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Showing posts from May, 2016

Is CSR gender insensitive? Corporate India fails to address sanitary needs of teenage, school-going girls

By Rajiv Shah
A recent study on how corporate social responsibility (CSR) is being used for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship programme, Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM) has revealed that, despite “a vast body of research” showing that individual attitudes are the “key reasons for high open defecation rates” in India, “only 20% of companies reported integrating behaviour change into their programmes.

Manhole deaths: Gujarat govt "evading" Rs 10 lakh compensation, departments busy passing the buck

By Our Representative
Is the Gujarat government evading a Supreme Court order of 2014 on payment of death compensation to as many as 152 manhole workers who died due to asphyxiation since 1993? It would seem so, if a recent note by Gujarat-based non-government organization (NGO), Janvikas, is any guide.

Demand to translocate Gir lions outside Gujarat picks up, finds "local support" following attack on villagers

By Our Representative
With Asiatic lions killing, in all, five persons outside the Gir National Park and Sanctuary area, the demand to translocate the big cat outside Gujarat is beginning to gain momentum. Veteran environmentalist Ravi Chellam, a top lions expert, has already fired the salvo saying this is an “urgent and necessary issue.”

World Bank's full marks to UPA? Poverty rates "sharply reduced" in 2005-12, despite severe drought in 2009-10

By Rajiv Shah
A new World Bank study, released ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi completing two years in office, has said that the India’s national poverty rates fell much more sharply between 2005 and 2012, when the UPA government ruled the country, compared the decade between 1994 and 2005.

International investors "worried" over Subramaniam Swamy's recent attack on RBI governor Raghram Rajan: FT

By Our Representative
Referring to hardline Narendra Modi supporter Subramaniam Swamy’s recent attacks on Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, the top British daily, “The Financial Times (FT)” (May 29), has warned, “The criticism by a prominent lawmaker to whom the BJP gave a parliamentary seat only last month, has worried investors”.

Govt of India "blocking" international Dalit network to freely associate with UN for eight long years: NGO letter

By Our Representative
More than 230 NGOs have called on members of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to reform the practice of the Committee of NGOs that prevents certain human rights organisations, including the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), from associating freely with the United Nations (UN).

Visitng JNU, Delhi Univ professors "incited" villagers to support Maoists: Bastar district collector on Facebook

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, district collector, Bastar, Amit Kataria, has posted on his Facebook page a “complaint” in the name of unidentified local villagers, demanding that FIR be lodged against an independent fact-finding team, which visited to inquire into allegations of intimidation, murder, rape and abduction (click HERE).

As people in central Madhya Pradesh reel under drought, migrate, govt mulling diamond mining project

By Ashok Shrimali*
People of the area, close to the spot where the Madhya Pradesh government is seeking to implement a high-profile Rs 20,520 crore diamond mining project, are in distress. Facing eviction under the pretext of "saving" the world’s most beautiful wild beasts and nearly 1,000 hectares of pristine forest, people of dozen-odd villagers have complained that, despite drought conditions, they are not being provided any relief.

Modi "decided" to bring dead bodies from Godhra to Ahmedabad, triggering 2002 riots: Gujarat bureaucrat

By Our Representative
A book by a well-known investigative journalist has claimed that a top Gujarat bureaucrat had told her during a sting operation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Gujarat chief minister, had made the “decision” of bringing 58 dead bodies, charred to death in the S-6 Sabarmati Express coach, from Godhra to Ahmedabad on February 27, 2002, triggering the riots in which at least 1,000 people died.

India's amended anti-atrocities Act "expanding restrictions" on free speech, alleges Human Rights Watch

By Our Representative
At a time when the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 – popularly anti-atrocities Act – is winning high accolades from Dalit rights activists across India, one of the world’s top advocacy groups, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has criticized it for using “vague and over broad language, expanding restrictions on speech.”

Manusmriti doesn't mention untouchability, Ambedkar knew it, Hindu scriptures don't favour casteism: HAF

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the activists’ and academics’ campaign in California, US, which led the local education officials to agree to include caste system as part of ancient Indian, especially Hindu , civilization in the sixth and seventh grade textbooks (click HERE), a senior official of the Hindu American Hindu (HAF) has claimed that “hierarchical” caste system was never part of ancient Hindu scriptures.

Our environmental footprints are managed according to most rigorous global standards: Vedanta Resources

By Our Representative
Reproduced below is a rejoinder by Vedanta Resources to www.counterview.net story, published on May 21, 2016 (click HERE) regarding the alleged outrage by a section of the writers against the top multinational corporation's (MNC's) sponsorship of the Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF) in London:

Left-wing fact-finding report indicts cops, Maoists for atrocities on tribals in Chhattisgarh's Naxal-infected region

By Our Representative
A recent fact-finding visit by a Left-wing delegation to the worst Naxalite-infected areas of Bastar division in Chhattisgarh has found that there has been large-scale arrest of villagers, with the law being allegedly used by the cops “as an instrument of torture rather than of justice or peace-keeping”.

Saffron brigade suffers setback in far off California, fails to convince officials caste is "not part of" Hindu culture

By Our Representative
If in India the ruling BJP and the Hindutva brigade may have succeeded in inserting in their saffron agenda in textbooks, in far off California, they have suffered a major setback. "The New York Times" reports, the American Hindu Foundation, known to be a protagonist of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has failed to convince California's education officials that caste system is alien to Indian history and culture.

MNC-supported Jaipur Literary Festival begins in London following unprecedented "outrage" against Vedanta

By Our Representative
The top British metals and mining company Vedanta Resources-sponsored Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) began on Saturday in London following a growing number of writers and activist groups showing their displeasure with the sponsorship, calling for a boycott of the high-profile event.
While an open letter, signed by over 100 writers, called upon participating writer to keep away from the festival, questions were being raised about whose ‘freedom of speech’ was being prioritised over others, and about the legitimacy and relevance of the festival itself.

India's 9% women "experienced" rape, 21% physical sexual assault, 38% sexual comments, 79% harassment

By Our Representative
A survey of four countries – United Kingdom, Thailand, Brazil and India – has found that nine per cent of city women have “experienced” rape in India, which is equal to a similar assault suffered by women in Thailand. As for the other two countries under survey, UK and Brazil, two and eight per cent respectively said they have “experienced” rape.

Website offering Rs 99 mobile named after Narendra Modi "goes phut", bookings "closed" six days earlier

By Our Representative
Namotel.com, the website named after Prime Minister Narenda Modi which had claimed to have begun booking Rs 99 smartphone, Namotel, appears to have suddenly gone phut. Reason? It wants to "improve" and "serve" consumers better! A visit to the website on Friday evening said, to quote word by word, "The website unavailable while we make upgrades improve (sic) our service to you. we will return with more passion and energy to serve you better."

Mumbai Christians suspect builder-official nexus, to protest proposed demolition of Heritage Cross,Graveyard

By Our Representative
Two Christian NGOs, Save Our Land (SOUL) and Watchdog Foundation, have decided to stage a strong protest in Mumbai against Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC's) “decision” to demolish the historic 450 years old Heritage Cross and the Graveyard of the Heritage Church of Our Lady of Remedy in West Kandivali.

"Strong evidence" of discrimination against Muslims seeking house on rent in Delhi: Helsinki Institute study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent study by a top Helsinki-based institute has found “strong evidence of discrimination against Muslim applicants” seeking to take house on rent in the National Capital Region of Delhi. The study is based, to quote, “A web-based audit of the market for rental properties offered directly by owners/landlords using a sample of 170 rental properties in the Delhi region.”

81 per cent Indians have "no objection" if fleeing refugees take refuge in the country: Amnesty survey

By Our Representative
A new survey by a multinational advocacy group, Amnesty International, has said that 81 per cent of Indians would have no objection in welcoming into India people who flee war or persecution in another country. While this may appear to be quite high, there are 16 other countries where a higher percentage of people would be ready to accept refugees.

Setback to NDA's "reforms" agenda? Five state elections will not change Rajya Sabha numbers for BJP

By Our Representative
The BJP may have won Assam for the first time with a handsome margin, but its dream of having a majority in the Rajya Sabha, considered crucial for the party to push what it interprets as "economic reforms", is unlikely to materialize before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Tribals pitted against MNC in Odisha branded Maoists, intimidated, abducted, killed: Human rights report

By Our Representative
The National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO), an apex body of right-based advocacy groups, has taken strong exception to unprecedented “intimidation” of Odisha’s tribals and activists pitted against multinational corporation (MNC) Vedanta Resources’ Rs 5000 crore aluminum refinery venture.

At 44%, "progressive" Gujarat has one of the highest proportion of Dalit out of school children: Govt of India

By Our Representative
Government of India figures, released in the Rajya Sabha recently, have shockingly revealed that, of Gujarat’s nearly 1.59 lakh “out of school” children, 43.76 per cent are Dalits, which is one of the highest proportions in India. The revelation is particularly surprising because Gujarat has one of the lowest proportion of Dalit population in the country, less than seven per cent.

Extremist Hindu groups' "role" in terror attacks? Karkare showed me evidence before death: Supercop Ribeiro

By Our Representative
Veteran supercop Julio Ribeiro, a known expert on terrorism, in a signed article on June 27, 2015, had warned that "going slow on ‘Hindu terror’ is dangerous", adding, "It’s also an insult to the memory of Hemant Karkare". Ribeiro said this even as recalling his meeting with Karkare one day before the latter was killed by terrorists in 2008 fighting  in Mumbai.

Indian elite diverting water to industry: Result of "flawed" notion that river waters shouldn't go waste into sea

By Rajiv Shah
A top water resources expert, Shripad Dharmadhikary, has said in a recent paper that, taking advantage of a “flawed” policy perspective, continuing since independence, that river waters should not be allowed to “go waste” into the sea, India's powerful elite has been seeking to increasingly divert waters for industrial purpose.

Dholera smart city: Gujarat govt uses private agency for processing land acquisition, "violates" High Court ruling

By Our Representative
In a move which is being interpreted as violation of the High Court ruling, the Gujarat government has begun the work of land acquisition process in the Dholera special investment region (SIR), situated in the south of Ahmedabad district.

Failure of big dam model? 36% of India's big dams in Maharashtra are of "little help" in Marathwada drought

By Our Representative
Senior environmental activist and water expert Himanshu Thakkar has said that the current drought in India should clear the misconception that drams are a panacea for water scarcity. In an interview with a top business daily, Thakkar has insisted, “Big dams have proved to be a failed water resources development model.”

Madhya Pradesh "misbriefed" Supreme Court on Narmada oustees, said just 1038 oustee families left out: NBA

By Our Representative
In a clear indication of failure to get any positive indication in the wake of a Supreme Court hearing on Narmada dam oustees on May 13, the country's premier anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), has said that the Madhya Pradesh government has “successfully” misbriefed the apex court on Narmada dam oustees.

"Breakdown" in discipline among security forces involved in anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh: NCST report

By Our Representative
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) believes that there is a “breakdown of discipline” among security forces deployed on anti-Maoist operations in south Chhattisgarh. It said this in a report prepared following its probe into allegations of mass sexual violence against adivasi women, assaults and looting by police and paramilitary force in the Bijapur and Sukma districts.

Cabinet Secretariat can't deny unclassified information under RTI Act, rules Chief Information Commission

By Our Representative The Central Information Commission (CIC), the Central right to information (RTI) watchdog, has ruled that the Cabinet Secretariat “cannot deny access” under the RTI Act to “the items on the agenda placed before the Union Cabinet after a meeting is over”.

Jaitley's "outburst" against judiciary suggests he is feeling sidelined under Modi: Ex-Gujarat BJP CM Suresh Mehta

By Our Representative
In a scathing letter to Union finance minister Jaitley, former BJP chief minister of Gujarat, Suresh Mehta, has said that Jaitley’s recent outpourings (click HERE) against thejudiciary is the direct result of what he calls BJP’s “flamboyant Rajya Sabha MP” Subramaniam Swamy’s attacks on him.

Smart Cities project put to "action": Forced eviction, demolition in Indore, Pad Yatra organized to oppose move

By Our Representative
The Smart Cities flagship modernization programme of the Modi government has taken a big toll in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The Biyabani and Loharpatti areas in the old part of the Indore city have borne the brunt, with the demolition of 100-150 year old houses over the last two months.

Demand to make public procedure to appoint judges, following rejection of "national security" clause

By Our Representative
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability & Reforms (CJAR), led by well-known human rights advocate Prashant Bhushan, has strongly supported the Supreme Court chief justice-headed Collegium of Judges' move rejecting the “national security” clause which the Modi government had sought to insert in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointing judges.

Apex court raps Gujarat for declaring drought "far too late", says govt hesitant in calling it drought even now

By Our Representative
A two judge bench of the Supreme Court of India has sharply criticized the Gujarat government for declaring drought-like situation “far too late” – in April. It said this while  telling Government of India not to tolerate "ostrich-like attitude" of Gujarat, Haryana and Bihar on drought, while giving directions on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Aam Aadmi Party's breakaway group Swaraj Abhiyan.

Asiatic lion no more endangered species? Govt of India Rajya Sabha reply raises unanswered questions

By Our Representative
Is the Asiatic lion, living in and around the Gir sanctuary in Junagadh district of Gujarat, no more an endangered species, at least in Government of India perception? It would seem so, if the latest list of endangered species released by Union minister for environment, forests and climate change Prakash Javdekar in the Rajya Sabha are is indication.

Women "operate" 13% of land holdings in India; Andhra Pradesh tops with 22%, Gujarat 14%, UP worse 7%

Counterview Desk
A new book seeking to study the land reforms process in 11 Indian states has revealed that women across India “operate” only 12.78 per cent of the total operational holdings of India, covering an area of 10.34 per cent of the total operated area, even though there is “considerable variation” across Indian states.

Gujarat government's Food "Insecurity" Act?: Poorest of poor return from ration shops empty handed

By Pankti Jog*
The Gujarat government announced implementation of National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 from April 1, 2016, almost two-and-a-half years after it was passed in Parliament. However, in the very first month, the state has shown extremely poor performance, leaving large sections without food grains.

Senior Gandhian academic refused entry into Banaras Hindu University despite Allahabad High Court order

By Our Representative Despite the compelling order of the Allahabad High Court to reinstate Magsaysay awardee, Dr Sandeep Pandey, to the Indian Institute of Technology- Banaras Hindu University (IIT-BHU), Dr Pandey has said he has not been allowed to “rejoin the IIT-BHU when he went to do so on Saturday, May 7.”

Top Jharkhand tribal activist "offloaded" at Delhi airport, was to attend workshop on environment, politics in UK

By Our Representative
In a second controversial incident of “offloading” at the Delhi International Airport, young tribal human rights defender, Gladson Dungdung, who happens to be general secretary, Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM), Ranchi, was on Monday morning not allowed to board the Air India Delhi-London Flight AI 115.

Complete Narmada oustees' rehab to "help" Gujarat BJP win 2017 polls: Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra told

By Our Representative
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi's principal secretary Nripendra Mishra is learnt to have told chief secretaries of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to work overtime to ensure to "complete" the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) process of the Narmada dam oustees at the earliest, so that the Gujarat BJP is able to seek a "much-needed boost in terms of favourable public opinion before the Assembly elections in 2017."

Lack of legislation "prevents" Bombay High Court to order relief to 13-day-old homeless infant in Mumbai

By Our Representative
The Bombay High Court has reportedly regretted that it cannot provide any relief to a 13-days-old girl child, resident of a slum at Yari Road, saying it is “helpless”. The apex body of many of India’s mass organizations, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), in a statement said, the court “cited its limitation in its jurisdiction to provide relief to the homeless.”

US thintank: Modi succeeded in just 6 of 30 big reforms in two years; 11 "failures" include one-stop clearance

By Our Representative Releasing a list of 30 “big reforms” that the Modi government was supposed to undertake when it took office in May 2014, in a status report card, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a bipartisan, nonprofit thinktank headquartered in Washington, D.C., has found that in just six of them it has succeeded in moving forward, while in 11 there has not been any progress, and in 13 there has been only a partial movement.

British Premier's bid to invoke Modi name to woo British Gujaratis fails; Labour's Khan is new London mayor

By Our Representative
British Conservative candidate for London mayor, Zac Goldsmith – who received British Premier David Cameron’s support for wooing Gujarati and Punjabi settlers in the city by invoking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name – has faced a crushing defeat from his Labour rival Sadiq Khan, who happens to be a Muslim settler from Pakistan.

Congress, Communists share platform with civil society to oppose Modi govt's effort to "dilute" Forest Right Act

By Our Representative
In an important move, the apex body of several tribal and forest dwellers’ organizations, Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), in alliance with Congress, Janata Dal (United) and Left parties, has strongly opposed the reported move by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to “allow” mining in the forest areas without taking the consent of the local villagers.

Increase court time, video record proceedings in order to address problem of judicial delays: Prashant Bhushan

By Our Representative
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), led by well-known human rights advocate Prashant Bhushan, has demanded that the Supreme Court and High Courts in the country should “follow the example set by the Allahabad and Madhya Pradesh High Courts, do away with vacations.”

Gujarat's 417 villages oppose urbanization, fearing loss of 40% of land under town planning law: Experts

By Our Representative
Gujarat may claim to have become one of the fastest urbanizing states in India allegedly with people's support, with the percentage of those living in urban areas increasing from 37 per cent in 2001 to 43 per cent 2011, but, according to an expert revelation, the number of villages resisting merger with urban development authorities (UDAs) has been on the rise, reaching 417 this year.

Modi govt "diluting" anti-corruption legislations in order to "protect" bureaucrats, politicians: NCPRI

By Our Representative
The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), India's apex body of RTI organizations, has accused the Modi government, in office for two years, of failing to make any progress on anti-corruption legislations, insisting, “Even the existing legislations and mechanisms are being undermined.”

Demand for moratorium on all hydro projects in Arunachal Pradesh following death of two anti-dam activists

By Our Representative
Coming down heavily on the May 2 police firing leading to the death of two anti-dam activists – Monk Nyima Wangdue and Tshering Tenpa – in Arunachal Pradesh, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has made this the occasion to demand a complete moratorium on all 250 hydro dams being planned in the North-Eastern border state.

Govt of India "ignores" Gujarat in best practices book on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme, launched by Modi

By Our Representative
The Government of India, at least its Ministry of Women and Child Development, does not seem to think that there is anything to celebrate about implementation of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme in Gujarat, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the historic battleground of Panipat in Haryana on January 22, 2015.

US religious freedom report names BJP chief Amit Shah, endorses rejection of Modi's visa during 2005-14

By Our Representative
The just-released 2016 annual report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), expressing serious concern over “negative trajectory” on religious freedom in India, has warned that it may, in future, seek to downgrade India’s status from Tier II countries to “country of particular concern”.