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Showing posts from September, 2016

Gujarat "fails" to implement manual scavenging law, pay Rs 10 lakh to compensate 170 manhole deaths

By Our Representative
A new Dalit civil rights network, formed in Gujarat, has taken strong exception to the “failure” of the state government to implement the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers Act, 2013. Called Gujarat Safai Kamdar Adhikar Andolan (GSKAA), it has said that even the “basic rules” to implement the Act, which came into force on December 6, 2013, have not been made.

Aftermath of Uri: Those familiar with Modi's response reflexes anticipate his heightened poster patriotism

By RK Misra*
Narendra Modi’s utterances were honey to hungry Indian ears as he tore into the UPA government to secure a resounding mandate to rule the country. Two years at the helm and the very same words are boomeranging with a scarring tenacity. Moreso after the Uri unfrocking.

Top "telecom cartels" Airtel, Vodafone, Idea blamed for "monopolistic" practice amid continued rush for Reliance Jio

By Our Representative
Amidst escalating corporate war over mobile operation, the powerful Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has blamed India's three topmost telecom companies, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, for undermining healthy competition and promoting monopolistic practices by “denying” people the right to choose between existing cellular services.

Critical of BRICS nations' authoritarian tendencies, India's civil rights groups soft on China at Delhi panel discussion

By Our Representative
A panel discussion in New Delhi by a network of people’s movements, trade unions and NGOs under the banner of Peoples' Forum on BRICS (acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), appeared to have gone soft on China, even as opposing “authoritarian” tendencies in three other countries – Brazil, Russia and India.

Gujarat govt "war" on Dalit activists? Minister seeks inquiry against Dalit NGO, cops file FIR to placate Mevani

By Our Representative
Gujarat's top Dalit rights organization, Navsarjan Trust, has taken strong exception to a senior Gujarat minister, Atmaram Parmar, in charge of social and justice empowerment department, seeking to “inquire into” the use of funds under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) norms, wondering whether the matter comes under him.

India ranks 4th in RTI rating, far above most western countries; Pak a poor 84th: Global Access to Info rating

By Our Representative
India ranks No 4 in a new rating of Right to Information (RTI), says a comparative assessment of national legal frameworks for RTI, “developed and applied” by Canada-based Centre for Law and Democracy and the Access Info Europe. The rating has been worked out to mark the International Right to Know Day, celebrated on September 28 across the globe.

Alleging Dalit atrocity, top advocate Prashan Bhushan seeks Supreme Court CJ intervention against Andhra judge

By Our Representative
Senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, convenor, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), has created a flutter in India's top judicial echelons by charging an Andhra Pradesh High Court judge of allegedly committing atrocities against members of the Dalit community.

Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, others detained in Ahmedabad as they lead road block agitation on busy street

By Our Representative
Well-known Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, his colleague Hiten Makwana, who leads the safai karmacharis' (sanitation workers') 36-day-old strike in Ahmedabad, along with several of their supporters were detained at the busy Income Tax Circle in Ahmedabad after they tried to resort to Rasta Roko (road block) agitation in favour of their demands.

UP's crime rate less than India's average? States' top cops said to be conniving to under-report crime registration

By Our Representative
Are IPC offences in Uttar Pradesh for 2015 just about 112.1 per 100,000 persons, less than half of national crime rate of 234.2 per 100,000? Top knowledgeable sources attached with the Union home ministry believe that this should not be the case, blaming it on the way data are collected by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Abrogating Indus Valley Treaty? It would invite major floods in Kashmir and Jammu region, claims top expert

By Our Representative
Amidst Government of India floating the view that it may abrogate the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan, the view is getting strong, especially among knowledgeable circles, that any move in that direction would not just hit India adversely internationally, but it will also have major environmental consequences in the entire Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

Hindutva agenda alleged to be behind Govt of India Bill seeking to provide citizenship to "illegal" migrants

By Our Representative
Is Government of India's Hindutva thrust behind its alleged refusal to provide asylum to 36,000 Rohingiyas, forced to flee Myanmar in the wake of the 2015 insurgency, and currently living in different parts of India – and the reason is, all of them are Muslims?

Kaziranga police firing deaths dubbed as Assam BJP govt's effort to create "paranoia" among state minorities

By Our Representative
A well-known advocacy group, Delhi Action Committee (DAC), has accused Assam’s BJP government of creating “paranoia" against the minority inhabitants of "erstwhile East Bengal origin”, pointing to the police action on September 19, which led to the death of two persons during protests, Anjuma Khatun and Fakhruddin.

Proposed legislation suspends all civil rights, gives police unbridled powers to arrest anyone ‘on suspicion’

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The Government of Gujarat continues to be on the offensive. Unable to deal with growing unrests and protests on several fronts, it has decided to unleash another draconian law called the Gujarat Protection of Internal Security Act (GPISA). Apparently, a draft is now ready and the Bill is expected to be tabled in the State Assembly at the next budget session.
The provisions of the forthcoming law are draconian on several counts; they negate the fundamental rights of citizens and go against the grain and spirit of the Constitution of India!
The proposals include that:
the Government can take action against caste groups, communities promoting ‘sectarian interests’all offences under the new law will be non-bailable.people can be arrested merely on suspicion of being a ‘threat to internal security.’ no legal proceedings against security agencies can be initiated for action taken ‘in ‘good faith.’ both public and private establishments can be put under electronic survei…

Accusing BRICS TNCs of being equally brutal, People's Forum to hold global meet ahead of BRICS Goa summit

By Our Representative
In a major effort to influence international opinion ahead of the eighth BRICS summit, to be held in Goa on October 15-16, well-known Indian and foreign civil rights organizations have come together for an international convention in the state on October 13-14, accusing BRICS of working for merely promoting its own transnational corporations (TNCs), exploiting the poor.

Malaria, hygiene "lower" India's world health ranking to 143rd position, worst among BRICS nations: Top study

Counterview Desk
A Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-sponsored study has ranked India 143rd among 188 countries across the globe in health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) index, below Comoros and Ghana. Published in the well-known international journal “Lancet”, the study says, the poor showing of India is there “despite rapid economic growth.”

Civil rights network in report to UN talks of "intensified militarization" in Kashmir, North-East, Central India

By Our Representative
A civil rights network, Working Group on Human Rights in India (WGHR), in a report submitted to the United Nations (UN) titled “Human Rights in India: An Overview”, has taken strong exception what it calls “intensified militarization” of not just Kashmir valley but also North-Eastern states and Central Indian states.

To 57% Indians fruits and vegetable are "unaffordable", same is true of other lower income countries: Lancet

Counterview Desk
Classified as a low income country (LIC) and bracketed with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, majority (57%) of India’s population, along with other LIC countries, finds vegetables “unaffordable”, says a top study released by world renowned health journal “Lancet”.

India's officials shadow journalist writing book on 2002 Gujarat riots? Scribe's claim in PEN International report

By Rajiv Shah
Revati Laul, an independent journalist who is writing a book about the 2002 Gujarat riots, has made it know how she is being meticulously shadowed for the last 18 months during her investigation into the massacre that took place 14 years ago through the eyes of three men who were part of a riotous mob. Laul is known to have been attacked by a 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre convict in January during her probe in Ahmedabad.

Gujarat officials complain: We don't have powers to "use" health budget given in 2005, it was taken away recently

By Our Representative
Gujarat government officials have complained that they do not have "enough freedom" to spend funds coming from the Government of India for upgrading the state's health services. Participating in an internal meeting with the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), they said, "We were given this freedom in 2005 (a year after UPA came to power). But it was taken away recently."

Ghana academics call Gandhiji "racist", want statue removed from university campus through online petition

By Our Representative
As many as 1,012 persons have signed a rather controversial petition floated in the small western African country, Ghana, asking the authorities of the University of Ghana to remove the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, erected on the campus, accusing Gandhi of being a racist.

Uri attack: Kashmir valley is Modi govt's albatross; unless US wants, Pak will keep upper hand, says Ex-envoy

By Our Representative
A former senior Indian diplomat has said that however much the ruling BJP may talk war following the worst-ever Uri terrorist attack, in which 18 jawans were killed, there is enough indication to suggest that Pakistan “will force India to the negotiating table.”

Prohibition in Gujarat? Ahmedabad consumes 1.5 to 2 lakh litres of moonshine per day, Surat 50,000 litres

By RK Misra*
If pride and prejudices are pesky, both hype and hypocrisy hurt.
Gujarat and it’s ‘model’ have been the toast of the Indian season ever since it’s Chief Minister , Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014.This includes it’s liquor prohibition policy which has adherents like Bihar now where Nitish Kumar came to power after knocking the wind out of Modi’s sails!

Modi's honeymoon? 52% BJP backers view Gandhis favourably, 40% don't think he is unifying force: Pew

By Our Representative
US' Pew Research Centre, claiming to be “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world”, in its latest survey has found that at the end of two years of his tenure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “continues to ride a wave of public good feeling about the way things are going in India.”

JIgnesh Mevani detained in Ahmedabad second time in a week as he led Dalit rasta roko protest for land rights

By Our Representative
Top Dalit rights activist Jignesh Mevani, convener of the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti, along with his activist-colleagues and residents of Saroda village of Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad district, was detained in Ahmedabad immediately after he led a pre-announced “rasta rook” (road block) agitation, near the busy Road Transport Office (RTO) Circle in the city.

Need of the hour is to leave the nitty-gritty of the country's foreign affairs to professionally trained diplomats

By Rajiv Sharma*
In the most deplorable attack that has shaken every Indian, Pakistan sponsored terrorists killed 17 soldiers of Indian Army and injured more than 30 in Uri in Kashmir today. Modi has made a routine statement that those behind the attack will not go unpunished. Others have also condemned strongly. But the question that demands immediate answer is that how Pakistan could dare to unleash such a big attack on our Army?
It is said when a country has a weak government, its security forces have to pay the price.
Modi government's umpteen flip flops in foreign policy issues are in public domain by now. While dealing with Pakistan, the government began with inviting Sharif to Modi's oath taking ceremony in May 2014. In just two months, this positive gesture was followed by a self-defeating decision to abruptly call off talks with Pakistan on Hurriyat issue. But then flip flops had to continue. The government suddenly relented after a few months and agreed to talk to Pakis…

India's economic freedom rank, at 112, better than China, Brazil: Fraser Institute report based on 2014 data

By Our Representative
Well-known Canada-based Fraser Institute's "Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) 2016 Annual Report" has ranked India No 112 among 159 countries and territories in its latest EFW ranking, better than two major peer countries, China (No 113) and Brazil (No 124).

Aadhaar not compulsory: Union human resources ministry "clarifies" after civil rights NGO writes to apex court

By Our Representative
Responding to letters of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) to the Chief Justice of India, Union Minister of Human Resource Development and Secretary, University Grants Commission (UGC), and contempt applications in the Supreme Court, the Universities Grants Commission (UGC) has “clarified” students who have applied or wishing to apply for scholarship/fellowship “shall not be denied benefit thereof due to non-availability of Aadhaar No./Card.”

Dadri Part-2? Gujarat cops "force" relatives to accept body of Ayyub, attacked by cow vigilantes in Ahmedabad

By Our Representative
Is Ahmedabad all set to turn into Dadri Part2? It would seem so, if the latest incident of the Gujarat cops seeking to forcibly hand over the body of Mohd Ayyub, who was allegedly attacked by cow vigilantes on September 13 and succumbed to his injuries on September 16, is any indication.

Top Dalit rights leader Jignesh Mevani "picked up" from Ahmedabad airport ahead of Modi's birthday bash

By Our Representative
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Gandhinagar on Friday, the Gujarat capital, for “celebrating” his birthday, which falls on September 17, top Gujarat Dalit rights leader Jignesh Mevani, who spearheaded protests following the gruesome Una flogging incident of July 11, was "picked up" by the Gujarat police.

Damocles' sword on Gujarat Dalits? "False" FIR charging 16 of murder of cop wouldn't be taken back: Minister

By Our Representative
In a development that is likely to be further exacerbate tension between protesting Dalits and the Gujarat government, a top state minister has declared that the state will not take back the crucial first information report (FIR) against 16 Dalits, books by the Amreli police under Section 302 (murder) of a cop on duty during a July 19 rally.

Used in Kashmir, pellet guns' specifications, prices are "sensitive defence info", can't be disclosed: Govt of India

By Our Representative
Apparently fearing international fallout, the Government of India has rejected a right to information (RTI) plea seeking specifications, characteristics, pricing and sales data about anti-riot weapons and copies of reports that indicate the efficacy of such weapons and their impact on human beings if targeted.

President told: Urgently stop "intrusion" of non-tribals into tribal areas, negatively impacting scheduled areas

By Ashok Shrimali*
In an unusual move, the apex body of several tribal organizations, Adivasi Coordination Front (ACF), has demanded, in a memorandum to President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, that he, as the constitutional head of the scheduled areas, should take urgent steps to stop what a sharp deceleration “in the numbers of scheduled tribes in the scheduled areas of India.”

RSS internal assessment on UP alerts BJP leadership about rough road ahead, Amit Shah has miles to go

By David Livingstone* If with 14 ministers from Uttar Pradesh (UP) in Narendra Modi’s Council of Ministers, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) president Amit Shah thinks that the victory for his party in the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state is just a few yards away, he is bound to realise by the end of this month that he has miles to go before his dream fulfills.
An internal assessment of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s ongoing Kisan Yatra done by Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) has alerted BJP leadership about the rough road they are going to face in coming months.
BJP in UP is struggling with a serious leadership crisis. State party leader Keshav Prasad Maurya is neither a caste leader nor a mass leader. He is an unknown face even for the BJP cadre. In the past few months of his tenure, Maurya has not displayed any grip over the party or state related issues. Home Minister Rajnath Singh is the probable face for chief ministership from BJP, but he has been showing reluctance b…

Ahmedabad ranks 43rd of 53 districts surveyed in Govt of India's cleanliness report, worse than most of Gujarat

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report has ranked Ahmedabad 43rd in its cleanliness survey of 53 districts it has selected for the purpose. Worse, Ahmedabad, which is desperately seeking world heritage tag from UNESCO, ranks poorer than all but one of the 13 districts chosen from Gujarat out of 53.

152 manhole workers' death: Gujarat govt "fails" to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation, required under 2013 law

By Our Representative
In a glaring instance of indifference, the Gujarat government has failed to execute the crucial provision of a 2013 law which requires payment of Rs 10 lakh compensation for the death of 152 manhole workers in a decade due to asphyxiation in the state.

India ranks poorly in disaster preparedness, hence is more vulnerable to natural calamities than BRICS nations

By Our Representative
Bonn-based prestigious United National (UN) University’s new “World Risk Report 2016” United Nations University has suggested that while India may not be as exposed to natural disasters compared to most of the 171 countries it has analyzed, it ranks poorly in preparedness of societies cope with acute disasters and in taking preventive measures to face natural hazards.

Police detain 170 Ahmedabad sanitation workers for participating in cultural programme in posh city area

By Pankti Jog*
About 170 sanitation workers (safai sarmachari) of the huge New West Zone of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), on strike for nearly three weeks, demanding fair wages and permanent status, were detained on Sunday for participating in a cultural programme organized by the Gujarat Jan Andolan (GJA).

Against Modi claim of lighting up 10,000 villages, hundreds of Narmada oustee sites have power only on paper

Counterview Desk
Fresh facts, released by the powerful anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) suggest, far from Government of India claim that more than 10,000 villages out of 18,000 targeted have been “electrified” ahead of schedule, corruption is rampant at the grassroots level, leading to failure to provide power to the rural areas.

Air pollution gobbles up India's 7.9% GDP, leads to huge losses in welfare, income to people: World Bank

Counterview Desk
A top World Bank study has said that India suffered a gross domestic product (GDP) loss of US$ 505,103 or 7.69 percent of the GDP in 2013 as a result of pollution levels, up from US$ 104,906 or 6.80 percent of GDP in 1990. Calling it “welfare loss”, number of deaths during the period have due to air pollution has also gone up – from 1,043,182 in 1990 to 1,403,136 in 2013.

Worried PM "urgently summons" ex-Gujarat CM Anandiben following BJP's flop show at Surat Patidar meet

By Darshan Desai
The shocker that the Gujarat BJP received in presence of party president Amit Shah in Surat on Thursday night, when its first attempt to grapple with the agitating Patidars came a cropper, has led to a worried Prime Minister Narendra Modi urgently summon ousted Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel to Delhi.

The homing power pigeon! Faced with all round dissent, Gujarat BJP stuck with the only ace it has, Modi

By RK Misra*
Indian politics oscillates between extending poles and impending polls .The first entails constantly shifting markers for political expediency and the second triggers a flurry of activity designed to entice as elections near. Thus the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state on August 30, 2016 makes for interesting political interpretation.

India's anti-dam groups "rope in" Copenhagen collective to insist: Big dams are obsolete, anti-environment

By Our Representative
In a sharp bid to bring in international pressure, the National Alliance of Peoples' Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of grassroots organizations across India, has organized a high-profile seminar to “examine” whether big dams are obsolete. The well-known world body campaigning against big dams, Beyond Copenhagen Collective, will be sponsoring it.

Increasing socio-religious segregation, marginalization in Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Pune: Reliance thinktank study

Counterview Desk
Finding residential segregation by religion, particularly in the case of Muslims, a growing phenomenon in most large and medium cities, which are already saddled with a history of communalism, a new study has found that the earlier segmentation on the basis of class has now been replaced by religion.

India's municipal expenditures one of the poorest in the world, a major barrier to urbanization: UN-Habitat report

By Rajiv Shah
A new study by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), “World Cities Report 2016: Urbanization and Development – Emerging Futures” has regretted extremely low levels of “aggregate municipal expenditures in India”, which happen to be of the worst in the world.

Growth of Indian millionaire population down from 26% to 1.1%, reports top multinational consultants Capgemini

By Rajiv Shah
In a significant report, the latest "World Wealth Report" (WWR) 2016 has revealed that the rate of growth of the high net worth individuals (HNWIs) of India has grown by just 1.1 per cent, from 198,000 to 200,000, as against 26.3 per cent, as reported in the "Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2015".

Indian girls fail to attain decent work, gender justice despite better educational attainment, warns UNESCO report

By Our Representative
Observing a major discrepancy, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report has said that India may have seen rapid growth in education attainment among girls, but this is "not seen a commensurate increase in decent work or changes in gendered social norms."

"Setback" to Gujarat govt: Information commissioner orders release of report on death of 3 Thangarh Dalits

By Our Representative
In a major setback to the Gujarat government, the state information commission, official watchdog of the right to information (RTI) Act, has ordered immediate release of the one-person inquiry report on the September 22-23, 2012 Thangarh police firing of Saurashtra region.

Muslim women's collective calls triple talaq gender discriminatory, patriarchal, says issue whether it's Islamic

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded statement, Ahmedabad’s Parwaaz Sangathan’s Bebaak Collective – an autonomous organization which works for encouraging reading, learning and sharing processes among Muslim women over the last three years in Gujarat and other states – has said that triple talaq is “gender discriminatory and epitomizes patriarchal values, and therefore must be abolished.”

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

As Rajnath reaches Srinagar, scholars' group asks UN for "internationally mediated" Kashmir solution

By Our Representative
Amidst Union home minister Rajnath Singh along with a group of senior leaders belonging to opposition parties reaching Srinagar for “healing touch”, the Kashmir Scholars' Action Group (KSAG) has asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to work for “internationally mediated political solution” to the Kashmir problem.