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Showing posts from January, 2016

Gujarat an average performer in female empowerment, ranks No 10 among 21 major states: McKinsey report

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat ranks tenth among 21 major Indian states in top consultants McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI’s) new Female Empowerment Index (Femdex), released recently. A decade ago, a United National Development Programme (UNDP)-sponsored report, released by the Ministry of Woman and Child, Government of India, came up with an almost ranking, putting Gujarat as an average state in what it called Gender Development Index (GDI).

Information on Modi's, Anandiben Patel's educational qualifications not in "public interest": Gujarat CM office

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government is learnt to have turned down a right to information (RTI) plea seeking proof of Prime Minister Narendra Mod’s and chief minister Anandiben Patel’s educational qualifications, saying this information cannot be made available because it does not concern “public interest.”

"Lacklustre" economic reforms: Market liberals disillusioned, "cultural warriors" alone Modi's top supporters

By Our Representative In a sharp critique of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policies, America’s powerful business newspaper, “Wall Street Journal” (WSJ), has said in an opinion piece that “free-market liberals” in India are fast “losing faith that Modi will deliver on his promise to launch India on a path of prosperity.”

President's rule in Arunachal: Why were official papers submitted in sealed cover to Apex Court? ask activists

By Our Representative The Government of India’s refusal to place the Governor's report to the President of India in public domain, citing reasons for imposition of President’s rule, has invited strong reaction from influential sections of Right to Information (RTI) activists, who insist, the disclosure cannot cause “any harm to public interest.”

Maharashtra govt "illegally" demolishing slums in protected mangrove area along Mumbai coasts: Medha Patkar

By Our Representative
Taking advantage of a High Court order, the Mangroves Cell of Maharashtra Forest Department, formed in 2012 to “conserve and replenish” mangroves, is allegedly seeking to demolish even slum dwellings, which are “protected” by the cut-off date – January 1, 2000 – set by the state government.

Gujarat govt authority letter "denying" Narmada water for irrigation to smart city area: Farmers protest move

By Our Representative
Gujarat farmers of the Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR), a proposed Greenfield smart city towards the south of Ahmedabad, have strongly protested against the DSIR Authority, which has asked the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) to withdraw Narmada waters for agriculture to DSIR’s 28,203 hectares (ha) area.

Union home ministry withdraws "draconian" Gujarat anti-terror bill: May resubmit on getting state clarification

By RK Misra*
The controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime(GCTOC)Bill 2015, passed by the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha but twice rejected by the previous government, has been returned by President Pranab Mukherjee as well. The Union Home Ministry has withdrawn the Bill and will re-submit it after working on the provisions that require Presidential clarity.

India a "weak proponent" of human rights in 2015 at UN, world leaders didn't raise "concerns publicly" with Modi

By Our Representative
The Human Rights Watch (HRW), of the world’s most influential advocacy groups, has said that India was “a weak proponent of human rights at the UN in 2015.” Quoting examples, it says, “In March, India voted in support of a Russian-backed resolution to remove benefits for same-sex partners of UN staff” and “abstained on Human Rights Council resolutions on Syria, North Korea, and Ukraine, and voted against resolutions on Iran and Belarus.”

Patidar leader Hardik Patel, activist Teesta Setalvad targeted thru "overbroad, vague" laws: Human Rights Watch

By Rajiv Shah
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has taken strong exception to the Gujarat government using “overbroad and vaguely worded sedition, criminal defamation, and hate speech laws” for “arresting Hardik Patel, who is spearheading protests to demand quotas in education and government jobs for his community, and charged him with sedition in two separate cases.”

Two lakh strong OBC unity rally in Ahmedabad "warns" Gujarat government: Ignore us at your peril

By Our Representative
About two lakh people, manly OBCs, gathered at Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC grounds – the same spot where the Patels held their massive show four months ago – in a rare display of unity under the banner of Other Backward Class, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (OSS) Ekta Manch, telling the BJP government in Gujarat that it could not ignore them.

Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of the Nation: British PM Attlee's conversation cited to "rewrite" history

By Our Representative
Yet another attempt is underway by circles close to the Narendra Modi government for “rewriting” the history of India’s freedom struggle, and this time the target is Mahatma Gandhi. The question has already been posed: Who brought independence, Mahatma Gandhi or Subhas Chandra Bose?

2002 Gujarat riots: Despite many extreme cases of gender violence, so far just one conviction in Naroda Patiya

By Rajiv Shah
Although 32 accused – including a minister in the Modi government – were in 2012 found guilty of “murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, spreading enmity and communal hatred” during the 2002 Gujarat communal violence in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area, so far, just in one case there has been conviction for gruesome acts of sexual violence there, regrets a new American study.

Chhattisgarh journos' arrest: Now cops "circulating" cartoons on mobile, social media alleging Maoist link

By Our Representative In development, which is likely to further add to the eroding image of the Modi government vis-a-vis human rights and freedom of expression, some of the top world world bodies have thrown their weight behind the campaign to release two Chhattisgarh journalists, Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag, arrested last year for their alleged Naxalite connections.

Nehru "called" Netaji war criminal? Fresh document nails the lie, "Modi govt sources" behind fake letter

By Our Representative
Amidst raging controversy over whether Jawaharlal Nehru considered Subhas Chandra Bose a war criminal, a fresh document from the Netaji files released by the Government of India has come to light, which shows that Nehru rejected any such attempt which may have been made after Netaji’s death.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

"Illegal" sand mining rampant, black stone crushing proliferating on South Gujarat common village, govt land

By Our Representative
A recent reply to a Right to Information (RTI) plea suggests that the Gujarat government has refused to comply by a Supreme Court direction of 2011 which asks all state governments to “restore” common grazing and government lands -- handed over in the past for activities other than what it they are meant -- to the villages to which they actually belonged.

Relief to Adani Group's Aussie coal-mining project: Top executive not to face action for environmental "damage"

By Our Representative
In an important relief to the Adani Group, which has taken up one of the world’s biggest coal-mining projects in the Queensland province of Australia, the top business house will not be facing any action for its Australian CEO’s alleged links to “polluting” a Zambian mine. The Adani Group is known to be closest to Prime Minister Narendra Modi compared to all other industrial houses.

Was Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula a Christian? If true, Hindus are "under siege": BJP's Subramaniam Swamy

By Our Representative
Senior BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy, lately gone very close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has said, if it is proved that Rohith Vemula -- the 27-year-old University of Hyderabad Dalit scholar who committed suicide -- was a “converted Christian and Opus Dei”, then “it is a new dimension of Hindus under siege.”

Part of Hindutva agenda? "Extraordinary" termination of Hyderabad Dalit students' suspension termed illegal

By Our Representative
The University of Hyderabad’s (UoH’s) “decision” to revoke the suspension of four Dalit students following country-wide protests against the suicide of their colleague and leader, Rohith Vemula, a 26-year-old research scholar, has been rejected -- because it allegedly comes with huge “ifs” and “buts”.

Rohith's "systemic murder": Present vice-chancellor, Hyderabad University, expelled 10 Dalit students in 2002

By Our Representative
India’s top apex body of tens of people’s organizations, National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), has termed the recent suicide of Rohith Vemula, an upcoming Dalit scholar of the University of Hyderdabad, a “systemic murder”, seeking “urgent intervention” from the judiciary and the President of India.

Past 14 years, just 21% Gujarat's Narmada command area completed, irrigation waters "diverted" to industry

By Our Representative
Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG), the upcoming farmers’ organization, has alleged “criminal conspiracy” of transferring Narmada waters to industry, instead of providing them to the state’s agricultural fields by developing Narmada canals.

Alleging Madhya Pradesh govt apathy, NGO report says, 19 patients who lost eye sight "refused" compensation

By Our Representative
Alleging official apathy, a follow-up of the independent investigation by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Narmada Bachao Andolan and Swasthya Adhikar Manch into the patients losing their sights at the eye-surgery camp in Barwani in November 2015 has revealed that 19 patients have been mysteriously refused compensation announced by the Madhya Pradesh government.

Kashmir's half-widows: "Gender neutral" international, Indian, Islamic laws fail to address women's plight

By Our Representative
A recent interview-based policy paper says that, not just Indian laws, but even international laws, as also Islamic jurisdiction, fail to address the plight of an estimate 4,000 to 8,000 half-widows of Kashmir. They are called half-widows because their husbands have “disappeared” in strife-torn Kashmir Valley, never to return.

Intervention from top Modi ministers in a small case "pressured" Hyderabad Dalit student to commit suicide

By Our Representative
Allegations are flying high that Rohith Vemula, one of the five rusticated Dalit students of the University of Hyedabad, who committed suicide on Sunday, was the direct victim of powerful forces attached with the Sangh Parivar, including a minister of the Narendra Modi government, to suppress them for holding their strong political views.

Rajasthan BJP MLA "slapped me on my right-jaw when I asked why he was hitting us": Woman RTI activist

By Our Representative
“BJP MLA slapped me when I asked him to stop attacking”, a social activist participating in the Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikaar Abhiyaan, a Right to Information (RTI) and Employment campaign organization, which encompasses about 150 different organizations across Rajasthan. The incident, reported by Couterview, took place on Saturday evening.

High Court order on "costly" Narmada bonds may force Gujarat government to shell out Rs 7,500 crore

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s controversial, indeed costly, Deep Discount Bonds, floated way back in 1993 in order to raise money for building the Narmada dam after the World Bank put stringent environmental conditions for providing loan, are back in news.

BJP MLA "leads" attack on RTI rally in Rajasthan, injuring activists, vandalizing vehicles, snatching cameras

By Pankti Jog*
In an incident which has created a flutter among Right to Information (RTI) activists across India, goonda elements, said to be close to a BJP legislator in Rajasthan have brutally attacked the 100-day Accountability or Jawabdehi Yatra, begun by Magsaysay Award winner and pioneer of the RTI Act Aruna Roy. The incident took place in Aklera area of Zalawad district, which falls into Manoharthana constituency.

Green Tribunal "sets aside" eco-clearance to Adani Hazira port expansion in Gujarat, imposes Rs 25 crore fine

By Our Representative
In a ruling of far-reaching significance, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Pune, has set aside environmental clearance (EC) to the Adani Hazira Port Pvt Ltd (AHPPL) dated May 3, 2013, granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for the further development of port activities at Hazira, South Gujarat.

Research journal EPW board decision accepting editor Reddy's resignation termed unfortunate, ungracious

By Our Representative
In an open letter to the board of trustees of India’s premier research journal, “Economic and Political Weekly” (EPW), some of India’s most well-known intellectuals have termed its decision accepting the resignation of EPW editor C Rammanohar Reddy as “unfortunate”,  praising him for “dedication, personal sacrifice” and “an extremely successful Editor”, and saying that he has had to part  “in an unhappy and ungracious ways”.

When we step out of Ahmedabad trying to earn for a living, police slaps cases on us: Pakistani Hindus

By RK Misra*
There is a perversely delicious irony about politics. Overtime it shows the flaws, exposes the hypocrisies and displays the duplicitousness of its gods. After the BJP-led NDA came to power in 2014, constituents of the Sangh Parivar have been shrill in espousing the cause of homecoming or ‘ghar wapsi’.

US students petition against University of Columbia chairs for alleged ties with "rightwing" Hindu groups

By Our Representative
In a significant development that has gone unnoticed, the USA’s prestigious University of California, Irvine's (UCI's) History Graduate Student Association has floated an online petition objecting to the formation of two chairs in South Asian studies, being instituted by the Dharma Civilization Foundation, declaring the organization has “ties to rightwing Hindu nationalist groups in India.”

When we step out of Ahmedabad trying to earn for a living, police slaps cases on us: Pakistani Hindus

By RK Misra*
There is a perversely delicious irony about politics. Overtime it shows the flaws, exposes the hypocrisies and displays the duplicitousness of its gods. After the BJP-led NDA came to power in 2014, constituents of the Sangh Parivar have been shrill in espousing the cause of homecoming or ‘ghar wapsi’.
On July 5,2015, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) proudly claimed that it had brought back 33,975 people to their ‘original faith’ and a total of 48,651 people were ‘prevented’ from being converted to other religions by the organization during the last one year. This affiliate of the RSS had claimed huge success in it’s endeavour at its annual meeting in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara last year.
The report also pointed out that ”the organization arranged marriages for 284 girls belonging to the minority community in Gujarat,while 7,776 were given Sanskrit diksha and 49 sisters from Uttarakhand were brought back to their original religion.” All the figures pertained to the period between Ju…

Govt of India "excludes" Ambedkar's top ideological treatise "Annihilation of Caste" from Collected Works

By Rajiv Shah
In a shocking revelation that is likely to create a major ripple among India’s top Dalit rights activists, the Government of India has published Collected Works of Bhimrao Ambedkar (CWBA) in Hindi without 11 of Ambedkar’s books, including two which are considered his ideologically significant works, “Annihilation of Caste” and “Riddles of Hinduism.”

Uttar Pradesh's new RTI rules "require" below poverty individuals to pay fees to make Right to Information plea

By Our Representative
The newly published Right to Information (RTI) Rules by the Government of Uttar Pradesh (UP), where one of the highest percentage of poor of the country live, do not allow Below Poverty Line (BPL) individuals to file RTI without any fees. A recent analysis has found that the UP RTI Rules 4(4) & 5(1) “do not differentiate between APL and BPL RTI applicants.”

“Forcible” land acquisition in Madhya Pradesh for coal-based power plant: Villagers warn self-immolation

By Our Representative
Villagers of Madhya Pradesh affected by top industrial house Welspun’s going ahead with acquisition of 1,600 acres for a thermal power plant are showing signs of restiveness. A high-level team led by well-known social activist Medha Patkar, which visited the area, has found that, already, two farmers have committed suicide to show opposition to “land grab”, and many are openly declaring that they would self-immolate.

Gujarat industries told to stop operations, pay Rs 10 lakh fine each: "Illegal" environmental clearance

By Our Representative
In an important judgment, India’s environmental watchdog, National Green Tribunal (NGT), has struck down Environment Clearance (EC) procedure adopted during 1998-2003 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest (MoEF), Government of India, for granting what was called “ex-post-facto environmental clearance” several defaulting industrial units of Gujarat.

Pathankot terror attack: Leading Pak diplomat reveals strong military hold over Nawaz Sharif government

By Our Representative
In an opinion piece, whose contents Indian policy makers can ignore at their own peril, a leading Pakistani diplomat has pointed towards strong Pakistani military hold over Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government, saying even the US and NATO countries believe the Pathankot terror attack was “planned and supervised” from Pakistan by elements associated with the intelligence establishment, directly or indirectly.

India's "lowest caste never does any hard work", are "easy lot", as to ploughing "they never do": Vivekananda

Counterview Desk
Several Dalit rights activists have made the occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary, January 12, to controversially highlight how the Swami was in favour of the caste system, believed that “Brahminhood” was the ideal of humanity in India, and thought that the so-called lower castes were lazy.

Decade-old Right to Information regime "fails to allow" simple, uniform rules for RTI payments across India

By Our Representative
A senior Right to Information (RTI) activist has taken strong exception to the way RTI rules of state governments failing to clearly indicate in whose favour non-cash payment instruments for filing RTI applications must be drawn. “It varies from public authority to public authority”, says Venkatesh Nayak in a letter he has dashed to Sanjay Kothari, secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India.

Modi adviser Doval in interview he doesn't "remember" giving: Pathankot attack was intelligence failure, but...

By Our Representative
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s national security adviser Ajit Doval, widely publicized as 007 James Bond of India, has run into yet another controversy following the Pathankot terror attack: After giving an interview to a top Indian media house, where he attacked the media once again, he has sought to deny he ever gave the interview.

Govt effort to "discourage" pornography in reverse gear: India a top country with high porn viewership on web

By Our Representative
Adult website Pornhub, one of the many pornographic sites, which were sought to be banned by the Government of India in August 2015 through an order of the Department of Telecom, has claimed that India has the world’s third largest population viewing pornography, next only to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Defence personnel say Modi's security adviser Ajit Doval was "villain of the piece": Pathankot anti-terror operations

By Our Representative
Adding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s discomfiture over strong adverse reactions to anti-terror operations at Pathankot, top defence personnel of India have begun questioning the way Indian authorities, especially Modi’s national security adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, handled the whole affair, saying only “luck and providence saved the Air Base.”

Identifying "risks", World Bank blames Opposition for blocking pro-industry land reforms in Upper House

By Our Representative
Even as predicting that India might experience one of the highest rates of growth in the world over the next three years – 7.8 per cent in 2016, 7.9 per cent in 2017 and 7.9 per cent in 2018 – the World Bank believes that to maintain this rate of growth, the Government of India would do well to avoid “mainly domestic risks.”

Gujarat activists: Vadodara riverfront project "begun" sans environmental nod, violates wildlife law

By Our Representative
A group of prominent citizens, including environmentalists, wildlife experts, lawyers, engineers, town planners and architects of Gujarat’s cultural capital, Vadodara, have alleged that the state authorities have begun the work of “developing” the riverfront Vishamitri, which meanders through the city, without any environmental clearance (EC), despite an earlier assurance.

When Gujarat under Modi, later under Anandiben Patel, called GST an "attack" on state financial autonomy

By Our Representative
Even as the ruling NDA government has been charging the opposition, especially Congress, for seeking to roadblock implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) across India, facts suggest, Narendra Modi as Gujarat chief minister, and later his successor, Anandiben Patel, taken strong exception GST till December 2014.

Gujarat's reservation policy: State govt "refuses" RTI information on meetings, minutes at CM level

By Our Representative
In a step, which is likely to raise eye-brows of India’s top right to information (RTI) activists, the Gujarat government has refused to part with any information regarding official review of the state’s reservation policy towards Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) between 2001 and 2015.

Gujarat farmers block highway to protest lack of irrigation water in Bhavnagar district, leaders detained

By Our Representative
Farmers of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat have begun showing signs of frustration over lack of irrigation water to save the winter crop. Information trickling from remote parts of the area say, the farmers of Talaja and Mahuva of Bhavnagar district have gone restive, going so far as to block the highway connecting between the two towns.

Gandhian accused of being Naxalite, anti-national, prematurely removed from Banaras Hindu University

By Our Representative
Well-known Gandhian academic, educationist, social activist Sandeep Pandey has accused RSS hardliners for forcing the decision of the Banaras Hindu University’s Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) for prematurely ending his contract of working as visiting faculty after teaching there for two-and-a-half years.

Left-wing education association opposes Right to Education Act, says RTE promotes private investors in India

By Our Representative
In an unusual move, the left-wing All-India Save Education Committee (AISEC), in its comprehensive critique of the Government of India’s proposed New Education Policy (NEP), has strongly opposed the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, declaring that it “straightaway paves the path for private investors” to get into the education of children and “legalizes” commercialization of education.

Don Chhota Rajan's arrest: CBI refuses to part with copy of FIR, filed under Prevention of Corruption Act

By Our Representative The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has rejected a Right to Information (RTI) plea of senior human rights activist Venkatesh Nayak for a copy of FIR, on the basis of which notorious underworld don Chhota Rajan. The rejection came after 49 days of receiving the request claiming that the RTI Act “does not apply” to the CBI because it is an exempt organisation under Section 24 of the Act.