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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.”

300 children die of Japanese encephalitis in Odisha's Malkangiri, govt "undermining" depth of disease: Top doctor

Dr Sylvia Karpagam
By Our Representative
Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a well-known Karnataka-based public health doctor who works with marginalised communities, has claimed, quoting local activists, that more than 300 adivasi children have died in Malkangiri, Odisha, in the past two months due to the deadly Japanese Encephalitis (JE), as against just 32 deaths claimed by the state government.
These deaths, says Dr Karpagam, only suggest state government failure to responded to the emergency, adding, instead of fighting the disease, the government hired experts in order to “minimize” the responsibility of the government.”
Dr Karpagam, in an unpublished article distributed by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), says, “Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent JE”, and the World health Organization (WHO) has recommended that JE vaccination be “integrated into national immunization schedules in all areas where JE disease is recognized as a public health issue.”
Contending that the state government has not done anything of this kind, Dr Karpagam says, “Of those who survive JE infection, 20%–30% suffer permanent intellectual, behavioral or neurological problems such as paralysis, recurrent seizures or the inability to speak.”
Noting that the expert committee set up by the state government makes “no mention of how they went about ruling out JE”, Dr Karpagam wonders if it carried out “IgM Elisa tests on all the children”, and if yes then “what are the findings?”
The public health doctor says, “Confirmatory laboratory testing is often conducted in dedicated sentinel sites, and efforts are undertaken to expand laboratory-based surveillance. Case-based surveillance is established in countries that effectively control JE through vaccination.”
Dr Karpagam also wonders why the expert committee is blaming JE on the consumption of seeds of Bana Chakundi plant. He asks, “This plant is being eaten throughout the year and probably by all families; why are the deaths happening now?”
Insisting that five urine samples out of 121 children who died is “hardly evidence”, Dr Karpagam says, the committee, under Dr Jacob John, is “twisting facts” and “misrepresenting”, adding, “Without having the baseline data, this expert committee cannot make an absolute statement that some cases were due to diet induced encephalopathy and not as a result of JE.”
Referring to the suggestion of the expert team that that “children and their parents have to be advised not to consume raw Chakundi beans”, Dr Karpagam says, “Where is his evidence? To expect a community to break a long tradition, without adequate evidence and basis, amounts to abuse of expert position.”
Dr Karpagam queries, “Why has this expert group not made any comment on the state of disarray and dysfunction of the anganwadis in the area? Have they made any attempts to find out if these children have been receiving adequate foods?”
Meanwhile, an NAPM statement on JE deaths says, “We are indeed shocked that the ‘Team of Experts’ sent by the Centre has tried to absolve the Government of all responsibility by attributing the deaths to consumption of some local seeds (Bana Chakundi) and not to JE and governmental delay, thereby blaming the adivasis themselves for the deaths!”

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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*
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.

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.”