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Showing posts from April, 2018

17 hrs work by Ahmedabad women building workers daily; carry 5,680 kg of load, climb 480 steps, walk 4 km: Study

Counterview Desk
Shantaben, 45, is one of the 75,000 women working at construction sites, 2,595 of them in Gujarat’s business capital, Ahmedabad. Migrated with her family from tribal-dominated Dahod 20 years ago, she gets up at 3:30 am, spends around an hour looking for a functional pay-and-use toilet. “If I’m delayed, I will not be able to finish my household chores in order to reach the labour naka in time to find work”, she says.

Armed forces' "accesses" in J&K: Govt of India "doesn't know" procedure followed to sanction persecution

By Our Representative
After waiting for more than 40 days, well-known Right to Information (RTI) activist Venkatesh Nayak has received a strange reply to his RTI plea regarding procedure followed by the Union ministry of defence in “sanctioning” the prosecution of members of the defence forces for human rights violations committed under the Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers, 1990 (J&K AFSPA).

Five ATMs shut down each day: Govt of India plot alleged to "undermine, privatize" public sector banks

By Our Representative
Following reports that ATMs across India have gone cashless, bringing back nightmares of the cash crunch during demonetisation, especially in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Telangana, top civil rights leaders and bank association office bearers have suspected this is nothing but they have called in a joint statement "mad rush" of the Modi government "to join the league of cashless countries".

RTI appeal rejection: Model Gujarat's information commission "competes" with Centre amidst PMO indifference

By Our Representative
"Model" Gujarat's State Information Commissions (SIC), the official Right to Information (RTI) watchdog, appears to be competing with India's Central Information Commission (CIC) for "returning" appeals and complaints filed under the powerful transparency law, RTI Act, claimed to be the brainchild of ex-Congress presiding Sonia Gandhi.

India's information commissions "riddled" with up to 10 years delay in hearing RTI pleas, Delhi public hearing told

By Our Representative
Even as releasing its new report highlighting concerns regarding the performance of information commissions in India, including the Central Information Commission (CIC), a public hearing in Delhi organized by advocacy groups, Satark Nagrik Sangathan and National Campaign for People's Right to Information, has confirmed its key findings -- delays, skewed composition of information commissioners, vacancies, lack of penalty imposition and transparency in their functioning.

Gujarat silicosis deaths: Compensation pleas pending with since 2010, NHRC "turns down" plea at public hearing

By Our Representative
In a strange paradox, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) did not have time to listen to a foremost representative of victims of silicosis, a fatal occupational disease prevalent in Central Gujarat, Jagdish Patel of the Peoples Training & Research Centre (PTRC), at the public hearing, held on April 27-28, at the high profile Karai Gujarat Police Academy, situated 20 kilometres off Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.

Building workers: 20 of 877 Gujarat deaths compensated since 2008; Rs 150 crore of Rs 1,900 crore spent on welfare

By Our Representative
Even as Gujarat government has begun paying, following a Supreme Court order, Rs 10 lakh compensation each for the death of 170 workers because of suffocation in manholes, thanks to a long-drawn-out battle by people's organizations, facts have come to light suggesting that it is showing high degree of indifference in this regard for the accidental death of 877 construction workers.

Mumbai authorities "ignore" livelihood issues in new "affordable" housing offer, large-scale slum eviction feared

By Our Representative
Two well-known Mumbai-based non-profits working among the city's urban poor, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) and Habitat and Livelihood Welfare Association (HLWA), have alleged that "thousands of housing of poor in Mumbai are under threat of eviction" following the "much hyped" decision of the authorities to come up with the Development Plan or DP 2034.

BJP tops the list of "hate speech" MPs, MLAs by their own admission, even as Indian law fails to define term

By Our Representative
An analysis of the self-sworn affidavits filed by sitting MPs and MLAs has revealed that the BJP has the largest number of MPs/MLAs -- 27 out of 58 -- with declared cases against themselves related to hate speech, as against Congress' just 2. Done by India's advocacy group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), in association with National Election Watch (NEW), the analysis suggests that there is an urgent need to have a deeper look into this aspect in order to strengthen democratic institutions.

Ample evidence of child labour in South Gujarat's cash rich sugarcane belt, 24% "not enrolled" in school: Study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent German government-funded study, undertaken jointly by the NGO Prayas Centre for Labour Research and Action and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, which mainly deals examines the working conditions of migrant workers in the cash-rich sugarcane zone of South Gujarat, has gone a long way to suggest large scale prevalence of child labour during the harvesting season.

"Bonded situation" among Gujarat's 50.4% of migrants in sugarcane fields; they're permanently in debt: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A German government-funded report has said that more than 50.4% of an approximate 1.25 lakh migrant labourers working in Gujarat’s prosperous sugarcane block of Bardoli, most of them tribals from Dhule and Nadurbar districts of Maharashtra and Dangs and Tapi districts of Gujarat, remain in a permanent state of debt, with their incomes going into “negative” as the harvesting season draws to a close.

Maharashtra raids on Dalit activists: Over-zealous cops seize works by Ambedkar, Phule, anything "rebellious"

By Our Representative
The recent police raids on the homes of well-known human rights activists and a senior lawyer in Pune on the pretext of gathering information about their alleged complicity in fomenting the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018 and the subsequent bandh is all set to snowball into a major crisis in the state. Things may acquire political colour, as the Maharashtra Chief Minister has qualified the raids as an there was suspicion of "Maoist links".

Narmada is still a lifeline for millions in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. It has survived exploitation, but for how long?

Counterview Desk A Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) analysis based on recent developments in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh around Narmada: In the middle a drought-like crisis that has gripped regions depending on the Narmada, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani recently sparked off a fresh controversy by inaugurating a water-park! The Chief Minister opened the Rs 1,100 crore water-park in Anand district of central Gujarat on April 8 amidst massive agitations by farmers of neighbouring villages.

Death penalty ordinance meant to "cover up" BJP supporters of Kathua, Unnao rape perpetrators: International NGOs

By Our Representative
At least two top international non-profits, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Save the Children (StC), have asked Indian parliament not to adopt into law the recent ordinance which introduces capital punishment for those convicted of raping a girl under 12." "With this populist call, the government wants to cover up the fact that its supporters may have engaged in a hate crime", said Meenakshi Ganguly of the HRW. "Death Penalty is not the answer,” added StC's Bidisha Pillai.

Season of acquittals has come: Why can't terrorists be defined as saffron? Is radicalisation only confined to Muslims?

By Adv Masood PeshimamPrime Minister Narendra Modi recently said that guilty would not be spared but the ground reality is different in our country. The way the accused are set free in the Mecca Masjid blast case, the setting free of Maya Kodnani, an erstwhile minister in Modi cabinet in Gujarat, and the earlier bailing out of Sadhvi Pragya, Colonel Prohit and others in Malegaon blast give the impression that the season of acquittals has come.
The prospect of certain set of accused walking free has brightened with the Modi government at the Centre. They cannot be defined as saffron terrorists as if the radicalisation and terrorism are only confined to Muslims. Only Muslim terrorists are acceptable in day-to-day parlance. The concept of terrorists other than Muslim is not only discarded but treated as offensive.
Eleven years after a bomb ripped through Mecca Masjid, killing nine people, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court acquitted all the five accused in a much-awaited…

Govt of India "generally responsive" to national, international NGOs: US State Dept report on human rights

By Our Representative
Even as critical of India's human rights record, including police and security force "abuses" like "extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, rape, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and lengthy pretrial detention", unlike previously, in its new report the US Department of State is quite soft Government of India.

Top Dalit rights leaders' call to go beyond Ambedkar, who "overestimated" urban middle classes' ability to deliver

By Our Representative
There appears to be a steady recognition among well-known Dalit rights leaders that the community, which continues to suffer from centuries-old oppression, needs to come out of the huge euphoria around considering India's topmost Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar as some sort of a demi-god. At least two of them -- Anand Teltumbde and Jignesh Mevani -- have openly declared that there is a need to look beyond Ambedkar.

Kathua rape, murder: 318 children killed in J&K "state-sponsored" terror in 15 years, 5 in Jan-March 2018, says report

By Our Representative
A new report by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), an amalgam of various non-profit organizations based in Srinagar, brought out against the backdrop of the uproar around the January 2018 rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua, has said that the gruesome incident is part of what it calls "pattern of state violence against children", pointing out, "In the first three months of 2018 not less than 5 minors have been killed, including the Kathua minor girl."

UN intervention sought for release of Delhi Univ academic, sentenced for life: Prof Saibaba suffers from 90% disability

By Our Representative
The South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC), a Delhi-based advocacy group, has approached Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on Right to Health, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to seek the release Dr GN Saibaba on parole on medical grounds. An English lecturer at Ramlal College, Delhi University, he was arrested by the Maharashtra Police on May 9, 2014, for his “association” with Maoist groups.

No asylum to Bangla Hindus persecuted post-2014, all immigrants in Assam must adopt Assamese language: PPFA

By NJ Thakuria
Expressing "concern" over "creating sentiments with unhealthy debates and aggressive attacks over the organizations", which reportedly supported the Centre’s initiative to amend the citizenship laws at the Joint Parliamentary Committee hearing in New Delhi recently, the Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) has insisted on "rational debate" over the cotroversial issue.

Provide physical possession of land to Dalits, Adivasis by May 1, or face Gujarat-wide agitation: Chief minister told

By Our Representative
Babubhai, who belongs to Rinjha village of Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad district, has been taking rounds of the district collector’s office, situated about 100 kilometres away, for the last 11 years. He has been pleading with the government authorities to ensure that the 22 families get the physical possession of the land, allocated to them only on paper decades ago.

Public sector banks account for 33% of Govt of India's RTI rejections, coinciding with sharp rise in NPAs or bad debts

Counterview Desk
India’s 25 public sector banks (PSBs) received more than 73,000 Right to Information (RTI) applications in the financial year 2016-17, which is 9% of the total number of RTI applications received by all reporting public authorities of the Government of India. However, a new study has found that they accounted for a whopping 33% of the rejections, too.

Odisha rights activists protest against growing atrocities against women and girl children in the country

Text of the note by Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD) Moderator, OdishaOdisha activists working on different rights based issues in the State protested against growing atrocities against women and girl children in the country at Lower PMG, Bhubaneswar on 18th April 2018.  Raising serious concern over the very recent two cases happened in last two weeks i.e., one the rape of a minor girl of Unnao and murder of her father in police custody who came to file complaint to seek justice and second, the gang rape and murder of an 8 year old minor girl belongs to a Muslim nomadic tribes, they said “This is a severe and unspeakable brutality which has shaken the morale and humanity of the entire nation.”
The protestors alleged that most shamelessly, by sacrificing all the rationale and morale into astray, in two of these incidents, the Ruling BJP with political patronage and support of Hindu Ekta Manch is involved in both the States”.
Condemning the protest by Jammu lawyers against the inves…

Congress top brass not sure of Karnataka win? View spreads, ex-PM Deve Gowda to back BJP if it's hung assembly

By Our Representative
Despite the hype created by Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah that the Congress would surely romp back to power in the forthcoming state assembly polls scheduled for mid-May, there appear to uncertainty within at the very top in the grand old party, if an article published in a media outfit directly controlled by party chief Rahul Gandhi is any indication.

China-based multilateral bank keeps out people's groups from urban consultation ahead of Mumbai annual meet

By Our Representative
Gujarat's civil society groups have strongly protested against their exclusion during consultations, currently being held in different parts of the country as part of preparations of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank's (AIIB's) second Annual Governors' Meeting in Mumbai on June 25-26 in Mumbai. The consultations in Gujarat are to be held in a top Ahmedabad hotel on April 19-20.

With 490% spike in hate speeches under Modi, 90% by BJP leaders, perpetrators are promoted to key posts: Report

By Our Representative
In an unusual exercise, a premier national TV news channel, NDTV, has estimated that there has been a 490% spike in hate speeches over the last four years of the Narendra Modi government. Collated from public record and analysed by Nimish Jaiswal, Sreenivas Jain and Manas Pratap Singh, their analysis is based on 1,300 articles and their cross references such as Documentation of the Oppressed and Amnesty International's Halt the Hate Tracker, and recent tweets.

India's unemployment to reach 6.75% in April, highest since July 2017; weekly rate on April 8 was even higher, 7.41%

By Our Representative
India's top data consultancy firm, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), has estimated that the weekly unemployment rate spiked to 7.41 per cent in the week ended April 8, which is the highest weekly unemployment rate in 78 weeks, or since early October 2016. Pointing out that the monthly estimate are based on different set of crieteria, CMIE says, it would be 6.75 per cent in April 2018, the highest since July 2017.

Fake news is dirty politics, not journalism: PM used it against Manmohan Singh during Gujarat polls

By Anand K SahayFake news” (FN), much heard about lately, is not news at all and is not part of any form of journalism. Typically, it is a part of the dirty tricks aspect of right-wing politics in many countries, as well as of intelligence outfits. The CIA has practised this dark art with consummate skill across the globe to outflank America’s opponents.
Journalism casts light. It seeks to spread credible information, analysis and views without which we will flounder in today’s complex and rapidly changing world. FN, on the other hand, spreads darkness. Its purpose is to confuse, spread falsehood and manipulate the unsuspecting minds of newspaper readers, television viewers and radio listeners, in order to disrupt the tempo and ethos of democratic politics.
In fact, the word “news” in its name is misleading. It should plainly be called what it is — “false information”.
“False information” is related to the pursuit of retaining power or making a lunge for power in deceitful ways — by desi…

It is pathetic that support is given to murderers and rapists by organisations, politicians and lawyers

By Sheshu Babu*Atrocities on women including rapes and murders have been discussed and debated at length. Also, violence on girls and girl- child have been highlighted many times. But, these days, girls below teen age are not only raped and tortured for days but also killed in a most grotesque way. Any word, whether ' terrible ' or ' horrific ' sounds euphemistic in describing these cold-blooded murders. Even more pathetic is the support given to these murderers by organisations, politicians and lawyers making police system, which is already inefficient, ineffective.
Kathua and after Even as Asifa case has gained prominence and demands to punish culprits are on the rise, there are reports of a brutally raped and tortured body of a minor girl aged about 10 was found in Surat, Gujarat (April 14, 2018, kracktivist.org) . Another girl aged about 9 or 10 was mutilated and the body was found near Rohtak, Haryana (April 16, 2018, timesofindia.indiatimes.com) . These are few c…

Prime Minister, given your supremacy in the party and govt, you have to be held responsible for the terrifying state of affairs

Text of the open letter 49 retired civil servants, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reach out to the families of the Kathua and Unnao rape victims to “seek their forgiveness”:We are a group of retired civil servants who came together last year to express our concern at the decline in the secular, democratic, and liberal values enshrined in our constitution. We did so to join other voices of protest against the frightening climate of hate, fear and viciousness that the ruling establishment had insidiously induced. We spoke then as we do now: as citizens who have no affiliations with any political party nor adherence to any political ideology other than the values enshrined in our Constitution. We had hoped that as someone sworn to upholding the Constitution, the government that you head and the party to which you belong would wake up to this alarming decline, take the lead in stemming the rot and reassure everyone, especially the minorities and vulnerable sections of…

As Modi flies to Europe, 49 ex-officers hold his politics responsible for indifference towards Kathua, Unnao rapes

By Our Representative
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew for an official visit to United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden, 49 retired civil servants belonging to administrative, foreign, forest and police services, in one of the strongest condemnations of the Modi government, have held him directly responsible for the “terrifying state of affairs” following the "unspeakable horror of the Kathua and the Unnao incidents."

Blinkered vision? BJP's communal logic in Unnao and Kathua rape cases is like pot calling the kettle black

By Adv Masood PeshimamOur country does not run on the sense of justice, fair play and equity. The winds start blowing in the right direction under some sort of pressure. Without pressure nothing works. Pressure has political implications not only nationwide but also internationally. It is the weight of pressure which has impacted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence and speak up on most gruesome gang rape incidents in Kathua in Jammu and Unnao in UP. It is said that he was possibly provoked into making a statement by Congress President Rahul Gandhi who had urged PM to speak. Gandhi said “India is waiting for the watchman” to speak, a veiled reference to Modi’s own analogy that he would be the Chowkidar of the nation.
Relenting in the face of the national outrage and media outcry over inaction in Kathua and Unnao gang rape Modi has said both these incidents challenge the concept of social justice and that the guilty won’t be spared. He also said that events that have been o…

Spike in illegal mining: "Model" Gujarat competes with Left-ruled Kerala, sees 28% rise in 2017, 107% since 2010

By Rajiv Shah
Latest official figures suggest that “model” Gujarat appears to be competing with Left-ruled Kerala in the spike in illegal mining cases. One of the top four Indian states which have witnessed a spike in illegal mining cases in 2017, Gujarat saw a 28.1% rise in illegal cases in a year, from 6,499 to 8,325, as against Kerala’s saw of a 31.34% rise from from 3,701 to 4,861.

Govt of India push for 'commercially important' invasive timber for afforestation to damage ecology, groundwater

By Our Representative
The recently-released draft National Forest Policy (NFP), says a representation before the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), would adversely affect scheduled tribes, 90% of whom live in forest areas and intractable terrains, by turning them into migrant construction labourers by displacing them for the exploitation of minerals and other development projects.

Govt of India "corporatising" education in the name of autonomy, undermining backward students' aspirations

By Our Representative
The People’s Tribunal on Attack on Educational Institutions, held in New Delhi on April 11-13, has taken strong objection to the recent decision by the Union ministry of human resource to grant autonomy to public institutions, calling it "an example of how the state is seeking to ensure that students from poor and backward communities are driven to the periphery and denied access to equal, quality and affordable education."

Ahead of Gujarat Dalit atrocity cases hearing, NHRC told: State officials failed to respond to 30 "listed" complaints

By Our Representative
In what is being considered as a clear case of failure to investigate anti-atrocity cases, a senior Dalit rights activist has revealed that, in a laegre number of cases, Gujarat government officials have been refusing to send replies required by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking reports on progress made in bringing culprit to books. Some of the cases are as old as 2013, while others are more recent, of 2018.

Draft forest policy to "help" India's industry interests, "empower" forest bureaucracy, "undermine" Adivasi rights

By Our Representative
Civil society across India has opposed the draft National Forest Policy (NFP), 2018, calling it anti-Adivasi and forest dwellers, as also anti-ecology, especially objecting to explicitly assuming that 'forests' are a commercial entity in contrast to an ecological entity, even as seeking to promote industrial monoculture plantations such as eucalyptus and teak.

Press is much more controlled under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration than previous ones

By Aliya Iftikhar*The media is in the worst state India has ever seen. That is how several journalists described the current climate in dozens of conversations with CPJ during a trip to Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi earlier this year. While the threats they outlined--political pressure, self-censorship, defamation suits, and attacks--are not a new phenomenon in India, many agreed that the environment has changed.
Nearly all of them described journalism as a solitary battle they were fighting and said that a shrinking respect for press freedom across society has left them with few places to turn for support.
In recent years, CPJ has documented how journalists have faced harassment, threats of legal action, imprisonment, or even been killed in retaliation for their reporting. But the current level of harassment and intimidation is unprecedented, Sagarika Ghose, a senior journalist, told CPJ in Delhi.
Ghose is one of several journalists who received death threats after the murder last year o…

India's investment in renewable energy down by 24%, Modi's target of 175GW by 2022 looks difficult: UN report

By Our Representative
A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report has regretted that India’s investment chart in renewable energy has been “oscillating in the $6-14 billion range since 2010 – still not reaching the sort of levels that would be required for that country to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious goals for 2022” -- 175 gigawatts (GW).

Gujarat's 8% females employable; it's 31% in Rajasthan, 17% in West Bengal, 15% in UP: GoI-supported, CII-backed report

By Rajiv Shah
A new Government of India (GoI)-supported report, prepared by Wheebox, an online talent assessment company, in alliance with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has found that just about 8% of Gujarat’s female workforce is employable in as against 31% in Rajasthan, 23% in Andhra Pradesh, 21% in Karnataka and 20% in Telangana.

Unpaid MGNREGA wages to rural workers reach 99% from less than 1% in Sept 2017, are rising ever since: Official data

By Our Representative
In a major revelation, the well-known rural jobs advocacy group fighting for the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2006,the MGNREGA Sangharsh Morcha, has said that pendency in the payment of MGNREGA wages has reached a whopping 99.19% under the rural guarantee scheme, have remained "unpaid" in April 2018.