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Showing posts from January, 2018

India's investment decline, at 8.5%, enters "exceptionally severe" phase: "Question mark" over Modi's Make in India

By Rajiv Shah
The “Economic Survey: 2017-18”, released by the Government of India a couple of days ago, has warned that the slowdown, having lasted at least five years, “has already surpassed the typical duration of slowdown episodes”, adding, “If it continued through 2017, as seems likely, it would have reached the six-year duration recorded in the exceptionally severe cases.”

Modi scheme "deprives" entitlement to 57% pregnant women; 95% working in informal sector not to get maternal benefit

By Our Representative
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-publicized Pradhan Mantri Matru Vendana Yojana (PMMVY), “launched” last year, will deprive entitlement to 57% of needy pregnant mothers. Revealing this, India’s well-known advocacy group, Right to Food Campaign (RFC) has said this is the direct consequence of restriction imposed to providing benefit to “to only the first birth”.

NREGA budget amount "illegally squeezed" by 25% in 17-18, 30% in 16-17; Rs 80,000 crore needed in 18-19: Top NGO

By Our Representative
India’s top advocacy group fighting for the workers employed under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), has insisted that any budget less than Rs 80,000 crore would be “insufficient to meet even the projected demand for work timely payment of wages.”

Paying the price: The likes of Godse and his ilk still rule the roost, systematically destroying the idea of India

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*Exactly seventy years ago on 30 January 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. On his death, in an impromptu and highly emotional radio address to the nation, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India said, “the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.”
Nehru went on to add, “The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts. For that light represented something more than the immediate past, it represented the living, the eternal truths, reminding us of the right path, drawing us from error, taking this ancient country to freedom”.
Nehru thus voiced the sentiments of millions of Indians- then and perhaps even…

Promoting 'Hindi ' (and Hindu) globally? Equal treatment of all languages is essential in a pluralistic society

Sheshu BabuIndia is a complex nation with varied culture and multiple languages. India has the second highest languages(780) after Papua New Gunea (839), according to Wikipedia. But according to readmeindia.com , there are as many as 880 languages in2016 (Total Languages in India -- Past and Present , September 10, 2016). Article 343 deals with official languages.
Estimates of the 2001 census suggest that about 41.1% of total population speak Hindi. The Eighth Schedule lists 22 official languages .(constitution.org). There are many dialects of Hindi.
Recently, India's external minister said that the United Nations (UN) should adopt Hindi along with other official languages of UN ("India wants Hindi as official language", hindustantimes.com, Jan 3 2018) and is ready to bear Rs 400 crore as expenses.  But as Shashi Tharoor rightly asked in Parliament (thehindu.com): What would be the purpose of making Hindi as an official language of the UN? Out of six languages, only two -…

India's anti-minority incidents: Legal solution not enough, one must stand up publicly, say 67 top ex-officers

By Our Representative
Sixty-seven retired IAS, IFS (foreign) and IPS officers, in an open letter have sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "clear" and "immediate" response to sharp rise in "violence and discrimination" against minorities in India, seeking his "firm action against the perpetrators of such hate crimes against minorities in this country by the respective law enforcement authorities."

Ahead of Gujarat elections, Madhya Pradesh's top Narmada reservoirs were depleted to "appease" voters

By Our Representative
Strongly arguing as to how the Narmada dam was filled up ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections, which took place in mid-December 2017, senior farmers' leader Sagar Rabari of Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG) has said, quoting official data, that on July 1, the water level in the 138.68 metre dam was at 114.97 metres, but on October 1, it was allowed to reach 130.74 metres, all to whip up sentiments of people around a river considered sacred by people.

No matching grants from states for 32 of 99 of India's future smart cities, only 6.5% grants for urban housing used

By Our Representative
Even as the Government of India has chosen nine more cities to make them "smart", a top data analysis site has revealed that less than a quarter of central funds for four major national programmes for India’s urban renewal have so far been either sanctioned or used.

Gujarat CM plans to appoint parliamentary secretaries; Congress leader warns: I will drag you to court

By Our Representative
In a move that has made Opposition Congress raise eye-brows, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has begun consultations to appoint parliamentary secretaries, allegedly to manage "growing dissent" in the party because of failure to satisfy all the groups -- caste and regional -- seeking ministerial berth.

Gujarat's biggest China-backed steel plant "initiated" by CM off Mundra has no eco-clearance: Govt of India told

By Our Representative
Is Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani seeking to set up Gujarat's biggest China-backed steel plant in Mundra, Kutch district, without verifying that the promoter private company has not taken any environmental clearance? It would seem is, if a letter written by well-known environmental expert, Mahesh Pandya, to CK Mishra, secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India is any indication.

Why hasn't US even touched upon sharp rise in human rights violations in India?, asks Human Rights Watch

By Our Representative
Washington-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has taken strong exception to American President Donald Trump failing to raise human rights violations with India. In its "World Report 2018", the HRW has cited the US-India joint statement issued during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US to say that it did not even have "a token mention of pressing human rights issues in India, including limits on free speech and attacks on religious minorities."

Deaths in India due to air pollution rose, plummeted in China; situation "serious" in Dec 2017, shows EU satellite

Counterview Desk
Even as ranking one of the worst – 177th among 180 countries – in Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a joint study by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Yale and Columbia universities – released around the time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi the addressed the WEF in Davos – has regretted that India “India has made little progress reducing air pollution levels”, while China has begun achieving the much needed “stability.”

Need to do as much as possible to make our world a more humane, just, equitable, loving, peaceful place

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj* On 21 January 2018 I complete two full years since I left Ahmedabad and reached Beirut, to work here with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the MENA Region. Looking back at these two eventful years, I realise that there is much to be thankful for: I have learnt and received much in my interactions with the refugees and the displaced.

51% Indian garment workers, worse than Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, get less than minimum wages

By Our Representative
At a time when top Indian American economist Prof Arvind Panagariya, known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wants Government of India (GoI) to drop the minimum wage criterion for labour-intensive garment sector to survive, top international NGO Oxfam said, wages in India’s garment sector are already one of the lowest in the seven countries it has studied.

How much area in Gujarat is irrigated with Narmada water? Why is industry breakup not released? Asks farmers leader

By Our Representative
Strongly refuting Gujarat government claim that just about 4.7 million acre feet (MAF) of water is available from Narmada dam, which is more than 50% -- or 9 MAF -- that should be made available to Gujarat, hence no Narmada water will be available for irrigation after March 15, top farmers' leader Sagar Rabari has wondered: How much land is being irrigated from the dam's water?

India ranked worse than China, Pakistan, B'desh, Sri Lanka in inclusive index as Modi reaches Davos to address WEF

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addresses the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday, India ranks worse than all its neighbours in the new Inclusive Development Index (IDI) which it has released on the day WEF summit began in the Swiss city, January 22. Ranking 62nd out of 74 emerging economies, India's ranking is worse than not just China but also Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

More than 50 million jobless in India, Gujarat model has failed, demonetisation helped rich: California economist

By Our Representative
A senior Indian American economist, Prof Pranab Bardhan, has said that, as against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's big promise of creating 100 million jobs to win the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, what one is witnessing today is a movement in just the opposite direction: "We have a total number of workers exceeding 50 million who are either unemployed or underemployed", he has said in a comprehensive interview.

Narmada for irrigation? Gujarat polls led BJP rulers to postpone announcement of "water scarcity": Top CM aide

By Our Representative
Sharply reacting to Counterview story (click HERE), which said, quoting Gujarat government sources, that the state's farmers will not be provided with Narmada waters this summer because the waters would diverted to Madhya Pradesh agricultural fields in view of the elections there this year, a top aide of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has said, "There is real shortage, and this the only reason why Gujarat farmers wouldn't be able to get waters."

Arrest of two anti-MNC Odisha adivasi activists set to turn into a major human rights issue: Petition to CM

By Our Representative
The recent arrest of two Odisha adivasi activists who had campaigned against the Korean multinational company POSCO -- Judhistira Jena, 60, and Babula Samal, 45, both residents of Dhinkia village, Jagatsinghapur district -- is all set to turn into a major human rights issue, with a civil rights organization and two well-known legal luminaries saying it outlines "a frightening picture of hounding of adivasi villagers" in the state.

Narmada waters in Gujarat "stopped" to appease Madhya Pradesh farmers with eye on elections: Government insider

By Our Representative
A well-informed Gujarat government source has told Counterview that a major reason why the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) recently declared there would be “no water” from the multi-purpose irrigation scheme, Sardar Sarovar dam, to Gujarat farmers starting March 15, 2018, is Madhya Pradesh elections, scheduled for this year-end.

Why three years on no American CEOs have found India a fit destination for their money...

By Rajiv Tyagi*Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his trip to the US in 2015, met with CEOs of companies with a combined worth of 4.5 trillion USD, more than twice India's GDP. The main takeaway from the trip was that India needs to work on infrastructure and ease-of-doing-business issues and laws that corporates find too restrictive. Many expressed their worry about Internet censorship and Government snooping, some about corruption and the bureaucrat-politician nexus and others about India's business laws.
These are all points anyone could have told Mr. Modi; he did not have to travel to ask CEOs of companies in the US. There are however, other points that no CEO or head of state will ever say in public...
When we wish to invite billions of US Dollars worth of investment to India, we have to ensure that we project an image of a scientifically driven society, of a nation driven by the rule of law, by a judiciary that can be expected to deliver impartial judgments without bribe…

1.29 lakh forest land claims rejected in Odisha, gram sabhas being disempowered: CSD tells Central tribal team

By Our Representative
Members of the Campaign For Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a forest rights organization, have told Nanda Kumar Sai, chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), Government of India, that, contrary to huge propaganda by the state government, about 1.29 lakh out of a total of 6.05 lakh individual forest rights (IFR) claims have been rejected in Odisha.

Pretending to be saviour of Bengalis, Mamata Banerjee fails to gather support even of Bangalis living in Assam

By Nava Thakuria*
For many people in eastern India, Bangladeshi means Bengali. It indicates that everyone living in Bangladesh must be a Bengali. But in reality, Bangladesh is a tiny neighbouring nation bordering West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura with a secular identity comprising various ethnic tribes. The populous country is however dominated by Muslim population where almost everyone speaks Bengali language.
The people of Assam somehow maintain a strained relationship with the Bengali people, even though some of the distinguished Bengali personalities immensely contributed for the growth of Assamese language and culture. One can remember the contributions of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Ashutosh Mukherjee, Prafullachandra Ray, Shyama Prasad Mukherji, Annada Sankar Ray, Rajmohan Nath, Padmanath Bidyavinod, Bibhubhusan Choudhury, Arun Purkayastha, Arun Guha, Hemanga Biswas, Baidyanath Mukherji, Basanta Kumar Das, Arun Chanda, Amalendu Guha, Nanda Benarji, Pulak Banerji, Rabin…

Of 1.1 million pollution-related deaths in India, 75% happened in rural areas, says Massachusetts study

Counterview Desk
A new study has found that high pollution levels contributed to nearly 1.1 million deaths in 2015, or 10.6% of the total number of deaths in India, with "the burden falling disproportionately (75%) on rural areas". The study raises the alarm that if no action is taken, "population exposures to PM2.5 are likely to increase by more than 40% by 2050."

Haj wasn't the only subsidy, Govt of India must come clean on all religious spendings: Gujarat minority rights body

By Our Representative
Following the Government of India decision to stop Haj Subsidy to Muslims, a minority rights organization has, in a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, sought a white paper from the Government of India (GoI) on the types of subsidies being offered to different religious organizations.

Facebook reaction to question on impact of 'privatization and saffronization’ on higher education is politically motivated

AIFRTE statement condemning the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook by ABVP student against Prof K Laxminarayana, University of Hyderabad, and partisan and criminal inaction of the University authorities:
The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) strongly condemns the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook to senior Prof. K. Laxminarayana of the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad by a student, Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya belonging to the ABVP, at the Department of History of the same university. Claiming to be a critique of an examination paper set by Prof. Laxminarayana for the elective option Economics of Education, the intemperate response of the ABVP student in fact targets a specific question on the impact of 'privatization and saffronization’ on higher education.
However, there is more to the highly politically motivated reaction of this student. Prof. Laxminarayana had published a critical analysis of the Justice …

In PM's home district Mehsana, 20% teens, age 14-18, "not enrolled", one of the highest in India; 55% are wage earners

By Rajiv Shah
The new Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2017: Beyond Basics), an annual survey carried by the high profile NGO Pratham, has found that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home district Mehsana has a whopping 20.3% children in the age group 14-18, who are not enrolled in either school or college.

Job creation: Top ex-Modi adviser wants India to shed Reliance model, opposes minimum wage requirement

By Our Representative
Top Indian American economist, Prof Arvind Panagariya, who resigned as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's top man in the Government of India’s think-tank Niti Ayog, has controversially said that India does not need Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) type of model, which are not job-intensive.

I have a dream... that one day racism, xenophobia, jingoism, casteism, pseudo-nationalism, gender bias will be a thing of the past

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
It was Martin Luther King Jr Day in the United States on January 15. Many would have truly celebrate his memory and the rich legacy, which he has left all. Not many will forget his memorable speech ‘I have a dream’ on 28 August 1963 during that famous ‘March on Washington’. That speech, with those immortal words, is regarded as the defining moment of the civil rights movement.
Martin Luther King (MLK) was a committed disciple of Jesus and he never fought shy of that; besides he was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his twin doctrine of truth and non-violence. The spirit, the vision and legacy of MLK, belong today to the whole world.
If MLK were alive today, he would still be deeply concerned about what is still happening to his people; he would be even more concerned at the ‘state of affairs’ all around him. Given his passion to set things right, he would tell the world that he is still dreaming…and he would loudly and boldly say:
I have a dream
That one d…

Jharkhand starvation deaths: Result of fake savings by cancelling jobs, ration cards, pensions not linked to aadhaar

By Our Representative
Amidst news of yet another starvation death in Jharkhand (click HERE), the Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand, has said that recent investigations by it has revealed “a clear and disturbing pattern” of the manner in which aadhaar has ended up excluding people from rations, pensions and jobs, generating “fake savings” in the bargain.

Seventh starvation death in Jharkhand: Budhni didn't have aadhaar, ration card; her Indira Awas house has no roof

By Our Representative
In yet another gruesome incident in Jharkhand, a 40-year-old tribal woman has reportedly died of starvation in Sewatand village of Giridih district. The woman has been identified as Budhni Soren. A widow, she is survived by her daughter Sunita, and seven-year-old son, who happened to be the only family member living with her. Budhni was not getting any ration, as leave aside Aadhaar, she did not even have a ration card.

Bhima-Koregaon clash: There is hegemonic appropriation, or rather misappropriation, of the concept of nationalism

By Adv Masood Peshimam
There is always the good narrative dominantly favoring virtues of Peshwai Raj but battle lines drawn at Bhima Koregaon between Britishers and Marathas with the significant inclusion of Mahar regiment create an exception. Sometimes there is the historical twist to display glass as diamond. The Bhima-Koregaon clash between Britishers and Marathas is not seen in the context of British-Maratha war. It is the culmination of the outburst of the Dalit anger against the tyranny unleased over the Dalits or the backward caste people. The Britishers created the Mahar regiment from the people who suffered worsening plight at the hands of Peshwa or the prevailing socio economic conditions. The Dalits suffered the worst suppression and oppression. The Britishers were ready to take the advantage of the exacerbated relations between Marathas and the Dalits or the Mahars.
The battle at Bhima-koregaon was fought between the Britishers & the Marathas in which Marathas suffered …

Where will the shit go? Ask Gujarat villagers owning "fake" toilets built without drainage under Swacch Bharat Mission

By Pankti Jog*
What will be your reaction, if one fine morning you get to know that the toilet in your house is listed to be built with the support of government subsidy, that too under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category? What one might think as a silly joke is a reality for the residents of Dhangadhra city in Surendranagar district of Gujarat.

Aadhaar has prompted fears of state surveillance on individual privacy, violating human rights: Amnesty, HRW

By Our Representative
Two of the world's top human rights organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (AI and HRW) , in a joint statement, have thrown their weight behind those opposing aadhaar, saying, the Government of India’s "mandatory biometric identification project, aadhaar, could lead to millions of people being denied access to essential services and benefits in violation of their human rights."

Attack on Bhima Koregaon: As 2019 polls approach, BJP/RSS will seek to polarize people on caste, communal lines, create civil strife

By Umar Khalid*
I went to Maharashtra as I along with other activists and intellectuals were invited to come there. I along with others was a guest there. And I would remember fondly the love and support that I received in Pune and Mumbai. I would remember the resilience and enthusiasm of the people I met and their resoluteness to fight Manuvaad and centuries old casteist tyranny. I would remember the immense inspiration that I felt, when we paid homage to Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule in Phule-wada, Pune.

Cases "prompting" judges' rebellion: Loya's death, 2G, aadhaar, Chhattisgarh sexual violence, medical college graft

By Our Representative
Even as supporting the four senior-most judges' open defiance of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, India's well-known legal rights NGO, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), has pointed towards seven instances of what they call "abuse of power" by the CJI which is "destroying the image of the Supreme Court and subverting the course of justice."

Challenging compacts: Towards a more effective, practical engagement with migrants and refugees

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 14 January 2018, the Catholic Church will observe the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The theme this year is “Welcoming, Protecting, Promoting and Integrating Migrants and Refugees”; Pope Francis in his message highlights “the Church’s concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking”. He makes a passionate plea for more meaningful commitments from every section of society and challenges all for a more proactive response to the cries of the migrants, refugees and other displaced.
The historic ‘United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants’ was held in New York on 19 September 2016. It was the very first time that the UN General Assembly had brought together Heads of State and of Government to develop a blueprint for a more effective international response to perhaps the single most important crises of modern times, which affect millions across the globe today.
The outcome of that watershed meet was ‘The New York Declara…

"Abuse" of power by Chief Justice is destroying Supreme Court's image, subverting the course of justice

Statement by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), India's top legal rights organization, on issues raised by four Supreme Court judges at a press conference in Delhi:
CJAR salutes the four senior judges of the Supreme Court for taking the extraordinary step of publicly apprising the people of this country about the distressing state of affairs in the Supreme Court. The Judges have formally informed citizens of a dangerous pattern which was becoming visible – of the Chief Justice abusing his power as the master of roster in selectively assigning important and politically sensitive cases to particular benches of junior judges of his choice, in an arbitrary manner, without any rational basis.
This would have a serious long term impact on democracy and the future of our republic.
Though the senior judges did not mention it, but it is clear that the assignment of such cases to certain junior judges was for achieving a particular result, which in most cases can be s…