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Showing posts from November, 2017

19 lakh jobless in Gujarat, not 6 lakh: Economist contests chief minister Rupani's claim on organised sector

By Our Representative
In a fresh calculation, a campaign organization set up ahead of the Gujarat elections, claiming to be not associated with any political party, has said, much against the "tall talk" of employment generation during the biennial Vibrant Gujarat global investment summits, during 2004-15, 43.44 lakh fresh unemployed were registered with Gujarat's Employment Exchanges. Of these only 24.41 lakh people could get employment.

India's 48% women victims of partner violence, it ranks 131 of 153 nations in gender index, worst in BRICS

By Our Representative
A fresh report jointly prepared by two of the world’s best known institutes, the Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security (Washington), and the Peace Research Institute (Oslo), has ranked India a poor 131st in its Women Peace and Security (WPS) Index among 153 countries for 2017-18, worse than other competing BRICS (short form for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, on one hand, and all of India’s neighbours, except Pakistan, on the other.

Repeal laws like NSA which give unlimited power to state authorities to detain Akhil Gogoi and Chandrasekhar without trial

By Battini Rao*
Akhil Gogoi, leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti of Asom, and Chandrasekhar of the Bhim Sena in Western Uttar Pradesh, have been under detention for many months now. Akhil was arrested on 13 September under sedition charges by the BJP government of the state. On 25 September a total of 122 cases against him were clubbed together under the National Security Act, foreclosing any possibility of judicial redress. The NSA advisory panel of the state approved his detention on 19 November, thereby sealing his incarceration for 12 months at least.
Akhil Gogoi has been a vocal critic of the BJP government and was arrested for his address at a meeting against amendments to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 which aims to legalise preferential treatment of citizenship applicants on the basis of religion, and which many people in Asom believe is specifically designed to help Bengali speaking Hindus of the state to legally obtain citizenship, while denying it to Muslims.
Ear…

Did Modi lie that he served people in Morbi after Macchu dam burst? Senior Gujarat academic: He wasn't around

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment for Narendra Modi, Prof Niranjan Dave, who was head of the department with the Government Engineering or LE College, Morbi, has contested the Prime Minister's claim in in an election rally that he served people in the aftermath of the tragedy that befell the town after the Macchu dam burst on August 11, 1979.

New threat to tribal farmers? Notification allows Maharashtra govt to take away tribal land without gram sabha nod

By Our Representative
A new danger awaits the rural areas under the influence of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). If a recent Maharashtra government notification, a copy which is with Counterview, is any indication, it empowers the state government to acquire tribal land for industrial development without seeking any gram sabha nod.

World Bank told: Withdraw proposal to fund new Andhra capital project, it will lead to massive displacement

By Our Representative
Top civil society leaders and experts have got together to tell the World Bank board that it must comply by the recent recommendations of the Bank's Inspection Panel for funding the project (approximately Rs 4,700 crore soft loan) to build a new capital for Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati, which it had prepared following its visit to India in mid-September this year.

Gujarat ranks poor 12th of 21 states in gender vulnerability: "Failure" to protect women from sexual violence

By Our Representative
Even as Gujarat goes to polls, a high-profile NGO Plan India’s new Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI) has found that the model state is behind 11 out of 21 major Indian states. On a scale of 1, Gujarat GVI is 0.543. The best GVI is that of Kerala (0.634), and worst that of Bihar (0.41).

Democratic reforms NGO relies on Gujarat MLAs' data to say: They used just 54% of electoral expenses allowed

By Rajiv Shah
The Election Commission (EC) of India and the Narendra Modi government may be under scanner (click HERE) for "undermining" transparency by refusing to part with any information on the controversial Electoral Bonds scheme, allowing political parties fund their activities secretly.

India slips to become 15th worst country for Christians to live; it ranked 31st four years ago: US non-profit Open Doors

By Rajiv Shah
Open Doors USA, an American non-profit organization, has triggered Hornet's nest by ranking India 15th, next to Saudi Arabia (14th), among 50 top countries where Christians allegedly face "most severe persecution for their faith". Blaming the "persecution" on BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it says, "As a result, radical Hinduism, which was already present under the previous government, has increased steadily."

Govt of India, Election Commission have "no information" on Electoral Bonds scheme for political parties, RTI plea reveals

By Our Representative
The Union Finance Ministry, the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have all claimed in separate replies to a Right to Information (RTI) plea that they do not have any information about the Electoral Bond (EB) scheme, or who influenced the Government of India to launch such the controversial scheme.

Six Odisha gram sabhas "force" govt to allow business in kendu leaves under Forest Rights Act, yet confusion continues

By Our Representative
In what is being considered a partial success by forest rights activists, following the tribals' six months long campaign, half a dozen gram sabhas of Kalahandi district have "forced" the Odisha Forest Department to issue a special circular allowing them to sell kendu leaf (KL) to anyone whom they want as per the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.

Utterances of BJP, Sangh Parivar functionaries sufficiently indicate to possibility of change in key elements of Constitution

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 14 November, speaking at a function in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath vehemently stated, “I believe that after Independence, the biggest lie in India is the word secular...the people who gave birth to this word and who use it, should apologise. No system can be secular. Political systems can be neutral towards sects, but not secular.” Coming from the CM of the biggest State in the country, this is obviously no off-the-cuff remark, but a well-calculated attempt to test the waters and at the same time prepare for the 2019 General Elections.
This is not the first time that a senior BJP functionary has negated a core value of the Constitution of India. There have been several utterances from many of them these past years, which have systematically denigrated and eroded the rights and freedom guaranteed in and of the values enshrined in the Constitution of India! There have been lofty proclamations of the establishment of a ‘Hindu Stat…

Rahul Gandhi accepts tricolour "insulted" by Gujarat CM amid Dalit concern of Congress failure to fight untouchability

By Our Representative
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who reached out to the non-political Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK) off Ahmedabad to accept the "largest" tricolour of India, refused by Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on the ground that the state government "did not have enough space for it", was in shocked to hear that his party in Gujarat had done "pretty little" in raising issues of untouchability.

India "hungrier" than North Korea, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Iraq: Now World Economic Forum cites top US report

By Rajiv Shah
While top bureaucrats in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) may have worked overtime to "lobby" and "manage" certain well-known international institutes (click HERE) in order to show how Modi's popularity is on the rise and the economy under him is looking up, it appears, they have been less successful with certain institutes. One of them seems to be is the World Economic Forum (WEF), based in Zurich, known for "uniting" world political, business  and academic leaders for economic development.

Eco-destruction? Narmada's natural flow down to what it was 10 years go, farm lands go saline, fish catch down

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government closing down all the 30 gates on the the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam in June this year may have "helped" raise the water level to the full reservoir level, 138.68 metres, swelling the dam’s live storage from 1.27 million acre feet (MAF) to 4.73 MAF. However, this has allegedly led to a major ecological destruction downstream of the river, 150 km away, on the river mouth, on the Gulf of Khambhat.

Aadhaar a Govt of India marketing success, even World Bank got attracted towards it: Top anti-UID campaigner

By Our Representative One of the topmost campaigners against aadhaar, Reetika Khera, has admitted that the marketing of the scheme as “a welfare-enhancing, pro-poor, anti-corruption programme has been hugely successful”, adding, things have gone to the extent that, despite contradictory evidence, “the view that it is helping disadvantaged people is hard to dislodge.”

Umar's murder: Rajasthan cops arrest two victims of cow vigilante attack; it's travesty of justice, says PUCL

By Our Representative
In what is being described as “travesty of justice”, the Rajasthan police have arrested Tahir Mohammad and Javed Jabaa, the two eye witnesses in the gruesome murder of Umar Mohammad, who was killed on November 11, after which his body was dumped on railway track. They have been arrested on the basis of FIR No 273/2017 for seeking to smuggle cows.

It's an unequal fight: They have resources, we have resilience; they are merchants of death, we carry with us dreams of oppressed

Gujarat’s Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani has made an “urgent appeal” for funds through Crowdnewsing (click HERE) to support his campaign against the BJP ahead of the Gujarat elections. Text of the appeal:
Dear friends and well-wishers, ever since the horrific videos of Una flogging surfaced, some of us got together to relentlessly work against the fascist communal and brahmanical Gujarat government led by RSS-BJP. The Una flogging brought to the fore the largely invisible yet deeply entrenched casteist character of BJP led ruling class of Gujarat.
In no time, a massive consolidation of the Dalit masses took place in Gujarat. Dalits are just 7% in Gujarat and the mainstream media hardly highlighted their plight and suffering before. However, after one and half year of our continuous struggle under the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, the mainstream media is forced to write about atrocities and marginalisation of Dalits in Gujarat. RDAM’s continuous struggle has been able to ensure actual poss…

Rahul Gandhi to accept Dalits' "largest" national flag, "refused" by Gujarat chief minister as he didn't have space

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the BJP, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will be “accepting” one of the largest national flags of India, prepared by Dalits at a technical institute off Sanand, Gujarat’s new industrial hub, which houses some of the most “prestigious” industrial units, including Tata Nano and Ford.

Madhya Pradesh village sees "slow death" of hundreds of asbestos victims caused by now closed British, Belgian subsidiary

By Our Representative
Nirmala Gurung, a former school teacher and headmistress in a secondary school, lived near a factory in a big village, Kymore, in Madhya Pradesh which has been making chrysotile or white asbestos products for over 30 years. The factory was previously a subsidiary of the British company Turner, and Newall PLC and the Belgium company ETEX (Eternit).

Delhi farmers' rally seeks complete loan waiver law from Lok Sabha; leaders agree, farm incomes have nosedived

By Our Representative
A Kisan Mukti Sansad (Farmers' Freedom Parliament), held in New Delhi after completing Kisan Mukti Yatra of more than 10,000 kilometers under the leadership of the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) in 19 states, saw its leaders introducing a draft Farmer’s Freedom From Debt Bill, 2017, seeking it's approval in the winter session of Parliament.

330 gang rapes during 2002 Gujarat riots; while triple talaq is being discussed, none speaks about them: Top activist

By Tanushree Gangopadhyay*
More than 300 women from different parts of Gujarat assembled in Ahmedabad under the banner of Gujarat Mahila Manch to complain of "abusive, repression, sexual harassment, deprivation and control", pointing towards how the state government has failed to accord them basic human rights. At the end of the day-long meet, they unanimously resolved not to vote for a government which has deprived them of their basic rights.

Indian inequality higher than Pak, China, Bangladesh; 92% adults' net worth less than $10,000; of 0.5% plus $100,000

By Our Representative
Giving a scary picture of inequalities in India, the recently-released “Global Wealth Report 2017”, published by Credit-Suisse, a Swiss multinational financial services holding company, headquartered in Zurich, has said that India’s 92% of adults “have net worth less than USD 10,000”, while “a small fraction of the population (just 0.5% of adults) has a net worth over USD 100,000.”

Need to look at look at the face and consequences of poverty, which suffocate millions of people across the world

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Pope Francis invited all Catholics and, in fact, all men and women of goodwill, to observe 19 November as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year was the very first observance of such a day (now fixed for the 33rd Sunday of the Liturgical Year). In a message, which was released last June, Pope Francis said:
“I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity. They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father. This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter. At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity. God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls…

Improved ratings? Modi's top Gujarat babus in PMO "worked out" strategy to lobby with Washington institutes: Insider

By Rajiv Shah
Did Narendra Modi's top bureaucrats from the Gujarat cadre, currently in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), work out a well-planned strategy to lobby with three top international institutes, all headquartered in Washington, World Bank, Moody's and Pew, for ensuring a sharp image make over of Modi ahead of the Gujarat elections, after all three last year seemed least cared to show India under Modi in good light?

Under Modi's Gujarat, 85 social boycott, force migration incidents involving Dalits took place; total 112 since 1989

By Our Representative
Out of 112 cases of social boycott and forced migration of Dalits across Gujarat over the last 28 years, ever since the anti-atrocities Act came into force in 1989, as many as 85 of them took place during a little more than 14 years when Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, from October 2001 to May 2014 (click HERE for detailed table).

Ahmedabad migrants "made to work, live" amidst machines inside Narol garment factories in subhuman conditions

Counterview Desk
A recent study by Aajivika Bureau, an advocacy group working among Ahmedabad’s migrant workers, who come from the tribals belts of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, has found that many of them live in “sub-human” conditions inside the garments factories operating of the Narol industrial belt of Ahmedabad.

Gujarat govt "supplied" expired, about-to-expire polio vaccines: Rajkot health official wrote warning letters

By Our Representative
In a shocking disclosure, many of the vaccines injected to children in Gujarat have either been found to be expired, or are in the last stage of expiry, with district health officials, conducting vaccine programme and distributing vaccines to local health centres, writing two letters to the Gujarat government about this.

Adivasis "don't exist" in Gujarati textbooks, one of these "show" American flag and white judge in apex court

By Our Representative
In a stark revelation, the word “adivasi” (tribal) does not find mention in any of the Gujarati language textbooks, ranging from classes 5th to 12th. Speaking on the state of textbooks being taught in Gujarat schools, Gaurang Jani, professor of sociology, Gujarat University, said that there are 15% tribals in Gujarat, and their children would naturally feel alienated as a result of this type of discrimination.

Activists, member of Parliament, refused to meet rights activist in Assam jail, allege suppression of right to dissent

By Our Representative
Following the refusal to a civil society delegation to meet Krishak Multi Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi in jail in Dibrugadh, Assam, several farmers' leaders, who have got together under Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), have decided to raise their voice against "the continued incarceration of Gogoi is a political ploy to completely silence any voice of dissent in Assam today”.

Gujarat farmers denied permission for 2000 km motorbike rally, Khedut Samaj protests, writes to Election Commission

By Our Representative
In an unusual turn of events, top farmers' body, Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG), which had planned a 14-day motorbike rally from South Gujarat's Bhilad to North Gujarat's Amirgadh starting on November 17, has been denied permission to pass through Surat district. "We were told by that they don't have enough cops to handle the bike rally", Sagar Rabari, general secretary on the non-political farmers' organization told Counterview.

Gujarat's health risk higher than 13 states due to child and maternal malnutrition: World Bank-supported study

By Rajiv Shah
A new study, published in one of the world’s most prestigious online health journals, “Lancet”, has revealed that, among major Indian states, “model” Gujarat’s mortality and morbidity risk factor as a result of child and maternal malnutrition is higher than as many as 13 of the 21 major Indian states.

Umar's murder: Rajasthan police note silent on mutilation of body on railway track, cow vigilantes' crime history

By Our Representative
A media note, circulated by the Superintendent of Police (SP), Alwar district, Rajasthan, on the gruesome murder of Umar, allegedly by cow vigilantes, is surprisingly silent on the most critical part of the crime: Mutilation of the body, transporting it to the railway track to another police station area, tyres being stolen from the pickup truck, and the role of cops in all this.

Gujarat's top non-political farmers' body to hold anti-BJP 14 day motorbike campaign starting November 17

By Our Representative
In a major boost to the Congress, the top non-political farmers' organization, Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG), has thrown its weight behind the Congress, declaring on Wednesday that it would take out 2,000 km long motorbike rally from South Gujarat's Bhilad to North Gujarat's Amirgadh via Saurashtra to campaign for the "ouster" of the BJP government in the state.

35 lakh Gujarat tribal migrants' freedom sought from "bondage-type" condition ahead of state assembly polls

By Our Representative
With an eye on influencing 27 reserved tribal of the Gujarat state assembly, three non-political organizations have together under the banner of Sthalantarit Adivasi Shramik Manch (SASM), putting up one-and-a-half dozen demands, insisting on steps to the taken to "free" migrant tribal workers from the allegedly bonded-like condition, both in cities and in rural areas.

Monsanto's marketing success? Bt cotton: India's poor, vulnerable farmers dependent on rainfed farming "suffered"

By Our Representative
A top world expert has termed the world's biggest multinational seeds company, Monsanto, which is now being bought over by Bayer, and is involved in a dispute with the Government of India on how much of royalty it should take back to home on selling it's genetically modified (GM) seeds, as nothing more than a "marketing success."

Arun Jaitley must resign for mismanaging GST, says Yashwant Sinha; "agrees": India's GDP growth would be 0-1%

By Our Representative
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has demanded the resignation of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley for poorly implementing Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying, the recent concessions given by the Government of India are only a reflection of how poor the country's finances are being managed.

Global production of GM soybean and GM cotton are declining; GM oilseed rape and GM maize hectarage have stagnated

Angelika Hilbeck*
Genetically engineered (GE) crops were introduced to the world almost three decades ago with great fanfare and the first crops commercialized over two decades ago. We were promised no more nor less than the abolishment of hunger and malnutrition and the creation of plants with higher yields and adapted to the challenges caused by the changing climate.
Despite the rhetoric, GE plants never were designed for the small scale farmer in the first place. However, overall yields of GE crops did not rise beyond those of non-GM crops in countries that chose not to grow GE crops, like in most of Europe.
A sobering reality check of 20 years of GE crop productionSince the first commercial release of GE crops over 20 years ago, four commodity crops containing two types of GE traits produced in the same six countries (called the 'six founder biotech crop countries' by ISAAA 2016) - USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, China - are making up over 90% of all commercial GE pla…

"Nazi-type" vermillion crosses spotted on Ahmedabad's minority houses? Effort at pre-poll communal divide alleged

By Our Representative
Well-known human rights site, www.sabrangindia.in, run by Teesta Setalvad, who has fought several cases for the 2002 anti-minority Gujarat riot victims, has claimed to have found that several of the Muslim houses in different parts of Ahmedabad have been identified and crossed, alleging these are similar to the "Nazi Germany like red cross markings" on Jew houses.

Umar's murder in Rajasthan: Protect Meos of Alwar and Bharatpur targeted by cow vigilantes, CM urged

By Our Representative
A joint memorandum by several civil rights organizations addressed to Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje has sought immediate arrest of the cops and so-called Gau Rakshaks -- cow vigilantes -- allegedly involved in the "brutal murder" of Umar Mohammed of Kaman Pahadi Bharatpur, even as withdrawal of the case of cow smuggling against Umar and his fellow travellers Tahir and others.

Fr Arrupe has left a rich legacy: Commitment to faith rooted in justice, courage to take stand against violence, compassion for refugees

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 24 October 2016, in his address to the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Pope Francis said, “just as Fr Arrupe said, wherever there is pain, the Society is there; or better said has to be there”. In this one statement, Pope Francis not only reminded the Jesuits of the need and importance of their presence in the realities of today but also highlighted the rich legacy, which Fr. Pedro Arrupe has left to each one of us!
Fr Pedro Arrupe, a deeply spiritual person, was consistently in the midst of pain and suffering. On 6 August 1945, Arrupe was there in Hiroshima when thousands were killed, many more injured and the city was ravaged by the nuclear holocaust. He made the Jesuit residence (where he was also the novice master) into a make shift hospital administering to those who were badly hurt. For several weeks, he selflessly cared for the dying and the wounded using his expertise as a medical doctor to the hilt. He would later often recall tha…

Govt of India ministry uses Canadian, US road pix to show how nice Indian highways built under Modi are: Alt News

By Our Representative
In a second major exposure, well-known fact-check site, Alt News, has found  that the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways, Government of India, has used two photographs from Canada and US to showcase how good India's roads are. Alt News did this on checking a Tweet by Khalid Hussain (@khalidmfp) who said that the ministry website used the photograph of Gardiner Expressway, Toronto, Canada, "fooling 1.3 billion Indians".

Growing resentment among people of Gujarat points to failure of much hyped slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’

By T Navin*
Gujarat till now had been projected as a unique model of development, which needs to be replicated in all other places. The Prime Minister in his speeches during election campaigns in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and Assembly elections in other states had sought to state that he would turn the country and other states into Gujarat. Gujarat was emulated as a model which was to be replicated in all other states. In recent times, however the vocabulary has changed to state how the other parties in power at the center had been biased against Gujarat and prevented and blocked Development in the state.
The resistance of the people that is taking place during Assembly election campaign of party in power does point to something that has changed in the political landscape in Gujarat. The resentment of the people is becoming more open. ‘Vikas’ is being ridiculed through pointing instances such as potholes on roads and essential commodities becoming more expensive. ‘Vikas Gando Thayo Che’ …

Taming the lion in his lair? Congress is basking under a borrowed sun of anti-incumbency and hopes to rake in the benefits

By Darshan Desai*
There is just one name which prevents the opposition Congress in Gujarat from celebrating a sureshot victory in a hurry. There is just one name which prevents the BJP in Gujarat from conceding defeat in a hurry.
Narendra Modi.
More crucial than the fact that he has never seen a defeat in his political life is that he just can’t afford to lose Gujarat in 2017. More crucial than the fact that this is his home state is that Gujarat is his model state of everything that he stands for.
A defeat here would mean all his politics that he claims to be implementing across the country being thrown to the winds in his very own laboratory, by the very people who sustained and nurtured it over 15 years since 2002.
More crucial, still, is that two of the most self-touted big ticket decisions under his tutelage have come to hound him in his very own Gujarat just half way through his prime ministership. The very two decisions of demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST) have alread…