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Showing posts from October, 2015

World Bank warns of "high uncertainty" over India's growth rate momentum, says downsize risks are "ample"

By Our Representative
The World Bank’s latest report, “India Development Update”, has said that India may have taken advantage of the “sharp decline in global oil and commodity prices to eliminate petrol and diesel subsidies and increase excise taxes”, hence the country’s economic growth will “very likely remain above 7 percent in the next fiscal year”. However, it warns that “uncertainty about its momentum is high and downside risks ample.”

Bauxite mining in Odisha: Activists warn "massive retaliation" if state government refuses to step back

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), apex body of tens of mass organizations of India, has strongly protested against the Odisha Govermnent’s reported attempt to conduct Gram Sabhas in the Niyamgiri area to allow the MNC Vedanta to begin mining of bauxite for its Rs 50,000 crore aluminia refinery project, calling the move as "illegal and contempt of the Supreme Court order".

India's wealth differences between top and bottom are huge, middle class wealth share is shrinking: Credit Suisse report

By Our Representative
A new report, “Global Wealth Databook 2015” by top a global financial services firm based in Zurich, Credit Suisse, has found the existence of huge wealth differences in India. The report says that 755,563,000, or 95.4 per cent of adults in India, own wealth less than $10,000, while a minuscule 185,000, or 0.023 per cent of Indian adults, own more than $1 million.

Gujarat High Court sets aside police decision to prohibit farmers' padyatra to protest Smart City in Dholera SIR

By Our Representative
In a setback to the Gujarat government, the Gujarat High Court has set aside the state police decision to bar farmers of the prestigious Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) from taking out a six-day long padyatra or footmarch to oppose the proposal of smart city in the largely rural area. The foot march was to begin on Thursday.

Half of India's health facilities have no access to electricity: World Bank report on "ease" of doing business

By Rajiv Shah
Even as ranking India 130th in the ease of doing business among 189 countries, up from 134th a year ago, the latest World Bank report, “Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency” has quietly suggested that all’s not well on the social front in India. It has pointed towards “unreliable electricity supply”, which has adverse “consequences for a society’s well-being and living conditions.”

Seventeen months in saddle, riding astride an overwhelming mandate, Modi government "loses" its way

By RK Misra*
India today is a sitting duck. Like a turkey voting for an early Christmas. Let’s sample a recent day’s national headlines.
It no longer informs. It screams. Hatred in Mumbai. Violence in New Delhi. Fanaticism in Bengaluru. Punjab on the boil. Protests in Kashmir. Trucker killed in Udhampur over rumours of cow slaughter...
The reference is to the storming of the Cricket Control Board meeting discussing an Indo-Pak cricket series by the Shiv Sainiks in Mumbai, Hindu Sena workers smearing black paint on the face of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) legislator Abdul Rashid for ‘disrespecting’ the cow, in Delhi and BJP activists harassing an Australian couple for sporting a tattoo of a goddess in Bengaluru. For Rashid this is his second experience of violence. The first time over he was assaulted within the august J&K Assembly by ruling BJP legislators themselves. The Shiv Sainiks have already done the smearing act with former LK Advani aide, Sudheendra Kulkarni.
Re-wind by two day…

Seventeen months in saddle, riding astride an overwhelming mandate, Modi government "loses" its way

By RK Misra*
India today is a sitting duck. Like a turkey voting for an early Christmas. Let’s sample a recent day’s national headlines.
It no longer informs. It screams. Hatred in Mumbai. Violence in New Delhi. Fanaticism in Bengaluru. Punjab on the boil. Protests in Kashmir. Trucker killed in Udhampur over rumours of cow slaughter...

To link Gujarat malnutrition to beauty conscious girls is a joke; it disguises ground realities: Top gender expert

Counterview Desk
Senior gender expert, Prof Pam Rajput, who chaired the High Level Committee (HLC) on the Status of Women, formed by the Government of India (GoI), has heavily come down on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's controversial statement three years ago, where he attributed malnutrition in Gujarat to 'beauty conscious' young girls.

Whopping 350 artists support India's top writers' protest move to return Sahitya Akademi award

By Our Representative
In a fresh sign of resentment, as many as 350 artists have come together and signed a statement declaring their "firm solidarity" with the actions of top writers, "who have relinquished awards and positions, and spoken up in protest against the alarming rise of intolerance in the country." As many as 33 writers, following Jawarhlal Nehru's celebrated niece Nayantara Sahgal, have so far returned India's best known Sahitya Akademi award. 

Why we should listen to #WHO on processed #meat, tweets top environmentalist Sunita Narain

Counterview Desk
In what may prove to be a fuel for the Sangh Parivar outfits seeking complete ban on beef, well-known environmentalist Sunita Narain has tweeted (@sunitanar): "Why we should listen to #WHO on processed #meat", asking readers to visit the http://www.downtoearth.org.in/, which she edits, in order to read the article which approvingly quotes a World Health Organization (WHO) study that "processed meat" may be "carcinogenic to humans."

Gujarat's 65% females depend on farming, yet 13% have land rights. Incentivize female landownership, insists NGO

Counterview Desk
The Working Group for Women and Land Ownership (WGWLO), a network of 37 NGOs and community based organizations in Gujarat, has regretted that, despite tall talks of women’s rights, it found in a study that 23.2% daughters and 17.1% widows gave away their “title deeds” on property when they were alive, and 20% daughters’ names do not figure in the land records.

Land ceiling bill meant to "help" industrialists set up shop, easily sell land: Internal Gujarat govt note

By Rajiv Shah
An internal Gujarat government note, prepared by the state revenue department and in possession of Counterview, has admitted that the recent amendments to the state’s land various ceiling Acts are meant to “enable the industrialist to speedily establish industry”, in such a way that the industrialist could “purchase” the land for industrial purpose “without prior permission of the district collector.”

Ahmedabad district's Dholera Smart City area first "victim" of Gujarat Bill?: Surplus land for industrial use

By Our Representative
Is Gujarat's controversial Gujarat Agricultural Lands Ceiling (Amendment) Bill, 2015 all set to be “applied” on Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) – proposed as a Greenfield smart city about 90 kilometres south of Ahmedabad along the Gulf of Khambhat – even before it gets a final nod of President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, with whom it is currently pending?

Pro-Modi scholar: Manu Smriti never supported caste system; Ambedkar, others quoted its "fake" version

By Our Representative
A top protege of Prime Minister Narendra Modi living in the US, Rajiv Malhotra, who is widely regarded as one of the foremost theorists of Hindutva, is out to create yet another flutter, this time insisting that there is a need to “understand Manusmriti as per Hindu interpretation”, and for this one should “read Agniveer”.
The article Malhotra wants people to read is titled “Manusmiti and Shudras”, posted on the website http://agniveer.com/, and authored by Sanjeev Newar, who says that “Manu Smriti hails from an era when even the concept of birth-based caste system did not exist”, adding, the treatise “nowhere supports a social system based on birth.”

Sunday surprise: #BJPMuktGujarat top Twitter trend, Gujarat BJP for the first time on backfoot on social media

By Our Representative
Ever imagined what was trending at the very top on Twitter on Sunday morning? #BJPMuktGujarat! There was a virtual flow of tweets on the theme, with mostly Gujaratis from the middle-classes strongly supporting the “need” for change in the state following the announcement of local body elections, be held in November-end.

Tell State Human Rights Commission to work out mechanism to protect RTI activists in Gujarat: NHRC told

By Our Representative
In an unusual move, the Human Rights Defenders Alert India (HRDAI), a national network for the protection and promotion of human rights defenders, has asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to work out ways to influence Gujarat’s State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) “to publicly acknowledge” the importance and legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders, and create "lasting mechanism" to protect RTI activists from frequent attacks.

Dalit women activists equate India's untouchability with apartheid during campaign in nine US cities

By Our Representative
In a strong effort to internationalize the view that the treatment meted out to Dalits in India should be treated on par with the apartheid, a delegation of the All-India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) has wrapped up its tour of nine American cities in order to highlight centuries old "oppression" suffered by India's “untouchables” within the Hindu caste system.

Jharkhand's 98% undertrials arrested under false charge of Naxalism, says study based on interview with undertrials

By Ashok Shrimali*
An eye-opening study -- based on interactions with family members and co-villagers of 102 undertrials in Jharkhand, as also each of them while they were on bail -- has found that in 98 per cent of cases the charge against them of being involved in Naxalite activities is not true. In fact, none, except two, were found to have some connection with a Naxal group.

Ahmedabad tops second tier cities for business investment: Ernst & Young, long-time Gujarat govt client

By Our Representative
A long-time Gujarat government client propagating Gujarat as India’s best business destination around the world, Ernst & Young (EY), one of the best known international consultants, has said that Ahmedabad tops the list of “second tier cities for investment”. The data published by it show that 26 per cent of the around 505 business executives  it has inteviewed identified as India’s best investment destination among all "emerging business destinations."

Ernst & Young rates India best investment destination, but says 10% non-established players aware of 'Make in India'

By Our Representative
One of the world’s top consultants, Ernst and Young (EY), known for catering to the “requirements” of its clients who include both government and global business players, has rated India as the best investment destination in the world. In a survey carried out among 505 business executives form 28 countries, E&Y has said “A leading 32 per cent of the investors ranked India as the most attractive market this year.”

Cattle slaughter ban has adversely impacted India's, esp Maharashtra's, drought-stricken farmers

By Jag Jivan
According to a recent analysis, expert estimates have suggested that there are a whopping 53 lakh stray cattle, mainly cows and bulls, in India. The analysis suggests that by banning slaughter of non-milching cows, especially in BJP ruled states, the farmers are now further facing a fresh ruination.

Is India run by "embattled, authoritarian, repressive regime" supported by vigilante groups? Asks Newsweek

By Our Representative
In a scathing commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's governance ahead of his visit to the United Kingdom (UK), to take place in November second week, the powerful international journal "Newsweek" has wondered if "India is being run by an embattled, authoritarian and repressive regime, supported by vigilantes."

Mumbai, Karachi journalists come together to protest "violence, threats" against Pak artists, writers, cricketers

By Our Representative
Indian and Pakistani journalists from Mumbai and Karachi have come togather to declare their displeasure over "violence and threats against Pakistani artists, writers and cricketers in Mumbai", saying they are "dismayed" at what is happening in India.

Dadri episode a result of planning, temple used to extort people to attack hapless family: Minorities Commission

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded report following its visit to Bisahda village, Dadri, western Uttar Pradesh, where the infamous lynching of Mohammad Akhlaque took place on September 28-29 night, , the National Commission of Minorities (NCM) has said, it would be “quite an understatement to say that Bisahda killing was merely an accident.”

Ahmedabad's high-profile metro rail project evicts tribal workers "settled" for 15 years, no compensation paid

By Our Representative
The Majur Adhikar Manch (MAM), an organization catering to the informal sector workers' rights in Ahmedabad, has taken strong exception to the Gujarat government “evicting” 56 tribal families – most of them construction workers – as part of its preparations of the high-profile metro rail project.

Advantage Congress?: Gujarat High Court sets aside Ordinance postponing local polls citing "disturbances"

By Our Representative
In what is being widely interpreted as the first major setback to Gujarat's BJP rulers after Narendra Modi left as India's Prime Minister more than a year ago, the Gujarat High Court has junked a recent Ordinance of the state government enabling the State Election Commission (SEC) to postpone local body elections on the grounds that of “unforeseen circumstances”.

Novelist Anita Desai: Will be obliged to return Sahitya Akademi award if it fails stand by protesting writers

By Our Representative
Anita Desai, well-known India-born English writer who has authored of over a dozen novels, has said that she does not recognize “the India of the present time where, under the banner of ‘Hindutva,’ intimidation and bigotry seek to silence writers, scholars and all who believe in secular and rational thought.”

Gujarat govt imposes prohibitory orders in Ahmedabad rural to "preempt" farmers' padyatra against Dholera smart city

By Our Representative
Gujarat government is learnt to have imposed prohibitory orders across the entire Ahmedabad district, except for Ahmedabad city. The decision to impose Section 144 in the district’s rural areas comes close on the heels of the “permission” sought by an upcoming farmers’ organization, Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG), to hold padyatra against the proposed Smart City in Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR), 90 km south of Ahmedabad, along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Awaiting Presidential nod, Gujarat anti-terror bill "qualifies" anti-govt protests as an act of terrorism

By Our Representative
Gujarat's two senior human rights activists have said that the Gujarat Control of Terror and Organised Crime (GUJTOC) Bill, 2015, currently awaiting the President’s assent, on paper seeks to curb organised crime and terrorism, but, in practice, will prove to be a “no-holds-barred attack on free speech.” In fact, they believe, thanks to its vague language, it will be a “codified a means for police intimidation” to quash any opposition to governmental decisions, terming them “terrorist.”

Privatization "introduces" deep holes in pockets of Gujarat's poorer sections: Healthcare to pregnent women

By Our Representative
Coming down heavily on Government of India initiative, Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana (JSSY), meant to ensure “free” and “cashless” services to pregnant women for deliveries in public health facilities, antenatal care, and to infants up to a year, a top advocacy group has found that, in Gujarat, “more than half the women (51.4%) incurred out-of-pocket expenditure for antenatal care, and 48% for deliveries.”

Gujarat only state "not accepting" NHRC recommendations, whether it's 2002 riots or deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
A senior National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) official has come down heavily on the Gujarat government for failing to act on some its crucial recommendations, even as stating that other states have implemented them in “99.5 per cent of cases” – whether it was the untimely death workers because of deadly silicosis, an occupational disease, or the 2002 Gujarat riots.

World writers' body PEN International asks Modi: Why are you silent on attack on writers, free speech?

By Our Representative
In a move that would give a major setback to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's effort to build his image worldwide, one of the world's most important writers' bodies, PEN International, at its 81st Congress in Quebec City, Canada, has expressed its solidarity with with Indian writers who returned  Sahitya Akademi award, protesting against what it calls "silencing of independent voices" by "killing" writers and artists in India.

Dadri lynching: RSS "distances" itself from Panchajanya, Organiser, says they are not its mouthpiece

By Our Representative
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in a surprise move, has "distanced" itself from its own mouthpieces -- "Panchajanya" in Hindi, and "Organiser" in English. It has fielded RSS'all-India propaganda chief (prachar pramukh) Dr Manmohan Vaidya to tweet through RSS (@RSSorg) that they "are not mouthpiece of RSS", adding, "An official office bearer only speaks on behalf of RSS".

Want to write to Gujarat chief minister online? Govt site takes you to Anandiben Patel's personal, copyrighted site!

By Our Representative
In an interesting expose, an upcoming political activist in Ahmedabad has brought to light that Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel wants people to write to her online on any issues they may have not on a Gujarat government website but her personal website, anandibenpatel.com.

India's undernourished rise from 189.9 to 194.6 million in 2011-15; poor, hungry fail to benefit from growth: FAO

By Our Representative
A new report, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) has made a startling revelation: During the first half of this decade, India’s undernourished population, in absolute terms, increased from 189.9 million in 2010-12 to 194.6 in 2014-16. Released to mark the World Food Day, which fell on October 16, the report is titled “The State of Food Insecurity in the World”.

Modi govt's cash transfer policy is "experiment on the poor", is "hardly an encouraging sign": Deaton

By Our Representative
Nobel Prize winner in economics Angus Deaton has suggested that the Government of India’s cash transfer policy, which would require transfer of money to individual bank account holders receiving government subsidy, hasn’t been properly thought out, terming it as an “experiment on the poor”.

RTI pleas reveal, Gujarat Dalit, tribal, OBC landless failed to get surplus land; 55,000 Patels "received" 12 lakh acres

By Our Representative
Fresh facts have come to light suggesting that, in Gujarat, there has been extremely tardy progress in the allocation of surplus land to the landless, acquired from big landlords under the Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling Act, 1960. Based on right to information (RTI) pleas, the district registrar of land records, Junagadh, has admitted that out of 11 of 16 villages for which information was sought, "no land survey of surplus has taken place" for the last 24 years, hence there was no allocation.

Gujarat's GIFT project falters: Airport authority's 5-year NOC to 35 towers "expires", only two built

By Our Representative
A fresh document, obtained by a Gujarat-based right to information (RTI) activist, Roshan Shah on October 8, has revealed how very slow is the progress in implementing the pet "smart city" project floated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s when he was Gujarat chief minister – Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT). Envisaged in 2007, there are just two towers in the GIFT premises, one of which has partially started functioning.

India's business confidence "down" by 4.1% in Q4 2015, profits by 8.3%, new orders by 7.3% on y-to-y basis

By Our Representative
A top business rating company has said that India's business confidence, for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015 has continued to fall, with “optimism value for net profits” declining by by 8.3% and “new orders” by 7.2% on “year to year” basis. It added, the composite business optimism index, at 122.0 during Q4 2015, decreased of 4.1% as compared to Q3 2015.

India "improved" in Global Hunger Index in 2005-14, though inter-state differences remain: Top study

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, “2015 Global Hunger Index” has ranked India No 80th of 117 countries selected for calculating global hunger index (GHI). While this is better than Pakistan (No 93), this is no consolation, as it India’s ranking has been found to be lower than the other important neighbouring countries – China (No 21), Nepal (No 58), Sril Lanka (No 69), and Bangladesh (No 73).

Gujarat govt institute "fails" to train officials into RTI rules, babus ignorant of mode of payment to file plea

By Pankti Jog*
Manojbhai Patel filed a right to information (RTI) plea with the district collector's office, Ahmedabad, by pasting a revenue stamp worth Rs 20 on July 7, 2015.He was surprise to receive a letter from the Public Information Officer (PIO) saying that his application could not be considered, as he had not paid the fee of Rs 20 by non-judicial stamp.

With more Mumbai slumdwellers likely to be uprooted, protest rally in Andheri against government "plan"

By Our Representative
Uprooted slum-dwellers of Malvani, Mandala and Mankhurd area off Mumbai took out a rally in the city's suburb of Andheri to demand housing rights, which they alleged they were deprived of following “reckless demolition” by the Maharashtra government authorities. Andheri (West) is the next target the demolition drive, they declared.

Farmers to protest Gujarat government move to "hand over" 28,000 ha for proposed Dholera Smart City

By Our Representative
Opposition to the Gujarat government decision to “hand over” 28,503 hectares (ha) of land to the special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by it – Dholera Special Investment Region Development Authority (DSIRDA) – for developing Smart City in the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) is all set to raise its head.

A month ahead of his UK visit, British groups ask Modi: Why have you failed to condemn gender violence?

By Our Representative
One month ahead of his maiden visit to England, South Asian, black and minority ethnic women’s groups and feminists in scathing a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi have said that he has failed to “condemn the rapists or launch an investigation into the Hindutva organisations which support them”, and his own pronouncements on violence against women have been “remarkably few”.

No ease in doing business in India: Reliance think-tank expert quotes top German CEOs who were in India

By Our Representative
A senior expert, working with the powerful Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)-run think-tank has said that the top Germans businessmen who had accompanied German Chancellor Angela Merkel to India early this month have outspokenly declared that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done little to “ease” business environment in India.

Amnesty releases interactive map of tens of Indian laws allowing "illegal detention", demands their urgent repeal

By Our Representative
World’s powerful human rights organization Amnesty International has alleged that there is a “continuing use of administrative detention laws in India to lock up persons without charge or trial”, violating “the rights of both suspects and victims of human rights abuses.”

UPA miscalculation? World Bank says, 2011-12 Indian poverty was 12.4%, not 20.1%, blames methodology

By Our Representative
A World Bank policy paper, approved by its chief economist Kaushik Basu, has said that India has been over-estimating its poverty levels by adopting an old methodology. The paper says that a major reason why India miscalculated is because it did not include long-term nonfood consumption items in consumer expenditure in its calculation methodology.

Gujarat land bill: Only surplus land in urban bodies to be "acquired", as it "can't be used for agriculture"

By Rajiv Shah
Contradicting the claims of Gujarat-based activists and the Opposition Congress, a senior Gujarat government bureaucrat has told Counterview that main purpose of controversial the Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling (Amendment) Bill, 2015 “is to transfer surplus land, lying idle, within municipal corporation and municipality bodies, for public purpose”, and “not to take away land meant for Dalits, tribals and other marginalized groups, as is being made out.”

Gujarat's 2015 Bill seeks to "transfer" land meant for landless, SCs, STs, OBCs, to industrial houses

By Our Representative
Two senior Gujarat-based activists, one of them a development professional, have alleged that the Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling (Amendment) Bill, 2015 is a state government effort to “undermine” the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARR), 2013, whose amendments were dropped by the Centre after their “anti-farmer” character was exposed through “nation-wide agitations”.

UK report places India 67th in Quality of Death Index, says despite economic growth it ranks low in health care

By Our Representative
A new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), United Kingdom, has ranked India on 67th position in the Quality of Death Index (QDI) of 80 countries it has selected. The index is meant to measure how well do governments across the world work to improve life for their citizens so that they “die well”, insisting, economic growth alone cannot improve health facilities for the aged.