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Showing posts from March, 2018

"Model" Gujarat worst paymaster to rural workers: Has highest gap between NREGA wage and minimum wage rate

By Rajiv Shah
Figures culled by the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Sangharsh Morcha, India’s top civil rights group fighting for strict implementation of India’s premier rural guarantee scheme, floated by the UPA government in 2005, have revealed that Gujarat is the worst pay master, highest highest gap among 20 major Indian states between officially declared minimum wages and NREGA wages.

Murder of Gujarat Dalit youth for riding horse a "warning" to Supreme Court order on "misuse" of anti-atrocities law

By Our Representative
The gruesome murder of a Dalit youth allegedly for refusing to heed the order of high caste Rajputs not to "show off" by riding on his horse is all set to become a major embarrassment for the Supreme Court, which ruled recently that certain provisions the Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act were being misused to "blackmail" innocent people. The only Dalit boy in the region to ride a horse, he was quite popular in his community.

Ahmedabad's 243 shanties of Muslims razed: With little help coming in, suspicion around forced displacement grows

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat authorities are still in the dark about what may have caused a major fire, which broke out March 25 night, razing to the ground 243 shanties on the banks of a huge city lake, there appears to be little consolation for nearly 1,000 people, who have been rendered homeless because of the fire. Living in sub-human conditions ever since, the administration, they say, hasn’t yet gone beyond carrying out a “survey” of the losses suffered by them.

Inconsistent network coverage, lack of trust stand in the way of financial inclusion in India

By Moin Qazi*
The country’s largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI), has closed as many as 41.16 lakh savings accounts between April-January in the current fiscal year for not maintaining the minimum balance, reveals an RTI query. Between April and November 2017, the bank had netted a windfall of Rs 1,771.67 crore, more than its second-quarter profit, from customers for non-maintenance of minimum balance, according to the finance ministry data.
The three largest private banks — HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank — earned more than all 21 of their state-owned peers put together from penalties levied for non-maintenance of minimum balance in savings accounts between FY15 and FY17. According to data put out by the ministry of finance the three private banks together collected Rs 1,031.85 crore in FY15, Rs 945.07 crore in FY16, Rs 1,008.79 crore in FY17 and Rs 783.98 crore in the nine months ended December 2017 as penalties for shortfall in account balances. For public-sector banks (PS…

FRA: Gujarat government behaves irresponsibly and with high-handedness, arbitrariness

By Paulomee Mistry* and Hemant Shah**
The 21 March 2018 reply given by Ganpat Vasawa, tribal development minister, on Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2016, regarding cultivation rights given to tribals in the Gujarat Assembly is full of incorrect facts and half-truths. He gave misleading information on actual status of forest land entitlement. The implementation of the FRA in Gujarat is very pathetic and the state government behaves irresponsibly and with high-handedness and arbitrarily.
The actual situation in implementing this law in Gujarat is as follows:
Official information shows that, as on 30 November 2017, 1,82,869 individual claims were filed. Only 81,178 of these claims have been approved.
Tribal farmers have been given authority letters for 1,27,068.32 acres of land. This is 1.57 acres of land per forest land cultivator. Under FRA, tribal farmers have the right to claim upmto 10 acres.w But in reality, the Government of Gujarat gave them very less land, about one-tenth of their claims…

Women's rights leaders told to negotiate with Muslimness, as India's donor agencies shun the word Muslim

By Our Representative
Former vice-president Hamid Ansari has sharply criticized donor agencies engaged in nongovernmental development work, saying that they seek to "help out" marginalizes communities with their funds, but shy away from naming Muslims as the target group, something, he insisted, needs to change. Speaking at a book release function in Delhi, he said, since large sections of Muslims are poor, they need political as also social outreach.

Tribal land distribution: 14 states perform better than Gujarat, govt "takes back" 1081 plots from community owners

By Our Representative
Information released by the Government of India's Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has suggested that, as on November 30, 2017, as many as 84,694 tribals and other forest dwellers have received the "right" to cultivate forest land under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, out of total claims 1,90,056, which comes to 44.56% of disposal of pleas put forward by the state's tribal farmers.

Defiling of Maulana Azad's statue symbolizes the fall of composite Indian ethos

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*What a sad state of affairs in West Bengal, 24-Parganas, Kankinara that a statue of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first Union education minister, was knocked down by miscreants during clashes that broke out in many parts of West Bengal during Ram Navami processions! The bust of Bharat Ratna, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, was razed in Kakinara which has seen a spree of violence since Sunday. The vandalism of Azad’s statue was caught on camera and the video of the incident is going viral on social media.
Strangely, there has been no coverage by the national media on this tragic mishap. Azad was the symbol of interfaith bond between Hindus and Muslims and has been revered most owing to his contribution to interfaith harmony. All those who had indulged in this must be brought to books. More dangerous that the act itself is the increasing fascist tendency that is trying to divide Hindus and Muslims who have always gelled well as sugar and milk since time immemorial.
The …

Gujarat govt should form a separate minority affairs department and minority commission

Text of the representation by the Minority Coordination Committee to Gujarat governor On Prakash Kohli on the development and protection of the minority community:
The population of minorities in Gujarat is 11.5% (as per of Census of India 2011), which includes Muslims 9.7%, Jains 1.0%, Christians 0.5%, Buddhists 0.1%, and others 0.1% . In the state like Gujarat 82.3% Muslim children take admission in the primary schools, but this percentage is found to be decreasing at the matriculation or Standard 10th, when it reaches just 32.5% only. This is a very serious situation.
Gujarat is witness to internal migration for many years, and it's main reasons include riots and establishment of industries on a large scale along the sea coast. About 2 lakh people of the minority communities have migrated and settled down in big cities. They are helpless. They live their lives amidst deficient minimum basic amenities. They live mainly in slum areas. The most affected community is Muslim as per th…

84 fatal accidents, 114 deaths in three years in textile units in Surat, Gujarat: Study supported by German inst

By Rajiv Shah
While a lot is known about fatal accidents caused in Gujarat’s premier shipbreaking yard at Alang because of lack of occupational safety, a yet-to-be-published study “Labour Conditions in Surat Textile Industry", supported by Bonn-based Südwind Institute for Economics and Ecumenism, is all set to create a flutter. It has estimated that, in the last three years, 84 fatal accidents have been reported in registered textile processing units in Surat, in which 114 workers died.

Labour dispute at Madhya Pradesh's former Century units turns murky: Worker commits suicide, children drop out

By Our Representative
There appears to be no end in sight in the dispute between about 1,700 employees, who include 1,200 workers, of an Indore-based textile mills, sold by Century to Kolkata’s Wearit last year, with the workers insisting that the Madhya Pradesh labour commissioner’s order for payment of eight days’ “unpaid” wages was far from sufficient.

Can we forget that Bhagat Singh, before being put to gallows, had the courage to read Lenin?

By Adv Masood Peshimam* The BJP recently established its electoral supremacy over Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland. BJP’s win in Tripura is all the more astonishing, as it created a popular wave against the CPI(M), which was not that easy, as Tripura was ruled by CPI(M) without a break since 1993. The then political dispensation in the state meekly caved in despite the credible track record of the Manik Sarkar government in Tripura.
The Manik Sarkar government was free from all allegations of corruption. He is one of the most honest politicians in the country which is a rare commodity in contemporary Indian politics. Being an honest politician, he could not afford to wallow in abundant affluence and richness. It is said that he neither owned a house nor a car. He shunned all the glory and pomp of office. His wife went to the market in a rickshaw for purchases, many a time without the observance of official protocol and security. Sarkar is thus austerity exemplified, though there …

Swacch Bharat? Urinals don't exist in 30% Surat textile units, where 92% workers aren't paid minimum wages: Study

Counterview Desk
A new study on the working conditions textile units of Surat in South Gujarat -- powerloom, processing, embroidery, garment units, and composite mills -- has revealed that 82 per cent workers do not receive any payslip on receiving their salary, hence they have no written proof from the managements whether they receive the amount they are be legally entitled to get.

"Easier" to fight for victims of caste atrocity in Indian courts than communalism: Book on human rights lawyering

By Our Representative
In a controversial observation, a recent book on human rights lawyering has said that there are greater possibilities of success in legal struggles for the victims of caste-based discrimination than communal violence. The book, titled "Breathing Life into the Constitution: Human Rights Lawyering in India" by Saumya Uma and Arvind Narrain, believes that this is because communal violence is often perpetrated for political gains, to "enjoy" political clout.

Himachal hydro projects on major rivers "cleared" sans local nod, pollution control bodies' role "diluted": Govt told

By Our Representative
A top civil society source has revealed that the Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) studies of  several big and small hydropower projects for Himachal Pradesh's three major river basins, Sutlej, Chenab and Beas, have either been completed are in the process of completion. However, for most of these, little or no local consultation, as required by law, has been carried out. 

India's North-Eastern States opened up for "corporate loot", Assam being treated as chicken corridor: Land rights meet

By Our Representative
Arguing strongly against the Government of India allegedly curtailing the special category status to India's North-Eastern States, the country's well-known land rights apex body, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), has said that this is being done in order to open the region for corporate "loot and plunder."

Adopt stray cattle: Rajasthan govt "recipe" for compensating those lynched in the name of cow protection

By Our Representative
How are the BJP rulers in Rajasthan seeking to compensate the families of those killed by the so-called gau rakshaks or cow vigilantes? According the recipe provided by a senior state official, who admitted that none of those lynched in the name of cow protection have been offered cash compensation, pointing out, their family members would be persuaded to take up "Adopt a Cow" policy of the Rajasthan government.

Supreme Court ruling "fails" to take into account sharp rise in atrocities against SCs -STs, low conviction rate: NCSPA

By Our Representative
Strongly reacting to the Supreme Court judgment that the anti-atrocities law has become an instrument to “blackmail” innocent citizens and public servants, the National Coalition for Strengthening SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities or PoA) Act () has said that it would dilute "provisions related to anticipatory bail and immediate arrest under the SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989" as also it's 2016 amendments.

No-confidence motion? In Parliament Modi system remains in place. The question is for how long

By Anand K Sahay*
Since the Modi dispensation is not above disregarding convention and rules (it smuggled in its fundamentally altered Aadhaar template as a money bill in order to escape scrutiny in the Rajya Sabha where its numbers were deficient), it should occasion little surprise if Speaker Sumitra Mahajan does not allow the no-confidence motion for which notices have been given.
Ordinarily, if procedurally sound in having the backing of at least 50 MPs, a no-confidence motion must be taken up at the first opportunity- effectively speaking Monday morning as the Lok Sabha meets, in this case.
The opposition, which is on the warpath, can’t bet on this not happening. A simple trick is all that is needed to be performed. Since there aren’t so many working days left before the Budget Session ends, with the help of some of its supporters the BJP can finesse the movers of the motion with ease by citing unruliness in the House.
If the House is not brought to order, a no-confidence motion c…

India behind Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka in "access" to clean water, says WaterAid, a Modi govt supporter

By Rajiv Shah
Data released by the London-based WaterAid, a high-profile international non-profit organization, which "supports" the Narendra Modi government's programmes like Swachh Bharat Mission and National Rural Drinking Water Programme, show that India is behind all its neighbours, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, in providing “basic access” to clean water.

Govt of India to "manage" online portals, to have code of conduct, legislation; seeks publication of news, not views

By Our Representative
In a new move amidst what are widely considered as increasing attempts to "manage" the country's media, by the Narendra Modi government is now thinking of coming up with a regulatory framework, if possible a legislation, to control online media, which has seen a sharp spurt in the country ever since it came to power in May 2014.

Why Marxists didn't install Bhagat Singh's statue in Tripura? Lenin was a tyrant, a despot: Top historian Guha

By Our Representative
One of the most prominent names in modern Indian history, Ramachandra Guha, has qualified the act of pulling down VI Lenin's statues in Tripura as the "price of dogma" paid by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M), wondering, "What if the CPI(M) had installed statues of Bhagat Singh in Tripura? Would they have been vandalized by the BJP cadre after the CPI(M) was voted out of power in that state?"

India's "smart city" managers have little or no experience in urban affairs, lack technical competencies: Report

By Our Representative
Coming down heavily on the way Indian cities are managed, a new report has said that not only are they bogged with a huge staff vacancy – on an average 35% in the 23 metropolitan centres surveyed – what is worse, those who are responsible for running them, such as municipal commissioners, have little or no experience in urban management.

Indian cities don't have "smart" targets to reduce pollution, 80% fail to meet national standards: Greenpeace

By Our Representative
A recent report by international NGO Greenpeace has said that, out of 280 Indian cities for which it obtained data to assess air pollution levels, as many as 228, or 80%, are found to be not complying with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), as prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

UN goal to end poverty: India's welfare schemes are not a complete or sustainable solution

By Syed Mujtaba*
On 10 September 2014, the UN General Assembly decided that the Report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals would be the main basis for integrating the SDGs into the post 2015 development agenda. The first of the seventeen proposed SDGs is “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”. The following suggested targets are associated with the goal:

Uttar Pradesh village fighting for forest rights razed to ground for third time: "Mysterious" fire led to the incident

By Rajnish Gambhir
A hamlet which has been fighting for about a decade to be recognized as a forest village, Dilawar Nagar in Kachauna block in Hardoi District of Uttar Pradesh, has been razed to the ground for the third time. On the morning of March 18, at 9:00 am, a bulb mysteriously burst inside one of the straw houses and a spark is said to have caused the fire that engulfed the entire village.

Indian economic slowdown despite reforms: World Bank blames high GST rates, NREGA subsidy, farm loan waiver

By Our Representative
In a sharp admission, the World Bank in its new report, "India Development Update", released this month, has said it is unable to solve a crucial "puzzle". Providing a graphic picture of 10 different indicators of growth, including the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it says, the question that puzzles is, "why" India's reforms "have not yet succeeded in reversing the slowdown in investment, exports, and certain other aspects of the economy."

Did Najma Heptulla morph photograph where she "sits" next to Maulana Azad? Delhi High Court seeks probe

By Our Representative
In an unprecedented move, the Delhi High Court on March 16, 2018 (Court 10, Item 22, PIL 7003 of 2014), has asked the CBI for relevant records of the steps taken to investigate into the photo morphing of India's first education minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, allegedly by Manipur governor Najma Heptulla, in a coffee table book, “Journey of A Legend: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: 1888-1958”, authored by her.

No to guns? War is profitable business; no one would like to take on military-industrial complex

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 14 February, seventeen students and teachers were gunned down in their school in Parkland, Florida; however according to the non-profit organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, as of 2 March almost two dozen school shootings have already occurred on school campuses across the United States. This does not take into account the scores of others that are gunned down regularly in a country regarded as the worlds oldest democracy.
The Florida school shooting was certainly the trigger; because on 14 March, exactly a month after that terrible tragedy, hundreds of thousands of students across America walked out of more than three thousand schools, to protest gun violence. In memory of the seventeen killed in Florida they stayed out for seventeen minutes with a strong message to all to say NO to guns. A week from now, on 24 March a massive rally March For Our Lives (#MarchForOurLives) is being organized to Washington DC, in other major cities of the US and in several…

Gutter workers' death: Threat of widows' hunger strike forces Gujarat govt to begin paying Rs 10 lakh compensation

By Our Representative
While the kin of 11 workers, who died due to suffocation cleaning up gutters in Ahmedabad received compensation of Rs 10 lakh each on Saturday, official communication in possession of Counterview suggests, this wouldn't have happened but for the threat issued by the city's manual scavengers, led by the widows of the dead, to sit on fast unto death to implement a four-year-old Supreme Court order.

Gujarat's Ghogha-Dahej ferry service reportedly in danger due to problems in dredging

By Nandini K Oza*
Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes to inaugurate projects and at times even before they are fully completed. The inauguration of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) just before the Gujarat assembly elections in 2017 is one such case. The canal network of the SSP is yet to be completed.
Another project which was inaugurated by Mr. Modi just before the Gujarat elections in 2017 was the Ghogha Dahej RO-RO ferry service. The inauguration of the ferry service was done with great fanfare and the project called the dream project and an invaluable gift to India (click HERE).
However, startling facts regarding the ferry service have been reported by one of the leading newspapers of Gujarat, "Saurashtra Samachar" March 14, 2018. I translate important excerpts from the Gujarati news paper for wider readership here:
“OBSTACLE: There is a requirement of hundred meters channel for the ferry as against which only fifty meters has been constructed.
"Ghogha –Dahej ferry ser…

Draft afforestation rules will lead to harassment, atrocities, crimes against tribals, forest dwellers

By Manohar Chauhan*
The draft Compensatory Afforestation Fund Rules, as notified on 16.02.2018, are in direct violation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (the Forest Rights Act); the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, as amended in 2015; the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution; the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996; and several other applicable provisions of law and the Constitution.

Government of India reports 6% dip in RTI pleas, as Prime Minister's Office receives 13% more applications

By Our Representative
For the first time since 2005, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has reported a 6% dip in the number of Right to Information (RTI) applications received by the Central Government. A preliminary review of the statistics in the Annual Report of the CIC for the year 2016-17 has revealed that the number of RTI applications has come down from 9.76 lakh in 2015-16 to 9.17 lakh.

Farmers dislocated for rehabilitating Narmada dam oustee families "eligible" for compensation, rules HC

By Our Representative
More than a decade ago, village Chhoti-Kasravad's Moolchand was held eligible for compensation by the Grievances Redressal Authority (GRA) of Madhya Pradesh against the displacement he suffered because of of the land acquired for rehabilitating Gujarat's Sardar Sarovar dam-affected families in Gujarat.

Love in the time of WhatsApp: Breaking the barriers of caste and distance in "modern" India

By Rahul Banerjee*
A young cousin of Subhadra Khaperde, a well-known social worker with the Mahila Jagat Lihaaz Samiti or Society for Respect for Women and Earth, also known as MAJLIS, formed by Dalit and Adivasi women of western Madhya Pradesh, had been dating with a man living in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh. Hailing from Kanker district of Chhattisgarh, the girl continued dating for over a year and a half on WhatsApp.
Finally they decided to marry and broke this news to their respective families. The first thing that these families, situated deep in rural areas, asked was about the caste of the partner.
All hell broke lose for the young woman. She was a Mahar, a Dalit caste, while the man was a Brahmin. The Mahars in Chhattisgarh are very endogamous and put a hefty fine on and ostracise any family from which a son or daughter marries outside the caste.
The girl's family had been trying to marry her off to prospective Mahar boys for quite some time, but since the girl was stay…

Aadhaar linkage a major reason for hunger, unemployment across India, testify individuals from 14 states in Delhi

By Ankita Aggarwal*
Individuals from 14 states have testified before a panel of experts, who included activists, journalists, lawyers, legislators, scholars, trade union leaders and politicians, about how their situation of hunger and unemployment were directly linked with violations of the right to food and work, rampant across the country, made worse by the aadhaar requirement.

Aadhaar linkage? Rajasthan's 33 lakh, Chhattisgarh's 25 lakh families "failed to get" monthly ration in 2017

By Our Representative
The Right to Food Campaign (RtFC), quoting official data, has said that in 2017, in Rajasthan alone, around 33 lakh families were unable to access their Public Distribution System (PDS) ration entitlement each month due to the linkage of the Public Distribution System (PDS) with Aadhaar. Similarly, it said, in Jharkhand, 25 lakh families were deprived of their grain entitlements on a monthly basis.

Sharp rise in pending RTI cases with India's information commissions, top five states account for 77% of pendency

By Our Representative
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, a Delhi-based advocacy group, in a new report has said, data accessed from 19 Information Commissions (ICs) show that there are 1.93 lakh pending second appeal and complaint cases of Right to Information (RTI), up from 1.10 lakh cases in 2015. Top five ICs accounting for 77% of the overall pendency are Maharashtra (41,537), Uttar Pradesh (40,248), Karnataka (29,291), Central Information Commission (23,989) and Kerala (14,253 cases).

Jignesh Mevani's "U-turn": Says he didn't threaten Muslim bodies with boycott, it's a campaign to defame him

By Our Representative
In a surprise U-turn, Gujarat's well-known Dalit face Jignesh Mevani has said, a "wilfull campaign" is on against him to the effect that he is against Muslim organizations, going so far as to threaten them with boycott. Asserting that he "cannot hope to oppose" organizations like Islamic Relief Committee, Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind, Jamaat-e-Islami and others, he has said in a video, these have "contributed" in a major way to help and rehabilitate those who remain displaced after the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Dalit land rights meet off Ahmedabad decides to monitor Gujarat govt "promise" of allocation within 6 months

By Our Representative
While it has taken the self-immolation of Bhanubhai Vankar for the Gujarat government’s to decide to provide physical possession of land within six months to all those Dalit families who have received but only on paper, Gujarat's largest Dalit rights organization Navsarjan Trust has declared it would help the process by compiling list of all such cases to ensure the “expeditious allocation” across Gujarat.

From Monroe to Sridevi: Tragedy under the glow of talent, charisma and charm

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
Marlyn Monroe was an American actress, model, singer famous for playing sensual, seductive and tempestuous role. She became one of the most popular sex symbols of 1950s. Her talent, charisma, charm and above all her bold exposure of the body contributed to her meteoric rise.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and at an age of orphanage and married at the age of sixteen. While working in radio factory in 1944 as part of the war effort she was introduced to a photographer from the first motion picture unit and began a successful career. The work led to short lived film contracts with Twentieth Century Fox (1946-1947) and Columbia Picture (1948). Over the years her career graph in the film made much of headway.
Monroe faced a scandal when it was revealed that she had posed for nude photos before becoming a star, but rather than damaging her career, much of interest was provoked in the films. She progressed to a gorgeou…