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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.”

Ranking India poor 130th for Ease of Doing Business, World Bank wants urgent steps to drop labour regulations

By Our Representative
The World Bank has created flutter by ranking India 130th for ease of doing business in its latest flagship report, “Doing Business Comparing Business Regulation for Domestic Firms in 190 Economies 2017”. This is in sharp contrast to the Narendra Modi government’s announcement two years ago to “improve” India’s rankings among the top 50 by 2018.
An improvement of just one against the last 2016 report, which saw India jump by 12 ranks, the country’s performance is worst among all the BRICS countries. Brazil, scoring 56.53 on a scale of 100, is ranked 123rd; Russia, scoring 73.19, ranks 40th; India, scoring 55.27, ranks 130th; China, scoring 64.28, ranks 78th; and South Africa, scoring 65.20, ranks 74th.
The only consolation for India is, among the immediate neighbours, Pakistan ranks 144 Pakistan with a score of 51.77 and Bangladesh ranks 176 Bangladesh with a score of 40.84. Interestingly, the other two neighbours – Sri Lanka (score 58.79) and Nepal (score 58.88) – rank better than India, 110th and 107th, respectively.
While agreeing that The Indian government has committed to improving its doing business ranking by steadily implementing reforms across all indicators… on a platform of increasing job creation, mostly through encouraging investment in the manufacturing sector”, the report regrets, India’s labour regulations remain “associated with a number of economic distortions.”
Pointing out that “labour market issues in India are regulated by 45 central government laws and more than 100 state statutes”, the report says, “One of the most controversial laws, the Industrial Dispute Resolution Act (IDA) of 1947, requires factories with more than 100 employees to receive government approval to dismiss workers and close down.”
“Obtaining such approvals entails a lengthy and difficult process and illegal worker dismissals can result in significant fines and a prison sentence. Industrial establishments also have to observe many other laws that regulate every aspect of their operations from the frequency of wall painting to working hours and employee benefits”, the World Bank states.
Insisting that rigid employment regulations have had “lower output, employment and productivity in formal manufacturing than they would have had if their regulations were more flexible”, the World Bank report favours rise of the “informal sector”, in which labour is “contracted”, and there is more flexibility. It believes, the states which have adopted the contractual ways have seen “a larger increase in value added per worker compared to states with more rigid regulation.”
The World Bank believes, “Although Indian labor laws aim to increase employment security and worker welfare, they often have negative impacts by creating incentives to use less labour and encouraging informality and small firm size.” It adds, “Indeed, Indian firms are more capital-intensive relative to the economy’s factor endowments.”
“High labour costs in formal manufacturing have also contributed to India’s specialization in the production and export of capital-intensive and knowledge-intensive goods despite the country’s comparative advantage in low-skilled, labour-intensive manufacturing”, the reports underlines.
Appreciating Government of India announcement about “plans for major reforms to labour regulation”, the report says, “The planned legislative amendments include the consolidation of central labour laws, facilitating the retrenchment and closing down of factories by allowing firms employing less than 300 workers to dismiss them without seeking government approval, and increasing compensation to retrenched workers.”
Among major achievements in ease of doing business, the World Bank report notes how “India has achieved significant reductions in the time and cost to provide electricity connections to businesses”. In Delhi, for instance, the “time needed to connect to electricity was reduced from 138 days in 2013/14 to 45 days in 2015/16. And in the same period, the cost was reduced from 846% of income per capita to 187%.”
Then, the World Bank notes, “India has made paying taxes easier by introducing an electronic system”. In another important change, it adds, “the minimum capital requirement for company incorporation was abolished and the requirement to obtain a certificate to commence business operations was eliminated.”

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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.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

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".

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

By Nandini Oza*
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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.”