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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

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."
Organised by the People’s Commission on Shrinking Democratic Space in India (PCSDS), the jury panel of the tribunal comprised Justice (Retd) Hosbet Suresh, Justice (Retd) BG Kolse Patil, Prof Amit Bhaduri, Dr Uma Chakravarty, Prof TK Oommen, Prof Vasanthi Devi, Prof Ghanshyam Shah, Prof Meher Engineer, Prof. Kalpana Kannabiran and Ms Pamela Philipose. Prof Romila Thapar was the Chair of the plenary session of the tribunal.
Testimonies of 120 students and teachers from close to 50 institutions and universities1 spread across 17 states were considered by the jury panel; 49 testimonies were deposed orally at the tribunal. Along with these testimonies, there were 17 expert submissions before the tribunal.
A statement issued by PCSDS following the tribunal proceedings says, "In the name of autonomy, vocationalised and market friendly courses are now being promoted. Consequently, institutions that once had good representation of SC, ST and OBC students are now in danger of losing their presence, precisely because these institutions have introduced fee structures that are completely unaffordable."
During the hearing it was found, says PCSDS, that "students are in a state of desperation" and the "diversity of representation of students in some of these prestigious institutions are in danger of being undermined by unaffordable fee structures introduced during the recent past. Along with this are certain entrance models imposed by the Centre that have worked against the interests of local students."
According to PCSDS, "Structural adjustments in higher education has had many negative impacts on students and teachers. The rising ad hocism of teaching staff has created uncertainty among the teachers and undermined critical thinking of both staff and students. For example, since the mid 80s there have been very few permanent appointments in the universities in Madhya Pradesh and the University of Delhi is believed to have 5000 vacancies at present."
Pointing out that "this has severely impacted the quality of education and the capacity for questioning", with the government "abdicating its constitutional responsibility in funding education", PCSDS says, "Today we are witnessing not only the privatisation of higher education but also its corporatisation. This has impacted directly on country’s literacy level which is stagnating at 75%. In the process, state universities have been reduced to examination boards."
Raising alarm at saffronisation of education, PCSDS says, "Local cultural resources have been appropriated by the Hindutva forces in order to buttress their own presence in local educational institutions. In Assam, there are 500 RSS controlled schools under the name of Shankar Debo Shishu Niketan - 1.6 lakh students are accessing these institutions. The secular philosophy of Shankar Debo has in this way been taken over to project the Hindutva ideology."
Then, it says, "While essays such as Ramanujan’s 300 Ramayanas have been knocked out of the syllabus, the Sanskrit department of the Delhi University is said to be undertaking a 'thorough' study of history to prove that Aryans were indigenous to India. We were told that RSS’s eight point guide to education is now providing the programmatic framework for these shifts. This is impacting both students and staff."
PCSDS further says, "An example cited from one of the prominent universities of Uttar Pradesh where teachers who had no academic qualification have been appointed to positions of authority on the basis of their affiliations with Hindutva outfits", adding,"The ABVP has been privileged in many ways within the universities. For instance, in one case in Bihar these students were the only ones who have 'acquired' 75% attendance showing how they are privileged in order to disempower other students."

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India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”