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Showing posts from August, 2017

RBI reveals: Weak investment activity, stalled projects, grim profit outlook leads to lowest credit growth since 1994

By Our Representative
In an indirect admission that India's economy has been badly impacted by demonetisation and mismanagement, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said that the growth in non-food credit -- extended by scheduled commercial banks to all other customers except the Food Corporation of India -- "reached a low of 5.8 per cent at end-March 2017, the lowest since 1994-95", even as underlining, the deceleration has continued thereafter.

Gujarat's commercial capital "tops" the list of murder, rape of Dalits: Compilation based on RTI plea to DGP

By Our Representative
A fresh compilation, based on detailed right to information (RTI) replies on victims of caste violence in Gujarat, has revealed that Ahmedabad’s Dalits top the list of victims of caste violence compared to any other district. The data, which contain individual cases of those who have suffered caste violence, suggest that 38 Dalits were murdered in Ahmedabad district out of a total of 295 in Gujarat since 1991.

Bacchan's Khushboo Gujarat Ki ad campaign fails to put state among India's top 10 tourism destinations: NSS data

By Rajiv Shah
A new Government of India report shows that Gujarat does not figure among the top 10 tourist destinations of India. Led by Maharashtra, other states which are major tourist destinations are Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh & Telangana (taken as one state) Odisha, Rajasthan, Kerala and Karnataka, in that order.

Ban on Jharkhand writer's fiction: Would govt also prohibit all erotic works, including Kamasutra, ask intellectuals

By Our Representative
Around hundred writers, academics, artistes and professionals have taken strong exception to the Jharkhand government banning young adivasi writer Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s collection of short stories, "The Adivasi Will Not Dance", calling the decision "absurd", setting "a dangerous precedent."

Make in India? Only 20% new enterprises have "used" single window clearance, says Govt of India report

By Our Representative
A new Government of India report has regretted that just about 20% of enterprises that started operations after Narendra Modi took over as India’s Prime Minister in 2014 have used the “single window system”, set up by different states to get all types of clearances, ranging from land and environment, to labour and power, to set-up their business.

Stockholm World Water week begins, to crucially address why 2 billion people don't have access to clean water

From Hemang Desai in Stockholm
The World Water Week — 2017 kick-started on August 28 here with several senior political dignitaries attending the plenary session. The political leadership included Mayor of Stockholm, Karin Wanngard, the Swedish Minister of environment, Karolina Skog, the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen and the Finance Minister of Ecuador, Carlos Torre.

Hail Indian judiciary! Recent judgments are shot in the arm for democracy, augur well for pluralistic, secular fabric

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The Indian Judiciary (at least a good section of it) seems to come of age: objective, faithful to the letter and spirit of the law and unmindful of the consequences, the threats and intimidations of their political bosses or the violent mobs! The last week in India has been a vibrant one in the history of India –with several landmark judgements being delivered. These judgements have come as a shot in the arm for democracy in India, for the pluralistic and secular fabric of the country and above all, they augur well for the future of India.
On August 25th, CBI special court judge Jagdeep Singh, held Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda guilty of rape and criminal intimidation of the two female disciples in 2002. On August 28th, Gurmeet Singh was sentenced to ten years in prison (many, including his victims, feel that he should have been given a life term) by the same judge. Given his mass following and the fact that Gurmeet Singh has the sup…

Anonymous letter by sadhvi which led to conviction of Ram Rahim 15 years after CBI began investigation

Ram Rahim has been found guilty of raping two sadhvis at Dera. A sadhvi wrote an anonymous letter that led to CBI probe. It exposes the wrongdoings of Ram Rahim and his Dera. Fifteen years after the letter was written, addressed to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been convicted by a CBI court. Ram Rahim is currently lodged in the Rohtak jail in Haryana. Full text of the letter:
I am a girl hailing from Punjab and I have been serving as a sadhvi at Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa (Haryana) for the last five years. There are hundreds of other girls, who serve for 16-18 hours a day at the Dera. We are being physically exploited here. Dera Maharaj Gurmeet Singh rapes girls at the Dera. I am a graduate girl. My family members are blind followers of Maharaj (Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh). I became a sadhvi at my family's bidding.
Two years after I became a sadhvi, Maharaj Gurmeet Singh's close woman-disciple Gurjot told me one night around 10 pm that I had been …

Shah Bano case: Arif Mohd Khan gives clean chit to Rajiv Gandhi, says Modi can't take credit for talaq order

By Our Representative
In an usual defence of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Arif Mohammad Khan, the UP politician who quit the Rajiv Cabinet in 1986 over its stance on the Shah Bano case, has said that he does not "believe that Rajiv Gandhi took the decision to overturn the Supreme Court verdict" on the case "on his own."

Modi a "silent accomplice in cheating the nation" on black money stashed abroad, like Congress: Jethmalani

By Our Representative
In a scathing attack, veteran Supreme Court advocate Ram Jethmalani has shot a new letter saying he is totally disappointed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's three years of performance, and each day more and more evidence is piling up "of your failure as a friend and as the leader of the unfortunate lndian nation that trusted its destiny in your undeserving hands."

Gujarat govt "not interested" in turning farmers into solar power producers despite "successful" pilot project

By Rajiv Shah
A climate change experiment for promoting alternative sources of energy in Anand district, begun about two-and-a-half years ago by a world-renowned institute, meant for promoting groundwater solar pumps as a means for turning ordinary farmers into electricity producers, appears to have no takers in the Gujarat government.

Incredible India: When rape accused isn't arrested we burn candles, march; when rape accused is arrested we burn the city

By Anand Mazgaonkar*
We should all be extremely grateful to Baba Ram Rahim and Dera Sachcha Sauda for not formally announcing a coup and official takeover of the State of Haryana yesterday. That would indeed have been the first coup within a country and without military, or “outside” support. Actually, they did not need outside support because, in line with swadeshi philosophy, they had enough “inside” support.
For a start, Mr Manohar Lal Khattar and his Government were either asleep or on holiday. In any case, Mr Rajnath Singh was away in Kyrgystan and was forced to rush back. One would almost get the impression that the Home Minister matters in this Government. But rest assured, the situation will return to normal because not a single arsonist is reported to have been detained.
May be, Mr. Khattar did not receive any clear instructions from Delhi or Nagpur or wherever else he draws inspiration from. May be he was awake but either Delhi, or Nagpur, or both were asleep or on holiday. Th…

Behind BJP-Sangh support to Dera chief: Massive "effort" to woo Dalits into Hindutva fold, expand vote bank

By Our Representative
Even as violence around the CBI court verdict in a 2002 rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh spreads to the National Capital Region of Delhi with several neighbouring states on high alert, facts have to come light about close links of the ruling BJP and the rock star sadhu.

Need to ponder why non-Muslim electorate get united, victory of BJP candidate means the utter neglect of Muslim areas

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
The ghost of the ex-Vice President, Hamid Ansari rant will follow the Muslim community for a long time. The biggest tragedy for Indian Muslims is that they have lost their faith in their leadership. At the time of leaving the Vice Presidential post, the way, Hamid Ansari let down not only the Muslim community but the entire Diaspora of Indian ecumenism and equanimity, it was appalling and awful for all those who cater to the voice of sanity.
The way Ansari toed the tone of intolerance and the tenure of the rudderless Muslim leadership, he lost his credibility with all those toeing the voices of reason.
Uttering such venomous views will be harmful for the already beleaguered Muslim community. Truth is that this kind of Muslim leadership has lost both its voice and utility. Indian Muslims have been victim to an irresponsible leadership which is bent on keeping the community in subjugation by concentrating on emotionally sensitive issues as was done by Ansari.
Rudderle…

Govt desperation to showcase "feel good" factor behind estimate of 63% India as urban, suggests Prof Kundu

By Rajiv Shah
One of India’s topmost urban experts, Prof Amitabh Kundu, has taken strong exception to the Government of India’s mid-term Economic Survey, released in early August, especially its suggestion that 63% of India could be urban. Prof Kundu believes, this kind of statement would “add confusion” among policy makers and researchers of urbanization.

Standard procedure on using civilians as human shields in India's "disturbed" areas is state secret: Modi government

By Our Representative
The Government of India does not want to make public its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) intended for use, by security forces, in areas where militant groups are active and use civilians as 'human shields'. This has come to light in a right to information (RTI) reply by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Madhya Pradesh HC grants bail to Medha Patkar, in jail for 15 days: BJP workers' resignation spree continues

By Our Representative
In a major relief, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader  Medha Patkar was granted bail by Madhya Pradesh's Indore High Court on Wednesday. She was denied bail by the sessions court in a kidnapping case instituted against her by the state police.

Purohit was 'caught in political crossfire'? Why was he fully ensconced with organizations like Abhinav Bharat?

Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association statement on the Supreme Court granting bail to Lt Col Purohir:
The Malegaon accused Lt. Colonel Shrikant Purohit has been granted bail by the Supreme Court.
We know that bail in terror cases, especially those involving bomb blasts, is rare, if not altogether impossible to secure.
Take for example, the following cases. Mohammad Aamir Khan’s bail application was repeatedly turned down even when his lawyer furnished medical certificates vouching that his old mother has suffered a paralytic stroke. This, when he had spent over 12 years in jail, and had been acquitted in over dozen of the 19 cases he was implicated in. The reason was that the case was too ‘sensitive’.
Abdul Wahid Shaikh spent 11 years as an undertrial in the Mumbai suburban train blasts case, during which he developed an eye ailment following custodial torture but his bail application on medical grounds was rejected consistently. Even where absolutely NO violence was alleged, as in the Ka…

Young activist Sanjay Sahni's arrest in Bihar: Cops lathi charge NREGA workers protesting against "false" FIRs

By Our Representative
The arrest of Sanjay Sahni, a young social worker who has established a Muzaffarnagar-wide movement in Bihar in order to empower people to access public services under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), public distribution system (PDS) and pension, is all set to snowball into a major controversy.

MP Govt "wilfully" delaying release of Medha Patkar, case dairy not produced in High Court on time

By Our Representative
In what is being interpreted as a deliberate delaying tactic for postponing Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar's release from Dhar jail, the Madhya Pradesh did not produce the case diary regarding her arrest under section 365, kidnapping, on Monday.

Mumbai's water tanker mafia, officials in "nexus" despite victory over authorities for water supply to Ambujwadi slum

By Bilal Khan*
After almost 20 years of existence, Ambujwadi, an informal settlement in Malvani, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (popularly BMC) may have finally recognized the right of the people and conceded to allow water supply to the slum.
The joint efforts of the organized slum dwellers through Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) for over two years has, no doubt, finally resulted in the beginning of water supply in the slums of Ambujwadi.

No question of stopping import of Chinese bronze plates for Statue of Unity's "outer shine": Gujarat government

By Our Representative
Efforts may have been stepped up across India to boycott Chinese goods against the backdrop of the current standoff with the giant neighbour – with Mumbai’s association of school principals calling for a boycott of Chinese goods, and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch listing out several reasons for the need for boycott, one of them being China “trying” to impose its hegemony over India.

Bankim's Vande Mataram originally referred to Banga Mata not Bharat Mata: Netaji's grand nephew in new book

By Our Representative
A new book by the grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sugata Bose, has claimed that when top Bengali litterateur Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay first composed the national song “Vande Mataram”, his reference was to “Bangamata or Mother Bengal”.
Even as pointing out that “there is no specific mention of Bangamata or Mother Goddess”, Bose, who is a politician and a scholar, says, the national song’s reference to the “magic number of seven crore refers” essentially “to Bengalis”.

580 farmers' suicides in Marathwada till Aug 15, up from 542 last year, as farming turns "riskier" in era of climate change

By Moin Qazi*
Even as India celebrated its 70th year of independence, the number of suicides of beleaguered farmers in Marathwada, the drought prone belt of Maharashtra, touched a new high. In the last seven and half months ending with August 15, 580 cultivators have committed suicide. At the end of July, the toll stood at 531 and it has gone up to 580 in just 15 days.

Kidnapping charge against Patkar even though Madhya Pradesh official denied any such thing: Digvijay Singh

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, senior Congress leader and ex-chief minister Digvijay Singh met Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar in Dhar jail, Madhya Pradesh, describing her as a "great social worker who has dedicated her entire life to fight for the cause of Narmada dam affected people of the state."

Followers of those who sabotaged the freedom movement, decorated in different colours, striking at the root of India's integrity

The All-India Radio and Doordarshan have refused to broadcast the Independence Day speech of Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who heads the Left Front government in the state. The speech was recorded on August 12, and was informed on August 14 that it would not be broadcast unless he agreed to “reshape the content making it suitable to the solemnity of the occasion and sentiment of the people”.
An email from Akashbani Agartala said, “A collective decision taken at Delhi advises that the broadcast may not go with its existing content". The chief minister termed the advise "unprecedented, undemocratic, autocratic and intolerant step”. Meanwhile, CPI-M politbureau has asked the Prime Minister to take action against those responsible.
Text of the speech:

On the occasion of Independence Day, I convey my greetings and best wishes to you all. I pay my homage to the great memory of the martyrs of India’s freedom struggle. I would also like to offer my profound regards to those fr…

Time to break-up the fiction: The destinies of the people of Jammu and Ladakh have to be delinked from Kashmir

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of South Asia. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. The name Kashmir derives from the Sanskrit Kashyapmeru. The Greeks knew it as Kaspeiria.
Herodotus called it Kaspatyros. Emperor Ashoka, who called it Shrinagari, founded the capital near present day Srinagar. The ruins of this Ashokan city still stand. Kashmir evolved with a strong Buddhist tradition, but Buddhism here like in the rest of India drowned in the wave of Hindu revivalism initiated by Adi Shankaracharya in the 9th century AD.
Muslim rule was ushered in by Shamsuddin Shah Mir (1339-42), a courtier in the court of King Udayanadeva who seized the throne after his death. The Mughals took control in 1586 during the rule of Jalaluddin Akbar. The region came under the control of the Durrani Empire in Kabul from 1753 to 1819 when the Sikhs took over. In 1846 t…

The silent resurrection of West Bengal against the backdrop of continued smear campaign, often bordering on abuse

By Shantanu Basu*
In the past few months, there has been an unseemly smear campaign, often bordering on the abusive, against the state of West Bengal (WB) and Bengalis, not based on hard facts but on amnesiac recollection and horror storytelling. I therefore recount in the following paragraphs the silent resurrection of WB, entirely based upon Govt. of India’s official statistics.
WB’s own tax revenues have increased by about 25% combined with a four-fold hike in total capital expenditure in 2012-15. Capital expenditure on social sector has risen over five-fold and matched by a three-fold increase in capital spending on economic services. The budget revenue deficit is down by three-quarters from 2012-15. Tax revenues have risen by about 50% although there is marginal improvement in non-tax revenues. Against the national compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of GDP of 12.27%, WB’s CAGR stands at a creditable 14.27%. Revenue recoveries measured by the buoyancy over the state’s own taxes hav…

Sonia Gandhi adviser Ahmed Patel "fears" taking over Gujarat Congress' reins for poll battle with BJP in December

By Our Representative
Congress veteran Ahmed Patel may be fuming over the manner in which BJP chief Amit Shah almost snatched away his Rajya Sabha seat by ensuring that 14 of the party's 57 MLAs in the Gujarat state assembly "crossed over" against him. However, two of his recent media interviews suggest that, despite his "clout" in the Congress, he has not been able to overcome his long-standing fear in taking up the reins of the party.

With Infant Mortality Rate of 62 per 1,000 child births, at 62.90 and 64.60 Zambia and South Sudan give competition to Gorakhpur

By Mitra Ranjan*
As we are celebrating 70th Independence Day, the death of more than 60 children over 5 days in the Baba Raghav Das College in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh is an extremely heart-breaking, inhuman and unfortunate incident. It is not only a matter of negligence but deliberate killing of Children who were suffering from symptoms of encephalitis. Thirty eight children died over 48 hours due to no oxygen in the hospital.
Despite the CM’s knowledge of this lapse no step was taken, leading to the death of so many innocent children. All of them belonged to poor and marginalized sections of the society. The UP Health Minister denying shortage of oxygen to be main cause of death shamelessly said to media: “Children die in August every year. What’s new in this?"
The National Convenor of Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Ambarish Rai said, "This unfortunate incident has exposed the deplorable health conditions and weak public health care system prevailing not only in Gorakhpur bu…

Madhya Pradesh police busy in naming NBA activists, including Medha Patkar, and displaced persons in false cases

Medha Patkar, Dhurji Bhai, Vijay Bhai and Santu Bhai, leaders of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), will be spending the Independence Day in jail, it has taken strong exception to the Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Modi governments for maintaining stoic silence on the displacement in Narmada valley, status of rehabilitation sites and adverse social and environmental impacts. Statement by NBA:
The day Medha Patkar and others broke their 17 day indefinite fast, Madhya Pradesh police foisted cases of disturbing peace, kidnapping and many other trumped up charges on 55 named and 2,500 unnamed project affected and activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). Most of the cases are related to the incident on August 7th when 2,000 strong police force violently attacked the fasting protesters, injured 42 and forcibly hospitalised 10 of them in Dhar and Indore Hospitals. This itself speaks volumes of the terror and oppression being unleashed in the Narmada valley today.
Medha Patkar, Dhurji Bhai, Vijay Bha…