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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

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.”
This, says Khera in an interview, has happened because the voices of thousands, or even millions, who are vulnerable, rarely “make it to mainstream media.” Worse, she adds, “The Indian Supreme Court has issued six orders categorically prohibiting the government from making aadhaar compulsory, but neither this nor the previous government have paid heed to the Court’s orders.”
Things, according to her, have gone to the extent that “universal ID numbers, biometrics, the creation of centralized databases, and so forth have become very popular with governments even in countries where those same governments are otherwise inclined to do very little.”
She adds, “Even the World Bank is pushing in this direction (e.g., the 2016 World Development Report was on "Digital Dividends").”
Speaking to Tanu Wakefield of Stanford Humanities Center, where Khera is currently international visitor, Khera says, “Proponents of aadhaar believed that identity fraud (i.e., me pretending to be you) was the main source of corruption in Indian welfare services.”
However, according to her, the fact is, “Quantity fraud (my getting less than my entitlement, typically through the deliberate withholding of a portion of the aid by the distributor) is the bigger beast to worry about.”
Insisting that “biometric authentication can’t fix quantity fraud”, Khera, citing the example of eleven-year-old girl named Santoshi of Jharkhand, who died of starvation last month (click HERE), notes, “Her family was entitled to subsidized rations as part of the government’s food security programme, but because their aadhaar number had not been properly linked to the appropriate database, her family’s name was struck off the rolls.”
She adds, “After Santoshi, three other hunger-related deaths have occurred. After these deaths, for a day or so, this was national news. This is a sad comment on Indian democracy.”
Sulaiman Mutawa Associate Chair in Economics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Khera accuses Nandan Nilekani, “an Indian tech czar”, of “barking up the wrong tree” when he says that “fewer people would be excluded from programmes of social support such as food aid or social security pensions.”
“It was like a cure (biometrics) that was in search of a disease (identity fraud)”, she underlines, adding, “Fraud in welfare is an issue, but it is quantity fraud and eligibility fraud, much more than identity fraud, that plague the system”, she says.
According to her, “A resident’s unique number, stored biometric data, etc., can do next to nothing about quantity or eligibility fraud. Moreover, even the cure is not quite the magic pill that it is made out to be, as biometrics are in fact easily replicated, and therefore can enable identity fraud.”
“Across the Indian states that have linked food distribution to aadhaar biometric demands, increasing numbers of people have reported being unable to access their allocated grain entitlements. These are quite literally the foods that sustain them”, she adds.
She says, “Due to technical failures with the machinery, problems with electrical and cell connectivity, registry mistakes, and the sheer fact that elderly and disabled people must now appear in person to be biometrically identified (whereas previously an elderly widow might have sent a family member or neighbor to collect her rice, for instance), many have been unable to access these desperately needed foods.”

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India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”