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Showing posts from February, 2016

Gujarat behind 10 of 16 major Indian states in school enrollment; 26% children do not enroll at secondary level

By Our Representative The inter-state comparison of 16 selected states in the latest “Economic Survey 2015-16”, released by the Government of India last week, has demonstrated that Gujarat has behind most of the Indian states in enrolling children to its schools, despite its much-publicized annual campaign in which the entire bureaucracy participates under the leadership of the chief minister.

Is Indian diaspora "losing interest" in Modi's flagship programmes? Just 20-25 attend event in Melbourne

By Our Representative
The Government of India’s apparent move to “shift” the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) celebration this year to NRIs living abroad, instead of making it a big annual event on January 9 in Delhi, as was the tradition, is failing to get necessary response, if what happened in Melbourne, Australia, is any indication.

US legislators ask Modi to "address" RSS' activities, protect religious minority communities from violence

By Our Representative
In a development that is likely go a long to adversely affect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image building exercise worldwide, eight senators and 26 members of the US House of Representatives have urged him to take urgent steps to “enforce” the rule of law and “protect communities” from what they called “religiously-motivated harassment and violence” in India.

Rs 5.51 lakh crore budgeted for welfare remain unutilized, UPA was responsive to democratic dialogue: NAPM

By Our Representative The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of mass organizations across the country, has sharply criticized the NDA for government for failing to follow the tradition of pre-budget consultations organized by the Union Finance Ministry during the UPA government, saying these were “a dialogue in democratic decency."

Government of India misusing foreign contribution law to harass, intimidate NGOs, activists: Amnesty

By Our Representative
In its just-released annual report, Amnesty International has sharply criticized the Government of India for arbitrarily arresting and detaining “human rights defenders, journalists and protesters”, pointing out how authorities have been using the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) to restrict organizations from receiving foreign funding and harass NGOs and activists.

Gujarat govt "firewalls" top sites ending gujarat.gov.in for outside India, "fears" of Russian, Chinese spammers

By Rajiv Shah
Is Gujarat government not interested in non-resident Indian (NRI) supporters to officially know what’s happening in Gujarat, propagated as India’s model state? Facts have come light suggesting that the state’s information technology (IT) establishment has firewalled several Gujarat government websites’ access worldwide, except India, for security reasons.

Mahishasur martyrdom day at JNU "misuse" of freedom of speech? HRD minister Smriti Irani triggers hornet's nest

By Our Representative
Union human resources minister Smriti Irani may have triggered hornet’s nest by declaring in Parliament on February 24 that celebrating Mahishasura martyrdom day in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on October 4, 2014 was misuse of the “freedom of speech”. From early indications, reactions are likely to be sharp, especially among Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

Modi's "famous" Gujarat model not working in Delhi: USA's top neoconservative think-tank scholar comments

By Our Representative
America’s top business daily, “The Wall Street Journal” (WSJ), has warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the Union budget that he should realize, “the famous Gujarat model is not working in Delhi”, adding, “A vast country cannot be run like a relatively homogenous state.”

Withdraw "regressive" Land Acquisition Bill, 2015, during current session of Parliament: Bhumi Adhikar Andolan

By Our Representative A massive rally, organized under the banner of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, has demanded that the NDA government should withdraw the “regressive” Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015, and begin implementing the “progressive” Land Acquisition Act (LAA), 2013.

At 6.7%, Gujarat's growth rate in 2015-16 lower than all-India estimate; total debts reach Rs 2.25 lakh crore

By Our Representative
A calculation based on the budget papers of the Gujarat government suggests that the Gross State Domestic Price (GSDP) at constant prices, calculating by deducting inflationary factors, would grow by 6.7 per cent in fiscal 2015-16, which is approximately one per cent less than the national average estimated by the Government of India – 7.6 per cent.

Short of dependable leaders, in second year, Modi’s sheen is "coming off" faster than his NDA predecessor

By RK Misra*
Nothing grows under a banyan tree. Again, dazzling light, shattering sound and pummeling propaganda may induce, even overawe, but rarely inspires. Whether It is Indira Gandhi or Narendra Modi, two diverse ends of the Indian political spectrum, neither nurture leaders. They only have sub-ordinates and followers. The Congress is already facing the repercussions, the BJP will do so over time.
Highly individualistic leadership with an over-centralised administration has its own pitfalls. When the going is good it is very good, but when it is bad it is worse. There is much in common between the two, except that the instinct to command and control is more heightened in Modi.
If Indira had to battle hard to neutralize the powerful ’syndicate’ within the Congress comprising Morarji Desai. Sanjiva Reddy, S Nijalingappa, SK Patil and Atulya Ghosh, Modi found it comparatively easier to create his ‘margadarshak mandal’ (advisory council) comprising LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Yas…

Mission 2016 in Chhattisgarh: 23 encounter deaths, 50 arrests in January, Supreme Court asked to intervene

By Our Representative In an open letter to the Chief Justice of India for “immediate intervention” into the physical attacks and eviction drives against women activists by “police and vigilante groups” in Chhattisgarh, the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) has said that the state machinery in Chhattisgarh “has failed the adivasis entirely.”

Short of dependable leaders, in second year, Modi’s sheen is "coming off" faster than his NDA predecessor

By RK Misra* Nothing grows under a banyan tree. Again, dazzling light, shattering sound and pummeling propaganda may induce, even overawe, but rarely inspires. Whether It is Indira Gandhi or Narendra Modi, two diverse ends of the Indian political spectrum, neither nurture leaders. They only have sub-ordinates and followers. The Congress is already facing the repercussions, the BJP will do so over time.

Modi govt fascist in conduct, unlike Indira Gandhi, who was ruthlessly authoritarian during Emergency: PUCL

By Our Representative In an important statement, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) national president Prof Prabhakar Sinha has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of launching an attack and arresting Jawaharlal Nehru University students “on flimsy and ridiculous grounds” as part of his “fascist strategy.”

Modi's governance behind "lynch-mob mentality", says NYT, warns democracy, economic reforms are at risk

By Our Representative Influential US daily “The New York Times” (NYT) has blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and his governance for what it has called “lynch-mob mentality”, which erupted in Delhi following the arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Kanhaiya Kumar on February 12 on charges of sedition.

Constitutional right to dissent: Civil society steps up pressure, as "absconding" JNU student leader reappears

By Our Representative
Civil society has sharply stepped up its campaign on the “constitutional right to dissent” amidst Umar Khalid, 28-year-old PhD student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) reappearing on the campus along with his colleagues Anirban Bhattacharya, Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakash.

Maulana Azad, Nahru-Gandhi compatriot, "remains" neglected, no major leader cares to visit mausoleum

By Our Representative
A commemorative event organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi, on the occasion of the 58th death anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (February 22), speakers made it an occasion to remind the Government of India the great patriot, who stood by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru during the freedom struggle, remains “neglected”.

BJP making nationalism into "cuss word", just as Cong reduced secularism to sickularism: Top Modi supporter

By Our Representative Has a section of India’s right wing begun losing confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the events that followed the arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students’ union president Kanhiya Kumar on February 12? It would seem so, if one believes in what the top boss of a well-known right-wing e-magazine has to say.

Chhattisgarh woman tribal leader Soni Sori attacked with acid-like oil after she "received" threat to life

By Our Representative Soni Sori, widely recognized as the face of tribal people’s struggle in Chhattisgarh, has been attacked by acid-like black chemical, thrown on her face by unidentified persons in the state’s Bastar region. She reported an intense burning sensation to her colleagues, and was taken to a hospital in Jagdalpur town.

Modi aide regrets lack of public discourse on smart cities: Interpreting "smartness" is not Govt of India concern

By Our Representative
Regretting “lack of clarity in public discourse”, a top Narendra Modi aide has declared that the Government of India (GoI) may not be able to pump in resources in its ambitious “Smart City initiative”. The aide, Bibek Debroy, has declared, even “interpreting smartness” is not a GoI concern.

Refusing to reveal report on environmental concern, Govt of India goes ahead with Shenzen-type coastal zones

By Our Representative
Even one-and-a-half years after Government of India (GoI)-appointed high-level committee under Dr Shailesh Nayak, Director, Ministry of Earth Sciences, submitted its review the 2011 law on Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ), the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has refused to make its public, leading to policy confusion, alleges a top advocacy group.

HRW: Why is Modi govt "less willing" to investigate BJP men committing violence in the name of nationalism?

By Our Representative
Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a statement issued in New York, has demanded that the Indian authorities should stop charging “peaceful activists with sedition for alleged anti-national speech.”
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is promoting Indian democracy around the world as an attractive market, yet back home, his administration is cracking down on peaceful dissent,” it said.

Chhattisgarh female human rights lawyers "forced" to leave their home, office: Police harassment alleged

By Our Representative Two female human rights lawyers in Chhattisgarh belonging to the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG), who recently took up the cause of journalist Malini Subramaniam, a scroll.in contributor, are under threat, and are under pressure to leave their residence following "harassment and intimidation" by the police.

World Bank notes "acceleration" of India's urban poverty, slow pace of urbanization compared to rest of Asia

Counterview Desk
A just-released World Bank study noted sharp “acceleration in the pace of the urbanization of poverty” in India, especially since 2000, saying, in the early 1950s, 14 per cent of the country’s poor lived in urban areas, but by 2012 this rose to 32 per cent.

Modi's promise on his government's commitment to rule of law "increasingly ringing hollow", says Amnesty

By Our Representative
Amnesty International has come down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on recent events in Delhi in the wake of arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, saying, “India’s Prime Minister has spoken repeatedly at home and abroad of his government’s commitment to the rule of law. Those promises are increasingly ringing hollow.”

Delhi Police "indifference": Commonwealth advocacy group seeks urgent Apex Court, Govt of India intervention

By Our Representative
Prominent advocacy group, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), has sought Supreme Court for “immediate” and “resolute” action against the Delhi Police for the recent assault on “students, teachers, mediapersons, opposition party workers, and eminent lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court to report on the situation in the Patiala House Court complex in Delhi.”

Noam Chomsky, Orhan Pamuk condemn Modi govt's "authoritarian menace", "unlawful" arrests at JNU

By Our Representative
International pressure against police action against Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sharply shot, with top names including Noam Chomsky, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Laureate, Turkey, condemning "the culture of authoritarian menace that the present government in India has generated".

Tribals' land right cancelled to "benefit" Adani Group-supported coal mining project in Chhattisgarh: Report

By Our Representative In a move without any precedence, the Chhattisgarh government has cancelled the right of the tribals over land, formally given to them by the state authorities under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) after the gram sabha of the village, to which the land belonged, formally approved of it.

Delhi Police "violates" yet another law: It hasn't made public sedition FIR for arresting JNU's Kanhaiya Kumar

By Our Representative
The Fist Information Report (FIR) regarding the controversial arrest of Jawarhalal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar on February 10 on charges of sedition is still not been put in public domain by the Delhi Police, a senior human rights and Right to Information (RTI) activist, Venkatesh Nayak, has revealed.

1,000 acres of Yamuna's active floodplain "illegally" cleared of vegetation for Art of Living event, President told

By Our Representative
Top environmentalists, social activists and former bureaucrats have taken strong exception to “clearing, compacting, dumping of earth and construction underway over some 1,000 acres of active flood plain of river Yamuna in Delhi” for the 35th anniversary of the Art of Living Foundation in March 2016.

Prominent historian Romila Thapar terms JNU arrests horrific, calls students', teachers' protests "remarkable"

By Our Representative
In a strong defence of protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi against police action and arrest of JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges, top historian Romila Thapar has said she is “delighted by the reaction” on the campus, where students and teachers came together to “defend” not just those who were arrested and also the university.

Farmers in Gujarat begin indefinite fast for Narmada waters, seek cancellation of smart city in Dholera SIR

By Our Representative
A fresh round of farmers’ protests are in the offing in south of Ahmedabad. Angry with the “refusal” of the Gujarat government to withdraw its decision to de-command 28,203 hectare, the farmers 22 villages of Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) in Ahmedabad district have begun indefinite relay fast to provide them irrigation water from the Narmada canal.

India's home minister, Delhi Police under cloud, use "fake" twitter account to alert JNU students' terror link

By Our Representative
Following the “exposure” by political activists that the BJP student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) acted as agent provocateurs, shouting “Pakistan zindabad” slogans, India’s home minister Rajnath Singh is under cloud for using a fake Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed to showcase how the protesting Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students had “terrorist” support.

Jha commission on corruption in Narmada dam oustees' rehab: MP govt stance "delays" release of report

By Our Representative Is the Madhya Pradesh government jittery over the findings of the SS Jha Commission, looking into embezzlement of funds meant for the rehabilitation of the Narmada dam oustees? It would seem so, looking into the stance it took in the High Court on releasing the report.

"Pakistan zindabad" slogans raised by BJP students wing men to "provoke" JNU arrest, allege top political activists

By Our Representative
Did students attached with the BJP-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) shout “Pakistan zindabad” slogans during a demonstration at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)? This is what well-known feminist and secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association Kavita Krishnan has sought to suggest, even as releasing a video through twitter allegedly showing their faces, asking people to circulate it "widely."

India a poor spender of social safety net at 0.72% of GDP as against developing countries' average of 1.6%

By Rajiv Shah
Contrary to the notion spread by free market economists close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who believe huge state funds are being “wasted away” on social safety net programmes meant to benefit the poor, a World Bank report says, India spends just about 0.72 per cent of the Gross National Product (GDP) on them.

Attack on journalists in Chhattisgarh: International pressure on Modi government to act, defend scribes mounts

By Our Representative International pressure on the Narendra Modi government to urgently act for protecting the journalists, who are caught in the crossfire between the BJP government in Chhattisgarh and Naxalite insurgents, has sharply gone up, with at least four of the most well-known organizations taking strong exception to attack on scribes and human rights defenders in the state.

More than 2,000 West Bengal rural families face eviction following opencast mining project in Raniganj area

By Ashok Shrimali* Proposed opencast mining by the Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) around several of the villages that form Kenda gram panchayat – Kenda, South Kenda, Saldanga, Ban Dhowra, Jhanti Ban, Mandol Para, Majh Para, Konda Koli and Bauri Para – is threatening to evict around 2,035 families living in the Raniganj coalfield area of West Bengal.

India would need to double falling labour productivity to reach 9% GDP growth: An "unlikely" proposition

By Our Representative
India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), an associate of the New York-based Fitch Group, has suggested that India’s Gross National Product (GDP) growth is unlikely to grow by 9%, as predicted by the Government of India, because labour productivity of late has been progressively going down, with no signs of improvement.

Treating juvenile criminals as adult? India's 44%, especially poor, born in 2000 weren't registered on birth

By Our Representative
The controversial law Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, which came into force last month, may have paved the way for juveniles between 16 and 18 to be tried as adults for heinous crimes. But an expert data analysis of the Civil Registration System has revealed that just about 56.2 per cent of India’s births were registered in 2000.

J&K Raj Bhawan "rejecting" RTI plea seeking copies of correspondence on Governor's rule is "bad" in law

By Our Representative
The Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Raj Bhawan has set aside a right to information (RTI) application by Dr Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, chairperson, J&K RTI Movement, seeking copies of correspondence between the Governor and the President of India on the imposition of Governor's rule in J&K on January 8, saying, a case on placing Governors under RTI is pending Supreme Court.

As Modi man takes over as VP of China-sponsored infrastructure bank, civil society objects to "lack of transparency"

By Our Representative India’s top civil society organizations have taken strong exception to manner in which India’s membership to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multi-national Asian bank founded by the Government of China, was ratified on January 16 “without any public debate”.

Gujarat Information Commission "sitting" on RTI review for three months: Plea on Banaskantha flood relief scam

By Pankti Jog*
On one hand, the Gujarat government is selling big dreams of “digital India” through the Digital Saksharat Abhiyaan (DISHA), but, on the other, a Dalit RTI activist from Banaskatha district is waiting for information related to flood relief beneficiaries for the last four months, and is being pressured to withdraw his application by anti-social elements involved in corruption.

Coca-Cola stops production at Jaipur plant following NGO campaign against "indiscriminate" groundwater mining

By Our Representative
Coca-Cola, one of the world’s premier soft drinks corporations, has stopped production at its bottling plant in Kala Dera in Jaipur, Rajasthan, with no plans to resume operations. Quoting a document in Hindi, India Resource Centre (IRC), a Global Resistance project, which campaigned against the plant, says that the plant was “disputed” as it was "indiscriminately mining groundwater."

Housing shortage 19 million units; units lying idle 11 million: "Paradox" of India's urban growth paradigm

By Rajiv Shah
India’s urban housing shortage, which was estimated to be 18.78 million units by 2012-end, is expected to grow by a “compound annual growth rate of 6.6 per cent over the next decade, the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) has said, adding, 95 per cent of this shortage is of the economically weaker sections (EWS) and lower income group (LIG).

India's urban plight: Of 49,000 families forcibly evicted in 2010-15, less than 20% found "eligible" for resettlement

By Our Representative An estimated 49,000 families, or over 234,000 people, in urban areas were evicted forcefully from their homes between 2010 and 2015, according to information collated by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), which represents tens of people’s organizations fighting for housing rights across India.

90% of 50,000 Narmada dam oustees "await entitlement", allege protesting Madhya Pradesh farmers at Badwani

By Our Representative
The Madhya Pradesh government has “accepted” the demand to hold public hearing on the rehabilitation of tens of villages of Dhar and Badwani districts in Narmada valley ahead of any displacement orders due to the Narmada dam, currently under construction up to the full reservoir level of 138.64 metres.

Gujarat's poorer female participation in MGNREGA, widely considered a catalyst for rural transformation in India

By Our Representative
Recently released data has suggested that, in 2014-15, the participation of Gujarat women in the Government of India’s premier rural guarantee scheme of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), at 43 per cent, is higher than just seven other major Indian states out of 21.

Crucial environmental clearance steps removed from Govt of India agenda for "developmental" projects

Counterview Desk
In yet another move to “remove” alleged hurdles in the way of coming with “developmental” projects, the Government of India is all set to undermine Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) and Carrying Capacity Studies (CSS), which have been an important part of the environment impact assessment process of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

"OBC-isation" of BJP, rise of OBC neo-middle class in Gujarat: Trends Congress can ignore at its own peril

By Rajiv Shah
A fresh study by top French scholar Christophe Jaffrelot should serve as a warning signal to those who believe the BJP would "lose" the 2017 Gujarat state assembly elections. Basing on shifting Other Backward Class (OBC) voter base data compiled by him, Jaffrelot believes, despite a little erosion in the BJP’s middle class upper caste base, there has been a clear “OBC-isation of BJP”, suggesting a new political trend in Gujarat.