Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2017

India's poor "left" in the lurch in Central government's new urban thrust, as experts allege middle class policy bias

By Our Representative
The recent Government of India decision to make its credit-linked subsidy scheme for urban housing more attractive for the middle income groups by offering them a higher carpet area than what hitherto was the case has come under sharp criticism of the country's top urban experts, who say, it would dilute the "core pro-poor character" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much publicised urban housing thrust.

Adanis "lose" defamation case against Wire, ex-EPW editor Thakurta, court asks portal to remove a sentence, an adverb

By Our Representative
In what is seen a victory for the top news portal "The Wire", which republished  an article by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and three other journalists from the "Economic and Political Weekly" (EPW), "Modi Government’s Rs 500-Crore Bonanza to the Adani Group", Principal Senior Civil Judge Jaiminkumar R Pandit, Bhuj, Kutch, deciding on the interim application, has "rejected" the defamation plea against the publishers and authors of the article, even as directing them to remove a sentence and a word from it.

Ananta Kumar Hegde should be sacked: People like him do not deserve to hold any constitutional office

By Battini Rao*
A minister in the Modi government has publicly attacked secularism and stated that his party is here to change the Constitution. At a public meeting of Brahman Yuva Parishad at the Koppal district of Karnataka on 25 December, Mr Ananta Kumar Hegde said that seculars ‘are like people without parentage, or who do not know their bloodline’. He also said that he is happy if people identify themselves with their caste and religion, but gets suspicious about seculars who refuse to do so.
Meanwhile, after public criticism the Minister has apologized in the parliament and said that for him ‘Constitution is supreme’. This apology however should not fool anyone. Doublespeak is an old BJP/RSS tactic. Minister’s comments should be understood in the local context of Karnataka politics and the broader ideological beliefs in India which have lately helped Hindutva fascists expand their appeal.
Karnataka has recently seen widespread public demonstrations and outrage against murders of tw…

India's "embarrassment": 12 journos killed in 2017, making it a most hazardous country for media persons

By Nava Thakuria*
As the year 2017 sets to bid adieu, India finds itself in an embarrassing situation with the annual statistics of 12 journalists either murdered or died in suspicious situations. The populous country, better known as the largest democracy in the globe, thus emerges as one of the hazardous place for media persons across the world after Mexico, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia etc.

Financial inclusion? Merely opening physical accounts in banks as flag posts of financial identity won’t help

By Moin Qazi*
For decades, balancing one’s checkbook has been the cornerstone of personal finance for conscientious adults in the developed world. I remember when I first opened an account of my own in my college days, I received a little booklet, the ubiquitous passbook, in which every deposit and withdrawal was acknowledged by the bank staff. I learned that keeping track of the bank balance was the personal hygiene of finance, like brushing your financial teeth. The implicit message, not just for me, but I think for society at large, was that the bank account was the locus of money management. All one’s main financial transactions would pass through the account, and the account would serve as a mirror of or financial health, showing not only income and expenses but also measuring solvency.
This philosophy has been the cornerstone of personal finance for adults in the developed world. And it is now the key focus of governments in developing countries. Financial institutions are now eng…

Delhi's 75% young Hindu women practice ghughat; it's 90% in urban Rajasthan and UP: Pennsylvania univ survey

By Rajiv Shah
While the Narendra Modi government may want to fight gender inequality by passing the triple talaq bill in the Lok Sahba, a recent study has revealed that Delhi’s 75% of young Hindu women in the group 18-25 practice ghunghat. Based on high profile Social Attitude Research, India (SARI) survey, the study also finds that, in this young age, whopping 98% women in rural Rajasthan, 90% in urban Rajasthan, and 91% in rural Uttar Pradesh, and 90% in urban Uttar Pradesh practice ghughat.

Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: America has failed to understand that new multipolar world is emerging

By Adv Masood Peshimam
The momentous decision of 128 nations to reject American President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ignore the American threat of revenge and intimidation explains the American role in global politics. America has failed to understand that new multipolar world is emerging. In the complex emerging multipolar world China is a growing economy developing more muscle. Russia which had declined in the reckoning with the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union is back in the count with the growth of more leverage. Iran is weighing its options to sustain its missile program. India and Pakistan have their own nuclear weapons.
North Korean has become an American headache articulating its nuclear teeth with an enormous belligerence and aggressive stance. The U.S. has a stake in making North Korean not to play the nuclear card. The U.S. would like more and more sanctions imposed on North Korea to deter it from developing the nuclear muscle. Wh…

Gujarat's Khambhat region is silicosis epidemic hit, pay an extra Rs 3 lakh to victims: NHRC to state govt

By Our Representative
In a major victory for the Vadodara-based advocacy group, People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has observed that the records presented to it regarding agate industry suggest the Gujarat government has "accepted that there has been epidemic menace of silicosis in the Khambhat region... and the adjoining regions."

Extend India's reservation policy to judiciary to "help" marginalized communities get justice: Indore lawyers' meet

By Our Representative
Taking a cue from President Ram Nath Kovind's recent "concern" over what he called “unacceptably low” representation of women, scheduled castes and tribes (SCs and STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the higher judiciary, even as insisting on need for long-term measures to remedy the situation, a legal rights organization at a recent consultation wanted that the judiciary, the third pillar of democracy, should "follow the principle of reservation".

Mining children are nobody's baby in Govt of India, ministry and laws are quiet on child rights, says representation

By Our Representative
Raising a major policy issue, a top advocacy group, Mines, Minerals and People (MM&P) has regretted that the plight of the "mining children" is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, which looks after all the mines in India, and the result is a strange "mess": the lives of children as a result of mining has to be addressed by other departments like child welfare, education, tribal welfare, labour, environment and others.

Most of 31,000 Uttarakhand dam affected families to get "peanuts" as compensation, says fresh calculation

By Our Representative
A fresh calculation following the recent Uttarakhand government’s announcement that it is “ready” to pay six times what is called the “circle rate” as compensation payable to the projected affected families (PAFs) of the proposed 5,040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMPP), has suggested that the distribution of the total amount – Rs Rs 6,520.1 crore – would be “highly skewed” and “unequal.”

India's "sidelined" FM Sushma Swaraj at loggerheads with pro-Modi twitterati, blocks a few in "kneejerk" reaction

By Our Representative
Is India's "sidelined" foreign minister Sushma Swaraj at loggerheads with right-wing pro-Narendra Modi trolls, who make no stone unturned in attacking anyone criticizing the Prime Minister on the popular micro blogging site Twitter? It would seem so, if what is being termed as her recent "kneejerk responses" to some of the pro-Modi twitterati is any indication.

How exactly EVMs were hacked in Gujarat to get BJP elected? EVM machine has firmware inside the hardware...

By Amaresh Misra*
In 'Security Analysis of India’s Electronic Voting Machines', authors Hari K Prasad, J Alex Halderman and Rop Gonggrijp state clearly that "the Election Commission of India developed the country’s EVMs in partnership with two government-owned companies, the Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL)...second-generation models were introduced in 2000...these machines moved the firmware into the CPU (Control Processing Unit) and upgraded...other components..."
Wikipedia defines Firmware as "a specific class of computer software...that provides both standardized operating environment for the device's more complex software (allowing more hardware-Independence), or, for less complex devices, act as the device's complete operating systems, performing all control, monitoring and data manipulations functions..."
Consider this: Firmware is a basic code written in C to do operations.
Is this code vulnerable to m…

BJP leaders "pooh-poohed" minority status to Hindus in J&K 20 yrs ago, NDA govt "cold shouldered" recommendation

By Our Representative
In a significant revelation, a former chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has said that a report, prepared under him, recommending to the NDA government under Atal Behari Vajpayee that Hindus be treated as minorities in non-Hindu majority states of India was “pooh-poohed” by BJP leaders and “cold shouldered” by the government.

Unfortunate that there is little public discussion on the significance of the historic Mahad satyagrah

By Subhash Gatade*
Can water catch fire? The question may surprise anyone in senses. Yet any person who keeps an open eye for social and political movements would know that when masses forge ahead, breaking millennia old chains of slavery, then not only sky can be pierced, but water too can catch fire.

Gujarat's cultural capital sees sharp rise in "destruction" of water bodies, nature: Environmentalists complain

By Our Representative
Gujarat's well-known environmentalists and experts led by Rohit Prajapati have taken strong exception to sudden sharp rise in demolitions, tree felling and clearing of vegetation, dumping of debris, and discharge of sewage, dredging, digging, filling, levelling, construction, etc. along the Vishwamitri river in the state's cultural capital, Vadodara.

3-day carnival begins in Delhi to celebrate Ghalib's 220th birth anniversary: Few "remember" great poet's legacy

By Our Representative
At a time when people appear to have forgotten Mirza Ghalib, to celebrate the 220th anniversary of the great poet, which would fall on December 27, a three-day programme was organized under the leadership of renowned Kathak dancer Uma Sharma and other eminent citizens, starting with candle light march on December 24 in Delhi.

Ahmedabad Court vacates injunction, says "The Wire" can publish stories on Amit Shah's son, but can't name Modi

By Our Representative
In a major setback to the son of BJP president Amit Shah, Jay, who had filed a Rs 100 crore defamation case against "The Wire" for an article on meteoric rise ("16,000 times") in his business activities following the party's ascension to power at the Centre in 2014, the civil court, Mirzapur, Ahmedabad, has vacated the "ex parte ad interim injunction" imposed on the news portal.

Not Patidar anger, but rural distress drove Saurashtra voters against BJP, as farmers "rejected" Hindutva rhetoric

By Our Representative
The Gujarat elections may be over, but the dilemma whether “angry” Patidar community – forming 12% of Gujarat – voted against the BJP remains strong.Young Patidar leader Hardik Patel, in a state of disbelief, says, this happened because the Electronic Voting Machines were tampered with, insisting, had it been a free and fair polls, the BJP’s tally couldn’t be more than 80-82, others do not seem to agree instead of 99 in a house of 182.

57,000 "to be evicted" for Jewar airport-aerotropis off Delhi, 20 villages to be uprooted: UK advocacy group

By Our Representative
The Government of India’s recent “in principle” clearance to the international airport at Jewar, off Delhi, 16 years after the idea was first floated, is one of the several aerotrpolis projects proposed across the world, which have been cited by a top campaign organization as points of concern for massive evictions, affecting environment and livelihood.

Most of India's small-scale farmers would happily sell their land if only they could be provided alternate employment

By Moin Qazi*
His speech if of mortgaged bedding,
On his kine he borrows yet.
At his heart is his daughter’s wedding.
In his eye foreknowledge of debt
He eats and hath indigestion
He toils and he may not stop
His life Is a long-drawn question
Between a crop and a crop
-- Rudyard Kipling, "The Masque of Plenty"

As the world transitions away from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015 to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, help for small farmers will become key to the stating aims of ending poverty and hunger and promoting sustainable development.
In India, small and marginal farmers -- those who work on less than two hectares (five acres) of land -- constitute 80% of all farm households, 50% of rural households and 36% of the total of all households. Sadly, the plight of these farmers is very distressing. Agricultural productivity levels have been stagnant for the past ten to fifteen years. An estimated 70% of the country’s arable land is prone to droug…

India's "push" for digitized economy may widen gender gap, warns UNICEF: Just 29% internet users are females

By Our Representative
Pointing towards a whopping digital gender divide, UNICEF in a new report, has said that if globally, 12 per cent more men than women used the internet in 2017, "in India, less than one third of internet users are female." Elsewhere, UNICEF warns, "Recently, India has made a public push towards a more digitalized economy, including reducing dependency on physical cash. If girls and women remain digitally illiterate, they risk becoming further marginalized in society and at home."

Who is Modi to “allow” eating habits in Meghalaya? Right to Freedom, Privacy are constitutional rights

Open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Tiplang Syiem, 23 year old civil services aspirant from Shillong:
Congratulations on your second visit to my beautiful state of Meghalaya. Hope you enjoyed your time and found it easier to breathe, unlike in Delhi.
I had a fascinating conversation with someone from Delhi post your visit to my state which has compelled me to write this letter. As a Civil Service aspirant, I’m currently living in Mukherjee Nagar. Two days ago, I came back home from my classes to find my flatmate enquiring about my state. According to him, Meghalaya was a poor, illiterate state with zero infrastructure. In his words, “You have been gifted a road by Modiji.”
His words were a shocking jolt to me as I realized your power and what kind of a narrative your speech can set. Instead of portraying Meghalaya in a good light, you chose to play petty politics. Modiji, I hope you take out some time and read this letter by a very hurt but proud citizen of this country.
Invite…

Gujarat govt "destroyed" 150 salt farms in Rann of Kutch, Narmada water release created agariyas vs farmers situation

By Pankti Jog*
The Gujarat government does not miss a single opportunity in praising itself for its ambitious Narmada project or the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Expenses behind this project have increased by many fold, yet, the fact is, in many parts of the state’s farmers are waiting to see Narmada water reaching their farms.

EC under cloud post-Guj polls: Suspicion around EVMs exacerbates as insiders say it can be "compromised"

By Our Representative
Amidst growing fear that the Election Commission (EC) of India has reached "the lowest point" in its history, especially after TN Seshan, as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) in the first half of 1990s tried to turn in into "an independent institution", the smell of suspicion around EC appears to have exacerbated both among general public and sections of intellectuals, not excluding top officials, following the Gujarat polls.

Christmas is the gifts of love and fellowship; of mercy and reconciliation; of sharing and caring; of justice and solidarity

By Fr Cedric Prakash, sj*
One of the most meaningful features of the Christmas Season is that of gift-giving! Across the globe, people love to give gifts at Christmas to others and of course to receive gifts too! Gifts come in a whole range: from the inexpensive yet lovingly hand-made card to perhaps a gold-crusted diamond purchased from an expensive jewelry store! Santa Claus (a caricature of the saintly Bishop Nicholas who went round caring for the poor and the hungry) comes laden with gifts; Christmas stockings bulge with gifts and one can find gifts below the family Christmas tree.
Children look forward to the Childrens Celebrations during the Christmas week when they will receive gifts- it does not matter if they are just trinkets; or some made-in China’ stuff; balloons or plastic toys!Giving gifts at Christmastime perhaps originated from the fact that when the shepherds ran in haste to worship Jesus they probably took with them the best of their flock to present to the new-born …

Ex-BJP minister Jaynarayan Vyas' defeat in Gujarat assembly elections is the "defeat of development"... and of Sidhpur

Reproduced below is Facebook post by Kamal Khokhani, managing director, Akar Sakarr, into the business of infomedia and publications, on the defeat of Jay Narayan Vyas, former senior BJP minister, who has shuttled from between a rebel and a Modi protégé. Vyas’s defeat by nearly 17,000 votes acquires significance, as he is no saffron background to his credit, and is known to be one of the best intellectuals in the BJP has, who can talk incisively on economic and developmental issues…
It is not YOUR defeat, it's the defeat of Sidhpur and the defeat of it's development...
Perhaps, voters of Sidhpur have not heard this phrase or, they have heard it but they don't want to take any cognizance of it...
This is the hard (and a bit bitter) statement, which came to my mind, the moment I heard about the defeat of Dr Jay Narayan Vyas from Sidhpur constituency , yesterday. It came out of sheer anguish... Let me explain, why I made this tough statement...
I went to Sidhpur for the first ti…

With mere 1.3% investment of GDP, India ranks "close to bottom of the pile" on most international health indices

By Moin Qazi*
India’s economy is soaring but its healthcare system remains an Achilles’ heel. For millions of people, the high cost of treating illness continues to undermine economic progress. This is largely on account of the abysmal and chaotic healthcare system owing to the declining budgetary healthcare support by the government. India now ranks close to the bottom of the pile in international rankings on most health indices.

Amidst hype and hyperbole around Gujarat polls, the real story never gets asked: What does it mean for the people?

By Revati Laul*
Not all elections are equal. But the difference between the Bihar assembly election and U.P. and on this day, between Gujarat and Himachal is this. Some elections are the nerve centre of our body politic. And sitting in the heart of that nerve centre in Gujarat, I ask myself; what is the job of a political reporter? If I look at the way in which people are increasingly disdainful of `the media’ and `exit polls,’ I would say the answer is this: it is a barren and hollow place to be if it meant sticking a mike in the face of a BJP or Congress party spokesperson to extract one homilie after another. “We’ve won although we’ve lost,” or “We may have lost ground but we’ve won.” Because in all the hype and hyperbole, the real story never gets asked. What does all of this mean for the people? That as I see it is the job of every political reporter to answer. Feet in mud, noses in vada pav stalls and the sweat and the blood of the people.
Here is what the report from the trenches…