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Showing posts from February, 2018

Gujarat riot victims are told they're not true Muslims, hence they suffer: It's conspiracy to displace us again, they allege

By Our Representative
Mir Khan, who lives in the Hussainabad resettlement colony off North Gujarat town Himmatnagar, feels like a Muhajir, the term "derogatorily" used for those Muslims in Pakistan who left India soon after partition in 1947. "We started living in the colony after we were forced to leave our residence following the communal violence that erupted 16 years ago, on February 28, 2002, little knowing that we too would treated like Muhajirs, outsiders", he said.

TISS SC, ST students being discriminated, are disbursed scholarship equal to study cost in home district: Scholars

Counterview Desk
In a strange disbursement of scholarship meant for deprived sections, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) students from scheduled castes or tribes (SCs or STs), or those blonging to other backward classes (OBCs), studying in TISS are learnt to be "eligible" to availing only the amount at par with other students from their home districts, doing a similar course in a local government college.

16 years after Gujarat riots, 3380 families live in 83 rehab colonies without housing rights, basic amenities

By Our Representative
Data compiled by several of Gujarat's civil society organizations, who have worked for the rehabilitation of victims of 2002 communal riots, in which about 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, died, have revealed that, as of today, as many as 3,380 displaced families -- or about 17,000 persons -- continue to live in 83 rehabilitation colonies in the state.

High Court asks LG, MCD, Delhi govt to provide land and building for Emergency-demolished Qaumi School

By Our Representative
Expressing displeasure over the “lackadaisical” way of handling the issue of Qaumi School, an Urdu medium minority school that was razed down during the Emergency, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Delhi Government, Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Delhi Waqf Board and the Municipal Council of Delhi (MCD)-South to build a school for the 700 odd students who study there in pathetic situation under extremities of unfavourable weather conditions.

UP govt spent 38% of budget till January 2018, allocation for social sector in 2018-19 slips, many schemes dropped

By Umesh Babu*
The Uttar Pradesh budget papers, presented by the state government in the assembly on February 16, even as suggesting an 11.4% rise in allocations -- from Rs 4,17,257 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 4,56,248 crore in 2018-19 -- have, ironically, also revealed that the total expenditure met during 2017-18 till January 2018 was just 37.91%. It means, till March-end, the government would need to spend 62% of the budget amount.

Protesters oppose Direct Bank Transfer, testimonies suggest how Jharkhand villagers are being harassed

By Our Representative
Thousands of residents of Nagri Block (Ranchi District, Jharkhand) have marched to the Chief Minister’s house on Monday to protest against the Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) for food subsidy, currently under experiment the villages near Ranchi. The experiment is claimed caused havoc in Nagri in the last four months. A recent survey found that 97% of PDS cardholders are opposed to it.

Extra-judicial killings? 13 out of 14 UP encounter deaths examined were not in police's "most wanted" list: Report

By Our Representative
Even as the Yogi Adityanath government has been claiming a huge success in what it calls ‘swacch badmash abhiyan’ (movement to cleanse criminals), a comprehensive report for the based on spot inquiry in the state's "most successful" four districts reveals that, of the 13 cases it examined, "none of those killed ever appeared on the ‘most wanted list’ put out by the IG crime office of the UP police."

351 incidents of anti-Christian violence in India, 2017 was "most traumatic" after 2007-08 Kamdhamal pogrom

By Our Representative
In a strong critique of the Narendra Modi government, which is likely to have a major impact on the so-called Christian world, India's national alliance of evangelical Christians has qualified the year 2017 "one of the most traumatic for the Christian community in India since the mass targeted violence of the Kandhamal pogrom in 2007 and 2008" in Odisha.

Banks are easy targets for tapping huge funds, as influential politicians care little for irregularities

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
The saying goes that there is always a crime behind every big money. Indeed, criminals care a hoot for law as they feel that they can play havoc with justice by purchasing it. They don’t fear the consequences as they know that they can be steered clear of the blame put on them as they have the potential and clout to grease the palm at the right corner. Those becoming rich overnight are least concerned with the devastating effects of their criminal acts, as the same can be neutralized with corrupt means.
Muscle power follows money power. The twin power of money and muscle draws its strength from proximity to the political class. In the given situation it’s easy to promote fortunes very fast. The story of rags to riches with an enormous speed reflects deceit, fraud and chicanery. Prominent poet late Zafar Gorakhpuri of Bollywood’s “Bazigar” fame can be quoted here:
“Kal tak jo the mere sath bhikh mangne wale,
Aaj ek raat me amir kaise ban baithe.”

(How is it that th…

Mainstream media is not willing to reveal that racial hatred is used to divide people and destroy society

By Asokan Nambazhikkad*
The right to dissent is supreme in a democracy. In its essence, democracy exists on the strength of the will of individuals and groups to dissent and disagree. It is this will, which even an individual in the lowest strata of society should be able to exercise, that is being hacked at its roots every day in contemporary India.
The government and the political parties which run them are trying to tame dissenters or to suppress them if they cannot; they will even take their life if these attempts fail. Individual liberty and fearless interventions are obstacles to governments to protect their secret interests and to parties to protect their vested interests.
Thus individuals, media and small groups which intervene independently and fearlessly against injustice and exploitation in society are perceived as threats by the state. The politics of hatred generated by the Sangh Parivar, which controls the Indian state today, divides and destroys society in various ways. …

Govt of India using adjudication bodies to "help out" corporate defaulters of banks: TU-civil society meet

By Our Representative
A joint meeting of civil society and trade union organizations has accused the Government of India of making frenzied attempts of pushing nationalized banks through Reserve Bank of India to take defaulting companies to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), and start bankruptcy proceeding. This, the meet said, is a major reason for a sharp rise in non-performing assets (NPAs) of banks.

How Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, collaborators in Vibrant Gujarat 2017, fleeced state jewellery customers

By Shaktisinh Gohil*
Nirav Modi ("chhota Modi") and Mehul Choksi ("hamare Mehulbhai") have not only siphoned off from India’s banks a sum of Rs 21,306 crore. A new layer of conspiracy has now been unearthed which discloses that India’s middle class and common people have also been duped of Rs.5,000 crore or perhaps more. A complicit Modi Government has even refused to publicly acknowledge this loot.
Gitanjali Gems Limited had floated three jewellery investment schemes, i.e. (a) Shagun, (b) Swarna Mangal Labh, and (c) Swarna Mangal Kalash. Modus operandi of the scheme was that an ordinary person, seeking to buy jewellery as also to earn a return on investment, was required to pay 11 installments of a specified amount. In return, the Gitanjali group offered to pay the 12th installment as free. Tenure of these installments could be 12 months, 24 months or 36 months. At the end of the tenure, the amount so accumulated could be redeemed for jewellery with an additional bo…

India slips two ranks in corruption index: Report finds country among "worst" offenders for persecuting journos, activists

By Our Representative
Even as India is shown slipping by two points to the 81st rank among 180 countries from 79th a year earlier, the new Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2017 has regretted that the country finds itself in the company of the Philippines and Maldives for being “among the worst regional offenders” where “journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies are threatened, and in the worst cases, even murdered.”

India's trust level falls by 13 points, one of the highest in world, as China "takes over" India's No 1 position: Report

By Our Representative
A new report, “2018 Edelman Trust Barometer”, has said that with an aggregate 13-point decline India has found itself among the six top countries that have experienced one of the highest trust losses among the 28 countries it has analyzed. The calculation is based on India’s trust-level slipping in three of the four categories analyzed – government institutions, media and NGOs.

Govt of India refuses to make public black money reports citing RTI's confidentiality clauses, Parliamentary privilege

By Our Representative
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have compared his government's efforts to flush out black money with his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. But the ministries and departments operating under him appear to believe that reports prepared by them on black money cannot be made public because they were covered under secrecy clauses of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Vending pakoras can hardly be the real meaning of New India, yet Modi believes in it

By Anand K. Sahay
‘New India’ is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s copyright. It wasn’t in the BJP manifesto in 2014. It is a powerful rubric with which to attract youth power, and harness it.
And yet, when nearly four years of the five are done, the best that Modi’s BJP can do to bring the young Indian on board is to cook up the idiotic notion of pakora growth, and pakora politics, when unemployment is rampant among all classes.
This little savoury on the snack menu can’t surely be the lead symbol of the Asian century in which India thinks it has a part to play. Vending pakoras can hardly be said to the real meaning of India in the new era.
But, surprisingly, Modi believes it does. When questions on rising joblessness were being flung at him, he was far from defensive. His instinctive- and instant and heartless- reply was that making pakoras was also work.
It is hard not to be reminded of the vicious mocking tone of Marie Antoinette- the French queen sent to the guillotine by the revolutio…

One has to be either a fool or a liar to try to project that saree is the only dress for women

Well-known fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who has sold designer merchandise using the label Sabyasachi, and is an associate designer member of Fashion Design Council of India and board member of the National Museum of Indian Cinema, was recently engulfed in controversy following his remark before Indian students at the Harvard India Conference that if women do not know how to wear a saree, they should be ashamed. Mukherjee has designed costumes for Bollywood films such as Guzaarish, Baabul, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Raavan, and English Vinglish. Reacting to his remark, Rajni Basumatary, a Bodo woman has written an open letter. Text of the letter:
Let me begin by reminding you, saree is not a national garment for women in India neither it is any divinely ordained garment and those of us not proficient in wearing it are not ‘ashamed’ of it.
Speaking at the Harvard India Conference, you came out with an outrageous comment, “I think, if you tell me that you do not know how to wear …

For Modi, early election is a political compulsion, his story is different from that of Vajpayee

By Anand K Sahay
"But something is happening here and you don’t know what it is Do you, Mr, Jones?"
 -- Bob Dylan, 1965  Rulers seldom know what’s happening, do they? They have the intelligence apparatus and their party politicos feeding them whatever the powerful like to hear, but the assessment of the people can be in delicious discord.
Atal Behari Vajpayee ordered elections early because his India was shining. He paid the price. Through cries of policy paralysis and corruption, Dr Manmohan Singh went in expecting to be reasonably rewarded. After all, his government had delivered a nearly eight per cent (10 per cent by today’s yardstick) rate of growth over a ten-year period, unprecedented for a democracy. Yet, the result was a shock.
What was common between the two governments -- covering a period of about 16 years of elite section boy- scout optimism -- was bubbly talk for much of the time by economists, policy wonks, and the World Bank and the IMF. In the end, the politics p…

Gujarat's developmental expenditure to grow 2% in 2018-19, non-developmental by 20%: State budget papers

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat budget papers released by the state government in the assembly on Tuesday suggest that while the “developmental” expenditure for the forthcoming financial year, 2018-19, would rise by just about 2.46% over the previous year, 2017-18, the “non-developmental” expenditure, on the other hand, would grow by a whopping 20.2%.

Revoke, apologize for "unceremonious" deportation of ex-Swiss diplomat from India: Sushma Swaraj told

By Our Representative
Forty-five civil rights leaders, academics and professionals have asked India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to immediately revoke what they call “unceremonious” deportation of veteran ex-Swiss diplomat and an old India hand, Kurt Vögele, from the Ahmedabad airport on January 22, seeking an apology from the government for the “unreasonable” treatment meted out to him.

Housing for all? Maharahstra govt "utilizes" 0.444% of budget in 2017-18, scheme not meant for slum-dwellers: GBGBA

By Our Representative
The Maharashtra government has failed to utilise funds allocated for constructing affordable housing as part of its ambitious plan to curb homelessness from the state. A total of Rs 1,381.95 crore were allocated for the current fiscal year under the Housing For All scheme, out of which 0.444% (Rs 5.001 crore) were spent on housing, while the remaining 99.556% is unspent as on today.

Less than 15% of Odisha tribals' community rights recognized, thousands of forest land claims rejected: CSD activists

By Our Representative
The tribal rights group Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, has revealed that while around 40,000 mainly tribal villages are eligible to get community rights over forests, the state government has “haphazardly recognized” community forest rights of just about 5,964 (14.91%) of them, including 1070 in Kandhamal, followed by Keonjhar (511), Mayurbhanja (414), Kalahandi (185), Rayagarda (178), Malkangiri (74), and Koraput (58) districts.

When Nimo meets Namo: One could well ask if anything is ever fair in today's era of vendetta politics?

By Rajdeep Sardesai*
One good thing in the often joyless times in which we live is the flowering of satire and cartooning on social media (yes, RK Laxman's legacy is alive and kicking) For the last week, my whatsapp has been buzzing, not so much with breaking news, as with 'breaking jokes'. Every few minutes there is a new Nirav Modi joke that enters my inbox which is then almost instantaneously shared with friends and 'contacts' since we all need a break from the tedium of our lives. Most of the jokes have a distinct Narendra Modi angle to them. Now, it is purely coincidental that the latest swindler in town shares a surname with the prime minister and with another famous fugitive, but it clearly isn't a happy coincidence (bloody hell, even the acronym NiMo is all too uncomfortably close for comfort to NaMo). As the latest joke goes: 'the Congress gave us five Gandhis in 60 years, while the BJP has given us three Modis in four years so the BJP wins on the D…

Hold 2019 Lok Sabha polls with ballot paper, gap between EVM and democracy has grown wide: Congress

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, the Congress has demanded that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections should be held with ballot paper, and not Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Addressing a civil society-sponsored meeting in Delhi, party spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, "EVM machines are destroying the trust between the voter and the democratic system. Democracy is too precious to be left to the machines."

RSS plans to negate the Ambedkarite social justice process through its militarization

By Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd* and John Wesley**
The Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s chief Mr.Mohan Bhagwat says that the RSS as a military network (of the Brahminic forces) can move to the borders to protect the nation within three days while the Indian Army ( multicultural, multi-caste and secular force) will take six months. This is not only dangerous statement of the ISIS kind, but it has serious life implications to all Shudras/OBCs/Dalits and Adivasis. It has very serious implications to the Social Justice agenda that is in operation because of the Ambedkarite Constitution.
When the RSS head says its army will go to the borders that means it has already acquired major war weapons into its fold and it has trained its forces. The nation can imagine what they are up to now. This is a massive private army existing in the nation now.
The RSS is a Hindu fundamentalist organization like the ISIS is a Muslim fundamentalist organization. Both of them believe in capturing the nations through their …

PNB saga: A wonderful excuse being offered by banking experts and financial wizards is, it's a systemic failure

By Mousumi Roy*
Heartiest Congratulations to the Government of India. They have allowed the second billionaire who has done the biggest fraud of India to leave the country. Where are those who are charged with the responsibility of keeping an eye on the financial institutions in the country, like the revenue intelligence wings in Banks, RBI, ED and others?
Why the Government of the day did not act on the basis of complaints sent by certain individuals or in some case even by Director of Allahabad Bank? When the RBI conducts its audit of the Bank finances how could they not detect it? Scam after scam no one knows what happened, why it happened and how to plug it?
No learning, no analysis and also no one to blame except the invisible and dumb system. What a sad state of inequality, fraud and nepotism in one of the largest sham democracies in the world which is being looted by just 100 odd billionaires and politicians on a daily basis while hundreds of millions have no food, no toilet, no…

1.3 million farming households may lose livelihood due to shipping, navigation in Ganga-Brahmaputra: Study

Counterview Desk
A new study “Expanding Tradable Benefits of Trans-boundary Water: Promoting Navigational Usage of Inland Waterways in Ganga and Brahmaputra Basins”, has raised the alarm that any changes in their water flow from growing shipping and navigation will affect the livelihoods of the nearly 1.3 million farming households and tens of thousands of fishing households dependent on the rivers.

97% don't want Direct Bank Transfer for food from ration shop, 25% didn't receive cash, says Jharkhand survey

By Our Representative
A recent survey, carried out by student volunteers in the Nagri block in the outskirts of Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand, has found that a huge 97% of the sample households have opposed Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) against the subsidies they should be getting by using the public distribution (PDS) system ration shops. The survey was coordinated by well-known academic Jean Dreze  and researcher Nazar Khalid.

J&K: BJP in fix as leader seeks release of cop accused in rape, murder of 8-year old after holding right-wing rally

By Our Representative
The rape and murder of eight-year-old nomadic girl, Asifa Bano of Hiranagar town in Kathua district, mid-January is blowing into a full-blown political controversy engulfing BJP, a partner in the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) government, following a Hindu Ekta Manch (HEK) rally last week seeking the release of a special police officer (SPO) arrested for the gruesome act.

Dalit women are top victims of domestic violence; more women justify husband beating wife than men: GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India (GoI) report, likely to create a major flutter among sociologists, women's rights activists and feminists, as also those claiming to be Dalit and tribal rights activists, has said that a whopping 24.6% scheduled caste (SC) women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence during the 12 months preceding a survey carried out to ascertain empowerment issues they face.

As 23% of India’s population is still thirsting for electricity, US foundation calls it a private business opportunity

By Our Representative
At a time when the Government of India (GoI) has claimed that 99.4% of the country's villages have been electrified, but the GoI's powerful thinktank electrification, Niti Aayog, has pointed out that there are 304 million people who still lack access to electricity in its draft National Energy Policy (NEP), released in mid-2017, top US business interests have begun to see it as an opportunity.

With Land Acquisition Act, 2013, pace of land grab has increased vastly: Top Chhattisgarh legal rights NGO

By Our Representative
In a surprise note, the Janhit Peoples' Legal Resource Centre in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, which seeks to provide legal aid to peoples' movements, village committees, NGOs, and trade unions, has qualified the 2013 Land Acquisition Act (LAA) as providing only "notional protection", insisting that for people the only benefit it provides is the "right to register objections..."

Thick-skinned Modi loyalists are bullying journalists, lodging "serious criminal cases" in India: Washington Post

By Our Representative
The powerful US daily "Washington Post" (WP) has sharply criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him "popular and thick-skinned", even as pointing towards how he has "effectively cut off the mainstream media, forgoing news conferences to communicate directly with his vast electorate through Twitter, where he has 40 million followers."

Gujarat's 22% rural girls fail to attend school, worse than all states, including UP, Bihar: Govt of India report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India (GoI) report, released recently, has found that, despite much hype around girl child education through Kanya Kalavani Mahotsav – the annual school enrolment event launched by Narendra Modi as chief minister in Gujarat way back 2004 – the “model” state’s rural girls fare worse among all 21 major Indian states in schooling.

Why just Rs 55 lakh budget funds for Gujarat minorities? Rights group to hand 1 lakh signatures to CM Rupani

By Our Representative
Gujarat's new minority rights organization, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), which proposes to hand over a list of eight demands signed by over one lakh individuals, mainly Muslims, on February 14, to chief minister Vijay Rupani, has said that it wants the state government to raise the "negligible" allocation made in the budget for them, which is just Rs 55 lakh.

Shifted from Gujarat to Andhra, questions raised on N-project's viability: Lack of eco-nod for developer Westinghouse

By Our Representative
DiaNuke.org, a team of dedicated researchers and activists claiming to be a one-stop resource for nuclear information, analysis and discussions, has strongly protested against the proposed visit of officials of the US-based nuclear corporation Westinghouse to "resuscitate" the plan the Kovvada nuclear project planned on Andhra Pradesh coast, saying, the local communities see it as a threat to their environment, health, livelihood and traditional lifestyle.

Kasganj events: How nationalism is being misused to polarize society with an eye on 2019 election

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
On the eve of festivals the police in Maharashtra, particularly in cities like Kalyan, make very effort to maintain communal harmony and social stability. No stone is left unturned to secure a peaceful environment. In meetings convened by the police plenty of opportunities are provided to create a better chemistry between Hindus and Muslims. The police on the eve of festivals is quite categorical in convincing the people that any communal trouble is not in the national interest.
Police efforts to inspire the confidence of the people to celebrate festivals in a peaceful environment have drawn massive admiration. But no such efforts are needed on the eve of celebrating national festivals like 15th August or 26th January to restrain potential trouble shooters. Social fabric is never threatened on such occasions.
However, what happened on 26th January at Kasganj in UP where the Muslims were celebrating the Republic Day was very sad. The tricolor was about to be unfurl…

Child care? Gujarat No 1 in institutional deliveries, but one of the poorest in other health indicators: GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
In a curious disclosure, a top Government of India (GoI) study, “Healthy States, Progressive India Report on the Ranks of States and Union Territories”, has found that, while “model” Gujarat ranks No 1 in institutional delivery of babies, in sex ratio at birth it is one of the worst – 854 girls as against 1000 boys.

Top ex-Swiss diplomat Vögele deported from Ahmedabad airport as Modi opposed protectionism at WEF, Davos

By Rajiv Shah
A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi mounted a powerful defense of globalization at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland (January 23), in a little known development, India's immigration officials deported a veteran Swiss ex-diplomat from Ahmedabad airport, allegedly without providing any reason as to why they were doing so.

Sunshine for affordable housing? Homelessness plagued with unimaginative response from policy pundits

By Moin Qazi*
There is a new burst of sunshine for India’s affordable housing sector with the Finance Minister announcing in the course of is budget promises the setting up of an affordable housing fund under the National Housing Bank (NHB). It will be funded from priority sector lending shortfall and fully serviced bond authorised by the government of India.

"Rural" mindset? Why many Gujarat villagers defecate in open despite having toilets in individual households

By Gajanan Khergamker*
South Gujarat's Meghwad village in Kaprada block of Valsad district is a case in point that risks thwarting the Gujarat model, particularly the claims of being open defecation free (ODF). Though under the administrative purview of Gujarat, Meghwad lies in the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (DNH), outside the state boundary and a few kilometers from DNH capital Silvassa.