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Buddhist Ayodhya? Ayuththya's ruins in Thailand "show" rich civilizational linkage

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
Many of us have the firm belief that Ayodhya, for which the Brahminical Hindus have been shouting loud to develop into a Holy place of Hindus, actually belong to Buddhists. My dear friend Vinit Maurya is now a party in the Ayodhya case seeking to hand over the entire land to Buddhists and asking the government to release the details of the digging happened there.

Social workers, architects, students, historians, common people come together, protest "politics" of renaming Ahmedabad

By Nandini Oza*
No sooner did the BJP leaders of Gujarat announce the intention of changing the name of Ahmedabad to Karnavati just before Diwali, on November 7, 2018, many people’s mood changed from festivity to heated debate and furor across the state. For many of us, an online petition, initiated by Bandish Soparkar, on change.org protesting name change came to immediate rescue.

Assam’s detention camps for foreigners: Where hope "fades", time "stands still"

Counterview Desk
The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), in a detailed note, has likened Assam’s detention camps, created in Assam to lodge “declared” foreigners, with “purgatory”, which, in Catholic theology, is an intermediate state after physical death in which some of those ultimately destined for heaven must first "undergo purification”.

A Gandhi-made nationalist, Sardar Patel survives as "maker" of majority Hindu India

By Nilesh Jain*
“It would perhaps not be unfair to say that Vallabhai Patel was the founder of Indian Partition" – Maulana Azad (‘India Wins Freedom’, 1988, page 198)
Whenever we talk about the partition of India, we almost always end-up discussing the man who broke up India. And, the discussion almost always leads to the conclusion that, it was Jinnah, if Indians are discussing, and it was Gandhi, Nehru or Patel, it’s happening in Pakistan. The inherently biased results are the products of Indian nationalism, and/or Pakistani nationalism.

Forced displacement, starvation deaths, industrial pollution "rampant" in Jharkhand

By Our Representative
After successfully completing two-phases, traversing through 11 states, top civil rights network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Samvidhan Samman Yatra began its third phase this week from Jharkhand. Travelling through Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, it will culminate in Delhi on December 10, International Human Rights Day.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Protesting Mumbai “toxic hell” residents form 3-km human chain, minister agrees to meet

By Our Representative
Hundreds of residents of Mumbai’s highly-polluted Mahul area gathered on Sunday, on the 15th day of their protest, to form a human chain in order to capture the attention of the Maharashtra government towards the plight of over 30,000 citizens, who were “rehabilitated” here last year. The three kilometres long human chain saw the participation of people from other slums in Mumbai, students of the Mumbai University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, representatives from several civil rights organizations, NGOs and individuals.

Unemployment rate 6.9%: Industry admits, retaining employees becoming tough

By Mahesh Trivedi*
India may be the world’s fastest-growing major economy, but the link between growth and job creation is clearly weakening. According to expert estimates, the current growth rate of 7% is only leading to just 1% improvement in employment. Indeed, the view has gone strong, if the Government of India (GoI) fails to create opportunities for the young workforce hunting for decent jobs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election dream may be smashed to smithereens and the economy’s current pace of expansion would be stonewalled.

Saints dying for Ganga's sake keep piling up: Modi's Achilles heel in 2019 polls?

By Sandeep Pandey*
Former Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, professor, Guru Das Agrawal, who became an ascetic in 2011 at the age of 79 years and came to be known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, died on October 11, 2018 on the 112th day of his fast, demanding a law for conservation of river Ganga, at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh.

"Fudging" data and "misinterpreting" them are now part of Modi's and Jaitley's nature

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The tale of King Canute holds a salutary lesson to our Prime Minister. Canute set his throne by the seashore and commanded the incoming tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Yet continuing to rise as usual the tide dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the king leapt backwards, saying: 'Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.'

"False" charges may be levelled against Adivasi-Dalit rights leader: Top Dublin-based NGO

Counterview Desk
Front Line Defenders (FLD), a Dublin (Ireland)-based UN award winning advocacy group, which works with the specific aim of "protecting" human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has expressed the apprehension that cops may bring in "false charges" against Degree Prasad Chouhan, convenor, Adivasi Dalit Majdoor Kisan Sangharsh, which operates from Chhattisgarh.

Statue of Unity? Dedicating it to nation, Modi "subtracted" all that Sardar Patel stood for

By RK Misra*
The 182 metre tall Statue of Unity built on the Narmada river at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore facing the sprawling 1210 metre long sardar Sarovar dam, in Gujarat has been billed as the tallest in the world, surpassing China’s spring temple Buddha. Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dwelt at length on the legendary vision of the first deputy Prime Minister, who had unified the country and appealed to countrymen to remain united against divisive forces.

Recalling Kristallnacht: When will our rulers learn India is about diversity, harmony?

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
It is exactly eighty years since that infamous night of November 9-10, 1938. The world will never ever forget that night known as the ‘Reichspogromnacht’ or by a seemingly more pleasant sounding ‘Kristallnacht’ (crystal night), which ironically refers to the litter of broken glass strewn on the streets after the pogrom. The Nazis and their henchmen were on the onslaught as they attacked Jews and destroyed their property in a night of bloody violence and terror, across Germany and Austria.

Media houses told to reject Sabarimala Karma Samithi "misogyny" in deploying journos

Counterview Desk
The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI), strongly reacting to the Sabarimala Karma Samithi -- which wrote to editor’s news media owners, asking them to refrain from deputing women of certain age groups from reporting on Sabarimala on November 5, when a special puja was to take place -- has said that all media houses should refuse to entertain such "misogyny" and to "deploy the best journalist for the job, not limiting the choice to men.”

Peaceful protests: UP police’s behaviour "unlawful, violent", NHRC told to act

Counterview Desk 
In a representation to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson Justice HL Dattu, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), a well-known human rights organization, has said that the right to protest peacefully, enshrined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, is being eroded across the country, citing several instances where the police are cracking down on those demanding action or raising awareness about legitimate issues.

Sabarimala: Civil servants ask SC to take legal action against BJP chief's "blatant" contempt

Counterview Desk
As many as 50 retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers have reportedly written to the Election Commission, Supreme Court, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ramnath Kovind, seeking action against BJP chief Amit Shah for his speech in Kannur, Kerala, on October 27, he where extended support to those who had been protesting women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple despite the Supreme Court.

Women farmers' suicides in India are under-reported, "conveniently" manipulated

Counterview Desk
A factsheet on women from farm suicide affected households, prepared by Seema Kulkarni of the Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAM), a civil rights advocacy group, has said that more than three lakh women farmers in India have been left to fend themselves after their husbands committed in avout two decades time years since mid-1990s. Their situation becomes even more vulnerable as they are not recognized as farmers but merely as housewives.
MAKAM note on women farmers' suicide: As per official data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 332,798 farm suicides have taken place in India between 1995 and 2016, with 94% of these being of men. 19,968 female farmer suicides have been counted into this reporting. This means that 312,830 women in these households have been suddenly left to fend for themselves, and manage the home and the farm. These official numbers are of course quite under-reported and conveniently-manipulated, compared to what might be the real situatio…

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

At 33%, India's gender gap in mobile phone usage is fourth highest in world

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released Harvard Kennedy School study has estimated that, today in India, 71% of men use mobile phones, as against 38% of women, pointing out that India, along with Pakistan and Bangladesh, are “clear outliers among countries of similar levels of development”, exhibiting “some of the world’s highest gender gaps in access to technology.”

10 Indian workers die in Gulf nations per day, for each $1 billion remitted 117 deaths occur

By Our Representative
A recent Right to Information (RTI) intervention and research of proceedings in Parliament has revealed that between 2012 and mid-2018 more than 24,570 Indian workers died in in six Gulf countries, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This works out to an average of more than 10 deaths per day.

Mumbai's "dangerous" rehab site: There isn't even an evacuation road should any untoward accident occur

By Gajanan Khergamker*
On October 28, 2018, around 200 Project Affected People (PAPs) staged an indefinite sit-in in front of Gate No 2 of Somaiya College in Vidyavihar, their original location, from where they were shifted to Mahul. An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Mumbai inception report on the issue only validates their fears. And, this time around, they are firm, they're just not going back to the hell that risks engulfing their very existence.

Facing 2019 elections, Muslim community's puzzle: Collective vote casting for a "secure" future

By Dr Syed Mohammad Raghib*
A week ago, an eight-year-old madrasa student Mohammad Azeem became the most recent victim of hate crime in Malaviya Nagar, South Delhi. Clearly, the hate culture continues to take new shapes. The lynching mayhem, continuing for the last four-and-a-half years in the name of ‘cow protection’, began with the murder of Akhlaque, and followed with the killing of Pahlu Khan, Junaid, Alimuddin, and Tauheed Ansari.

A weak left and other reasons for right wing forces' "victory" in Brazil, other countries

By Sheshu Babu*
With the far right victory in Brazil, many analysts are predicting domination of right-wing ideology in the coming years. This may sound true, as elections in many countries reflect this, but deeper analysis might reveal the actual state of affairs.

"Neglected" modernization of madrasas: Apex court issues notice to MHRD, 18 states

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
The Supreme Court bench of Justices Rohington Nariman and Abdul Nazeer, in a landmark order, on November 2, took serious note while hearing a petition by a madrasa teacher on not releasing the grant for the beleaguered madarasas registered under SPQEM (Special Project for Quality Education to Madrasas). The bench issued notices to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the principal secretaries of 18 states, asking them to forthwith file replies in connection with defying the order of givings salaries to the madrasa teachers.

"Apathy" towards open defecation in newly developed areas of Gujarat's state capital

By Kevin Antao*
Barely seven kilometres from Gujarat’s seat of power, the new Sachivalaya complex, open defecation is a reality. A newly developed area fast becoming part of the state capital, Sargasan, and part of the Gandhinagar urban development area, has proved to be a mockery of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM), one of whose major thrusts has to free India of this despicable practice.

Tata Mundra lawsuit: US SC hears arguments against World Bank funders' total immunity

Counterview Desk
Earth Rights International (ERI), a US-based non-governmental, nonprofit organization, specializing in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns, with offices in Southeast Asia, the United States and Peru, is involved in fighting a crucial lawsuit that will determine whether international organizations, like the World Bank Group, are absolutely immune from lawsuits in the United States.

J&K's Jamaat-e-Islami "misleading" educated youth into militancy, regrets Islamic site

By Our Representative
A top Islamic site, claiming to map agenda for the 21st century, has taken strong exception to the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir (JIJ&K), a cadre-based religio-political organisation in J&K, likening Indian administration as “Pharaoh’s era” in Kashmir. Distinct from the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, JIJ&K in a statement said: “Indian forces have devised a sinister plan of genocide of Kashmiri youth on the same pattern the Pharaoh of Egypt had once ordered to kill the male infants of Bani-Israel in Egypt.”

India's changed poverty estimates "temper confidence", would reclassify 50 million from poor to not poor

By Rajiv Shah
While the Indian authorities are basking in happiness over the World Bank, in a recent report, showing that India has jumped 23 places to the 77th position in ‘ease of doing business’, another Bank report, “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle”, released last month, has found “important measurement issues” that “temper confidence” in India’s poverty estimates.

'Don't have solution to rehabilitate 30,000 "living" in Mumbai's toxic hell, Mahul'

By Our Representative
The impression has gone strong: The Government of Maharashtra’s housing minister has "denied" 30,000 lives’ freedom from the #Mumbai's toxic hell, Mahul. Talking with the residents of Mahul, Prakash Mehta, Maharashtra’s Cabinet minister for housing, declared, “I don’t have a solution for the rehabilitation of Mahul residents; the ‘government’ will take care of it.”

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”

Impunity shrouds murder of 14 Indian journalists since 2010: Free Speech Tracker

Counterview Desk
The Free Speech Collective, an initiative of journalists, activists and lawyers of India to protect the right to freedom of expression and “vigorously promote free speech and the right to dissent”, in its Free Speech Impunity Indicator, has tracked the status of investigation in the murder of journalists in India, and found that only in one of 14 cases since 2010 there has been some movement towards delivering justice.

"Coercive" land acquisition on in Andhra Pradesh to build Singapore-type state capital

By Our Representative
Civil society network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Dandi-to-Delhi Samvidhan Samman Yatra, currently in its second phase, reached the Amravati region, the proposed capital city of Andhra Pradesh, where it was told that the whole vision of making a capital city by chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has “devastated the agriculture in more than 29 villages in the name of development.”

Ram Mandir issue has potential of causing holocaust similar to 1984 anti-Sikh riots

By Shantanu Basu*
October 31 was the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi. On this day at 1300 hours I was at Hazrat Nizamuddin Station boarding a special coach attached to the Utkal Express to Jhansi, en route to Lalitpur, an offshoot of Jhansi district. This was for our village visit from LBSNAA, Mussoorie. Crowds had started gathering in the streets of Delhi as the news of the PM's assassination spread like wildfire.

Jharkhand govt's "forced" land acquisition for Adanis' zero displacement power plant

By Siraj Dutta*
With much fanfare, the Jharkhand government signed an MoU with the Adani Group in 2016 to setup a power plant in Godda district. A recent fact-finding visit of members of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, an umbrella network of more than 30 people’s organisations, found that this project has gathered several accolades in the last two years - forceful acquisition of land, severe violation of processes set by land acquisition Act, 2013, bulldozing standing crops of farmers, lying to people about the potential benefits, intimidating affected people with police brutalities, lawsuits and so on.

Statue of Unity? Expressionless, unconcerned with Sardar's fight for farmers, tribals

By Ravi Kunchimanchi*
My main problem with the statue of Sardar Patel is that it looks like an enlargement of a passport size picture. It may be the tallest statue but does it make an impact? Built to mimic a photograph, devoid of any artistic license, with hands to the side just dangling doing nothing, this is the statue that is supposed to depict unity and pay homage to Sardar Patel.

Tata Mundra case: US Supreme Court to hear whether World Bank group is immune from law suits

Counterview Desk
On October 31, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments in Budha Ismail Jam vs International Finance Corporation (IFC), a case that will consider whether international organizations, like the World Bank Group, are immune from lawsuits in US courts.

Anti-bullet train campaign: Opposition parties seek "personal hearing" with Japanese funding agency

Counterview Desk
The Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), in alliance with 12 representatives of major Indian political parties, have submitted a memorandum to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train Project, claiming that farmers, Adivasis and other affected communities want the project to be scrapped, as it is being implemented alleged through coercion and impingement on their democratic rights.

Sardar Patel became anathema for Congress, particularly after advent of Indira Gandhi

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Narendra Modi will tomorrow inaugurate the giant Sardar Patel statue facing the Narmada Dam, 3.2 km away on the river island called Sadhu Bet near Rajpipla in Gujarat. Standing almost six hundred feet tall, it is the world's tallest statue. The project began in December 2013, and is probably the only achievement the Modi government has to show. The project worth Rs. 2989 crores was won by Larsen and Toubro (L&T). Initially the total cost of the project was estimated to be about Rs 3,001 crore and was paid for by the Government of India.

Bullet train: Just one hectare acquired out of 1,400 ha required for the massive project

By Mahesh Trivedi*
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been shouting from rooftops that the 750-seat, 10-coach, 350-km-an hour train linking India’s financial capital Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the largest city of his home state of Gujarat, will cover the 508-km elevated rail line in two hours flat even after halting at 12 stations and will benefit well-heeled textile traders, diamond merchants and other professionals shuttling between the two metros.

Statue of Unity: Sardar would have been "uncomfortable" seeing so many laws violated

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicating the 182-metres high statue of Sardar Patel to the nation, a well-known advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), has said that even the Sardar would have felt "uncomfortable" with the so-called Statue of Unity. The reason, according to SANDRP, is that the statue has been built setting aside all environmental and legal prerequisites.

There is robust evidence: BJP govt is using UAPA to silence India's dissent

Counterview Desk
Several Central trade union organisations have come together to insist on the need to repeal Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), because it is allegedly being used to silent dissent in India. Even as demanding the withdrawal of "fabricated charges" against those arrested under UAPA and National Security Act (NSA) and the release of activists arrested under them in the recent past, they said, "An overwhelming number of UAPA detenues are acquitted after years of incarceration. This is robust evidence that government merely uses UAPA as a means to victimise democratic dissenters."

India's majoritarian politics is "demonising" Muslims

By Moin Qazi*
Do not show the face of Islam to others; instead show your face as the follower of true Islam representing character, knowledge, tolerance and piety. ― Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (October 17, 1817 – March 27, 1898)
An educated, secular and liberal Indian Muslim is in a bind; he is torn between finding the right balance between loyalty to his faith and adherence to the new tests of patriotism being imposed by certain intolerant groups. The high voltage saffronisation wave that is demonising Muslims has broken the resistance of even strong neutral and secular groups who are now inclined to go with the official tide.

Dismay over Delhi Varsity decision to drop Kanchi Illaiah's books, disallow 'Dalit'

Counterview Desk
Members of the Delhi University’s Academic Council have protested the university’s decision to remove Kancha Illaiah Shepherd’s books from the curricullum, saying, "The Standing Committee on Academic Affairs carries no brief on the privilege of determining the academic value of his works. By branding him ‘anti-Hindu’, it conflates the philosophical critique of Brahminical Hinduism with the abuse of faith."

Caste and regional divide "replacing" Gujarat's communal cleavage begun in 2002

By RK Misra*
Pebble-stirred ripples both caution and crush. In either case they leave a lasting impact. Three news items that appeared in the recent past bear eloquent testimony to it.The first, pertains to the account of Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah (retd) who had been dispatched at the head of a 3,000 strong army contingent to control the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat.

Sabarimala and #MeToo: Cases of sexual abuse of marginalised women remain largely "unaddressed"

By Sheshu Babu*
This is a rare phase in history where women are fearlessly voicing their rights despite the obstacles raised by male chauvinists. While many people are applauding the movements some are either deriding or expressing some apprehensions. The movements have not only brought out tales of exploitation of women but also exposed caste contradiction and communal discrimination to the fore.

Kerala temple managers should liberate women from spiritual slavery: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
RB Sreekumar, IPS (Retd), former DGP, Gujarat, in a letter to Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of Kerala, has said that the state is passing through an "existential crisis" because of the "retrogressive agitation to oppose entry of women in Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple".

Dongaria Kondhs demand immediate halt to Odisha police "repression" in Niyamgiri Hills

By Manohar Chauhan
Dongaria Kondhs, under the banner of Niaymgiri Surashkya Samittee (NSS), has demanded immediate halt to police repression and asked for peaceful life in Niyamgiri Hills. Alleging state repression on their peaceful movement towards saving Niyamgiri Hills, Lada Sikaka, president of NSS, accused the Government of Odisha of pushing pro-corporate and anti-tribal activities in the state.

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

Haridwar Professor-Swami's death was "mob lynching", state-sponsored "killing"

By Sandeep Pandey, Lubna Sarwath, Gurumoorthy M*
Whether it was a slightly high dose of Potassium at the All-Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Rishikesh which ultimately caused cardiac arrest or deliberate neglect by the government over 112 days of fast-unto-death to demand a law for conservation of Ganga by Professor Guru Das Agrawal turned Swami Sanand, the Central government, and especially the Prime Minister, will be held responsible for his death. Matre Sadan, the ashram in Haridwar where Prof Agrawal fasted, has accused the government of murder by poisoning him.