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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.”

Bio-piracy: Govt of India lenient, doesn't support litigations, as it would affect foreign investment: Study

By Rajiv Shah
A just-published study has revealed the Government of India (GoI) has not been supporting litigations arising from violating National Biological Diversity (DB) Act, 2002, pointing towards how the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), the country’s watchdog for implementing the Act, has been at the “receiving end” for most of the litigations.
A statutory autonomous body, NBA functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, GoI, and was established in 2003 to comply by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which India signed in 1992.
Insisting that refusal to support legal cases can itself be “very resource draining”, the study, “Litigating India’s Biological Diversity Act: A Study of Legal Cases”, says, “Legal capacity to deal with cases is also quite limited in the bodies set up under the Act”, adding, the GoI “does not undertake the litigation work of the Authority.”
The result is that, according to the study, undertaken by researchers, Shalini Bhutani and Kanchi Kohli, the NBA has to rely on “external lawyers for that purpose.” Worse, it adds, “There are sometimes law internships/placement notes that are put up by law professors before the NBA for its members to consider.”
Suggesting that the situation is not very different with the 28 state-level authorities (state biodiversity boards or SBBs) set up by the NBA, the study says, they miserably lack “litigation expertise”, at a time when “big and powerful companies come with their strong team of equally influential lawyers.”
In fact, the study says, there is an “express prohibition under the Act against foreign nationals taking any bioresources without due permission of the NBA” in the absence of NBA approval, and any violation may attract “penalty of either a jail term extendable to five years or with fine that extends to Rs 10 lakh.”
Yet, the study regrets, “Though forest officials usually man the SBBs, it’s not very often that the BD Act is used by field-level forest officers to deal with smuggling of bioresources, such as exotic wild species.” It adds, this is because the Act has not been “properly known and understood” and is therefore “rarely invoked”.
The study says, the Act and its rules allow the NBA can take up “necessary measures including appointment of legal experts to oppose grant of intellectual property right in any country outside India on any biological resource and associated knowledge obtained from India in an illegal manner.”
Yet, it underlines, the NBA has neither ever invoked this provision of the Act, nor its requisite rule, noting that it “still a lack of a legal/monitoring cell to keep track of and contest IPRs given outside the country, based on biological resources (or associated traditional knowledge) derived from India.”
This is because, according to the study, in cases of ‘biopiracy’ involving a foreign national or a
company registered in India but with foreign shareholding, the GoI “does not want to appear unduly strict on this matter, as the apprehension is that it will be a disincentive to foreign investors.”
The study, funded Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), Anand, Gujarat, with research carried out in collaboration with Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, analyses 50 cases with respect to provisions of the BD Act or its rules/ guidelines between 2004 and 2016.

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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.”