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Showing posts from September, 2018

Fasting for 101 days to clean up Ganga, Swami Sanand to stop drinking water on October 9

By Our Representative
Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, earlier GD Agrawal, professor of civil engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, has entered 101th day of his hunger strike at Matri Sadan, Haridwar, for cleaning up Ganga. Among those who met him included Cabinet minister Uma Bharti, asking him to give up the fast. Another Cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari has written a letter with a similar plea.
While the swami has declared he would stop drinking water starting October 9, the BJP government, which has spent over Rs 7,000 crore, has not only failed to clean up Ganga, the river has become even dirtier, said Sanjay Singh, Rajya Sabha MP and social activist and academic Sandeep Pandey in a joint statement.
On the other hand, the government has come up with projects that would further pollute the river. One of them is to connect by highway four religious spots, Gangotri, Janmotri, Haridwar and Rishikesh. It would only help the corrupt contractors, who are associated with…

UP govt "not allowing" installation of Ambedkar, Buddha statues in two villages

By Our Representative
Dalits of two Uttar Pradesh villages, situated not very far from to the state capita. Lucknow, are not being allowed to install statues of Dr BR Ambedkar and Gautam Buddha, allegedly because of the adamant attitude of the influential people of the ruling party, BJP, and officials of the administration.
While despite their repeated pleas, Dalits of Sarasondi village of Barabsanki district are not being given permission, in Gumai Majra village of Sitapur district the idols of Ambedkar and Buddha, installed on the private land of a Dalit farmer, were removed by the police and staff from the sub-magistrate's office on September 24-25, 2018, saying that it is a disputed land.
In a joint statement, Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh and well-known academic and social worker Sandeep Pandey said that the statues were removed two days after they were installed because people associated with local BJP MLA Gyan Tiwari are seeking to "illegally" tr…

Narmada Bachao Andolan celebrates three decades of struggle at Badwani

By Our Representative
Farmers of the Narmada valley, farm labourers, potters, fishermen, tribals, and Dalits gathered in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh in a show of strength to mark the 30th anniversary of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which was set up on September 28, 1989 in Harshad, district Khandwa. The gathering was addressed, among others, by NBA leader Medha Patkar.
Present on the occasion to mark the occasion included Dhanshyam Chowdhury of the Swabhiman Shetkari Sangathsn, Member of Parliament and farmers' leader Raju Shetty, Madhuresh Kumar of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, social worker Anil Hebbar, who has been associated with late Baba Amte, Maninder Singh Raisingh Patel (Bittu), President of the Congress-ruled Janpadh Panchayat, Badwani, and Tamil Nadu artist Oviar Pugale Di. An NBA statement issued on the occasion said, people from villages, towns and villages are watching the displacement of in the Narmada valley, not only of themselves, the l…

Women's suicide rate in Gujarat, two other states rises, as India's goes down by 23%: Wither UN's SDG targets?

By Rajiv Shah
In an important revelation, a recent study in one of the world’s most renowned health research journals, “Lancet”, has found that “model” Gujarat is one of the three states where the Suicide Death Rate (SDR) among women has gone up. The other two major states, whose women’s SDR has shown an upward trend during the 26-years study – 1990 to 2016 – period are Bihar and Rajasthan.

Aadhaar "played a role" in 10 starvation deaths out of 15 in Jharkhand: Right to Food Campaign

Counterview Desk
A year ago, on September 28, an 11-year-old girl in Jharkhand’s Simdega district reportedly died of starvation, months after her family’s ration card was cancelled because it was not linked to their Aadhaar number. With no school mid-day meals available during her Durga Puja holidays, Santoshi Kumari had gone with barely any food for nearly eight days before she died.

Most of forest land titles given in Odisha are "not verified on the ground", may lead to serious conflicts in future

By Our Representative
Thousands of adivasis and forest dwellers from across Odisha, mostly from tribal regions, marched in a protest rally on September 28 under the banner of Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, at Lower PMG, Bhubaneswar, raising concern over “anti-tribal” and “anti-forest dweller” laws like Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 (commonly known as CAMPA) and Draft National Forest Policies 2018.

Activists' arrest: Supreme Court's majority judgment "fails" to do its duty as vanguard of fundamental rights

Counterview Desk
Well-known women’s rights organization, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), in a statement*, has said it is alarmed by the majority judgment of the Supreme Court regarding the August 28 arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao, terming it as “short-sighted”, adding Justice DY Chandrachud’s dissenting judgment is “exhaustively reasoned”. 
Text of statement WSS is deeply condemns the majority judgment of the Supreme Court which has dismissed the PIL filed by Romila Thapar, Devaki Jain, Satish Deshpande, Prabhat Patnaik and Maja Daruwalla and has in effect granted the notorious Pune Police impunity to carry on with its fabricated and malafide investigation in the Bhima Koregaon (FIR No. 4/2018) case. The Court in its vague majority judgement has failed to do its duty as a Constitutional Arbitrator and as the vanguard of the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of Ind…

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.

Apex Court aadhaar verdict: A "missed opportunity" to save Indians from anonymous donors' dictatorship

By Gopal Krishna*
Verdict of Supreme Court of 4 Judges of the 5-Judge Constitution Bench on biometric data based 12 digit Unique Identification (UID) number branded as Aadhaar is manifestly unscientific and anti-poor. The verdict was delivered on September 26, 2018. It has taken citizens to pre-Magna Carta days (1215 AD) or even earlier, to the days prior to the declaration of Cyrus, the Persian King (539 BC) that willed freedom for slaves.

Just 12% Gujarat households say Modi govt "committed" to fighting corruption, national average 31%: Survey

By Rajiv Shah
A 13-state survey carried out a Delhi-based non-profit organization, CMS India, has found that in “model” Gujarat’s just about 12% households households feel that the Narendra Modi government is “committed” towards reducing corruption, which is the lowest of all states, with the sole exception of Andhra Pradesh, where just about 2% of feel that way.

Petition asks Britannia to stop using plastic trays inside packets, replace them with eco-friendly material

Counterview Desk Pracheta Budhwar, a Bangalore citizen, has started this petition to Britannia Industries’ Managing Director Varun Berry, asking him to remove plastics from its products. Seeking support to sign the online petition on change.org, According to Budhwar, this is particularly important because plastic is interfering “with our hormonal system leading to infertility and possible cancer, I realized, to my horror, that I and the billions of others on this planet are slowly poisoning ourselves to death.
Text of the petition: Like millions of others, I love Britannia biscuits and cakes. But the melting butter and chocolate leave a bitter taste in my mouth every time I think about the unnecessary plastic waste that is created with every purchase I make.
We know that plastic is extremely bad for the environment, especially single-use plastic. A United Nations Environment Program report states that the most common plastics emit traces of two powerful greenhouse gases that lead to …

Child marriages in India down by 20%, weddings delayed by 2.3 years where women are panchayat chiefs: Report

By Our Representative
A just-published paper, “Political role models and child marriage in India”, has concluded that the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, enacted in 1993, which stipulate reservation of pradhans’ positions in one-third of districts by rotation, has led to a situation where the “likelihood of child marriage decreases by 20 percentage points, and age at marriage increases by 2.3 years”, even as delaying the “gauna ceremony is delayed by 1.6 years.”

Women earn Rs 18 per hour in India, half of what men do, delay in marriage won't help increase earnings: Study

By Our Representative
A recent research paper, “The impact of women’s age at marriage on own and spousal labor market outcomes in India: causation or selection?” has said that even though women earn nearly half of what men earn, a delay in marriage, at least in India, has “no significant impact” on their earnings.

Three months after they were "illegally" detained, two of three UP forest rights activists released

By Our Representative
After spending three months in jail, Kismatiya and Sukhdev Gond, tribal human rights activists of Sonabhadra district of Uttar Pradesh, have been released on bail. These two, along with woman tribal rights leader were allegedly "illegally incarcerated under false charges, in what is the State's way of punishing those who are active in their fight for the proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act (2006), says the All India Union of Forest Workers (AIUFWP).
Citizens for Justice and Peace(CJP), which has been supporting the AIUFWP, adds, "Now, we await the bail hearing for Sukalo Gond, who we expect will be released next week. This development comes after Sukalo and Kismatiya were produced before the Allahabad High Court on September 7, following a Habeas Corpus petition filed by CJP, where the Court had allowed both women to seek ‘judicial remedy’.
Roma, who serves as General Secretary of the AIUFWP, said, “We are very happy at this development. …

Part two of video on Nitin Desai, a top UN official who worked closely with Kofi Annan, released

By Our Representative
Second part of the video on the life and work of Nitin Desai, an Indian economist and international civil servant, who was Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations from 1992 to 2003, released for public view, takes off from Nitin's return to India in 1987 after fleshing out the concept of sustainable development for Brundtland Commission in its final report "Our Common Future". On returning to India, Desai worked as Chief Economic Advisor and Secretary in the Ministry of Finance.
In 1990  Desai joined as Deputy Secretary General of the World Commission on Environment and Development, a conference set up by the United Nations after the success of the Brundtland Commission. Over the next 10 years he was with the UN in Geneva and New York, working for the success of the Earth Summit in Rio and the launch of Agenda 21 (a vision for the 21st Century), in which every constituency's concerns and views on sustainable…

India's 7% GDP growth leads to less than 1% job growth: 14-16% youth, highly educated are unemployed

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study “State of Working India 2018”, prepared by the Centre for Sustainable Employment of the Azim Premji University, has said that if in 1970s and 1980s, when GDP growth was around 3-4%, employment growth was around 2%, but “since the 1990s, and particularly in the 2000s, GDP growth has accelerated to 7% but employment growth has slowed to 1% or even less.”

Celebrating surgical strike, war: India "follows" Mussolini, who said peace is absurd, three cheers for war?

By Sheshu Babu*
"War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and imposes the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to make it" –Benito Mussolini
There are number of instances when the present ruling party promoted 'nationalism' through various programmes. It is leaving no stone unturned to express its patriotic intent and directing people to follow its footsteps. One of the latest example is Parakram Parv, or celebrating surgical strikes, showcasing the valor of armed forces from September 28 to 30.

Universal health coverage in China, Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, OECD "much larger" than Modicare

By Our Representative
Sharply contesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that the recently-launched public health insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), dubbed Modicare, is the world’s largest, renowned development economist Jean Drèze notes, PMJAY is nowhere comparable to “China’s health care system, with its universal coverage”, pointing out, “In per-capita terms, public expenditure on health in China is about five times higher than in India.”

Mayawati "faltering": Will Rahul seek Hardik Patel-Jignesh Mevani type coalition in MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan?

By Anand K Sahay*
If Narendra Modi had set the tone in late 2013 and early 2014 by unleashing a no-holds-barred attack on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, thus inaugurating an era of personalised name-calling in politics in which every FIR led to Jawaharlal Nehru, months before crucial elections, Rahul appears to have taken aim squarely at the Prime Minister, with the available material on the Rafale deal, and the government struggling with explanations on economic fugitives like Vijay Mallya.

Bullet train land acquisition: Farmers' representatives to go to Japan, meet JICA officials, politicians, media

By Our Representative
A 20-odd farmers' delegation consisting of representatives from Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is planning to go to Japan in October to represent before the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding the Rs 80,000 crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.
The delegation plans to go to Japan after JICA "agreed" to listen to the grievances of the project-affected farmers. It will also be meeting the leader of the opposition, student leaders and intellectuals in Japan, and hold press conferences in five cities, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to make a statement that it's not just land but life that is being for the project.
Revealing this, senior advocate Anand Yagnik, who is representing the aggrieved farmers in the Gujarat High Court, said, JICA guidelines "categorically say that if any person aggrieved by the land acquisition being carried out on finance from Japan Bank …

PIPFPD condemns cancellation of Indo-Pak meet, says dialogue only answer to fight terror

By Our Representative
The Pakistan-lndia Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) has expressed its strong disappointment with the Indian government for cancelling the scheduled meeting of India and Pakistani foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly late this month. The meeting was to take place following exchange of letters by the Prime Ministers of the two countries.
PIPFPD in a statement said, dialogue is the only answer to continued mistrust between the two countries. Condemning all acts of violence, including inhuman acts like beheading of soldiers or civilians, it added, one should not forget that dialogue is the only answer to bring about an end to acts of terror.
Calling upon resumption of the dialogue, PIPFPD said, it should not have been cancelled, as it would have provided an opportunity to interact with the new leadership of Pakistan. Insisting that dialogue is necessary as tension is growing between the two countries, it hopes that the m…

Bugged by pollution, cementing, human activity, Modi govt may denotify Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary in Varanasi

By Our Representative
If a wildlife sanctuary is unable to preserve a particular species because of certain extraneous reasons, why not do away with it right away? This appears to be the new motto behind the BJP rulers in Uttar Pradesh, frantically wanting to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious inland waterway project on Ganga. The waterway is slated to pass through Varanasi, Modi’s constituency.

India's Human Development Index loss due to inequality higher than most South Asian, BRICS countries

By Rajiv Shah
Fresh data released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), released this month, show that while India ranks 130 out of 189 countries in human development index (HDI), with HDI value of 0.640 on a scale of 1, this is “below the average of 0.645 for countries in the medium human development group”, even though it is “above the average of 0.638 for countries in South Asia.”

Himachal govt must put in public all info sought by murdered RTI activist Jindan exposing corruption: NCPRI

By Our Representative
In a strongly worded letter to Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on the murder of RTI activist Kedar Singh Jindan in Sirmaur district on September 7, the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI) has said that it "gravely concerned" by the incident. Jindan, it said, was first brutally assaulted and then crushed under a SUV in broad day light near his house. The reason for the murder was, he had "flied numerous applications under the RTI Act to exposed "fraud and irregularities" of the officialdom in the identification of families living below the poverty line (BPL).
Pointing out that he had presented his findings in a conference in Shimla on June 29, 2018, the letter states, he had also put forth proof that he had obtained from six families related to members of the panchayat that had used fake BPL certificates to secure government Jobs. Further, he had registered a complaint with the Anti-Corruption B…

Rafale deal: Reliance Aerospace a "suitable partner", where financial interests of India, France converge

By Shantanu Basu*
This is the Bofors replay. The French government and ours are equal partners, which is why both are going out of their way to put out half-cooked denials and unconvincing statements. I refuse to believe that Reliance Aerospace (RA) developed the capacity to produce Rafale parts in barely two weeks before the administrative approval to the deal was signed. And that Dassault contracted a firm that is neck-deep in debt, in default of overseas obligations, and ship supplies to the Indian Navy setting the naval shipbuilding programme back by at least a decade and have no known capacity to manufacture warplane parts (at least 70% of the total).

Dubbed RSS plant, Modi man, new Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks VC to celebrate Sept 29 as Surgical Strike Day

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, newly-appointed chancellor of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), a central university based in Hyderabad, has asked it's vice chancellor to celebrate September 29, the Surgical Strike Day, as a day of bravery "in order to accord the highest acclaim to those soldiers who carried it out for the safety and security of our borders" in 2016.
Ahmed, who claimed in a letter to the President of India that he is being branded as an RSS plant and a Modi man, and is not being allowed to function by MANUU vice chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz, has asked the latter to "organize various activities, including the parade of the three wings of the forces, and a skit on India army besides organizing a talk-session involving ex-serviceman to sensitize students about sacrifices made by the armed forces."
"Students must be told how Army carried out the surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across t…

MCC to begin state-wide Gandhinagar Chalo campaign, to hold public meeting on Minority Rights day, Dec 18

By Our Representative
The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has decided to begin a public campaign under the slogan "Gandhinagar Chalo" in all the districts of the state with its eight-point demands. MCC, which held a state-level meeting, decided to hold a public meeting on December 18, 2018, the International Minority Rights Day to press its demands.
Pointing out that the aim of the campaign is to bring about awareness through district-level conferences, addressing media, MCC convenor Mujahid Nafees said, the demands include setting up a Minority Welfare Ministry, allocation of special fund in the budget for minority community development, establishing a state minority commission by passing a law, open government schools up to class 12 in minority areas,recognition of Madarsa degrees equivalent to Gujarat Board, special economic package for the upliftment of minorities, a government policy for the rehabilitation of people di…

Ex-diplomat Bhadrakumar chosen as one of world's top 10 bloggers

By Our Representative
Well-known Canadian author, financial consultant and media analyst Peter Diekmeyer has put a former Indian diplomat MK Bhadrakumar, who writes blogs under the title Indian Punchline, published in several online media sites, as one of the top 10 bloggers of 2017. Diekmeyer, in a personal communication to the ex-diplomat, says, "I prefer your opinions of India over that of western journalists any day of the week."
Diekmeyer, in an article introducing his choice of top 10 bloggers, says, "MK Bhadrakumar, an India-based blogger and former diplomat, has been far ahead of the curve in analyzing the return of balance of power politics, in which weaker nations — such as Russia, China and Iran— are increasingly banding together to protect themselves from larger predatory powers."
Diekmeyer continues, "India, which will soon be the world’s most populous nation (and possibly one day its biggest economy), will be crucial in determining how the glo…

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…

Aligarh encounter was fake, the two youth were picked up from their house on Sept 16: Rihai Manch letter to DGP

By Our Representative
In a letter to the Uttar Pradesh police chief, civil rights organization Rihai Manch has accused the police of "killing" two youth, Rashid and Irfan, in a fake encounter in a town in Aligarh district. Releasing a video shot by a news agency, the letter, signed by Rihai Manch president Mohammad Shoeb and general secretary Rajiv Yadav, says that the encounter, which the police claims took place in Harduaganj in Aligarh district on September 20, says that, strangely took place after the media was called to watch the scene.
The letter states, the video clearly suggests that the cops were relaxed, which shows that there was no live encounter, as claimed by the police. It quotes family members of the two youth as  claiming that the two were picked up by the police from their houses on September 16. But when the family members reached the police station to find out about them, they were told, the two had fled. However, according to the family members, they su…

COVA to "delegitimize" fake news, to hold workshop for journalists, IT professionals, social activists, faith leaders

By Our Representative
The Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA), a Hyderabad-based network for responsible citizenship and global peace, has begun a new initiative, Check-It, to “delegitimize” fake news. The Check-It programme, says COVA, aims to sensitize and educate people to delink the perceived legitimacy of all printed word and broadcasted messages and properly verify the veracity before accepting and more importantly forwarding it with others, especially on social media platforms.
Partners for Check-It IT TechCamp, which is scheduled for September 29-30 in Mahabubnagar, Hyderabad, would include IT professionals, reporters from print and electronic media, faith leaders, social activists, police, and concerned citizens active on social media.
The Check-It TechCamp would be on the theme ‘Decoding Fake News and Propagating It’, and it will address and counter the spread of fake news, with participants are being trained in harvesting fake news, decoding fake news, propagat…

Narendra Modi may gain electorally across India. But does he want to become Hindu Aurangzeb?

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The fortunes of India irrevocably changed on May 29, 1658 when two Indian armies clashed on the dusty fields of Samugarh near Agra. India’s history changed forever. Aurangzeb’s victory over his brother Dara Shikoh marked the beginning of Islamic bigotry in India that not only alienated Hindus but also the much more moderate Sufis and Shias as well.

Excerpt from 'Mediapart' article that quotes ex-French president François Hollande on "dubious" Rafale deal

Counterview Desk
Following the revelation in a French journal “Mediapart” that it is Government of India which chose Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence and France had no choice, there is a furore across India on how Prime Minister Narendra Modi “paid back” to an industrial close to him for supporting him. The French journal quotes former French president François Hollande to say the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner in the Rafale deal and "we did not have a say in this."

BJP at its wits end in dealing with political fall-out of 25 year old "intransigent" Hardik Patel's 19 day fast

By RK Misra*
Caught between a rock and a hard place, the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in Gujarat has ended up tying itself in knots over the just-concluded indefinite fast of Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel.
The protest fast, which began on August 25, saw the youth leader enlarge his demands to include farmers’ debt waiver and emerge as a bridgehead for the national opposition, BJP rebels, even garnering support from NDA ally, Shiv Sena.

New Gujarat govt death compensation to farmers "not applicable" to landless, sharecroppers, tribal cultivators

By Our Representative
Gujarat's top farmers' leader Sabar Rabari has said that there is "nothing new" in the announcement made by deputy chief minister Nitin Patel regarding increase in accidental death compensation to farmers from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh, and for serious injuries from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
In a statement, Rabari has pointed out that the announcement had been made several years ago when Anandiben Patel was Gujarat chief minister, adding, "In insofar as farmers are concerned, the government headed by the Vijay Rupani-Nitin Patel duo has proved itself to be a miser. Anandiben Patel had announced that the death compensation would be Rs 4 lakh. Instead of implementing her announcement, this government has reduced the amount by half."
Further, Rabari regretted, only those farmers and their families who have land titles in their name have been included for compensation. "The reality is, Gujarat has a large number of landless agricultural w…

Manual scavengers' deaths: Reason is "poorly designed" sewage treatment plant in Delhi, proliferating in cities

Counterview Desk
The Karnataka-based Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi (SKS), an organisation working towards complete eradication of the caste-based practice of manual scavenging, commenting on the death of 5 workers – Umesh (22), Raja (22), Pankaj (26), Sarfaraj (19) and Vishal (20) – on account of being made to clean a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at DLF Capital Greens, a residential complex in Moti Nagar, West Delhi on September 9, 2018, has said that these deaths “were not accidental and preventable”.

List released: 56 starvation deaths since 2015 across India, 42 in 2017-18, a large majority, 25, due to Aadhaar

Counterview Desk
To mark the first anniversary of the death of Santoshi Kumari, scholars Reetika Khera and Siraj Dutta, with contributions from Swati Narayan and the Right to Food Campaign in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Delhi, have prepared a detailed list of hunger deaths in 2015-18 (click HERE). 


There is a lot of "misunderstanding" on account of Quranic verse "slay them wherever you catch them"

By Moin Qazi*
Islam is a massive faith with 1.6 billion followers spread across the Islamic world that stretches over 15,000 kilometers. A considerable section of the community lives as a minority community in many countries, battling issues of stereotyping, discrimination and identity. With the powerful influence of Islamophobic brigades, there has been a massive surge of hatred against Islam and its adherents. Muslims continue to be demonized and projected as uniformly fundamentalist, violent and anti-secular.

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".

Climate of "social policing" responsible for attack on Carnatic musicians: India's top writers, artistes, academics

Counterview Desk
A galaxy of India's 123 writers, academics, artistes, legal luminaries, activists and professionals from other fields have taken strong exception to the "intimidation" of some of the best known Carnatic musicians by right-wing elements. Being termed 'traitors of Hinduism', 'shamers of Carnatic music' and 'disgusting cretins', these elements, backed, among others by S Ramanathan, founder of the Rashtriya Sanathana Seva Sangam (RSSS), have been carrying on a "vicious" online campaign against Carnatic musicians in Tamil Nadu through Facebook pages, Youtube and Twitter.

Himachal Dalit RTI activist's murder "reflects" on Congress, BJP indifference in protecting marginalized sections

By Sheshu Babu*
When marginalised and Dalit sections of society are being hounded from almost every quarter, the brutal murder of a Dalit Right to Information (RTI) activist comes as another shock and ghastly incident. Kedar Singh Jindan was allegedly murdered on Friday, September 7, while he was on his way back home. The RTI activist was first attacked and run over by a Scorpio.

Dialogue on dams in Indore to review impact of big projects across India

By Our Representative
The Narmada Bachao Andolan, in association with the Matu Jan Sangathan and the Bargi Bandh Visthapit Evam Prabhavit Sangh, will be holding a dialogue on dams on September 30 at the Hindi Sahitya Samiti, Indore, in order to highlight that with the disaster in Uttarakhand and Kerala, and threats faced and felt in the Narmada valley, it is now more important than ever before to come up with a "sustainable a just way to harness resources and monitor their utilisation and distribution of benefits, drinking water, irrigation and power generation."
In a joint statement, the three civil rights organizations have said, "Dams are in the public domain again! Not all, check dams to small dams, but large dams especially, have become an issue to be debated for their costs, impacts, benefits and resultant equity to injustice. These dams, as symbols of development paradigm, need to be reviewed."
Pointing towards the need for a dialogue on dams, it adds, &quo…

India, a republic of hope, is turning into republic of fear for thinkers, writers: Prominent writer-critic Shanta Gokhale

Counterview Desk
Prominent writer Shanta Gokhale, in her keynote address on September 14 at the Ooty Literary Festival in Tamil Natu, has warned that “a sword hangs over the head of any writer who dares presume she has the right to speak out”, pointing towards how writers and activists were “aroused” from their complacency during the Emergency, and how in 1988, Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” was banned by the Government of India.

Nirmala Sitharaman has accused JNU students of waging war, let her prove it in a court of law

By Kamal Mitra Chenoy*
Nirmala Sitharaman my junior in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has claimed that the UL (United Left) which won a sweeping majority in the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) elections is “waging war against India,” on September 14.

Thousands of displaced gather in Madhya Pradesh along Narmada to protest Modi declaring dam completed a year ago

By Our Representative
Thousands of displaced persons – tribals, farmers, labourers, fishermen and other people living in Narmada Valley of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat – gathered in Chhota Barda, Badwani, on September 17 to protest against Prime Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the completion of the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam exactly a year ago.
Organized by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), the gathering highlighted how around 35,000 affected families of Sardar Sarovar are still living in the submergence area. NBA said in a statement, “By changing the backwater level, 16,000 families have been left out from getting any benefit which other displaced persons are to get. They don’t have complete right to farming or livelihood, or housing.”
“In 65 villages of Badwani district alone, a total of 4,500 families are left out”, NBA said, adding, “Despite the Supreme Court order, few thousand applications are pending for special grant of Rs 60 lakh. There is a compl…

Take action against those who killed Himachal RTI activist: Letter to chief minister

By Our Representative
In a letter to Jai Ram Thakur, chief minister, Himachal Pradesh, insisting upon the need for “immediate action” on those accused of killing social worker Kedar Singh Jindan, a social activist, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said, in all, 72 RTI activists in the country till now, and it is highly condemnable and shameful that the state government “has increased another figure to this.”
The work that Jindan did was exemplary, NAPM said. “Through his RTI pleas, he ensured the work that many government agencies should be normally doing. He helped people below the poverty line this way. This could not be digested by people of the ruling establishment in his area.”
Demanding strict action against the culprits and “suitable compensation” to his family, NAPM said, Jindan was lawyer by profession was a Dalit, who “constantly struggling for the upliftment of the society. His endeavour was always to get the right to education”, adding, “The killers…

Left Front should allow dissent: NAPM tells Kerala govt on anti-pharma MNC activist's arrest

By Our Representative
In an “explanatory” note on its recent statement (click HERE) on the promoter of alternative medicine Jacob Vadakkanchery’s arrest, the top civil rights network has said that it “does not seek to hold any brief for the merits or demerits of Jacob as a medical practitioner”, since it is “not competent to do so” and it is “the subject matter of experts in the domain of medical and public health.”
However, it insists, as for Jacob’s arrest, “We wish to state that we expect more maturity on behalf of a government in such a situation, particularly a left-ruled government in Kerala, to deal with dissenting opinions, in ways other than arrest.”
Pointing out that the arrest of the anti-pharmaceutical MNC activist has “obfuscated the deeper questions”, it adds, “We are of the considered opinion that independent of the opinions he holds, Jacob is entitled to all civil liberties, like any other citizen”, hence such “arbitrary action, including arrest”, should be taken aga…

Advani will regret supporting Modi, predicted Vajpayee, who had wanted Modi to step down as Gujarat CM

By RK Misra*
After a life embedded in flowing prose and lyrical poetry, embellishing harsh politics with soft imagery, Atal Bihari Vajpayee entered the domain of the dead on August 16, 2018. A sombre nation spared time from lynchings and launchings to lament. The dust has settled. The man is no more, but images linger: Of ironies and contrasts, of the first saffron prime minister viewed from the home state of the next one. Of the time when there was melody in politics and the heart stirred to a captivating tune, of feet stomp stadiums, shrill-shriek speeches and snuff lives on the street.

Holding simultaneous polls is against federal structure of Indian constitution: Jagdeep Chhokar

By Our Representative
Speaking at the Western Regional Consultation on Electoral and Political Reforms, organized by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Gujarat Election Watch (GEW) in Ahmedabad, top academic Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-trustee, ADR, said that the federal structure is “basic to the Indian Constitution and holding simultaneous elections is against the federal nature of the constitution and it will amount to changing the constitution itself.” He added, one main reason given by the government to hold simultaneous elections is to bring down the cost of elections, though “nobody knows the exact amount of election expenditure during elections.”
Speaking on electoral malpractices, former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta said the main reason for for this is “lack of manpower with the Election Commission of India (ECI)”, adding, “During elections ECI is dependent on state administration and therefore it is unable to curb electoral malpractices effectivel…

If Maoist violence is illegitimate, how is Hindutva, state violence justified? Can right-wing wash off its sins?

By Swami Agnivesh* and Sandeep Pandey**
There was major police action against Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varvara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira on 28 August, 2018. Before this police arrested Professor Shoma Sen, Adocate Sudhir Gadling, Sudhir Dhawle, Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson on 6 June. Even before this Dr. Binayak Sen, Soni Sori, Ajay TG, Professor GN Saibaba and Prashant Rahi have been arrested and all these activists have been accused of having links with Maoists.

Catholic Church defending Bishop, involved in Kerala nun rape case; reveals its deeply patriarchal mindset: NAPM

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to the recent impunity provided to a rape and sexual harassment accused, Bishop Franco Mukammal by the Kerala police, the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM), India's top civil rights network, has said that false allegations are being leveled against the victim, a nun, in a conspiracy to malign her. In a statement, signed by civil society organizations across India, NAPM has demanded “immediate arrest of Bishop Franco and a fair and time-bound investigation and trial”.

Delhi Univ, JNU elections a "precursor" to Hindutva groups seeking to win 2019 polls by hook or by crook

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
Why are people still enamoured towards Hindutva and its government, which has attempted to discredit India's prestigious institutions? I am not much fascinated at the victory of the Left Unity in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), as that does not reflect much. What is worrying trend is the growth of the Savarna Right-wing in JNU. Will trends in JNU be similar to West Bengal, where the left parties are finding it difficult to make a come back and the space left by them is occupied by the Hindutva party?

Gujarat Bhim Sena demands setting up of community hall, library, sports complex for Dalits in western Ahmedabad

By Our Representative
Gujarat's Bhim Sena chief Manishbhai Sondharva, in a letter to Bijalben Patel, mayor, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), has demanded that, in the vacant plot in the Jivraj Park, behind the TV9 Office and next to the D-Mart shopping complex, special facilities be set up for the Dalit population living in the western part of the city.
"The facilities should include a community hall, a study centre, a library and a sports complex in the name of Dr BR Ambedkar", the letter insists, adding, "Currently, there is no place for social occasions for about 100 Dalit localities situated in the western part of the city, including in such areas as Vejalpur, Ambavadi, Rajiv Nagar, Vasna, Malav Talav, Someshwar Nagar, Gupta Nagar, Sorai Nagar, Azam Society, Baldev Nagar, Sant Krupa Society, Ugam Society, Chamunda Society, Shri Krishna Tenement, Bhaleshwar and Sajwas."
Pointing out that the current facilities in the area are very costly, unaffordable …

Protesting activists at Chicago Hindu meet were "choked, kicked, spat at" by those chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai

Counterview Desk
The World Hindu Congress, held on September 7-9 at the Westin Hotel in the Chicago suburb of Lombard, Illinois, has gone controversial. The controversy began even before RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was announced as the keynote speaker.