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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

Agriculture gets 3.5% for 55% farmer population of India, no mention of farm workers: NAPM on Union budget

By Our Representative
In a sharp critique of the claim that Narendra Modi government's 2016-17 budget is “pro-farmer”, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has allocated less than 3.5% to agriculture, when 55% of India’s population depends on agriculture, which is grossly insufficient particularly when farmers are facing drought.
One of India’s biggest apex bodies of mass organizations, NAPM in a statement said, most of the budget speech projects as if big favours have been made to the farming community. “However the outlay of Rs 35,984 crore in reality it is a pittance. In 2014-15, the outlay was Rs 31,000 crore, which was drastically reduced to Rs 24,910 crores in 2015-16.”
Pointing out that a almost 40-50% to farmers are reeling under drought, and thousands of farmers are committing suicide due to indebtedness, NAPM said, it was expected from the government to come up with “a major bailout package” which included “interest waiver, debt swapping of private loans with bank loans, and disaster compensation.”
“The Budget speech promises ‘income security’ to farming families, but no mechanism has been announced to ensure this”, NAPM said, adding, “Farmers’ organizations had called for a statutory, permanent farmers' income commission and a farmers' income guarantee law to assure the minimum living income to farming households.”
Then, NAPM said, there is “no allocation to ensure remunerative prices to farmers, in terms of higher minimum support price (MSP|, market intervention scheme or market stabilization fund”, NAPM said, adding, “While farmers demanded a disaster compensation of Rs 10,000 per acre, no increase was announced from the current levels of Rs 3000-4000 per acre.”
“While tenant farmers and sharecroppers are excluded from bank loans, insurance and subsidies, no measures were announced for their inclusion. There was no mention of landless farmers in the entire speech by Jaitley. Nor have any special measures have been announced for rainfed agriculture, which faces the brunt of the crisis”, NAPM said.
“The flagship crop insurance programme, Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is being projected as a panacea to farmers, and that more than 50% of the farmers will be brought under insurance cover from the current level of less than 20%”, NAPM said.
However, it underlined, “The allocation for insurance has been raised from Rs 2,600 crore to Rs 5,500 crore, but this would not cover any additional farmers, because this would only go to the insurance companies towards higher premium subsidy for the existing insured farmers.”
It further said, the money would also go to the “IT companies for surveying the crop failure and other natural calamities to claim the insurance money, hence keeping out the gram panchayats in determining these facts at local level.”
“The target of bringing additional 28.5 lakh hectares under irrigation in 5 years is to be welcomed – but this amounts to less than 2% of the net cultivated area of 141 million hectares”, NAPM said, adding, “The allocation from the Centre is only Rs 12,000 crore towards the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)”, while in 2014-15, it was Rs 13,492 crore but spending was a mere Rs 5,630 crore.
“Even after allocation and success of projects, the benefits have always remain in question, as in past, the projects started for catering to the needs of irrigation converted for the industrial demand of water supply. It has been seen in the famous Sardar Sarovar Dam Project, where after 30 years, 6 lakh hectares is decommissioned from irrigation to industries when less than 20% of the target of irrigation is realised at ground”, NAPM said.
As the claim that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) has received a major boost, NAPM said, “When 40% of the nation is reeling under drought, a much higher allocation was expected to the tune of Rs 60,000 crores. The actual allocation is only Rs. 38,500 crore – which appears high only because of the drastic cuts in the past two years. This only brings it to the level of 2011-12 when the allocation was Rs. 39,000 crores.”

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India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
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Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.