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Showing posts from June, 2018

Villagers demand Pak consulate in Ahmedabad, bus service to Karachi, as peace march ends "successfully"

By Sandeep Pandey*
The India-Pakistan Friendship and Peace March from Ahmedabad to Nada Bet during 19 to 29 June, 2018 concluded successfully, even though Ahmedabad Police detained the march for about 3 hours at the beginning from Gandhi Ashram and Border Security Force didn’t give permission to the march from Nadeshwari Mata Mandir to the border, a distance of 25 km.

State Bank of India refuses to divulge names of corporate donors buying up electoral bonds for political parties

By Our Representative
The State Bank of India (SBI) -- the only bank authorised by the Government to sell Electoral Bonds (EBs) to sold to individuals or other entities to be given to political parties as a means to fund their poll activity -- has refused to divulge the identity and other details of buyers under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act).

Gujarat seers Sadaram Bapu, Baldevnath Maharaj seek normal relations with Pakistan: Indo-Pak peace marchers

By Kaleem Siddiqui
The India-Pakistan Friendship and Peace march, which started from Ahmedabad's Gandhi Ashram on June 19, completed about 170 kilometers till last Monday. Halting for night at in Thar in Banaskantha district, the next day the foot marchers walked around 15 km in the morning to reach Dev Darbar Jageer Math Ashram, where they were given a grand welcome by the ashram people.

New danger of fascism in India: Public violence, often leading to lynching, is becoming random, spontaneous

By Battini Rao*
The seven-day period from June 13 to June 20, 2018 saw four Muslim men lynched at Hapur (Uttar Pradesh) and at Godda and Ramgarh in Jharkhand. The last four years of BJP rule at center have seen steep rise in the numbers communally motivated lynching, with cow protection being the most common excuse.

Recalling Emergency: How democratic society, under excessive pressure from above, defeated its very purpose

By Suneet Chopra*
It is 43 years since the emergency was declared on June 25, 1975. I was at the Delhi Party (CPI-M) Office and got the news from a journalist friend of Kerala at about 12.30 pm that the Prime Minister had declared emergency and stopped the presses.

Right to Education? 10% schools comply with RTE, 2 lakh closed down: South Asia consultative meet told

By Our Representative
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, which came into effect in 2010, widely acclaimed as the cornerstone for "improving" the educational scenario in India, over the last eight years of its existence has seen less than 10% of Indian schools complying with its provisions to ensure universalisation of education.

Modi's wife Jashodaben appeals for Indo-Pak peace, insists, no soldier should die on borders

By Kaleem Sidiqui
In an attempt to bridge the gap between India and Pakistan, the Indo -Pak Friendship and Peace Yatra", led by Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey began on June 19 from Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Ashram, and is expected to reach Nada Bet, Indo-Pak border in Gujarat via Kalol, Nandasan , Mehsana ,Patan etc., by the end of this month.

"Economist" tells Modi, propaganda can't solve India's social lag, seeks market policy reforms as alternative

By Our Representative
Influential British journal “The Economist”, known to have been highly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance, has suggested that no amount of propaganda by him and his team can help overcome India’s social lag. Seeking policy interventions instead, it insists on privatizing every aspect of social service provided by the Government of India.

Recalling Emergency: How news published in 'Ranbheri' became a source of information for foreign media

By Nachiketa Desai*The imposition of Emergency on the night of 25-26 June 1975, suspending the fundamental rights of the people, became instrumental in converting me, a social activist, into a journalist. I was the national convener of the Tarun Shanti Sena, a youth organization founded by Sarvodaya leader Jayprakash Narayan (JP) who headed the movement for Total Revolution.
The Allahabad High Court had disqualified Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a member of the Parliament after holding her guilty of malpractices in her election campaign. JP had held a massive rally in Delhi, attended by all major non-Congress opposition parties to demand Indira Gandhi’s resignation.

Recalling Emergency: 'Indira Gandhi was saved from being assassinated at my hands, but she did make a grave error'

By Our Representative
Reproduced below is the personal experience at the Emergency, as felt by former fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force Rajiv Tyagi when he was in his teens, courtesy his FB timeline: 
Today marks 43 years to the declaration of Emergency, India's darkest hour before the 2014 election of Modi...

China-led, India-supported AIIB funding hyper-inflated infra projects, promoting crony capitalism: Mumbai meet

By Our Representative
A civil society-sponsored convention, concluded ahead of the high-profile AIIB (Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank) board meet, to take place on June 25-26 in Mumbai, has sharply criticized the "China-led" international financial institution (IFI), insisting, it "rejects" AIIB claim that it "serves as a healthy and essential alternative to undemocratic IFIs such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Finance Corporation which are controlled by western powers."

Recalling Emergency: Now, as then, any voice of protest or dissent is termed as anti-national and perilous

By Gautam Thaker*
Human Rights and liberties are a privilege of citizens, a distinct part of human life. Those are their birthrights and cannot be construed as if they have been conferred by the Constitution of the country. And yet governments often indulge in swooping upon such rights.

Unresolved conflicts characterize environmental nod to 70 of 75 projects involving 7.28 lakh ha land: Study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research study has said that of the “75 cases of conflict over land use change” involving 7,28,673 hectares (ha) “officially transferred through environmental clearance process”, in as many of 70 conflicts have remained unresolved even today. The projects have been chosen out of a list of environmental clearances granted to 14,498 projects, uploaded on the Union environment ministry’s website as of October 2017.

Govt of India reacted to just 2 of 20 starvation deaths in a yr: 7 weren't issued ration card, 5 had aadhaar issues

By Our Representative
Close on the heels of a series of reports on starvation deaths Jharkhand, the Right to Food Campaign (RFC) has revealed that over the past year, at least 20 persons have succumbed to starvation across the country – 12 in Jharkhand, three in Karnataka, three in Uttar Pradesh and two in Odisha. The deceased range from 11-year-old Santoshi Kumari to 67-year-old Etwariya Devi.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Credibility crisis: India's top institutes increasingly turn inefficient with ripple effect down to the bottom

By Pushkar Raj*
The credibility of India’s top institutions has lately suffered, affecting governance and democracy in the country. Its strong indication came in the form of the impeachment motion against the chief justice of India which was rejected by the vice-president and was subsequently challenged in the highest Court.

As 96.9% Jharkhand's Nagri residents oppose Direct Bank Transfer, state govt asks Centre to stop DBT

By Our Representative
Has the hype around Direct Bank Transfer (DBT), created by the Government of India, in order to provide cash subsidy in banks to the beneficiaries of Central and state schemes, beginning to fade into the oblivion? It would seem so, if a recent report, “Social Audit of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for Food Subsidy Pilot in Nagri, Ranchi, Jharkhand”, is any indication.

Dozen starvation deaths in Jharkhand "suggests" govt indifference towards people's food insecurity

By Asharfi Nand Prasad*
Over the past ten months at least 12 persons may have succumbed to hunger in Jharkhand. Yet, instead of taking action against functionaries leading to these deaths and taking measures to improve the situation of food security, the state government has denied hunger as the cause of any of these deaths.

Dalits, tribals, OBCs, 78% of India, get 37% of loan under Modi's MUDRA scheme for marginalized: FactChecker

By Our Representative
Contrary to the claim by India's saffron rulers, who recently said that 55% of all accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY or the Prime Minister’s Small Business Finance Scheme) belong to individuals from scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward classes (OBC), a top data analysis site has revealed that it is the general category which gained the most.

CEA Arvind Subramanian, who once called Modi "mediocre leader, efficient in riots", resigns from Govt of India

By Our Representative
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has "lost" yet another topnotch economist, Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) with the Union finance ministry, Arvind Subramanian. Following Arvind Panagariya, who quit the Modi establishment in August 2017 reportedly over excessive bureaucratic interference, Subramanian has resigned, citing "personal" reasons.

Beijing-backed, India-supported infra bank lacks compliance mechanism, "rue" Andhra farmers

By Our RepresentativeEven as the People’s Convention on Infrastructure Financing is all to set to meet in Mumbai on June 21-22, ahead of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB’s) annual meeting on June 25-26 in Mumbai, one of the civil society networks has said that the new bank has no mechanism to address grievances of the those threatened the massive infrastructure projects it seeks to fund in India.

We vs them? Modi would use violence in Kashmir, resentment against army as "tool" to whip up passions

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
The BJP has pulled out of the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) government headed by People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti. Speaking to the media in Delhi, the party in charge of J&K Ram Madhav said that this alliance had become untenable as the situation in the valley was worsening every day.

Pranab Mukherjee didn't elevate august office he held as President, just "followed" his predecessors' footsteps

By Masood Peshimam*
When late Dr Zakir Hussain, on become the President of India, went to pay obeisance to the Shankaracharya of Puri, it must have been a quest for acquiring more acceptance for a “Muslim” President. Whatever maybe the compulsion, it did not amount to elevating the august office of the President.

Universal micropension? Govt of India's doesn't have appetite for social protection, its efforts are patchy

By Moin Qazi*
India is home to one-fifth of the world’s population which includes a third of the world’s poor and one-eighth of the world’s elderly. Most of them spend their whole lives as informal workers and have no retirement security other than the hope that their children will care for them in their old age.

India's written history is focused on Manu’s Aryavarta: Scholar blames historians Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib

By Our Representative
A well-known commentator on current affairs is all set to create a ripple among India's policy makers as well as top scholars by pointing out that Indian history, as is being taught in our schools today, as also written in books, is "the history of the vanquished", and is "mostly a chronological scroll down of events in the Indo-Gangetic plain", treating south of Vindhyas with utter neglect.

If Modi can meet Nawaz Sharif, Adani wants to sell 4000 MW power to Pak, why are our soldiers killing each other?

By Sandeep Pandey*
In 1947 India was divided by the foreign rulers by playing a game of divide and rule to which the religious fundamentalists fell prey. India and Pakistan since then have a checkered history and uneasy relationship sometimes climaxing in wars and violent conflagrations. While the governments prefer to maintain adversarial relationship, which now sustains certain vested interests on both sides, the common people and business interests on two sides want peace.

Refusing to support Kejriwal dharna in Delhi against "undemocratic" ways of Modi govt, Congress stands isolated

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* I have never liked the rhetorical politics of Arvind Kejriwal. In fact, the seed that they sowed in 2011 resulted in the fascist takeover of this country. Kejriwal wanted the country to become a gram panchayat at the Ramleela maidan, and decisions were taken on the voice vote. All the power elite of the upper caste suddenly turned revolutionary.

Alternative peace ceremony at Wagah, new route to Pak via Gujarat proposed ahead of second Indo-Pak peace march

By Our Representative Ahead of his second India-Pakistan peace march, which begins on June 19 at Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, and ends at Nadeshwar Mata, Nada Bet, Gujarat, about 24 km from the border, Magsaysay Award winning social activist and Gandhian Sandeep Pandey has come up with what he calls “alternative peace ceremony” for Wagah border.

Gujarat's 100% rural households get clean drinking water, Modi think-tank claims: Says state No 1 in water index

By Our Representative
Ranking Gujarat No 1 in Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) for the second successive year, the Modi government's powerful policy-making body, Niti Aayog, appears to have left no stone unturned in order to "prove" how it has reached this drastic conclusion. One of the greatest "successes" it cites in this respect is --believe it or not-- Gujarat has "achieved" a 100% score in the ‘rural drinking water’ theme of the Water Index.

Questioning Amnesty’s “new evidence” on ARSA’s brutal killing of Hindu Rohingyas in Kha Maung Seik

By Tapan BoseOn May 22, 2018, Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International released a briefing note titled, “Myanmar: New evidence reveals Rohingya armed group massacred scores in Rakhine State”. It may be seen HERE.
In the briefing note, Amnesty International stated, “A Rohingya armed group brandishing guns and swords is responsible for at least one, and potentially a second, massacre of up to 99 Hindu women, men, and children as well as additional unlawful killings and abductions of Hindu villagers in August 2017, Amnesty International revealed today after carrying out a detailed investigation inside Myanmar’s Rakhine State.”
From the statement of the Amnesty International it appears that they have gathered enough evidence to implicate the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in genocidal massacres. Apparently, the evidence against ARSA is more clear and convincing than the evidence against the armed forces of Myanmar and the Buddhist mobs. While releasing the bri…

"First-ever" UN human rights report on Kashmir calls for international inquiry into "violations" on both sides of LoC

By Our Representative
There is an urgent need to address "past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses" and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir, who for seven decades have "suffered" a conflict that has "claimed or ruined" numerous lives, a report by the UN Human Rights Office -- the first-ever seeking an international inquiry into "multiple violations" in both parts of Kashmir, controlled by Indian and Pakistan -- has said.

AIIB "lacks" robust policies on social, environmental safeguards: Civil society to tell high-profile Mumbai meet

By Our Representative
Raising serious issues of social and environmental costs in infrastructure projects, its economic burden on public and financial non-viability, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and social movements are set to organize a three day convention on Infrastructure Financing on June 21-23 in Mumbai parallel to the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB's) third Annual Governors Meeting slated for June 25-26.

Gujarat CM doesn't have email ID, his office has no records of his announcements, or how these were implemented

By Our Representative
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani does not have any official email address, nor has he appointed any official-level committee to implement the announcements he has made over the years. This has been revealed in a Right to Information (RTI) reply, received in response to an RTI application filed by Mujahid Nafees, an Ahmedabad resident, who happens to be convenor of the Minorities Coordination Committee (MCC).

Sand mafia led by BJP corporator attacks Narmada Bachao Andolan activists in Badwani, cops refuse to act

By Our Representative
Stone pelting greeted activists associated with the well-known anti-dam civil rights organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), on the state highway from Badwani to Nisarpur, near Rajghat, Madhya Pradesh, when they tried stopping three tractors filled with sand, allegedly being smuggled from the river. The incident happened soon after two of the activists, Rohit and Raja, tried calling the Badwani police station to visit the spot.

Harassment of Sonebhadra adivasis continues: UP cops detain activists after they meet minister, secretary

By Our Representative
In a clear example of continued harassment, following last month's controversial clampdown on 12 adivasis, including 10 women, of Lilasi Kala village of Sonebhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, according to reports, the police detained several All-India Union of Forest Working Peoples (AIUFWP) activists Sukalo Gond, Kismati Gond and Sukhdev Gond, when they were on the way back from Lucknow where they had a meeting with state forest minister Dara Singh Chauhan and forest secretary Sanjay Singh.

Why in past, despite strong Church statements, no rabid TV anchor yelled or screamed “the nation wants to know”?

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) held their 30th General Body Meeting in February 2012 at Bangalore on the theme ‘The Church’s Role for a Better India’. At the end of the meeting, in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Bishops addressed a very meaningful message “to all people of goodwill”. The statement included the following:
“We sensed in our hearts our country’s yearning for a Better India. Our country has been noted for its deep spirituality, its saints and sages, its rich diversity of cultures and religions. People yearn for the ideal enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution of India of a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic which will secure for its citizens Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and …

Gujarat govt's water conservation campaign meant to "hide" deep-seated corruption at the highest level

By Our Representative
India’s top civil rights organization, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has alleged that the Gujarat government’s ambitious Jal Sanchay Abhiyan, claimed to have been launched to conserve water during the coming monsoon by deepening lakes, tanks, reservoirs and constructing new check dams, besides desilting riverbeds and canals, is a nothing but “a fabrication to hide deep-seated corruption at the highest level.”

Protesting across India, fisherfolk's apex body seeks rejection of Central govt's draft coastal zone notification

By Our Representative
National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), the apex body of fisherfolk across India, has rejected the draft Coastal Zone Regulation Notification 2018 (CRZ 18), released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on April 18, even as holding National Day of Protest on June 11 against it by representing before collectors of of the country's coastal districts under the banner “Restore our coastline, secure our livelihoods”.

Terror cases: Gujarat Muslims "more likely" to trust police than most other states, claims industry-supported study

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat may have suffered one of the most heinous communal riots in 2002, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the helm of affairs in the state. However, if a new survey, sponsored, by two philanthropic organizations, Tata Trusts and Lal Family Foundation, is any guide, 16 years down the line, Muslims in Gujarat are likely to trust the police more than most other Indian states.

Hindu right-wing has also hosted iftar but its main goal is opportunism and perpetuation of bigotry

Sheshu Babu*The month of Ramadan is not only a time of revelry and festivity but also occasion to show brotherhood among people of various communities and religions. One may see the people expressing 'Mah-e-Ramzan Mubarak' on streets (greetings on the occasion of the month of Ramzan) irrespective of religion hugging their Muslim brothers and sisters and holding 'Iftar' parties. This month is a fine reflection of communal harmony.
Kerala temple holds IftarLakshmi Narayana Murthy temple in the district of Malappuram in Kerala held Iftar party for Muslim community (May 25 ,2018, thenewsminute.com). In a show of communal harmony, the temple located at Kottakkal hosted iftar dinner. Not just local Muslims, even Hindus took part in the party held at a house adjacent to the temple. As Mohanan Nair,the temple committee secretary said, " ...we decided to hold iftar dinner not because our harmony and peace had been disturbed but because we want the peace to prolong" …

Bihar farmers along Kosi embankment up in arms: Demand end of all taxation, levy on sand, silt, any produce

By Our Representative
An 11-day-long march along the villages of Kosi river in Bihar, under the banner of Lagan Mukti Kosi Samvaad Yatra, which concluded on the World Environment Day, June 5, highlighted how the natural flow of the river has been "obstructed" because of the embankments on both the sides the river, supposedly as a flood control measure, pointing towsrds how it has caused havoc to the farmers.

India's 82% of 1.05 million air pollution deaths per annum could be avoided with strict measures: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A new American research has estimated that, out an estimated 1.04 million “premature mortality associated with PM2.5 exposure” per annum, 858,900 (82.5%) premature deaths could be avoided in case the Government of India and state governments implement a 13-point strategy, worked out based on what has been called Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model. This would happen by a reducing PM2.5 pollution by 38.7%.

48% India's urban households say, economic situation worsening, highest since Dec 2016: RBI report

By Our Representative
In a warning signal to the Government of India’s policy makers, latest Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) Consumer Confidence Survey (CCS) for May 2018 has suggested that in six major metropolitan cities – Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi – 31.9% of households felt that there was an improvement in the general economic situation as against 45.7% in December 2016.

There is nothing sacrosanct about Pranab, but he being brahmin was important for RSS... as also for others

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*Pranab Mukherjee has paid 'gIorious' tribute to RSS founder Hedgewar as a great son of India. At the same point of time he also spoke of 'constitutional patriotism'. Yes, people like us have been speaking about constitutional morality but Pranab Da also knows that such things will fail when constitution does not become part of our life, not to be used suitably by everyone according to their convenience.
There are many who felt that Pranab Mukherjee did well and spoke at the Sangh Parivar platform and put his 'strong' viewpoint and there are millions others who felt 'betrayed'. Many said, would Pranab go to attend any political meeting organised by other political outfits of either Muslims or Christian organisations? There is no doubt that RSS's inviting guest is nothing but to project its image as 'Iiberal’ organisation.
Second, it is also clever in knowing people's profile. We all know Pranab Mukherjee a die hard brah…