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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.”

Employment rate down, unemployment rate up: CMIE "contradicts" Modi claim that it's data crisis not jobs crisis

By Our Representative
Virtually contradicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claim that India is not facing a jobs crisis but data crisis, the country's top data consultating firm, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has declared that the labour force participation rate -- expressing the desire the able-bodied persons to find a job -- continues to decline.
According to CMIE's latest estimates, the labour force participation rate fell from 46.1 per cent in fiscal 2016-17 to 43.5 per cent in 2017-18, and it is further down to 42.7 per cent in the first quarter (April to June) of the present financial year, 2018-19.
In a fresh incisive analysis based on CMIE's labour force data, CMIE managing-director Mahesh Vyas says, "It is the labour force participation rate that is a better measure of the labour market conditions in India. It is not good if the number of people willing to work declines. It is not good if an increasing proportion of the working-age population express no interest in working. But, this is what happened..."
He believes, "The ripple-effects of the twin shocks of demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) continue to impact the economy. Consumer demand is muted. Persistent low food inflation is a possible reflection of this. Low investment demand is a clear reflection of poor consumer demand. Capacity utilisation is still low. In such conditions, the stagnation we observe in employment is understandable."
As for employment, says Vyas, things "turned worse" here, too. Thus, during the first quarter of 2018-19, persons employed fell to 401.9 million as against 406.2 million in in 2017-18 and 406.7 million in 2016-17. Thus, he adds, employment rate fell to 40.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2018-19, as against 41.45 per cent 2017-18 and 42.59 per cent in 2016-17.
Comments Vyas, "Employment must grow because, as population grows, the number of people seeking employment also increases. If employment is stagnant while the population keeps growing, the employment rate (which is the proportion of working-age population that is employed) declines."
Vyas suggests that failure of the jobs market to pick up is a direct reflection of the current economic scenario.
According to him, "Fiscal 2017-18 was a difficult year for the Indian economy. Real Gross Value Added (GVA) growth slowed down to 6.5 per cent compared to 7.1 per cent in the previous year. This was also the worst year for growth since 2013-14. The investment ratio, at 28.5 per cent was the lowest since 2011-12. It has been falling relentlessly indicating declining investment demand in the country."
He adds, "This fall in investment demand is also captured by CMIE’s CapEx database. Announcement of new investment projects declined by 38.4 per cent and completion of new projects declined by 26.8 per cent in 2017-18 compared to the previous year. Foreign direct investments were down by 15 per cent."
Squarely blaming demonetisation for the present economic crisis, Vyas says, "After demonetisation a large number of unemployed persons stopped looking for jobs. These were mostly youngsters, many of them were uneducated and were women. Why did they stop looking for jobs is a different matter. The relevant and important observation is that they stopped looking for jobs."
He adds, "As these unemployed persons stopped looking for jobs, they were not called unemployed any more. They hadn’t found jobs so they were not classified as employed either. They simply exited the labour force. This led to shrinking of labour force and a misleading fall in the unemployment rate."
All this, believes Vyas, suggests that if "2017-18 was as difficult year, 2018-19 is a challenging year already." He adds, "Rains have been somewhat erratic, kharif sowing is 10 per cent below last year’s, crude oil prices have risen, Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPIs) are exiting, the rupee is weak, the balance of payments is vulnerable and the fisc is in danger of running amok. These are not the best times to expect private entrepreneurs to invest and so not the best time to find new jobs."

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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.

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.

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…

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".

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.”

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.