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Showing posts from July, 2016

Ahmedabad mega rally asks Dalits to apply for fire arms en mass, as political parties "failed" to protect them

By Our Representative
Holding their their first major mega rally in Ahmedabad on Sunday, Gujarat's Dalit rights groups kept at bay major political parties, including Congress, BJP, Aam Aadmi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. The show of strength, in which thousands from Ahmedabad, Saurashtra and North Gujarat thronged to participate, was held to protest against the brutal thrashing of Dalit youths on July 11 in Una, where they were attacked by cow vigilantes.

Huge anti-Narmada dam rally in Badwani, MP, against "illegal" submergence, Gujarat oustees participate

By Our Representative
A large number of Narmada dam oustees from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat thronged on the banks of river Narmada next to the Mahatma and Kasturba Gandhi Memorial in Badwani district of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday to protest against the alleged injustice meted out to them the name of rehabilitation.

Govt of India "declares": No land-based compensation to 38,000 Narmada dam oustees of Madhya Pradesh

By Our Representative
In a major admission, the Government of India has officially suggested that none of the 37,754 Madhya Pradesh families living in 192 villages, to be affected by the submergence because of the Narmada Dam in Gujarat, would be given land in lieu of land which they would lose.

Gujarat Dalit agitation leaders "regret" lack of support from non-Dalit communities, well-known secularists

By Rajiv Shah
While agitations may have rocked Gujarat's urban and semi-urban areas against cow vigilantes in Una violently thrashing four Dalits belonging to the Rohit (chamar) sub-caste after tying them with SUV on July 11, questions are beginning to be raised about their sustainability.

Gujarat govt "admits" 27 deaths due to deadly silicosis in Khambhat taluka, NHRC sends report, awaits reply

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government's official records, quoted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), have admitted that, in Khambhat taluka of Anand district alone, during the six years, from 2010 to 2015, as many as 27 workers suffering from the deadly silicosis or silico tuberculosis (TB) died because of their work in agate units.

Abandoned?: Displaced in Gujarat 2002 riots, 3,000 Muslim families face eviction from their former "protectors"

By Rajiv Shah
In an astounding revelation, 14 years after the horrendous communal flare-up in Gujarat, in which at least 1,000 people died and nearly one lakh got displaced, about 3,000 families still living in irregular rehabilitation colonies are facing hostility from several well-known Muslim NGOs which had initially helped them.

Bezwada Wilson, Magsaysay awardee, had said, "who wants award from this govt?", when chased for Padma

By Our Representative
Bezwada Wilson, national convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), who has won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2016 for “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity” was being “chased” by the Narendra Modi government for the Padma award, one of India's highest awards.

Modi govt "concession" to India's top babus: They need not declare assets of spouses, dependent children

By Our Representative
With the Bill amending the Section 44 and the related rule-making provision in Section 59 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 (LL Act) passed in the Lok Sabha without any debate, India's top babudom should feel happy: Their spouses and dependent children would be exempted from making any public declaration of their assets.

Startup India? Govt of India's top projects "handled, propagated" on social media by rabid pro-Modi trolls

By Our Representative
Has the Government of India put its key projects at the disposal of rabid, allegedly saffron social media trolls, known to use abusive language at the drop of a hat as and when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is criticized? It would seem so, if what happened over the last 24 hours on Twitter is any guide.

Gujarat govt's anti-pollution watchdog GPCB doesn't consider agate industry hazardous, has no data: NHRC

By Rajiv Shah
In a shocking revelation, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has found that the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), the state government’s powerful anti-pollution watchdog, does not consider agate industry hazardous . It regrets, “As such, GPCB is not having any data regarding omission of silica dust in agate work.”

Govt of India legitimising child labour, victimising one crore plus child workers into poverty: RTE Forum

By Our Representative
Right to Education (RTE) Forum, the apex body of a large number of RTE campaign organizations, has described July 26 as the “black day for million of Indian children” following the Lok Sabha nod to Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill.

When North Gujarat Gandhians told Dalits: Dead cattle beef eating lowered their status among "higher" castes

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst controversy surrounding flogging of four Dalits belonging to the Rohit (chamar) community for eating the beef a dead cow continues unabated, a top blogging site has published excerpts of a 1989 paper by a senior Vienna-based sociologist, who highlights how the despicable practice in Gujarat was related with the perception that cattle scavengers “remove the impurity attached to the carcass and transfer it to themselves.”

Gujarat BJP "sure", Dalit unrest wouldn't affect party's support base; Congress thinks otherwise

By Rajiv Shah
Dalits across Gujarat, especially in Saurashtra, may have agitated against the July 11 incident, when four youths belonging to the Rohit (chamar) sub-caste were violently beaten up with iron rods after being tied with SUV, first in village Mota Samadhiyala and then in Una town of south Saurashtra.

Civil society "disturbed" over Congress support to BJP on CAMPA Bill, approaches Rahul Gandhi

By Our Representative
Disturbed by the news on “compromise” of the Congress with the ruling BJP at the Centre on the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill, 2016, rights-based organisations working on the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 across the country have prepared a petition for Rahul Gandhi's Office to review the party's decision.

India's "below average" progress in sustainability of income equality, civil society, governance, environment

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile report prepared by the Boston Consulting Group, US, has suggested that India may have progressed well in the economic indicator (which consists of income, economic stability and employment), and investment (instructure, health and education), but its progress in sustainability (income equality, civil society, governance and environment) remains below world average.

Govt of India Model Act to “help” corporates, seek separation of cultivator from landowner, commodify land

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India, after failing amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013 through ordinances, appears all set to achieve its aim by asking states to adopt a Model Act, and make laws for land leasing which facilitate land privatization, even as benefiting corporates.

Top UK NGO Oxfam bats for Hindu personal law and common civil code, criticizes Muslim, Christian, tribal laws

By Our Representative
Providing a strong view in favour of having a common civil code, top UK-based NGO, Oxfam's India branch has praised through a policy brief the Hindu personal law in its present form, saying it “allows women the right to own land and independently manage its affairs.”

Govt of India "undermining" Forest Rights Act through CAMPA Bill, "handing over" gram sabha rights to babus

By Our Representative
The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), which claims to have played a vital role in the enactment of historic Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 in the country, has urged major opposition political parties in Rajya Sabha to halt passing of Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill, 2016 in the Rajya Sabha.

India's GDP loss to be 4.3% due to climate change by 2030, as days become hotter, labour productivity to go down

By Our Representative
A recent study has said that India may face a loss of gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of climate change to the tune of 4.3 per cent by the year 2030. This loss, it believes, would be essentially the result from the climate change making the “hottest days hotter”, affecting overall productivity.

Gujarat's 1,000 tribal Narmada dam oustees face eviction from rehab sites: Protest relay fast at Kevadia Colony

By Our Representative
With strong indications that nearly 1,000 Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP)-affected are being re-evicted by the Gujarat government, nearly 100 women and men have been on a 24-hour relay fast in front of the office of the Resettlement Office of Kevadia Colony, set up for building the Narmada dam.

Hinduism has "well-establshed, traditional system" of disposing of dead cows, says VHP, invites Dalit ire

By Our Representative
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Sangh Parivar “cultural” arm, may have triggered a major controversy by declaring that the “Hindu religion has a well-established system of disposing of cows and other animals who die a natural death”, and this has been a part of the Hindu "tradition.”

Cops "tipped" Gujarat's cow protecting Shiv Sainiks, who tied Una Dalits to SUV, assaulted them with iron rods

By Our Representative
Amidst Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel ordering CBI probe into the assault on four Dalit youths with iron rods after tying them with SUV in order to punish them for seeking to skin a dead cow in a village near Una town of Saurashtra region, it has come to light that it was the local cops who had “tipped” the attackers.

Ranking 141, worst in BRICS, India warned: Environmental performance index not linked with GDP growth

By Our Representative
A Yale University, US, report has ranked India 141st among 180 countries worldwide in Environmental Performance Index (EPI), worse than all the “competing” BRICS countries. The report ranks Brazil 46th, Russia 32nd, China 109th, and South Africa 81st.

Centre has done the right thing to initiate a probe into the funding of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
Some ten years ago, while I had started to hear Zakir Naik, my first impression was that he is an Islamic researcher, having command over his other religions’ scriptures, with an amazing memory bank backed by skilled oratory. However, when time progressed and he started disparaging and belittling other religions and their gods and goddesses, I could gauge through his nefarious design of spreading the Wahabi-Salafi brand of exclusivist and dogmatic Islam under which extremism and bigotry are allowed.
The way, Zakir is propagating his petro dollar funded religion with Islamic supremacy and belittling other religions, this is not Islam at all as in Islam, the biggest sin is hurting the other person’s feelings. Naik’s trend is similar to that of the ISIS.
Now that Naik is in the quagmire of an international controversy and banned in the UK, Canada, Indonesia and Malaysia, I could connect to the fact that this quandary was not very far. Though it took almost ten years in…

Tremors in Surat, Bhavnagar: Quake measurement centre hasn't functioned properly around Narmada dam

By Our Representative
Tremors of the magnitude of 4.7 on the Richter scale in Gujarat, from Surat to Bhavnagar, has once again initiated the debate on whether the Narmada dam is safe. While official sources immediately spread that the dam is strongly built to face tremors, critics have said, the presence of a large dam does not ensure the safety of the surrounding areas and the people residing there.

South Gujarat tribal social worker stuns Left-supported land rights meet, seeks revival of Gandhi's swarajya concept

By Our Representative
The three-day national convention on land rights ended in Ahmedabad with nearly 500 activists, gathered from 15 states, “pledging” to expose illusions around Gujarat “model of development” amidst a top Gandhian tribal social worker from South Gujarat objecting the use of term “Modi's Gujarat” at the meet.

Top Left leader says Modi successful in "hoodwinking" people: Land rights meet seeks to minimise PM influence

By Our Representative
A senior CPI-M leader, in Ahmedabad to attend the three-day national convention on land rights, has admitted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been “successful” in hoodwinking Indian people, adding, “A propaganda master, people still remain under his strong influence.”

Tamil Nadu environmentalist "kept in solitary prison, tortured", Jayalalitha told to ensure his early release

By Our Representative
There is flutter among environmentalists across India over the recent arrest of Piyush Sethia of Salem Citizen's Forum (SCF). While Leo F Saldanha of  Environment Support Group and Sanjeev Kumar of Delhi Forum have written to chief minister J Jayalalithaa to his immediate release, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has called the arrest arbitrary.

Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh "consent" closure of Narmada dam gates: What good would it do?, asks Patkar

By Our Representative
Amidst “fear” in the upstream of the Narmada dam about massive submergence once its 30 gates, already installed, are closed, a top knowledgeable source close to the development has revealed that two states – Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – have "given consent for closing down the gates." Only Maharashtra hasn't have yet given its nod.

Ahmedabad convention on land rights begins amidst warning: "Enemy" is very strong, there's need for unity

By Our Representative
A three-day national convention on land rights began on Saturday at Ahmedabad's Gujarat Vidyapeeth, a university founded by Mahatma Gandhi, with its top speakers, politicians and activists, raising pitch in favour of “uniting” forces of different ideological persuasions in order to take the battle against “indiscriminate” land acquisition to Indian states and corporate "loot".

National meet in Ahmedabad to discuss corporate "loot": Gandhians, Marxists, environmentalists to participate

By Our Representative
A three-day national convention in “defence” of democracy, and to protect land, water, forest and livelihood” from alleged corporate “loot” will held on July 16-18 at Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Ahmedabad, a university founded by Mahatma Gandhi, amidst aborted Maharashtra home department "efforts" to identify well-known civil society bodies organizing it as Naxalite.

India's improved real estate transparency? Top Chicago firm's ranking based on land law Modi wants to scuttle

By Our Representative
A top Chicago-based real top consultancy firm has praised the Narendra Modi government for improving India’s Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI) ranking to the 36th position this year from the 40th in 2014 on the basis of the “proactive measures” to increase transparency in the real estate sector through an Act, which it wants to scuttle.

Uniform civil code: Shariat was made 1400 years ago. Must society remain stagnant for 1400 years?

By Markandey Katju*
I am a strong supporter of a uniform civil code. All modern countries have a common law for all citizens, and India must modernize if it is to progress.
It is stupid to say that if sharia is abolished Islam will be abolished. It is also stupid to say that Sharia was made by God. Sharia grew out of the feudal, backward social customs in Saudi Arabia in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is totally outdated today.
The old ( non statutory ) Hindu Law was abolished in 1955 and 1956 by Parliamentary statutes, e.g. the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, etc despite the strong protest of orthodox Hindu swamis and saints ( e.g. Karpatriji, Prabhudatt Brahmachari, etc ) who said that this will abolish the Hindu religion as Hindu Law emanated from the Vedas. However, that never happened. Hindus are still going to temples, doing puja, and observing their rituals, etc.
So abolishing the oudated, feudal sharia will certainly not abolish Islam. Has abolition of the…

When Modi held a “midnight meeting” and told his top officials to lay off when rioting began…

By Manu Joseph* This is the origin of the perception that on the night of February 27, 2002, Narendra Modi held a “midnight meeting” during which he told his top officials to lay off when rioting began…
In May, 2002, a few weeks after the burning of the train in Godhra, I was in the office of a human rights activist. There, by chance, I got to know that Haren Pandya, a minister in Modi’s cabinet, had deposed before a people’s tribunal, which included retired judges.
The minister had said that about twelve hours after the burning of the train, Modi held a meeting in his house. Some of the most senior bureaucrats and cops in the state were present at the meeting. Modi asked them, according to Pandya, to let Hindus vent their anger.
I went to meet Pandya and told him that I have stumbled on this sketchy story, did he have anything to say. He did not want the news of his deposition to be made public, so we had an arrangement. He would give me all the details of his deposition, more than what …

Top historian tells CPI-M: Ally with Congress, other "democratic, secular" parties to defeat "semi-fascist" BJP

By Our Representative
One of India's foremost historians, Prof Irfan Habib, has insisted India's most important left party, CPI-M, should work for forging an alliance with the Congress. In a letter to CPI-M's top body, politburo, Habib charges the CPI-M leadership of being soft to the "semi-fascist" BJP.

Coalmines expansion in India's tribal belt forced on people without human rights impact assessment: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
A new study by well-known international NGO, Amnesty International, basing on on-the-spot interviews around three coal mines of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, has said that despite a “raft of laws” requiring Indian authorities to consult or seek consent from adivasis, the “requirements are regularly flouted.”

Flopped model? 8 states officially "beat" Gujarat's decelerating growth rate; five states in per capita income

By Our Representative
Gujarat’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for the year 2014-15 has been “officially” released – it has been calculated to be 7.70 per cent at constant prices, taking 2011-12 as the base year. The figures, released by the Government of India’s Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), show, it is the lowest growth over the last three years.

Why Congress failed: BJP, Modi have mastered communication skill on social media like none others

By Pratik Sinha*
Perceptions matter a lot. Before 2014 elections, a question was constantly asked on social media by many people as to what Congress did for 60 years, a question originally floated by BJP. Though the question itself is ridiculous, but since it went unanswered for the most part, it became part of the psyche of many - Congress did nothing for 60 years.
Social Media has been around for well over 10 years. Congress President Sonia Gandhi doesn't have any social media accounts while Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi made one only in 2014. Most senior Congress leaders, with the exception of Shashi Tharoor, joined social media just a few months before the elections.
Even the main Twitter account of India's 'oldest political party' had far less number of followers than the Aam Aadmi Party Twitter account which had been in politics only for 3 years at that point of time.
Even if Congress wished to communicate, it did not have the means to reach the huge middle cl…

Modi told to learn from Vajpayee's handling of Kashmir crisis in 2003 by reaching Srinagar, offer talks to Pak

By Our Representative
Prominent human rights activists, academics and advocates are among 100-odd signatories to a statement telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi to see how his BJP predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee showed extraordinary “statesmanship” in 2003 when he went to Srinagar during a “particularly dark time” holding out a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan for a dialogue on Kashmir “within the paradigm of humanity.”

Four Dalits in Gujarat town beaten up with iron rods, dragged for a km with SUV for "possessing" cow beef

By Our Representative
In a second incident of gruesome atrocity against Dalits in Gujarat's Saurashtra region in a week's time, four Dalit youths were beaten up and dragged for almost a kilometre, allegedly because they “possessed” cow beef. The incident took place in Una town of Gir Somnath district.

Skill development? India badly slips in human capital ranking from 78th to 105th position in three years: WEF

By Our Representative
Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “emphasis” on skill development in an effort to infuse talent among the youth, the latest “Human Capital Report 2016”, prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF), one of the most prestigious non-government bodies promoting global industry participation, has found that India has slipped from the 78th position in 2013 to a poor 105th position.

Clamour to ban Zakir Naik’s Peace TV flows from the fact that he can’t be fought intellectually

By Adv Masood Peshiman*
Bangladesh politics is embroiled in the deadly tussle between the two ladies, the Prime Minister Hasina Wajid and Khalida Zia, the opposition leader. In the teeth of the brewing crisis the Prime Minister Hasina Wajid is pushing up the incessant agenda of stifling the opposition, including the Islamists which has given rise to the volatile atmosphere in the neighbouring country. In that volatile situation there are escalating attacks on bloggers, Hindus and non-Muslim minorities.

Drought in Gujarat? 30 lakh litres Narmada water being diverted to Coca Cola, 60 lakh litres to automobile units

By Our Representative
India's top anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has alleged that, despite continued deficit of rainfall this monsoon, the Gujarat government has been providing “huge quantities” of Narmada water, meant for irrigation, to some of the top industrial houses and the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) region.

Of 118, just one Indian project denied coastal clearance; where's the need to dilute environmental law?: Expert

By Our Representative
A right to information (RTI) plea has revealed that of the 118 projects which had sought environmental clearance from the the Committee for CRZ and Miscellaneous Projects of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and and Climate Change (MoEFCC), just four were challenged in the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Fake encounter in Odisha? Tribal, Dalit workers shot in an incident police have called "crossfire" with Maoists

By Our Representative
In an incident which human rights activists of Odisha have characterized as “fake encounter”, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Kandhamal district of Odisha have allegedly shot dead six persons, including a child. They were all poor Adivasi and Dalit labourers. Four others were seriously injured. The firing took place in Malapanga forest under Tumudibandha police limits.

Gujarat farmers of historic Bardoli up in arms against government decision to urbanize cash-rich agricultural area

By Our Representative
Historic Bardoli, where Sardar Patel launched the famous Bardoli Satyagraha in 1928 as part of the civil disobedience movement, turning him into a top leader of the independence movement, is in the throes of a major controversy. Here, the Gujarat government has decided to implement the town planning At on 149 sq km area to further “urbanize” the small township.

Gujarat activists' note favours Xaviers NGO ad seeking upper caste sweeper, says it's perfectly constitutional

By Our Representative
The recent attack on a well-known NGO functioning within Ahmedabad's St Xavier's College campus, Human Development Research Centre (HDRC), allegedly by saffron youths in “protest” against the advertisement for a sweeper's post to be chosen preferably from among among dominant castes, is all set to acquire a fresh spin.

UNICEF warns India, economic growth can't guarantee improved child survival, ranks it worse than B'desh, Nepal

By Our Representative
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that despite India’s “fast lane for global economic growth” it has been in “the slower lane for child mortality reduction”, insisting, countries like India and Nigeria should learn that the crucial “policy lesson: economic growth can help but does not guarantee improved child survival, and a country’s income need not hinder progress.”

India behind BRICS countries in internet readiness, slipping to No 91. Reason: Poor infrastructure, skills

By Our Representative
A new report by World Economic Forum (WEF) has said that despite “improvements” in India’s political and regulatory environment as also business and innovation environment, India has slipped down two positions to 91st rank in Network Readiness Index (NRI) – a term used for identifying information and communication technology (ICT) penetration.

Modi "trumps" economic reforms in faour of political exigency: "The Economist" on Cabinet expansion

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded commentary, the influential British weekly, “The Economist” (June 9) has said that the latest Cabinet expansion by the Prime Minister is likely to affect his reforms agenda. The heading of the commentary, published under the Indian politics section, is significant: “Modi-fication: A swelling cabinet suggests that politics trumps reform”.