Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2018

As Narmada flows "backwards", sea water intrudes 72 km in the river, destroying farms, fish catch: Petition to NGT

Counterview Desk
“Failure” to maintain what is called “environmental flow” in the downstream of Narmada river is leading a major ecological disaster in South Gujarat, with salinity ingress affecting the river till about 72 km upstream of mouth of the river in Gulf of Khambhat. A petition filed with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has estimated that the failure has resulted in tidal effects being felt 100 km upstream.

True spirit of Islam as well as that of Ramzan is brought about at the holy shrine of Ajmer

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed* The dargah (shrine) of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is a revered shrine amongst Muslims and Hindus alike. It is said that barren wombs sprout life and stubborn ailments disappear, if the faithful prays at the shrine.
But it wasn’t this aspect that overwhelmed me about the shrine during the last Ramzan. It was that the iftari (material for breaking fast) that was not only prepared but even shared by the Hindu brethren living in the area. Accompanying me was Malini Khatri, a senior English teacher of Modern School who had come to Ajmer with her students for participating at a debate at Mayo College.
It was indeed touching the way I noted Sunil Dutt of Dilli Durbar Guest House at Ajmer distributing the usual khajur (date palm), pakodis (snacks), kachalu (mixed fruit) and food at the shrine to all. Assisting him was Kamal Tilvani, another Sindhi hotel owner from Ajmer. At the time of iftar, some white skull capped Muslims, turbaned non-Muslim Rajasthanis and also S…

Eye on 2019 polls? Tycoon discusses with Modi, Amit Shah Asia's biggest Rann Sarovar sweet water lake in Gujarat

By Rajiv Shah
If Kalpasar, a dream project of converting the Gulf of Khambhat into Asia’s biggest sweet water lake by constructing a dam connecting South Gujarat and Saurashtra coasts, does not seem feasible any more, why not toy with the idea of yet another having a still bigger sweet water lake – this time in the Little Rann of Kutch? Suspicion has gone strong: Ahead of the 2019 polls, the BJP is all set to make a 4,900 sq km Rann Sarovar an electoral plank.

Declared "illegal" Bangladeshi, "lower caste" Hindu mysteriously dies in Assam's foreigners' camp: Report

By Our Representative
Subrata Dey, a 39-year-old Bengali Hindu migrant, dubbed a Bangladeshi, reportedly mysteriously died in a detention camp at Goalpara in Assam. Subrata, belonging to a “lower” caste, was found dead on May 26 at the camp, where he was lodged on being declared an illegal Bangladeshi intruder by the Foreigners’ Tribunal, operating to identify Bangladeshis who entered Assam after March 14, 1971, when Bangladesh became independent of Pakistan.

Ponzi: India’s problem isn't absence of legislation, it's lack of accountability, corruption, fraudsters using legal means

By Moin Qazi*In 1919 Charles (Carlo) Ponzi, a clerk in Boston, suckered Americans with a scheme that is now identified with his name. At a time when interest rates stood at 5 percent, Ponzi offered investors a 50 percent return in just 45 days. The pitch was to buy postal coupons -- used for buying foreign stamps, in a particular country, and then capitalize on exchange rate differences by redeeming them at a profit in the US. Ponzi only bought a handful of stamps. But he kept the scam going by robbing from Peter to pay Paul. Interest for early stage investors was paid out of funds from new investors and thus, he formed a cycle.
The Italian immigrant coaxed thousands of people into sinking millions of dollars .Ponzi fleeced investors worth at least $15 million — or about $190 million in today’s dollars — over the course of just eight months before his scheme finally crashed in 1920. Ponzi scams keep coming back because it is so lucrative and so easy to do in different forms. Almost a …

Rohingiyas: Hiding behind "hyper-security" jingoism, India refuses to recognize refugees as legal category

By Our Representative
In a sharp critique of the Indian position on the Rohingiya crisis, a recent workshop organised by the South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), in collaboration with Development and Justice Initiative, India International Centre and Euro-Burma office, reached the conclusion that India has refused the recognise the ethnic group as refugees, making them ineligible for the protection under the international refugee law.

2019 polls: Amidst view that BJP has 20% support, call to unite, take debates on "xenophobic" onslaught to roads

By Our Representative
Worry appeared writ large of a large number of left-of-centre intellectuals, who had gathered for a three-day India Inclusive seminar, held at the Constitution Club, Delhi, last week, with most of them suggesting how the ruling BJP and the Sangh Parivar were successful in creating a xenophobic atmosphere, suggesting there was little possibility things might change ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Why is India's civil service no longer a steel frame, as desired by Sardar Patel, but a creaking structure

By Moin Qazi* Does a career in the Indian civil service mean a life of ‘public service’? It is a puzzling question given the sloth and thickets of red-tapism that have eroded the bureaucracy. Moreover, the way events have been unfolding, most will tend to agree that all it means is a lifetime of serving the most despicable lot of politicians ever to be found in the world. It means a career that will rub out your individuality, dull your intellect, and corrupt your morals. You will enter a fine young person; you will retire as someone you yourself will not be able to recognise, barring of course, a few courageous exceptions.
Many idealised youngsters begin their careers with loads of ambition and a stock of dreams, waiting to dazzle the world with brilliance, confident that the corner office is theirs for taking. Most enter the profession fired up with noble visions and a sense that the multiple and manifest deprivations, injustices, double-dealings in their society can be alleviated.…

India betraying Palestinians? Modi carries forward Narasimha Rao's policy to establish full-fledged relations with Israel

By Sheshu BabuAfter Independence, India adopted the policy of non-alignment under the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. While the prime motive was non-interference, India always supported the cause of Palestinians in UN and also in WHO till 2016. It voted in favour of Palestine in almost every resolution. The year 2017 was the first occasion when India abstained from voting on the Palestine issue clearly from the orders of New Delhi, given the Government's current growing strategic and economic relation with Israel.
India was among 20 countries, which abstained during a vote on 'draft decision' on May 23, proposing to support Palestinians in their endeavor to provide health services in the present conflict ridden situation. Discussion on the issue was part of the agenda in World Health Assembly, the WHO annual global level event in Geneva taking place this year (May 21 -26).
The draft decision titled 'Health conditions in the occupied Palestine Territory including e…

So much was happening, yet some TV anchors were fuming over an innocuous circular from Archbishop Anil

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj* There has been so much happening in India in the recent past and particularly, this past week. The country today sits on a tinderbox; waiting to explode at any moment; no one can deny this! A cursory glance around will make one realise the abysmal depths to which the country has plummeted to, during these last four years!
On 22 May, the brutal gunning down of anti-Sterlite protestors by the Tamil Nadu police in Thoothukudi is a blatant example of a repressive State machinery. More than eleven people were killed and many more injured, in an authentic peoples movement with legitimate demands. The powers that rule the country are clearly identified with the corporate mafias who care two hoots about the rights of the poor or environmental safeguards.
In the aftermath of the results of the Assembly elections in Karnataka on 15 May, the country witnessed the unprecedented act of a Governor throwing all Constitutional propriety to the wind. Unethically, he swore in s…

Rural wage growth down from 8.4% under UPA to 0.2% under NDA, farmers now not getting support price: Crisil

By Rajiv Shah
Even as regretting that investment in India is failing to pick up, in its latest report on four years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, Crisil, India's leading rating agency, has lamented that things have been worse for the country's rural sector, which, it has said, "has been riddled with challenges including slower agricultural growth, poor farm price realisation, slowdown in construction activity, and sluggish rural wage growth."

Muslims must follow Maulana Azad, who opposed the idea of separate homeland, and not Haseeb, Owaisi, Azam & Co

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*As far as Muslims of India are concerned, two recent incidents not only alarmed and hurt the nation but let this patriotic community down. The most recent is the diatribe of Maulana Haseeb Siddiqui of Deoband’s Muslim Bank who openly declared the opposition to unite against Modi and vote for the so-called secular party.
The other ghastly incident was the adamancy of the AMU (Aligarh Muslim University) students not to remove Jinnah’s photograph from their students’ union office. Had these people followed Bharat Ratna Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s path of interfaith concord and the lesson of gelling Hindus and Muslims for the larger good of India, they would not have done this. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is charged unnecessarily on behalf of both communities on petty issues, sometimes taking the form of communal riots.
Dividing on religious linesWhatever Maulana Haseeb stated just before the Kairana, UP election, or the transgression on the part of the AMU students, wa…

India's investment failed to pick up despite Modi's 4 years' reforms, manufacturing hit by demonetisation, GST: Crisil

By Our Representative
India's top consulting firm, Crisil, backed by its international partners, Standard & Poor, has regretted that four years after taking over the reins, and despite "a plethora of facilitations and reforms", the Modi government has "not been able to decisively push the investment cycle", insisting, "Investments have become the sore point of the Indian economy."

Aurangabad communal clashes: Would Fadnavis deviate from the course already charted by his mentors in Nagpur?

By Adv Masood Peshimam Riots in our country are routine. The allegedly partisan role of the police is routine. Delegates of different hue and colour feverishly rushing to the concerned authorities is routine. Authorities assuring that the guilty would not be spared is routine. Concerned authorities promising to set up inquiry committee to probe the multiple reasons contributing to the growth of communal violence is routine. No consequent follow up is also routine. On top of it the guilty remaining immune from punishment many a time, particularly the law enforcers, too, is routine.
Following the recent outbreak of communal violence in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, there have been allegations of police supporting the violent crowd to target Muslims, with the administration failing to take preventive measure to halt the drift in the law and order situation. There are allegations of indiscriminate arrest of innocent Muslims.
Against this murky scenario Muslim MLAs had an audience with…

Govt order to "declare" 20 lakh Assamese foreigners: blogger; it's conspiracy to brand 1.9 crore illegal citizens: CJP

By Our Representative
Will a whopping 20 lakh Assamese be declared foreigners? In a significant blog, senior Guwahati lawyer Aman Wadud, referring to the May 2, 2018 order of the State Coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) – signed by Prateek Haleja, IAS, in charge of home and political department, and state coordinator of NRC – has apprehended that stage has been already prepared exactly for this.

Narmada dam oustees of 3 states to begin protest march on May 27, reach Bhopal for public hearing on June 4

By Our Representative
Starting along the banks of Narmada river off the Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat, the dam affected people of three states – Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra – will begin a week-long on May 27. Seeking to highlight the plight the displaced people, the march will reach Madhya Pradesh capital

World Bank: India's 48% bank accounts inactive, thanks to Modi's Jan Dhan, twice that of developing countries

By Rajiv Shah
India may have sharply increased the number of bank accounts following Prime Minister Narendra Modi coming to power. However, regrettably, India has the largest share of inactive accounts, too. A just-released World Bank survey, which provides this crucial detail alongside several others, says, "Account owners with an inactive account varies across economies, but it is especially high In India."

Fight for 2002 Gujarat riot victims, others "main reason" behind human rights leader's bail plea rejection: CJP

By Our Representative
The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Mumbai-based human rights organization run by prominent social activist Teesta Setelvad, has suggested that the refusal of the Ahmedabad sessions court to grant her bail in a Rs 1.4 crore embezzlement case, is linked with her recent fight for justice in "courts and beyond", in cases ranging from those related with the 2002 Gujarat riots to the campaign to free "innocent" Dalit activists like Chandreshekhar Azad, who is in a UP jail.

Absurd that Gujarat police moved to cancel Teesta Setalvad's bail plea stating she might tamper with evidence

The All-India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) statement on refusal of Ahmedabad sessions court to grant anticipatory bail to social activist Teesta Setalvad:The All India Union of Forest Working People strongly condemns the denial of anticipatory bail to noted human rights activist and Journalist Teesta Setalvad. Teesta Setalvad is vice-president and legal advisor of AIUFWP. The Union will fight against the curbing of human rights and democratic rights and will launch a nation wide struggle to fight for justice. The union will unite all the struggles that is going on in the forest area against the atrocities and denial of justice to the forest people with this case. The struggle will continue till we win and establish the truth.
Ahmedabad Sessions Court turned down the Anticipatory Bail Application (ABA) of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) secretary and acclaimed human Rrghts defender Teesta Setalvad and her partner Javed Anand. However, an undeterred Setalvad refuses …

Bullet Train: Govt of India "no" to farmer leaders, environmentalists, local body reps in stakeholder consultations

By Our Representative
The Government of India’s special purpose vehicles (SPVs), created for the proposed Bullet Train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, is learnt to be keeping out environmental activists, experts, farmers’ representatives and local body elected representatives from participating in crucial stakeholders’ consultations, currently being held along its 300 km route in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Tuticorin, where the state declared a one way war against citizens on behalf of a multinational corporation

By Bhaskar Sur*More than a decade back Rajni Kothar ,the eminent Liberal political thinker, had to concede that the Indian state had lost its independence and was under the thumb of big corporates. Since then corporates have tightened their grip over the levers of the state. No Prime Minister so shamelessly acted as an ambassador of Reliance and Adani, and demeaned the chair as Narendra Modi.
Vedanta enjoys favour from across the political spectrum and for understandable reasons.
At Tutirocone their factory is polluting the air and the sea, endangering the lives and livelihoods of many. Vedanta got away with its enormous crimes for years, simply by bribing those in power. The popular rage was natural as it was the hundredth day of their agitation. It was against the stony indifference of a bribed and paralysed administration that kills. Bobby Kunhu, a legal activist, presents the picture with stark clarity and without any sentimentalism .This can only be written by someone whose heart …

Top US group gives one star to Modi's draft forest policy, says it's climate change plan is "unworkable, regressive"

By Our Representative
Top US-based advocacy group, with branches in several countries, including India, Climate Scorecard, which tracks the implementation of Paris Climate Commitments of top Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitting countries, has rated the controversial Draft Forest Policy, 2018, released by the Government of India, with a one star rank out of five because "it contains strategies for climate change mitigation which are unworkable."

Tamil Nadu: 15 workers' death due to hazardous working conditions at Sterlite preceded 11 gunned down by cops

By Our Representative
The view has grown that Tuesday's shooting in Tamil Nadu, which led to the death of 11 persons, including a 17-year-old girl, was the culmination of over two decades of "blatant" disregard for the lives and well-being of the people and protecting corporate interests. The company which is in the eye of storm following the shootout, Sterlite, was allotted land in Maharashtra in 1992, but was shifted to Tamil Nadu due to massive protest by the people of Ratnagiri.

Four years of Modi rule: Intrusive Mind Management by a government influenced by its ideological mentor

By Lubna Sayed Qadri*A pertinent question, as the NDA government completes four years in office, is: Has it kept up to the promises it made to the people of India? "Citizens’ Report on the Fourth Year of the NDA Government 2018: Promises and Reality" is an anthology of reviews brought out after due consultation and inputs by the civil society and the citizen of the country by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA) a platform of over 4,000 civil society organisations and individuals with its core focus on ‘governance accountability to eliminate poverty and social exclusion’.
The report has reviewed the electoral and other promises and performance of the NDA government in the last four years. The Annual Citizens’ review of the Union Government and its promises to the people is a continuum of previous such reports – beginning from the first review of the UPA I government held in 2005.
This year report has been accompanied with short, mobile-friendly audio-visual clips on thematic subjects…

US Supreme Court lifts immunity on hearing World Bank group, accused of ignoring "violations" by Gujarat power plant

By Our Representative
In what is being interpreted by Gujarat's fisherfolk organization, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS), as it's major victory, the US Supreme Court has decided to hear a case, setting aside the plea of immunity by the World Bank group, which has funded a major ultra-mega power plant in Kutch district. According to knowledgeable sources, this will be for the first time the US Supreme Court will address the scope of international organisations’ immunity.

UP cops "beat up, drag" tribal women for second time in a week for campaigning to reclaim their forest land

By Our Representative
In a shocking incident, around 30 to 40 Uttar Pradesh's police officers on Tuesday reportedly barged into tribal women's homes in Lilasi Kala village of the Sonebhadra district, which has a population of 1,160, with sticks and a revolver gun, and assaulted them, did not even sparing children as young as 10-years old. One woman was hit on the head so aggressively that she started bleeding "profusely".

Countdown to Ayodhya: How BJP established supremacy of religion, pushing caste considerations to the secondary

"Babri Masjid: 25 Years On" was published as a Special Issue by the Indian Journal of Secularism in 2017 to commemorate 25 years of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The book has multiple narratives — eye-witness accounts, essays on the political events that led upto the demolition, the riots that followed, and how different sections of soceity were affected by it, how they reacted, how they dealt with it. The book has been edited by Sameena Dalwai and Ramu Ramanathan. The following extract is from the chapter “Countdown to Ayodhya” by Anant Bagaitkar:
The year was 1992 and the month was July. It was autumn. Monsoon session of the Parliament was on. The PV Narasimha Rao-Congress government was grappling with the Ayodhya issue. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and all the other linked Hindu organisations had made a declaration for the kar seva (offering service for a religious cause) at the disputed site at Ayodhya – a 2.7-acre plot where t…