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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 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.
Pointing out of that 95% live of them live below poverty line and totally depend on forest, agriculture or agriculture-based activities, the representation by mines, minerals & People (mm&P), a network of NGOs working for people affected by mining, in response to the reactions sought by the ministry, says that, even as seeking to "mitigate climate change", the draft policy places "more-than-required emphasis on the commercialization of forests".
Thus, by seeking to achieve afforestation in the name of increasing tree cover and not forest cover, mm&P says, the draft policy "emphasizes on monoculture", which can lead to "major disturbance in the local ecology. For instance, studies have shown that the plantation of eucalyptus in the name of afforestation has depleted groundwater in Arkavathi Basin, which led to fall in water supply in Bengaluru".
Pointing out that the draft focuses on "the need to stimulate growth in the forest based industry sector and encourage forest corporations and industrial units", mm&P comments, "Commercialization of forest is a major threat to the forest dwelling communities and tribal communities." The representation has been signed by mm&P chairperson Rebbapragada Ravi and secretary general Ashok Shrimali.
It underlines, "Most of the livelihood of these communities (350-400 million people) depend on non-timber forest products (NTFPs). The focus on increasing the timber species which will lead to reduction in the NTFPs. It has to be remembered that forests are much more rewarding in terms of NTFPs than timber produce", adding, "Economic use of timber can be very dangerous -- as there is no specification of how government can monitor the exploitation of the forest by the corporates."
Sharply criticizing the emphasis on compensatory afforestation in the draft, mm&P says, "Pushing non-indigenous 'commercially important' invasive timber species to meet afforestation targets will damage local ecology and groundwater recharge. A recent report of CAG has pointed out that 50%-60% compensatory afforestation has not taken place."
Pointing out that the draft policy "is not in line" with the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, and the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996, which are "protective legislations for the indigenous communities", mm&P says, it "does not elaborate on engaging local people in forest management.
Noting that "participatory approach" is vaguely used, with little emphasis on Gram Sabhas for important decision makers in all matters concerning forests and ecosystem, mm&P says, The draft policy, even as talking of "extension of protected areas and corridors for maintaining the forest cover", ignores the "flaws in the exclusionary model of protected areas governance which has caused displacement of local population".
Objecting to the draft policy refusing to consider "mining as a threat to forest conservation", mm&P says, "More than 50% of mining happens in forest areas and hence mining should be seen as a threat to forest ecosystem and proper regulations and guidelines should be issued."
Then, says mm&P, in the name of "promotion of cultivation, harvesting, transportation and marketing of wood by relaxing the existing felling and transit regime in the country”, the draft policy seeks to "open window for illegal transportation of timber leading to high levels of corruption in the bureaucracy."
In fact, according to mm&P, the draft policy "is a shift from tribal to timber" by aiming to aims create "new 'zamindars' and turn the tribals into slaves. It will dilute the access of tribal community to the forests and disturb the natural ecosystem affecting the life and livelihoods of millions of people."

Comments

Ashok Sharma said…
This govt is bent upon giving land to corporate houses and depriving forest dwellers and tribals their rights. I think this will have to be changed after 2019

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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.”