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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.”

Modi's Varanasi most toxic city of India, has zero good air days: Govt of India's top pollution watchdog

By Our Representative
India’s top environmental watchdog, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), has found Varanasi to be the most toxic city of the country. Notorious for water pollution because of the Ganga river, Varanasi is known to be the most polluted stretch in the country. However, how the CPCB has now found that of the 227 days for which it measured air quality, the holy city recorded zero good air days.
Quoted in a just-released report, titled “Varanasi Chokes! Particulate Matter Trends and Increasing Respiratory Ailments”, prepared by IndiaSpend, a data analysis site, the CPCB has found that the only other city which has zero good air days is also in Uttar Pradesh – Allahabad.
In order to provide a comparison, the CPCB provides data for other Uttar Pradesh cities. Thus, Agra has 17 per cent good air days (28 out of 165 days monitored); Kanpur 12 per cent (85 out of 730 days); Ghaziabad four per cent (five out of 127 days); and Lucknow three per cent (15 out of 566 days).
A city which sent Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Lok Sabha in the 2014 polls, the IndiaSpend report says, ever since, Varanasi has drawn “the maximum funds ever for the Ganga Action Plan … with a promise of 3 billion US dollars to clean up the river in a span of five years.”
The report further says, “One of the key sources of pollution in the river has been identified as the release of large amounts of sewage and a range of industrial effluents. Over 400 tanneries and industries are known to be operating close to the river and most of them release their effluents directly into Ganga.”
Yet, the report suggests, the high level of air pollution was ignored, even though it was identified in 2009, when the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a nationwide index to help identify critically polluted zones across the country.
“The Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) identified 43 critically polluted zones by taking into account the pollution levels in air, water and soil. Uttar Pradesh has six out of 43 polluted zones in the country – Singrauli, Ghaziabad, Noida, Kanpur, Agra and Varanasi”, the report notes.
Global pollution: Top 20 cities. WHO did not include Varanasi
IndiaSpend further recalls that in 2012, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi report on aerosols formation stated that “the entire Indo-Gangetic belt is prone to high levels of oxides of nitrogen and sulphur which in turn are responsible for increased levels of particulate matter in the air.”
Particulate matter, says the report, results in increased air pollution levels and is one of the key components responsible for asthma, chronic lung diseases and even heart diseases, with its impact being felt on the vulnerable sections of the population – children and the elderly.
It underlines, “The other important aspect with respect to air pollution that many tend to ignore is the role of coal fired power plants, worsening air quality. The Purvanchal region of the state has close to 11 coal-fired thermal power plants, producing close to 12,000MW of energy.”
It adds, “Studies done by a Delhi-based group, UrbanEmissions, has identified that the changing wind patterns in the Indo-Gangetic region especially during the winter time tend to carry the emissions from the power plants to several hundred kilometers depending on the speed of the wind, leading to an exponential spike in the regional pollution levels.” 
Interestingly, this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed of 20 most polluted cities in the world, 10 of them from India. Four of these ten are from UP – Allahabad, Kanpur, Firozabad and Lucknow. Varanasi is not on the WHO’s list; yet, CPCB has found the Prime Minister’s constituency has having India’s worst air quality.

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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.
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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".

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.”

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.