controversial Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling (Amendment) Bill, 2015, calling it anti-weaker sections.

Congress "lackadaisical": Gujarat farmer body says it failed to oppose new state land acquisition laws

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, the powerful Gujarat farmers' body Jameen Adhikar Aandolan Gujarat (JAAG), has taken strong exception to the main opposition party in the state, Congress, for being completely “lackadaisical in discharging” its “constitutional duty” of standing farmers against the state government latest land acquisition moves.

How Modi ministers meekly lined up to deliver report card before Sangh Parivar top brass, faced tough questions

By RK Misra*
Politicians and pundits enjoy floating pretentious bubbles when chasing power and pelf. Once in, the remaining time is spent either in denial, deceit or demagogy. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is no exception. A political pugilist akin to Mohammed Ali, Modi as chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014 had also incorporated the one time World Champion’s classic slogan ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ into his style sheet.

PUCL throws its weight behind Gujarat Patidars, asks NHRC to independently acquire into "police atrocities"

By Our Representative
In a move without precedence, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Gujarat, has knocked at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) doors to inquire into “police atrocities” on the Patidar agitators following their powerful rally in Ahmedabad on August 25. The move is significant, as many Gujarat activists and human rights defenders alike had till now considered Patidars – or Patels – as a “wealthy” and "exploitative" caste.

Indian in Pakistan's company, fails to achieve target to reduce under-5 mortality; Nepal, B'desh are "achievers"

By Our Representative
A new United Nations (UN) report has suggested that India hasn’t yet achieved its millennium development goal (MDG) for 2015, of 42 under-five mortality (U5M) every 1,000 births. Stuck at 48 U5M down from 126 in 1990 and 91 in 2000, India is still a little away from the MDG by 6 points.

Quantitative data from hospitals on diseases to determine India's new pollution norms, not "eco-geological factors"

By Our Representative
In a major move to “undermine” Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI), which was calculated for determining whether a particular region complies with environmental norms or not, the Government of India is all set to drop what are called “eco-geological factors” to determine pollution norms.

How Modi ministers meekly lined up to deliver report card before Sangh Parivar top brass, faced tough questions

By RK Misra*
Politicians and pundits enjoy floating pretentious bubbles when chasing power and pelf. Once in, the remaining time is spent either in denial, deceit or demagogy. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is no exception. A political pugilist akin to Mohammed Ali, Modi as chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014 had also incorporated the one time World Champion’s classic slogan ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ into his style sheet.
His repertoire of verbal aggression was not confined to probing jabs and rulebook upper-cuts, but included lethal below-the-belt undercuts as he punched, hooked and even head-butted his opponents all through his tenure as head of the west India state until he delivered the knock-out punch in the 2014 general elections.
All along, the soft spoken, two-term UPA Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh was derisively referred to as a ‘puppet’, deaf and dumb (gunga-bechara) while Sonia Gandhi would be mocked as a ‘maharani’, the ‘unconstitutional author…

Gujarat Dalits: In 2006-13, 8,884 cases of violence; 18 killed every year. Minister says it's "not so bad"

By Darshan Desai*
These are no isolated cases in Gujarat…
>Gordhan Chauhan, 52, received a phone call at his Ahmedabad home in the afternoon of February 25 that his youngest brother Soma had fallen on the road and died of severe head injuries in their native village Kharad in Ahmedabad district’s Dhandhuka taluka (tehsil). On reaching there, along with relatives, he was aghast to find that Soma, somewhere in his mid-twenties, was murdered by an upper caste man and his goons.

Gujarat govt disaster management plan puts Narmada submergence levels 11 metres higher: Medha Patkar

By Our Representative
In a fresh calculation, the backwater levels in some of the villages along Narmada during heavy floods in Madhya Pradesh would be around around 155 metres once the Narmada dam across Gujarat, currently under construction, reaches the full reservoir level (FRL) at 138.68 metres.

Alleging "reprisal" of Gujarat tribal rights activist, Human Rights Defenders Alert seeks urgent NHRC intervetion

By Our Representative
In an important twist to South Gujarat police questioning well-known tribal farmers rights activist Romel Sutariya following his complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) about police-politician-contractor nexus into “illegal” sand mining, a top advocacy group, Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA), India, has sought urgent NHRC intervention, asking it to carry out an “an independent investigation” into the “reprisal for approaching NHRC”.

Gujarat's oneline voting site is "not trustworthy", is "insecure", warn top web browsers Firefox, Chrome

By Our Representative
The Gujarat State Election Commission's (SEC's) “offer” a few days back to allow the voters to the state's municipal corporation elections, likely next month, that they could register on its website to avail of the “opportunity” offered by it for online voting, has failed security check on selected, more secure computer devices. As one visited  the website's link for registering on a laptop for online voting, https://onlinevotinggujarat.gov.in/, a security alert declared that the site is not safe.

"Setback" to India's N-dream: Australian Parliament committee talks of "significant risks" in supplying uranium

By Our Representative
In a setback to India, a new report by the Australian Parliament’s treaties committee has said that there are “some significant risks” in selling uranium to India. India sealed an agreement for the supply of uranium for “peaceful uses of nuclear energy” during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia in September 2014.

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, defence project in North India's Mewat: Forest dwellers feel totally "sidelined"

By Ashok Shrimali*
People of the Mewat region of North India are feeling the pinch of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which includes a rail corridor stretching between Alwar in Rajasthan and Panipat and Meerut via Delhi in Uttar Pradesh.

Climate change?: Coal India ranks No 1, Adani No 3 in carbon emission worldwide, says Fossil Fuel Indexes report

By Our Representative
In an astonishing revelation, several top Indian companies -- Government of India-owned Coal India, Gujarat's powerful Adani Group, Tata Steel, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Tata Power, and Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) -- have found their way into top 100 CO2 emitting coal companies worldwide.

Top educationists support protesting Pune film institute students, insist Govt of India must "withdraw"

By Our Representative
Expressing solidarity with the protesting Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan to chair the top Pune institute, the All India Forum for the Right to Education (AIFRTE), the well-known educationists' body, has asked the Government of India to take "immediate corrective action" against his appointment and other "appointees to the governing council".

Converting Nehru Museum into Modi propaganda spot is "anachronistic, inappropriate, unjustified": Top scholars

By Our Representative
Well known public personalities and scholars Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Girish Karnad, Romila Thapar, and Ananya Vajpeyi have strongly protested against the plan to convert the prestigious Nehru Museum in Delhi into a “Museum of Governance”, and "to repurpose it to broadcast the activities of the current government".