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Showing posts from January, 2017

"Nuclear poisoning" in Jharkhand village: Hair-raising account of evading responsibility for radiation pollution

By Our Representative
In a hair-raising account of nuclear poisoning, Ankush Vengurlekar, a freelance communications trainer to non-profits, on a 900-kilometre solo cycling expedition to the tribal regions of Jharkhand, finds what he calls "cancer of denial, apathy and evading responsibility of the radiation pollution" in the tribal village of Bango.

Incentivise Indian states which ban liquor: Civil society campaign Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan's budget demand

By Our Representative
The civil society-sponsored “campaign for prohibition and addiction free India”, Nashamukt Bharat Andolan, has asked the Government of India (GoI) to “incentivise” states for implementing prohibition and compensate any revenue loss, insisting, the demand is only a “natural extension of the fight against corporate loot of resources and labour.”

UK-based donor NGO Oxfam calculation flawed, finds more poor in US, Europe than China: Pro-market institutes

By Rajiv Shah
Some of the world’s top institutes favouring free market have got together to declare that well-known UK-based NGO Oxfam’s latest report “An Economy for the 99%”, which claims that eight richest men in the world, between them, have the same amount of wealth as the bottom 50% of the world’s population, is “misleading”.

Attack on top academic: Why Chhattisgarh govt isn't acting against unruly mob, cops, ask Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy

By Our Representative
A group of 35 well-known activists led by Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar and Magsaysay award winning right to information campaigner Aruna Roy have said that Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh’s assurance of safety following the recent attack (click HERE to read) on top academic Bela Bhatia has not followed with "any strong action".

Sharp rise in inequalities main reason behind shrinking democratic space in India: Well-known rural journo Sainath

By Our Representative
Speaking on “Shrinking Democratic Spaces and the Role of Civil Society”, doyen of rural journalism in India, P Sainath, has said that a major reason for dwindling democratic values is astonishing growth in inequalities in India. He was giving a public lecture at the Centre for Environmental Education (CEE), Ahmedabad, to mark the 30th anniversary of premier non-government organization (NGO), Janvikas.

50,000 Gujarat riot victims still displaced, lack housing rights, 20% women face triple talaq: Janvikas book

By Our Representative
A new book released on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Janvikas, one of the premier civil rights organizations of India, has estimated that around 50,000 Gujarat 2002 riot-affected Muslims should be qualified to be considered internally-displaced persons (IDPs) – a term coined by the United Nations to identify those ravaged by violent social conflicts.

BJP-backed J&K govt, Kashmiri Pandits fall apart: 100 acres land offer rejected as effort to hoodwink displaced Hindus

By Our Representative
A deep rift appears to have occurred between the BJP-backed Mehbooba Mufti government of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Kashmiri Pandits. Panun Kashmir, the top organization representing internally displaced Pandits, has described the J&K government decision to offer them 100 acres land only an effort to “rub salt on the Hindu wound.”

Digital India? Gujarat behind Odisha, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, "fails to create" online RTI portal

By Our Representative
Failure of the Gujarat government to create an online portal to file right to information (RTI) applications online of Government of India for the last four years has started becoming a major issue with the state’s top activists, who have started a sustained campaign for it, citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong support to online payment following demonetization.

Netaji Bose was no Hindutva sympathizer, favoured India as socialist republic: Noted historian Irfan Habib

By Our Representative
Veteran historian Prof S Irfan Habib has taken strong exception to what he calls efforts to drag into controversy one of India’s topmost nationalist icons – Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose – by those who have little to with him – or with his "politics during the freedom struggle.”

Gujarat Dalit rally in Surendranagar takes strong exception to calling human rights NGO Navsarjan anti-national

By Our Representative
Scores of poor people from several towns and villages gathered in Gujarat's Surendranagar town on Wednesday to protest against the cancellation of foreign funding license of Gujarat’s most well-spread-out Dalit rights NGO, Navsarjan Trust, taking strong exception to the reason for the Government of India order -- “undesirable activities of the association detrimental to national interest.”

Narmada dam oustees: Madhya Pradesh govt suffers setback, as High Court insists on land compensation

By Our Representative
In a major setback to the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government, which had been offering cash compensation against the land lost by the oustees of Gujarat’s Narmada dam, the High Court’s Indore bench has ruled that those who had received the first cash installment would be entitled to land compensation.

Election Day: Need to encourage young people to be part of political process

By Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
In the significant move, the Union Cabinet in 2011, under the stewardship of the then Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, decided to celebrate January 25th as ‘National Voters’ Day’, which is also the anniversary of the foundation of the Election Commission of India (ECI). The significance of the day is to encourage many more young voters to take part in the political process.

CEO of India’s top information firm earns 416 times the salary of a typical employee in his company: Oxfam

By Our Representative
A new report by top UK-based multinational NGO Oxfam on dangers of global inequality has estimated that over the next 20 years, 500 people world over will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people.

Starring Narendra Modi, in and as Gandhi: How a certain TV channel attempted to appropriate a great legacy

By Darshan Desai*
[Gandhi] spins every day for 1 hr. beginning usually at 4. All members of his ashram must spin. He and his followers encourage everyone to spin. Even M. B-W was encouraged to lay [aside] her camera to spin. . . . When I remarked that both photography and spinning were handicrafts, they told me seriously, “The greater of the 2 is spinning.” Spinning is raised to the heights almost of a religion with Gandhi and his followers. The spinning wheel is sort of an Ikon to them. Spinning is a cure all, and is spoken of in terms of the highest poetry...
These are the type-written notes that accompanied legendary photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White’s eternal picture of Mahatma Gandhi on his spinning wheel (mimicked now by Narendra Modi) that she sent to the LIFE magazine in 1946. Her few words speak of the depth of a journalist who could capture the soul of the Mahatma and his ideology in just one shot.
Cut to 2017. Two poor journalists on a self-fashioned Times Now debate were…

Netaji Bose "allied" with fascist powers on advise from Hindu Mahasabha founder Savarkar: Right-wing journal

Counterview Desk
In an unusual exposure that is likely to create ripples among the Left supporters of Subhas Chandra Bose, a top right-wing journal has declared that Netaji considered Hinduism “as an essential part of Indianness”, insisting he was “thoroughly influenced by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the founder-president of Hindu Mahasabha.”

Top academic Bela Bhatia threated in Chhattisgarh: She helped NHRC probe into cops' "atrocities" on tribal women

By Our Representative
Well-known academic and social activist Bela Bhatia, who has been working for several years in the Maoist-infested area of Bastar in Chhattisagarh, has been threatened to leave her house, where she currently lives – Papra village outside Jagdalpur town – or face “severe” consequences.

Gujarat village panchayat polls rigged? State poll commission officials refuse RTI info on duplicate voters' list

By Pankti Jog*
Mehulbhai Rathod of Aniyali (Kasbati) of Botad district was one of the candidates for the village panchayat elections, held in Gujarat in December last week. He claims to have observed that some residents of his village had voted twice -- in Anilyali as well as in the neighbouring Ranpur. He meticulously worked to prepare a list of 14 such names, who allegedly voted at two different places.

Tamil Nadu's anti-nuclear stir all set to spread to Andhra Pradesh, civil society plans agitations in February-March

By Our Representative
Anti-nuclear protests against the proposed Kovvada nuclear plant in Andhra Pradesh are all set to acquire a new momentum in South India following the decision of the local people to join hand with national-level activists of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movement (NAAM), Human Rights Forum and Sanjeevini Paryavarana Seva Sangham.

India ranks worse than neighbours, including Pakistan, in inclusive development index: World Economic Forum

By Our Representative
The World Economic Forum, in its recently-released “The Inclusive Growth and Development Report 2017”, has ranked India No 60th in inclusive development index (IDI) out of 79 countries it has categorized as “developing economies”.

Newspaper industry "using" Modi govt's vulnerability following noteban: Journalists' leader on Majithia award

By Our Representative
Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a “vulnerable position” vis-a-vis the powerful newspaper industry following his demonetization “misadventure”? It would seem so, if one believes in what a top trade unionist representing journalists' cause for higher pay for print media has to say.

Los Angeles Times: Modi govt's crackdown on Gujarat Dalit rights NGO which fought caste politically motivated

By Our Representative
Following US’s powerful daily “The New York Times” objecting to the Modi government cancelling foreign funding license to Gujarat’s topmost Dalit rights organization (click HERE), Navsarjan Trust, another influential daily, “Los Angeles Times” (LAT), has termed the action a part of the wider government “crackdown against civil society” and “dissent.”

Wither Gunotsav?: Gujarat children's math level worse than most states, including UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha

By Rajiv Shah
Data provided by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016 not only suggest that girl child education remains a major hurdle in rural Gujarat (click HERE), widely regarded by Government of India as a “model” state for other states to follow. Gujarat is found to be behind a large number of states even in learning levels at the primary level.

Model Gujarat's 24% girls in age-group 15-16 don't attend school, higher than 17 states; national average 16%: ASER

By Rajiv Shah
The 11th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2016), released in Delhi, has revealed that Gujarat, a model state for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, remains one of the poorest performers in enrolling girls in rural schools, both at upper primary and secondary level.

Tribal land rights implementation poorest in Gujarat's backward Dahod district: Representation to chief minister

By Our Representative
A new compilation on providing cultivation rights to tribal farmers has revealed that in the backward Dahod district of Gujarat, out of a total of 20,150 claims submitted to the local forest rights committee, formed by the state government to verify and hand over land titles, just about 3,162 farmers -- just 15.68% as against the state average of 40% -- have been handed over cultivation rights over the last one decade.

India's consumption demand to fall by 4% in second half of 2016-17, 48% of workforce lost incomes: CMIE

By Our Representative
India's authoritative data collection and analysis firm, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), has predicted that the consumption demand will drop by a whopping 4% in the second half of 2016-17, thanks to the “shock” of a sudden withdrawal of 86% of liquidity on November 8, 2016.

India's GDP to grow only by 6% till 2021-22, as demonetisation impacts consumption, delays investment: CMIE

By Our Representative
In a prediction which has stunned India's top policy makers, the powerful consulting firm, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), has said that India’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth would slip to 6% in 2016-17, and would remain “about 6% per annum for the next five years.”

Gujarat govt rejects 60% of tribal land claims, disallows protest rally in Ahmedabad: Tribal rights activist

By Our Representative
A well-entrenched Gujarat tribal rights group, Ekalavya Sangathan, has said that the state government has so far recognized just 40.42% of the tribal claims for land out of a total of 1.83 lakh applications okayed by tribal village councils for regularizing forest land. The rest of the 59.68% “stand rejected”.

Federalize Indian foreign policy, Modi's Gujarat showed way, Centre ill-equipped: Reliance thinktank experts

By Rajiv Shah
Experts attached with Reliance Industries Ltd's (RIL's) thinktank have strongly advocated “federalization of foreign policy” for India, insisting, globalization has “eroded traditional boundaries”, and “the Central government by itself is not well-equipped to meet the challenges posed by new political, economic and social forces.”

Govt of India bullying Gujarat Dalit NGO Navsarjan into silence, return FCRA license: Panchmahal rights group

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to cancellation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license to well-known Gujarat-based Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust, Dalit activists from several districts in Gujarat have sent memorandums to President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee terming the step an effort to “bully the organization into silence, motivated by an anti-Dalit agenda.”

Urban India's air quality deteriorated by 13% in 2010-15; China improved by 17%, US by 15%, European Union by 20%

By Rajiv Shah
In one of the sharpest critiques of air pollution in the recent past, a fresh report has said that air quality levels in urban India between 2010 and 2015 deteriorated by 13% at a time when these improved by 17% in China. The pollution levels improved in the US by 15%, and 20% in European Union (EU), it reveals.

Weak govts, economic disaster and lack of people's vigilance give rise to fascist threat across the globe

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
There is clear indication that fascist forces, you may call them rightist forces, if you like, are growing world over. It is better to be forewarned than regret later.
One may recall that in Europe, which has given both liberal and fascist ideas, the ascendancy to power of fascist forces became possible due to three main reasons.
First, weak governments being in office; second, the economic disaster that followed the first world war; and third, lack of people’s vigilance who became unconcerned about who their rulers are or who comes to rule next; they wanted only respite from their daily agonies of survival.
In Italy, Benito Mussolini captured premiership by marching on Rome with his 30,000 black shirts in 1922. BY 1925, he had announced he would be leader for life, and no one challenged him or could challenge him.
Hitler followed suit in Germany. He had the additional advantage of having a well organised party – the NSDAP or the Nazi party, which using its muscle…

BJP samples Gandhi spectacles, "world class" Mahatma Mandir to say, Modi is best follower of Gandhi thought

By Our Representative
In an unusual defence of the Khadi Village and Industries Commission (KVIC) – better known as Khadi Gramodyog – “deleting” Mahatma Gandhi on the KVIC's 2017 calender, printing instead the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP has said that Modi alone has “followed” the Mahatma as no one else, “whether it is Gandhi's spectacles or thoughts.”

Posh Ahmedabad residents continue protest against Nirma "encoaching" play ground, AAP cadres join in

By Our Representative
Bodakdev, a posh locality of Ahmedabad, Gujarat's business capital, has been witnessing an unusual protest since December 26, 2016. Any passer-by can see a temporary stage and tents erected and various posters installed containing slogans and other information.

Modi held reception for social media trolls who use abusive language, they are there in PM's official residence: Shourie

By Our Representative
In a major confirmation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly backs social media trolls who use abusive words against anyone criticizing him, BJP's top dissident leader Arun Shourie has said, Modi had “a reception for them” after they abused him for being critical of Modi in a TV interview with Karan Thapar.

Blogger debunks Modi's counterfeit logic for noteban, as there's high sezure rate of Rs 400 crore fake currency

Counterview Desk
Blogger James Wilson, a consultant with the Government of Kerala, debunking the popular myth that Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) were 30-40% of the total currency in circulation, has said, quoting official sources, that, in value terms, they did not form more than 0.0018% of the total currency in circulation in 2015-16, with a declining trend over the last five years.

Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani "organizes" rail roko at Ahmedabad railway station to highlight land rights issue

By Our Representative
A day after he was stopped from protesting against the Vibrant Gujarat world business meet – which began in Gandhinagar's Mahatma Mandir on Tuesday – by detaining him for the whole day along with his supporters (click HERE), Gujarat's top Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, with tens of his mainly rural Dalit supporters, reached Ahmedabad railway station to carry out “rail roko” (stop train) agitation.

Six Andhra villages "submerged" as Naidu dedicates Gandikota project to nation; NAPM seeks compensation

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), representing tens of mass organizations across India, has asked the National Human Rights Commission chairman to immediately intervene and inquire into “illegal” release of water from Gandikota reservoir, submerging six villages in of YSR Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh.

Modi's demonetization implementor Shantikanta Das is Chidambaram man, not fit as SEBI chairman: Swamy

By Our Representative
Hardline BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy has directed his guns against Union economic affairs secretary Shantikanta Das, who has been one of the chief implementors of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's November 8 demonetization move, calling him a "Chidambaram confidante", and asking Modi not to make Das new Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman.

Anti-Vibrant Gujarat protest fizzles out with arrest of Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, farmer activist Sagar Rabari

By Our Representative
Anti-Narendra Modi protest against the Vibrant Gujarat world business summit, planned by top Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani with last-hour help of Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Samaj Gujarat, a non-political farmers' organizations, fizzled out on Tuesday, with the detention of the two leaders. A dozen of their supporters were also detained at Adalaj, the spot "fixed" for starting the protest.  

Sahara-Birla payoff documents clear evidence of bribery to politicians, babus: Ex-Delhi HC judge to CDBT

By Our Representative
Former Delhi High Court judge, Justice AP Shah, has in a letter to the chairperson, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), said that documents seized in the bribery and corruption in the by now well-known famous Sahara-Birla payoffs case are a “clear evidence" of systematic bribery of politicians, including several Chief Ministers and public servants by these business groups.

BJP refuses to part with details of Bengal unit's "receipted" funds deposited in bank two days before noteban

By Our Representative
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have declared recently that people have a right to know where BJP’s funds are coming from, with media reports indicating that the Government of India may be working on a legislation to make the source of funding of all political parties “more transparent.”

Modi's demonetization atrociously planned, executed, little evidence it fought corruption: New York Times

By Our Representative
In strongly-worded editorial  on demonetization, influential America daily, “The New York Times” (NYT), has said, there is “little evidence that the currency swap has succeeded in combating corruption or that it will forestall future bad behaviour once more cash becomes available.”

Madhya Pradesh tribal rights activists arrested for protesting against illegal sand mining in Narmada: NBA

By Our Representative
The Madhya Pradesh government has arrested two senior tribal rights activists, Rahul Yadav and Pavan Yadav, attached with the well-known anti-dam movement, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), as they reportedly tried to take objection to “illegalsand mining in Narmada riverbed in Badwani district.

Govt of India "callous" to ordinary litigants' problems: Rejection of 13 names as Allahabad HC judges

By Our Representative
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), led by top anti-corruption crusader, Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, has taken strong exception to the Government of India (GoI) rejecting 13 names recommended as judges for the Allahabad High Court by the Supreme Court collegiums.

Modi "acted" like Russian, Turkish illiberal strongmen: Foreign fund ban on Lawyers' Collective, Navsarjan Trust

By Our Representative
“The New York Times” (NYT) has compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s actions of seeking to ban  foreign funding of several civil society organizations with actions of world’s two “illiberal strongmen” – Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose governments “regularly use imprisonment, threats and nationalist language to repress NGOs.”

Affront on institutional independence of judiciary, callous disregard to problems of ordinary litigant

Statement by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms:
2016 marked a year of abrasive disagreement between the judiciary and the government especially over the issue of judicial appointments. While both the judiciary and the government may have us believe that transparency in the working of public functionaries is critical in a democracy, it is ironic that there has been complete opacity from both these institutions where disclosing a draft of the memorandum of procedure for appointments to the High Court and Supreme Court is concerned. This process has been shrouded in secrecy, excluding public participation in this crucial process. Repeated requests from the Campaign for a draft of the memorandum to be shared as well as a Campaign draft memorandum sent to the government and the judiciary, have received no response.
The efficient functioning of the judiciary rests on steady and regular appointments. These appointments have been stalled or delayed by this government’s inaction i…

Pellet guns as anti-riot weapon in J&K wasn't human rights violation, but can't part with info: CRPF's RTI reply

By Our Representative
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has rejected a right to information (RTI) application filed by senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak to part with any information on the use of pellet guns while dealing with protesters in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since July 2016, saying it “is not related to human rights violation.”

Chhattisgarh security personnel guilty of rape, sexual and physical assault of tribal women: NHRC interim order

By Our Representative
In a notice it has sent to the Chhattisgarh government, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said, during its on-the-spot investigation, it has found 16 women prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by state police personnel.

Gujarat's pre-primary institutions free to run without safety, quality standards, sans official control: RTI reply

By Our Representative
Neither Gujarat government’s education department, nor women and child department, has any information about private pre-primary schools operating in the state. In separate replies to a right to information (RTI) plea by Mujahid Nafees, they have said, pre-primary schools do not come under their purview, hence the question of providing information on them “does not arise.”

Five villages forcibly dislocated from Odisha's Similipal tiger reserve, more on cards: Civil society activists

By Our Representative
Bringing to light what they termed as “illegal relocation” of five tribal villages of Similipal Tiger Reserve by the Mayurbhanj district administration and the Forest Department, Odisha, two civil rights organizations, Similipal Surakhya Manch, Mayurbhanj and the Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), have said that plans are now underway to relocate more villages from what is called the “buffer zone” of the tiger reserve.